23 Fail-Proof Party Outfit Formulas the Fashion Set Relies On


The end of the year is in sight, and we've officially entered the holiday season. While there's no denying the general excitement one can feel about this time of year, you also can't ignore the stress that comes with it. There are endless things to do, from finding the best gifts to packing correctly for your flight. But possibly the most worry-inducing thing is deciding what to wear to a party.

Not to be trite, but it's a well-known fact that picking the perfect party-season outfit can be tricky. One has to consider not only dress codes but the type of affair itself—i.e., if it's a work event, a party held by in-laws, a winter wedding, or every other possible kind of party. It's no surprise that discerning how to dress for an upcoming party isn't something to be taken lightly. However, if you spend too much time worrying about it, don't fret.

We've scoured Instagram to identify 23 party-season outfits approved by the fashion set and identified the key pieces needed to re-create the looks. These formulas are not only fail-proof for every type of party, but they'll ensure you'll be the best dressed guest in the room. 


Two-Piece Velvet Suit + Boots
(Image credit: @therealina)

Call it overdone if you must, but velvet suits are that party staple. They're not only ideal for more formal occasions (think: corporate holiday parties or weddings) but also can be tailored to your style with ease. Opt for an iteration in an exciting hue or style it with fun accessories to make it feel festive. 

Re-create the look:


Opera Gloves + Black Minidress + Statement Heels
(Image credit: @yoyokulala)

When in doubt, a strapless black minidress will always work for any celebration. But should you want to make it feel a little more festive, add fun accessories (like opera gloves, statement heels, and sparkly jewelry) for the evening. 

Re-create the look:


Sheer Rhinestone Dress + Feather Heels + Colorful Handbag
(Image credit: @monamali_)

If you're not going to something where you'll get a double take from HR or in-laws, there's no better way to get into the festive mood than opting for a sparkly frock. Pair a mesh or chainmail dress with colorful heels and a bag for a look worthy of celebrating.

Re-create the look:


Sequin Top + Trousers + Pointed Heels + Shoulder Bag
(Image credit: @emnitta)

Not interested in splurging on a whole new outfit for that upcoming party? Simply find a sparkly top to pair with your favorite trousers and a pair of pointy heels for the perfect party outfit that won't cost you all your pennies. 

Re-create the look:


Metallic Maxi Dress + Rhinestone Clutch + Sandals
(Image credit: @lefevrediary)

For more formal occasions like winter charity galas or weddings, you'll want to opt for something that balances the dress code with seasonality—enter a metallic maxi dress. Opting for a piece with a little shine and finishing it off with rhinestone-adorned pieces will strike the perfect balance between festive and formal. 

Re-create the look:


Turtleneck Dress + Metallic Heels + Rhinestone Bag
(Image credit: @styleheroine)

Don't want to buy an entirely new outfit for that upcoming party? Then, you'll want to re-create the look above. Pair your favorite sweaterdress with sparkly heels and a sparkly bag, and you'll have a cost-friendly yet chic look. 

Re-create the look:


Blazer + Sequin Skirt + Colorful Mules
(Image credit: @kristincabat)

Sequin skirts are considered a party staple at this point for a good reason. The power of this piece lies in its ability to make party dressing effortless. All you have to do it pair it with other basics (e.g., a blazer or turtleneck sweater), and you'll shine all evening. 

Re-create the look:


Corset Top + Matching Pants + Heels + Clutch
(Image credit: @indyabrown)

While many may think of the sequin skirt as the perennial party staple, one other piece is quickly becoming one too: corsets. This is the ideal holiday-party staple, as it can be dressed down or up depending upon your plans. We just recommend opting for a version with a metallic finish and pairing it with matching trousers to make it feel more holiday inspired.

Re-create the look:


Feather Top + Velvet Trousers + Slingback Heels
(Image credit: @camillecharriere)

Is it even the holiday season if you're not wearing feathers? For real, though, we can't think of a more festive look to wear than a top adorned with feathers and styled with velvet trousers and pointed heels. 


Cutout Dress + Leather Trench + Tights + Heeled Sandals
(Image credit: @amalie_gassmann)

Sometimes dressing for party season can veer into the cliché territory far too quickly, which is why thinking outside the box is essential when crafting your look. You don't have to go with the "traditional" party staples if that's not your thing; you can opt for something trendier (like a cutout dress paired with a leather trench) for something unique. 

Re-create the look:


Feather Dress + Opera Gloves + Heels
(Image credit: @georgia_3.0)

For those who delight in the idea of getting dressed up for a night out, there's no better frock than one adorned with feathers. Whether you're just going to a cocktail party or have a more formal evening on the books, opting for a piece with feathers is a foolproof way to have fun dressing up this season. 

Re-create the look:


Velvet Dress + Platform Heels
(Image credit: @nitsanraiter)

As much as we love staples, you can rely on them for any party; if you're like us, you fear looking basic. The key to standing out in the crowd lies in how you play with texture and color in your looks. Opt for pieces with classic silhouettes (like the minidress above) but in a luxe velvet fabric or vibrant hue to make your outfit feel and look different from the rest.

Re-create the look:


Metallic Dress + Sequin Bag + Strappy Metallic Sandals
(Image credit: @cocobassey)

Another way you can play with texture and color is by opting for a metallic dress. And you can further dial up the visual intrigue by pairing your gold (or silver) dress with wrap-up sandals and a shiny handbag to catch everyone's eyes all evening.

Re-create the look:


Blazer + Minidress + Choker + Tights + Heels
(Image credit: @oliviamarcus)

Want to stay away from metallics and color in general? You can still add visual interest to your party looks through styling and tailoring. For example, a black dress can become interesting if it has a unique neckline or is paired with unexpected pieces like an oversize blazer or a floral choker necklace. All-black isn't boring; you just have to be creative. 

Re-create the look:


Slipdress + Sandal + Clutch Bag
(Image credit: @musingsofacurvylady)

An all-black ensemble isn't the only thing you can rely on to work for any type of party; in fact, there's an even simpler staple that's fail-proof: the slip dress. You really can't go wrong with this piece. You can opt for it in any color or cut, it can be styled with any accessories or outerwear, and it will look good no matter what. 

Re-create the look:


Strapless Feather Top + Leather Shorts + Tights + Pumps
(Image credit: @emmaleger)

Yes, this is the second time feathers are in this story, but can you blame us? A feather top paired with leather shorts, tights, and heels makes for a fabulous party fit. 

Re-create the look:


Maxi Dress + Corset + Clutch
(Image credit: @sallyomo)

Do you consider yourself a modest dresser? Then, you'll want to screenshot the outfit above as the inspiration for what to wear to that upcoming party. A simple black maxi gown can be spiced up by adding a sparkly corset and rhinestone bag. 

Re-create the look:


Crystal Fringe Earrings + Sequin Dress + Knee-High Boots
(Image credit: @idaliasalsamendi)

Another modest party outfit idea you can turn to for any occasion is a sequin midi dress paired with knee-high boots. You can add or remove layers based on your personal style or plans for the evening and know that you'll feel comfortable and look chic. 

Re-create the look:


Cropped Halter Top + Maxi Skirt + Crystal Heels + Clutch
(Image credit: @fisayolonge)

Want to show a little skin without baring it all? Enter the look above. Pair a cropped halter top with a maxi skirt (ideally in luxe velvet) for a jaw-dropping holiday party look. 

Re-create the look:


Metallic Knit Dress + Chainmail Bag + Silver Heels
(Image credit: @iziangus)

Not to sound like a broken record, but shiny things are ideal for special occasions. Case in point: the look above. A metallic knit dress styled with a chainmail bag and silver pumps are the perfect looks for any upcoming event on your calendar. 

Re-create the look:


Matching Plissé Set + Crystal Heels + Clutch Bag
(Image credit: @laurennicolefk)

We've all, at one point, experienced not only the dread of having to choose what to wear to an event but also having to go in general. In those moments, it's best to pick an outfit you'll feel most comfortable in, like a matching plissé set with matching pumps. It's cozy and chic enough to make you not regret leaving your bed and still fool people into thinking you put time into getting dressed. 

Re-create the look:


Jumpsuit + Sandals + Silver Bag
(Image credit: @jeannine.roxas)

The key to also looking chic for any holiday party lies in choosing pieces you know for a fact you feel comfortable in all evening. Something like a jumpsuit styled with sandals and a silver bag will surely keep you feeling great. 

Re-create the look:


Sequin Suit + Bra Top + Bag + Pumps
(Image credit: @ninasandbech)

You've made it to the end of this story, and hopefully, by now, you're no longer stressed but instead excited about what you'll wear for that upcoming party. But should you need one last dose of inspiration, let our parting advice be: have fun. This season is all about enjoying your loved ones, what you have, and what you wear! Don't be afraid to choose a party outfit that you feel great in—whether that looks like donning a full sequin suit with neon accessories or wearing a simple plissé set. At the end of the day, it's all about cultivating joy. If you do that, you'll look chic no matter what. 

Re-create the look:

Next: 24 Going-Out Outfit Formulas That It Girls Always Rely On

Jasmine Fox-Suliaman

Jasmine Fox-Suliaman is a fashion editor living in New York City. What began as a hobby (blogging on Tumblr) transformed into a career dedicated to storytelling through various forms of digital media. She started her career at the print publication 303 Magazine, where she wrote stories, helped produce photo shoots, and planned Denver Fashion Week. After moving to Los Angeles, she worked as MyDomaine's social media editor until she was promoted to work across all of Clique's publications (MyDomaine, Byrdie, and Who What Wear) as the community manager. Over the past few years, Jasmine has worked on Who What Wear's editorial team, using her extensive background to champion rising BIPOC designers, weigh in on viral trends, and profile stars such as Janet Mock and Victoria Monét. She is especially interested in exploring how art, fashion, and pop culture intersect online and IRL.