16 Holiday Party Dresses for 2016

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about holiday party dresses already, and I guess it is that time! Many company holiday parties occur early in December, and while it sounds crazytown, December is only 3½ weeks away! It’s definitely time to start planning what to wear.

If your party invitation dictates formal attire, you want to look for a floor-length dress. I am assuming these are rare these days. Most invitations will say “cocktail attire” or “semi-formal” — or the worst because it’s so vague, “festive attire.” What IS that???

Of course every company party is different, but generally cocktail attire is appropriate. I realize that “cocktail attire” covers a lot of ground these days. A pair of pants and a sweater is dressy enough for many company parties, but I prefer to wear a dress. After all, how often do you get a chance to wear a cocktail dress???

16 Holiday Party Dresses for 2016 Under $250

This season I’ve already posted two party looks. This Eliza J Embellished Taffeta Sheath would be perfect for many holiday parties, and it’s still available in several sizes. I love the crushed green taffeta. It’s different than your typical LBD but still festive. Throw on a wrap or a faux fur cape, and you’re good to go! Outfit details in THIS POST.


And this cold shoulder dress is sold out, but it gives you an idea for a way to dress up a LBD with color. I also like that this one has long sleeves because I’m always cold, and this eliminates the need for a wrap. Outfit details in THIS POST.


Last year I wore this Dolman Sleeve Blouson Dress from White House Black Market, and I’m excited to see it back this year. They are usually the first place I look for special occasion dresses. They always have a great selection this time of year. I wore black suede pumps and sheer black hose and some black and silver jewelry I also picked up at White House Black Market. Outfit details in THIS POST.

Holiday Party Outfit: LBD with sheer black hose and black suede pumps

I always get questions about pantyhose, so I wrote a post about what hose to wear with a black cocktail dress and whether pantyhose are even in style at all. The overall consensus was that in the wintertime, sheer pantyhose are appropriate with a semi-formal dress — especially for those of us of a certain age. I will still go bare legged in the summertime because I have a tan (or a good self-tanner) but in the wintertime, these legs need some coverage.

Sheer black hose or sheer skin-colored hose are equally appropriate. I feel like sheer black hose are dressier than nude hose, and with a black dress, I prefer the streamlined monochromatic look of black hose. For a look that is more casual and youthful, tights are an option, but my husband’s office is very conservative and traditional (they are actuaries, if that tells you anything! lol!) so I decided hose were my best bet for the look above.

16 Holiday Party Dresses for 2016

I’ve been scouring the internet for great holiday party dresses and to get a tab on current trends. Lace is a huge trend right now, and most dresses are A-line or sheath styles. You’ll see some “fit and flare” styles as well. Midi dresses are becoming popular, and I really like this ladylike trend. I’ll share styling suggestions along the dresses, and I’m trying to hit a variety of price points, but of course you can take these ideas and shop at your favorite retailer.

#1: Shimmer Jacquard Flare Dress in Gold Metallic (Ann Taylor, $179)
Go monochromatic and pair this dress with gold or nude dress sandals and top with a champagne colored satin wrap. Wear bold statement earrings and carry a gold minaudière.

Holiday Party Dresses for 2016: Ann Taylor Shimmer Jacquard Flare Dress

#2: Gwen Midi Dress in Navy (Nordstrom, $194)
This dress also comes in red, black, and white, but I love the navy for something different. No necklace is needed, but blingy statement earrings and a stack of bangles would be the perfect accessories. I’d wear gold sandals as pictured, or if you prefer, go for a pair of shimmery pumps (lower heel here.) A faux fur caplet would be the perfect topper for this sophisticated dress.

Holiday Dresses for 2016: Dress the Population Gwen Midi Dress

#3: Lace V-Neck Sheath (LOFT, $118)
This V-neckline is the perfect palette for a great necklace. Go with a trendy choker or a more classic statement necklace. Finish this holiday look with black suede lace-up pumps, or bring in some color with these rich burgundy t-strap pumps.

LOFT V-Neck Lace Sheath

#4. Fringe Dress (White House Black Market, $120)
I’ve gotta hand it to White House Black Market. They make themselves a one-stop shop when it comes to holiday attire. They always have coordinating jewelry, bags, and even shoes. I love how they accessorized this dress. I can’t find the exact necklace online but this red stone y-necklace is similar and would certainly work with this dress, and these red velvet sandals are the perfect accompaniment. Top it off with this black sequin wrap.

Holiday Party Dresses for 2016: Red Fringe Dress from White House Black Market

#5. Sequin Stripe Flare Dress (Ann Taylor, $248)
I love how this shimmery sequin dress is different from your typical LBD. I believe I’d pair it with glittery pumps and a coordinating clutch.

Ann Taylor Sequin Stripe Flare Dress

#6. Chaps Faux Wrap Sheath (Kohl’s, $71.25)
You can easily dress this faux wrap sheath up or down, depending on the formality of your event. Pair it with embellished suede pumps or metallic silver sandals. This statement bib necklace would be fabulous for a formal event, or go with a simple string of pearls.

Holiday Dresses: Chaps Faux Wrap Sheath at Kohl's

#7. Mock Neck Instantly Slimming Dress (White House Black Market, $160)
For a body con style that hugs you in all the right places, I’m obsessed with this dress with built-in shapewear. I know it looks short, but I think the model is probably 5’10”. It is actually an inch longer than the one I’m wearing at the beginning of this post. Of course this LBD is a blank slate for so many different accessories, but something about these black and gold pointy toe pumps made of sequins and mesh with accents of black patent leather strike me as a match made in heaven.

Holiday Party Dress: Mock Neck Instantly Slimming Black Dress

#8: Bell Sleeve Sheath Dress (Nordstrom, $69)
Pair this retro-inspired dress with chunky black suede sandals or platform pumps. Go for a layered crystal necklace or a trendy layered Y-necklace and carry a fun black sequin clutch.

Holiday Dresses for 2016: Leith Bell Sleeve Sheath

#9. Embellished One Shoulder Dress (Bloomingdales, $158)
Eliza J is one of my favorite dress designers, so I had to include her in this roundup. I think this satiny one-shoulder dress is so sophisticated and elegant. If I didn’t already have a dress for my husband’s office party, I’d snap this up in a heartbeat. Bloomingdale’s is also having a triple points event right now, and this dress qualifies. I’d accessorize with big blingy earrings and bracelet and silver sparkly shoes and bag. Bring along this metallic lightweight wrap to throw around your shoulders if it’s chilly.

Eliza J Embellished One Shoulder Dress

#10. Off the Shoulder Midi Dress (Nordstrom, $119)
This off the shoulder number with dramatic bell sleeves is fun and different, and it’s begging to be worn with a choker.

Bardot Solange Off the Shoulder Midi Dress for your holiday parties this season!

#11. Lace Fit & Flare Dress (Nordstrom, $158)
This is another Eliza J dress. I prefer a sheath, but this fit and flare style is very flattering on women who are more pear-shaped. I love the way it’s accessorized on the model, but I also think these black strappy sandals would be stunning with this red. The dress comes in 7 color options!

Eliza J Lace Fit & Flare Dress for your company holiday party or winter wedding

#12. Chaps Sequin Pleated Sheath (Kohl’s, $90)
This sparkly sheath comes in navy and grey, and either would be perfect for a holiday party. This dress would also be fabulous for NYE. I love it with these pewter strappy sandals and Stella & Dot Gala Statement Chandeliers.

Holiday Party Dresses: Chaps Sequin Pleated Sheath

#13. Bow Back Midi Dress (Bloomingdales, $148)
This dress caught my eye because it’s different. I love the bow detail in the back — you have to click through to see that! I’d accessorize with metallics and lots of bling. (See #9 for links.)

Holiday Party Dress

#14. Sequin Lace Dress (Bloomingdales, $194)
This dress is pricey, but it’s a classic that you’d have in your closet for years and years. I see this with those amazing platinum Stuart Weitzman Nudist Sandals.


#15. Burnout Velvet Fit & Flare Dress (Nordstrom, 148)
I’ll be honest, I can’t decide if this dress is gorgeous or tacky, but I wanted something different from all of the solids, and when I came across this, it caught my eye. I’d definitely wear black shoes with this and probably carry a black bag.

Tahari Burnout Velvet Fit & Flare Dress

#16. Embellished Mesh Sheath Dress (Nordstrom, $148)
I wanted to wrap up with something unique, and I love how the sparkling beads and sequins overlap like petals all over this classic cocktail dress. In addition to the navy pictured, this dress comes in champagne, khaki, rose and plum. I’m partial to this navy, though. Add gold glittery shoes, statement earrings, bracelet, and a clutch and you’re good to go! Top it off with this metallic lightweight wrap.

Holiday Party Dresses for 2016: Embellished Mesh Sheath

I know I didn’t even touch on skirt or pant outfits, and there are certainly plenty of options for those. Also jumpsuits! I came across a few jumpsuits as I was perusing dresses, and I decided not to go there for this post and to keep it to strictly dresses, but perhaps I’ll have a chance to style a few other types of holiday party outfits this season.

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29 Responses

  1. Bless your heart Jo-Lynne! We have four coffee makers, so don’t feel bad. I would be at a loss if all of ours went on the blink. I’d be on Amazon at record speed. The schools here are closed as well for voting.

    Your day will get better!

      1. One is a two cup maker we put in the guest bedroom when we have guests. During hunting season when guys come down to hunt, we need two so they have plenty of coffee to take into the woods. The 4th one is just in case.

  2. love all your suggestions and with some nice price point diversity! I love me a cocktail dress and wish women on the west coast got dressed up more often!!!! I always feel over-dressed at a party….but I do it anyway! 😉

  3. I literally laughed out loud reading your post today! But despite all the morning drama you sure put a lot of work into the outfit ideas, thank you! If I could, I’d take you out for a well-deserved third cup of joe. Have a great day 🙂

  4. This is a great post! With your help over the past few years I’ve learned to look fairly well “put together” for everyday occasions. For dressy events and weddings, however, I am clueless. I especially appreciate your suggestions for jewelry, shoes and wraps to pair with the dresses. Thank you!

  5. Thanks for presenting such lovely options! I have my last “Mom Prom” this year with my son… 🙁

    Was looking for something special and you just saved me a lot of legwork! Beautiful selections!! (Now if I could only look as nice as you do wearing them…)

  6. I already saw some fabulous dresses for the holidays. Can you believe it’s almost that time of the year! But I love it, dressing up, the three, the family dinners. Just love it.

  7. I’m reading this very late today, JoLynne . My husband’s Christmas party will be very casual this year, but I loved looking at all of the gorgeous dresses . I’m sorry that you had a rough start to your day. I’m honestly sorry…… but the way you wrote about it made me laugh so hard! Have you ever thought of writing a book? I think it would be a hit! You are wonderful with fashion, and I’m so thankful. But, you’re equally as talented when it comes to writing 🙂

    1. Thanks, Julie. I was more of a writer before I started doing fashion. I have tons of stories in my archives. I actually enjoy reading them sometimes. 🙂 They bring back fun memories of when my kids were little.

      1. Well, if you ever stop doing fashion, which I hope is never………. you could definitely write a novel. You’re so descriptive, and insightful with your writing. Plus, with your sense of humor, your novel would definitely be a best seller! 🙂

  8. I have only 1 drip coffee maker, but I also have an espresso machine and a French press. The press comes in handy if the electricity goes out – I bought it when we were remodeling the kitchen and I didn’t always have access to power!
    I live in California and so our holiday parties are often held indoor/outdoor even in winter, since we don’t get snow-cold. It does get chilly in December, by our standards. (Standing outside in 40 degree weather gets COLD in a dress!) I wonder what ideas you would have for a semi dressy event with pants or leggings for us – I’ve been searching for dressy tops and all the options I can find either belong on a 22 year old at a Las Vegas nightclub or on my grandmother.

    1. I LOVE dressy tops and jeans for a more casual party. Something like this: https://jolynneshane.com/fall-date-night-outfit-woven-halter-top-black-pants.html

      Or those LOFT scuba pants would be nice for a non-denim option. https://bit.ly/2dSk9Wa

      White House Black Market is always a good place to start looking for tops if it fits your budget. https://bit.ly/2eJvkSq

      I also have this top that I keep meaning to style for a post. It would be perfect for a holiday party with some blingy jewelry. https://bit.ly/2fXRJgq (It is a dressier fabric in person, I think, and very flattering on.)

      I’ll definitely be styling some more of these types of looks for the Winter Fashion series. 🙂

  9. I’m drinking my second cup of coffee now after voting. I’ve got a nasty cough so we got a slow start this morning. Now for lunch!

    Beautiful dresses but I have nowhere to wear them. And I loved #15

  10. Your creamer was probably fine but the coffee was too acidic and curdled it ???? That’s happened to me! sorry you started off so rocky bit hopefully your day turned around!

    Love so many of the dresses! My husband’s party is going to be on the beach in CA! Probably pretty cool and def not heels or dressy dress. What to wear?! ????

    1. Interesting! I didn’t even know that was a thing. (The coffee being too acidic.) Makes sense b/c the cream didn’t smell bad. Well phooey. I threw it away.

      The party on the beach in CA sounds cool but I have NO idea what I’d wear!

  11. Ok…I’m laughing about your coffee saga!
    I’m probably the only household in America that doesn’t own a coffee pot!! Yep, you heard right…my hubby & I don’t drink it! There I said it! Lol!! Hope tomorrow is better in the coffee department!!

  12. I mean it’s acidic from the vinegar! Lol, Probably didn’t clean the coffee maker enough! It’s happened to me, and it’s not pleasant 🙁

  13. Hey there –
    I am poring over your posts looking for a crocheted black dress I thought I saw here on your blog. Do you remember styling one? I am sharing one on my blog that wound up in a package of things I ordered from JCP. I thought I saw it on you/your blog or something similar. But I can’t find a photo of it here and I can’t figure out how it turned up in my JCP activewear order. Thought maybe you could jog my memory. Love the black lacy number in this post but that isn’t it!!

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