The holidays are in full swing, and so is the holiday party circuit: business lunches, festive get-togethers, chic soirées. So how to de-code the dress code for all of these events? Black tie is pretty self-explanatory, but what does “Festive” mean? Or “Creative Black Tie”? Or “Dressy Casual”? Don’t worry… we’re here to help. One thing to keep in mind when planning your outfit: Evening events are always dressier than events that take place during the day.
The look here should be sophisticated and chic. Stick to tasteful, knee-length options paired with kitten heels or sexy, strappy sandals. Think of that perfect LBD. Or for a more conservative look, try a classic sheath dress. PC Suggests: For a real head-turner, we suggest the Rosebud Dress. Other beautiful options include the Lombard Dress (made even more chic with the Victoria Falls Collar) and—an elegant two-piece option… the Sugarplum Sequin Skirt with the Soirée Top.
Business attire is a glammed-up version of what you would wear to work. A polished suit is fine—with either trousers or pencil skirt. Go a little bolder with the jewelry and accessories. Stacks of bangles, a statement necklace or pretty scarf add an elegant touch. PC Suggests: We love the Femme Fatale Jacket and Dietrich Skirt. Also the timeless, versatile D’Orsay Dress.
No, this doesn’t mean donning a holiday sweater with a 3-D Rudolph or light-up Santa. Festive attire actually falls somewhere between business and cocktail attire. PC Suggests: Try the Picadilly Riding Coat and Treasure Trove Necklace over a pair of skinny black trousers. We also recommend the Sullivan Skirt with either the Celeste Cardigan or Jackie Cardigan. For a chic trouser option, try the Balmoral Trousers with the stunning Victorian Corset Blouse.
Creative Black Tie:
Think formal, but with a trendy, creative twist… a modern touch to the traditional. PC Suggests: The floor-grazing, fabulous Taffeta Fishtail Skirt is oh-so glam yet contemporary. Pair it with the Chevron Lace Cardigan and Stitchery Tank. It’s also possible to go shorter here with the Riverbend Skirt.
Black Tie Optional:
You don’t have to wear a long evening gown (but you can if you want to). You can also wear a formal cocktail dress, a dressy pantsuit, or even a long full skirt with an elegant sweater. PC Suggests: The hand-beaded Wonderland Dress is stunning in winter white, and even dressier in go-everywhere black. Another option: the hand-crocheted Lattice Lace Dress.
This doesn’t mean casual; it actually means “semi-formal.” A chic cocktail dress or dressy separates would work well for this. Make sure to complete the look with stand-out accessories and a great pair of shoes. PC Suggests: The Faubourg Dress—in twilight-blue velvet—with our Black Orchid Headband would fit the bill beautifully. Another option: the French Quarter Dress in silk georgette.
Dressy Casual/Elegant Casual:
This means just what it sounds like: relaxed, yet polished and pulled together. PC Suggests: This could mean something as simple as an elegant sweater-dress with cool accessories—like our East-West Dress with Pompom Sash, the Tambora Batik Dress or Camilla Dress. Or you could wear a crisp pair of Pencil Jeans with a cool jacket or dressed-up sweater, like the Raj Jacket or Delia Cardigan.
This doesn’t mean wear your sweats, but it does mean relaxed. For evening, a pair nice jeans or cords with a pretty top or nice sweater would be appropriate. PC Suggests: Start with a pair of Pencil Jeans, Boot Cut Jeans or Stretch Pinwale Cords. The sweater/top options are endless, so we’ll give you just a few suggestions: Jacinta Top, Lotus Blossom Kimono, Vineyard Blouson, Paisley Lace Cardigan, Eden Top.
Need more tips on sailing through the holiday season with grace? Read our Holiday Party Etiquette Guide:
• Never arrive early (unless, of course, you have a specific request from the host). For formal fêtes, arrive within 15 minutes of the time listed on the invitation. For informal invitations, it’s best to show up about 20–30 minutes after the party officially begins.
• Always say hello to your hosts within a few minutes of arriving. And make sure to say good-bye before you leave.
• Although it’s not required, it’s nice to bring a bottle of wine or a sweet treat when showing up to a dinner, lunch or cocktail party. Don’t bring flowers that need arranging; this will just add more stress to a harried host. If it’s a large, formal event and you don’t know the host well, you don’t need to bring anything.
• Always bring a gift if you’re staying at the host’s home overnight. The longer you stay, the more expensive the gift.
• Keep cocktail party conversations light; in these situations, it’s always best avoid controversial subjects, like politics or religion.
• Holiday parties are not the place to check emails, send texts, surf the Internet or make cell phone calls. Turn off your phone and enjoy the people who are actually in the room with you.
• If the invitation has an ending time, don’t linger too much longer; it’s rude to overstay your welcome. If the party doesn’t have a specific end time, keep an eye on the crowd and plan on leaving when approximately half the guests have departed.
• Always, always, always say thank you! Don’t email your appreciation. Call the next day to thank your host, or send a handwritten thank-you note within a week of the party.