30 Holiday Wardrobe Essentials We LOVE!

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This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

Few occasions pose as many dress-up conundrums (and downright breakthroughs) as the holidays. One might think a good party dress and some glittery heels might take us across the finish line, but c’mon…what’s the fun in that? As with “back-to-school” time, Fashion Week, first dates, and last calls, the holidays — with all of their glorious opportunities to preen and pick at hors d’oeuvres — are just the time to toss out the old rule book and take some sartorial chances

If you’re the girl all your friends go to for party-dressing advice (and we believe you ARE), why not do them a little extra proud this year? To help you along the way, we’ve crafted a hit list of essentials for holiday dressing 2012. From our basic office-party-to-after-party outfit to the New Year’s ensemble of your dreams, there’s a little something on this list for everyone. But, most importantly, it’s a time to have fun with your fashion, so pop open some of that Prosecco and get your very own holiday lookbook on lockdown.


1. The Tuxedo Jacket — The basic rule of a tuxedo jacket is, if you have even the slightest opportunity to rock one, you should! The trick here is investing in one that fits beautifully in the shoulders and has structure in all the right places. Seriously, when you find the right one, you’ll wear it forever. 

Mango Tuxedo Blazer, $119.99, available at MangoTibiTuxedo Jacket, $485, available at Tibi.


2. The Brocade Pant — We like to call this the party pant, since it’s such a no-brainer for getting dressed for a fete in a hurry. Just throw it on with a T-shirt, a shrunken oxford, or a slim sweater, add a pair of sturdy heels, and you’re ready to roll. Tip: Since many types of brocade fabric do NOT give, we recommend ordering up a size and having them tailored so they fit perfectly. 

Topshop Chinoiserie Jacquard Cigarette Trouser, $90, available at TopshopJonathan Sanders Julia Brocade Straight Leg Pants, $1,690, available at Net-A-Porter.


3. The Modern String Of Pearls — We’ll never fully retire our blingy statement necklaces, but this holiday season, we’re surrendering to a more feminine, Pretty In Pink-sort of approach to accessorizing. And that means easygoing, totally elegant pearls. Wear them casual-like with a beat-up tee, jeans, and booties, or layer them up with your favorite chains and charms. The point here is to make them totally your own. 

J.Crew Pearl Twisted Hammock Necklace, $85, available at J.CrewOscar de la Renta Pearls with Pave Closure, $665, available at Oscar de la Renta.


4. The Little Emerald Dress — While we love a good crimson dress, it can feel a little obvious during the holidays. The switch-up? A rich, emerald green, which has been a huge color trend on the runways (and out in the world), and feels just right to take you straight through the party season — and beyond!

Sessun Anberton Soft Wool Dress, $154, available at Urban OutfittersReiss Etta Dress, $370, available at Reiss.


5. The Jewel-Toned Bootie — You’ve probably got your favorite black bootie on lock down, but to jazz things up a bit (with the least amount of effort!), we’re adding the jewel-toned bootie to our holiday lineup. Wear this pretty staple with maxi-dresses, skinny jeans, you name it…it’s seriously the easiest pop of color you can bring into party-season rotation. 

Sam Edelman Petty Ankle Boot, $160, available at JildorVionnet Velvet Ankle Boots, $811, available at MyTheresa.


6. The Golden Cuff — After seeing the Diana Vreeland documentary — seriously, she wrote the book on bold jewelry — we’re making sure a wide gold cuff is front and center all season long. Paired with sleeveless silk shells; long, lean dresses; or slim sweaters; the gold cuff is the epitome of easy chic (and hello, if you really want to take a tip from Ms. Vreeland, wear two).

Alexis Bittar Bel Air Gold Rift Cuff, $155, available at Charm & ChainAurelie Bidermann Lace Cuff, $1,215, available at Shopbop.


7. The White Silk Blouse — You probably already have one of these in your arsenal, but if you don’t, now’s the time to invest. Not only can you wear this elegant essential with everything in your closet, it’s equally versatile in all seasons, which we love. 

Equipment Exclusive Earl Satin Contrast Panel Blouse, $248, available at Intermix3.1 Phillip Lim White Metallic Trimmed Floating Silk Blouse, $475, available at Ssense.


8. The Wide-Brimmed Hat — There’s a reason the wide-brimmed hat is a street-style staple…it’s, in fact, perfect for the holidays when turning up the glamour is a nightly must. We prefer a well-worn, broken-in hat (keep your eyes peeled the next time you go thrifting!), but if you have to go new, either of these styles is entirely classic.

San Diego Hat Company Wide Brim Fedora, $50, available at PiperlimeEugina Kim Harper Feather Trimmed Hat, $325, available at Calypso St. Barth.


9. The Statement Topcoat — Many of the younger ladies in our office don’t quite get the statement coat, and maybe you don’t either, but someday you will, after which you won’t be able to remember a time without one. What’s great about a statement coat is it makes ANYTHING look chic, and when you’re tearing around at the speed of light — and need a great outfit at your fingertips — what could be better than that?

Betty Jackson Gold Brocade Coat, $198, available atDebenhamsMarni Metallic Brocade Coat, $1,749, available at MyTheresa.


10. The Over-The-Top Earring — We can thank Dolce & Gabbana, along with a guilty fondness for late ’80s/early ’90s trends, for bringing big, mega-watt earrings back into rotation. And honestly, we couldn’t be more excited about it. The best part: There are loads of great brands out there that offer affordable high-impact style, so feel free to go a little nuts.

Erickson Beamon Drop Earring, $129.50, available at Club MonacoDolce & Gabbana Clip On earrings, $675, available at Dolce & Gabbana.


11. The Metallic Shoe — Consider it your new neutral; the metallic shoe is truly the party shoe of the season. And whether you go for gold, high-shine silver or a muted copper, modern metallics offer just the shot of shimmer to make an average outfit feel decidedly more up to date.

Nasty Gal Uniform Oxford, $110, available at Nasty GalJimmy Choo Malika Perforated Metallic Leather Sandal, $995, available at Neiman Marcus.


12. The Seasonal Sweater — Nope, no crazy holiday sweaters here (though, we don’t judge if that’s your thing!). Instead, we recommend a cozy, printed, of-the-moment knit that forgoes seasonal frivolity in favor of timeless charm. But, you know, quirky works, too.

J.Crew Fair Isle Ski Sweater, $148, available at J.CrewToga Archives Jacquard Knit Sweater, $591, available at La Garconne.


13. The Sheer Unmentionable — Yes, you should have at least one or two pretty, lacy things in your lineup, but for modern, busy ladies like us, these have to be pieces that function and fit well (read: Underthings that are just for show are pretty much just the worst).

Maison Scotch Bra and Undie Set, $55, available at Free PeopleAraks Underwire Bra and Nana Panties, $80-$124, available at La Garconne.


14. The Black, Tailored, Cropped Pant — We would include this fantastic pant in every Wardrobe Essentials feature we do, but they’re especially apropos during the holidays when party blouses, sparkling tank-tops, and shimmery bustiers need a perfect partner. This lean, flattering pant is definitely a lifesaver.

Joe Fresh Tuxedo Pant, $49, available at Joe Fresh3.1 Phillip Lim Tuxedo Pencil Pant with Floating Stripe, $425, available at 3.1 Phillip Lim.


15. The Sparkling Minidress — Besides the fact that a sparkling minidress will just make you smile when you see it peeking out of your closet every morning, it’s a fail-safe essential that will get even the busiest girl through family affairs, work events, and New Year’s Eve marathons with the greatest of ease.

Zara Printed Sequin Dress, $99.90, available at Zarasass & bide Kapow Dress, $590, available at sass & bide.


16. The Box Clutch — Lots of handbag trends come and go, but the box clutch is such a forever classic that it’s time you made space in your closet for a really special one. Not only is this grown-up purse endlessly sophisticated, it looks equally pretty just sitting on your dresser awaiting its next night out.

Zara Jeweled Box Clutch, $89.90, available at ZaraDVFTonda Small Watersnake Clutch, $365, available at DVF.


17. The Faux-Fur Trimmed Coat — Many of us ladies aren’t too keen on fur, but a luxe, faux-trimmed topper offers just the right hit of glamour and warmth every woman needs when she’s braving ice and wind while party-hopping.

Dahlia Double Breasted Coat with Fur, $202.29, available at ASOSgirl. by Band of Outsiders Animal Jacquard Coat, $735, available at Les Nouvelles.


18. The Fashion-Forward Ski Cap — Yes, of course, you have to keep your noggin warm when the temperatures plummet, but that doesn’t mean you have to go all Northface and ruin a good outfit. Instead, opt for a knitted cap with some tasteful embellishments that’ll frame your face. Best of all, you can slip it right into your purse upon arrival, too.

Reiss Embellished Tux Beanie, $105, available at ReissInverni Cashmere Beanie, $331, available at Otte.


19. The Velvet Pencil Skirt — We don’t need a holiday to be obsessed with velvet, but it makes our list of essentials just the same, thanks to its infinitely festive flair and the fact that given its heft, it’s super-slimming, especially fashioned as a pencil skirt.

Mango Peplum Velvet Skirt, $39.99, available at MangoBurberry Prorsum Velvet Pencil Skirt, $626.50, available at Net-A-Porter.


20. The Silk Gown — Every now and again, a BIG holiday shindig comes along when a “party dress” just ain’t gonna cut it. You need something that will elicit a few good oohs and ahhs, as well as a healthy dose of confidence upon arrival, and that’s what the silk gown is all about. But don’t just wait for a major black-tie affair to do a gown justice. Paired with a cropped jacket and boots, a silk gown can turn an ordinary party into a night to remember.

H&M Dress, $39.95, available at H&MDVF Liluye One Shoulder Stretch Silk Maxi Dress, $263.25, available at The Outnet.


21. The Classic Pointy Pump — They’re practical, sexy, and, in most cases, comfortable, so make sure your holiday wardrobe has a pair of pointy pumps front and center. 

Zara Mirrored Court Shoes, $99.90, available at ZaraYSLClassic Escarpin Pump, $685, available at YSL.


22. The Shimmering Tank-Top — You probably don’t need an excess of party tops in your closet, so this holiday season, make sure you have just one or two great styles that go with everything and can transform even jeans and a blazer into something special.

Mango Racer Back Satin Finish Tank, $29.99, available at MangoParker Asymmetrical Beaded Tank, $328, available at Intermix.


23. The Skinny, Statement Belt — At holiday time, the skinny, statement belt is one of the hardest working pieces in your wardrobe. In leopard, mesh metal, or a bright pop of color, a lil’ cinch is all you need to bring some stylish structure to any outfit. Our advice: Stock up on a few!

BCBGeneration Skinny Plate Waist Belt, $58, available at BCBGElegantly Waisted Glitter Double Buckle Belt, $128, available at Intermix.


24. The Sheer Stocking — Your socks-and-tights drawer may be jammed with nubby knits and opaque numbers, but this holiday, we recommend adding a pair of sheers to the protocol. Cold gams aside, these babies are not only sexy (just ask your dude friends), but in different styles and textures, they can make that basic LBD in the back of your closet look like new again.

AEO Polka Dot Sheer Tights, $12.95, available at AEWolford Individual Tights, $34.94, available at Harvey Nichols.


25. The Peplum Pencil Skirt — Although this is on our Holiday Wardrobe Essentials list, the peplum pencil skirt is really a staple you can wear all year long. Topped with a tiny oxford or a worn-out rock T-shirt, this flattering piece is universally stunning.

Miss Selfridge Red Peplum Pencil Skirt, $57, available at Miss SelfridgeBy Malene Birger Doraona Peplum Skirt, $396, available at Les Nouvelles.


26. The Heeled-Ankle Boot — Let’s face it, the weather during the holidays can be iffy at best. That’s why we love a sleek and sophisticated heeled-ankle boot to not only give your skinny trousers and party frocks a lift but to also keep your toes warm amid the frigid flurries.

ASOS Action Chelsea Ankle Boot, $87.95, available at ASOSOpening Ceremony Jeanette Boot, $500, available at Opening Ceremony.


27. The Crossbody, Chain Bag — Our holiday motto: Keep it simple…and hands-free! And that’s the beauty of the crossbody, chain bag — it’s bona-fide chic and keeps your digits available for Instagramming, Champagne passing, and more.

Banana Republic Beaded Crossbody, $98, available atBanana RepublicStella McCartney Falabella Crossbody Bag, $895, avainalble at Bergdorf Goodman.


28. The Bold Pendant Necklace — Again, the beauty of holiday dressing is assembling a well-curated list of extra-special essentials that ramp up all your best loved pieces, and the bold pendant necklace definitely tops that list. Whether baroque-inspired or more modern, this piece is the perfect antidote to all your sleek pullovers and dresses, and looks just as good layered with your favorite necklaces as it does on its own.

Butterfly by Matthew Williamson, $32, available atDebenhams; Oscar de la Renta Baroque Brooch Pendant Necklace, $655, available at Bergdorf Goodman.


29. The Cheeky Hair Accessory — This may not be for everyone, but given we’re all a little more apt to experiment with our ‘dos during the holidays, we decided to add it to the wish list. Think less tiara/boarding school and more loose and romantic, with just a subtle hint of sparkle.

Juicy Couture Animal Elastic Bow, $25, available at Bloomingdale’sMarc by Marc Jacobs Bow Hair Clip, $58, available at Zappos.


30. The Gold Skirt — Okay, so a gold skirt doesn’t necessarily say “must-have” to most women, but this year, we just can’t help ourselves. There were so many metallic dresses and skirts on the runway, we’ve been pining for one ever since. And what better time to invest in such a crazy-gorgeous piece than at the holidays? Maybe not the most practical of our holiday essentials, but if you want to feel like a power-ranger goddess at that first big holiday blowout, This. Is. It.

River Island Gold Organza Skater Skirt, $47.64, available at River IslandLanvin Pleated Metallic Tweed Skirt, $597, available at The Outnet.

Click HERE to read more from Refinery29.

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