Dresses so chic they’ll see you through party season and beyond

  • Marie Claire is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
  • Digital fashion editor Penny Goldstone shows you what to wear for every party scenario

    T’is the season to dress up, and I don’t know about you, but I just love it! Ever since watching models at London Fashion Week shimmy down the catwalk in sequins at Ashish, feathers at Osman, winter florals at Erdem and red at Preen, I’ve been dying for an excuse to go all out, and now it’s finally my time to shine – quite literally.

    Now I appreciate head-to-toe sequins isn’t for everyone, but the good thing is, you really don’t have to. This season, there’s a strong party offering to suit all tastes, whether you’re into dressing up or not. More often than not though, that’s dictated by what sort of event you’re going to.

    So with that in mind, I’ve styled the biggest party dress trends for every scenario you could think of, from office Christmas party to New Year’s eve. Scroll down to shop the looks.

    What to wear to a casual Christmas party

    I’ve got a confession to make: I don’t really do casual. Give me a pair of mules over trainers any day. However there’s something to be said for the whole ‘smart casual’ dress code, because it’s perfect for so many events, including Christmas eve pub drinks. How many events do you really have to go black-tie for? Exactly.

    For this look, I’ve chosen one of this season’s must-haves: the slip dress. Aside from its 90s throwback appeal, it’s great because it’s versatile. Here, I’ve made it more casual by wearing it over a white t-shirt, and you could definitely wear it over cropped jeans too. But you can also wear it on its own for a dressier look. Accessorise with chunky earrings and a statement bag.

    Shop my look: T by Alexander Wang silk-satin dress £485 at Net-A-Porter, t-shirt £12 at Topshop, kitten heel bow mules £29.99 at M&S, mismatched earrings £28 at Finery, velvet party bag £49.99 at Mango

    What to wear to a company Christmas party

    I’ll be honest, I’m a little bit lazy, which means I hate having to change into a different outfit for our Christmas do. So I like to plan an outfit that’ll take me from office to party with minimal effort involved. You can’t go wrong with a shirt dress, but the key is to find a style that is chic enough for work but not too corporate that it doesn’t work for the evening. I love this Equipment maxi, which taps into the pyjama trend, and is so comfortable you could probably sleep in it too. You know, if you overdid it on the free cocktails.

    I’ve made it a little jazzier with the addition of a sequin bag. Top tip: if sequin dresses aren’t your thing, then incorporate a bit of shimmer into your accessories, it’ll really make a difference.

    Shop my look: Equipment Johana silk-satin maxi dress £470 at Net-A-Porter, patent leather mules £99 at Finery, Alexander Wang sequin bucket bag £735 at Net-A-Porter

    What to wear to Christmas eve at church

    I will admit I’m an atheist and therefore never go to church, but Google tells me a lot of people search for outfit ideas for the Christmas eve service, so I thought I would give you an option here. This polka dot number from Mango is purse friendly and on-trend, and is more versatile than you’d think. I’ve kept to the monochrome theme with my accessories, but you could easily add a pop of colour with red statement earrings and acid green mules.

    Shop my look: Bow polka dot dress £49.99 at Mango, kitten heels £29.99 at Zara, velvet party bag £49.99 at Mango

    What to wear on Christmas day

    Call me old-fashioned, but there’s something about wearing red on Christmas day that feels so traditional and festive. Lucky for us, red is a big trend this season. I picked this wrap dress as it’s a style that’s super flattering on all body shapes, plus – and this is very important – you can loosen it up a little bit to make room for all that food.

    Because it’s such a statement look, it’s best to pair back the rest of your outfit. I’ve opted for fine jewellery and dark gold mules, though you can team it with black pumps too.

    Shop my look: Odile red wrap dress £145 at Kitri, old M&S mules, but similar for £13 on ASOS, necklaces, Lucy Williams large horn necklace £139 and coin necklace £79 both Missoma

    The perfect New Year’s eve dress

    Galaxy prints are having a bit of a moment, and I can’t think of a better time to wear them than on New Year’s eve. This Rixo dress is my favourite of the bunch. I normally wear it over a roll neck top and jeans at the office, but you can absolutely get away with the plunging neckline and sexy slits for a party. Because you can never go OTT at a New Year’s eve party, I’ve added some gold jewellery and sequin heels for good measure.

    Shop my look: Rixo London Camellia midi dress £295 at Net-A-Porter, necklaces as above, mismatched earrings triangle and circle set of three £25 at Finery, gold sequin shoes old Zara but similar Boden shoes £120 on Next

    The perfect party dress if you’re only going to buy one

    Party season means Christmas, and Christmas basically means you’re broke for most of December. So if you’re sticking to a budget, I recommend investing in a dress that is timeless and will go with everything. I love this tuxedo dress thanks to its sexy, androgynous take your classic LBD. Wear it with statement earrings and heeled sandals or sock boots.

    Shop my look: Minkus tux dress £115 at Kitri, patent leather mules £99 at Finery, MANU ATELIER Fernweh micro velvet clutch at Net-A-Porter, mismtached earrings £19 at Finery

    If you need more outfit inspiration, check out my Instagram @pennygoldstone, and as I’ve been asked before, note that I’m only 5ft3 so dresses do come up quite long on me.

    Reading now

    Popular fashion stories