Since many department stores dedicate a whole section to cocktail party attire, it might seem easy enough to dress up for the staple social gathering of the holiday season. I'm not here to dispel your illusions (actually, I am), but none of the elements which make up the conventional cocktail party dress — full circle skirts nipped at the waist with oversized bows, bodycon bodices, cheesy feminine touches like ruffles, lace and tulle — make much sense for the modern woman boozily socializing after work, in a quasi-professional setting.
So, I had a couple things in mind when I was choosing my ideal holiday party outfit: I live in Brooklyn, so I dress first and foremost for the subway. This is not just a matter of shoes, either: I'm more comfortable moving through the city when I'm wearing something inconspicuous. This precludes both bright green party frocks and anything excessively revealing. As to the latter, a cocktail party is not an occasion for showing off your most seductive self. If you're trying to decide whether you're dressed appropriately (for something other than a hot date), ask yourself whether your outfit is more likely to attract or repel potential new female friends.
My assignment was to create a perfect holiday look, and I chose several items that are much, much costlier than what I would ever spend in real life — but it's fun to dream. First, I chose a pair of black wool trousers, which are made ethically and to-order from Honest by. Bruno Pieters, because they're easy to move around in and cozy for winter. The high waist and chic, slouchy silhouette are universally flattering perks. I paired those with a season-appropriate cap sleeve tinsel top from Simone Rocha, one of London's most visible emerging designers (and considered a likely contender for the open spot at Jil Sander).
Accessories include a small, boxy crossbody bag and a pair of toe-heel wedge pumps — which are more comfortable and easier to wear than standard heels, but still dressier than flats. And keeping with the pared down, minimalist spirit of the outfit, I'd opt for a simple fresh faced beauty look — just BB cream from ULTA, which gives me a primer, foundation, moisturizer and sunblock in one bottle to help my skin and even out my complexion.
And after getting dressed, I'd wrap myself in an oversized, androgynous grey coat and dash off into the cold.
Black adjustable wool trousers, Honest by. Bruno Pieters ($466.59); Tinsel top, Simone Rocha ($890); Clue crossbody bag, Rachel Comey ($242); ASOS oversized wrap front coat, ASOS ($195.78); BB Cream Beauty Balm SPF 20, ULTA ($12.95); Shane pumps, Isabel Marant ($945)
Sponsored by ULTA