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Holiday party time: How to be the best dressed for less

Holiday party time: How to be the best dressed for less

News_Merritt Beck_Holiday Party Green_Nov 2011
TopShop Maxi Dress - $100 Courtesy of TopShop
News_Merritt Beck_Holiday Party Blue_Nov 2011
ASOS Dress - $80 Courtesy of ASOS
News_Merritt Beck_Holiday Party Pink_Nov 2011
TopShop Maxi Dress - $100 Courtesy of TopShop
News_Merritt Beck_Holiday Party Gold_Nov 2011
TFNC Sequined Strapless Dress - $90.90 Courtesy of ASOS
News_Merritt Beck_Holiday Party Green_Nov 2011
News_Merritt Beck_Holiday Party Blue_Nov 2011
News_Merritt Beck_Holiday Party Pink_Nov 2011
News_Merritt Beck_Holiday Party Gold_Nov 2011

With Thanksgiving over, Christmas and New Years are bringing holiday parties back into focus. If you have a schedule like mine, you also have a variety of other events like weddings and birthdays to attend over the next several weeks. When you're spending money on gifts for others, you may not always have enough cash to treat yourself to something nice.

Although I don't believe money brings happiness, I do however like to believe that if you feel good about yourself and appear happy and confident, the positive energy radiates and encourages others to be happy as well.

 Nothing cheers me up more than finding a great piece for an even better deal. Instead of skipping on buying things alltogether, why not purchase a few cheaper sheaths and add some variety?

 And nothing cheers me up more than finding a great piece for an even better deal. Instead of skipping on buying things alltogether, why not purchase a few cheaper sheaths and add some variety?

Just because you can't afford that expensive frock you've been eyeing at Neiman's, doesn't mean you can't add a little spice to your current dress collection for less. That way, your wardrobe gets some trendy additions and your credit card won't max out this holiday season. After all, no style-savvy woman would be caught dead in the same dress at every holiday party.

For a holiday cocktail party

This season has seen a lot of sheer panels, lace inserts, cutouts and other such detailing on cocktail dresses. It's OK to show a little skin at a cocktail party, but only if done correctly. 

My motto for wearing something somewhat revealing? The outfit should only be sexy in one place. If you're wearing a short dress, your neckline should be modest and in most cases I'd suggest wearing tights instead of a bare leg. For a bare back or low-cut neckline, stick with an elegant pant or midi skirt.

For those digging the look of sheer panels and overlays, try this deep blue mini dress I recently purchased from ASOS. As mentioned above, with the short length I chose to pair it with some black opaque tights and ankle booties (see how I've styled it here).

Due to the high collared neckline, you can forego a jacket, but if you do get chilly, I suggest adding a black pashmina or capelet. The textured fabric gives off the look of scales, adding an edgy vibe to the already lust-worthy dress. Get this piece of perfection for only $80 here.

Another holiday-hued sheath with a hot-as-hades cutout is this red BB Dakota dress. I would recommend this only for those with a smaller bust, otherwise you'd be showing off too much of the ladies.

For a more modest look, try a solid maxi dress with a sublimly sexy slit, like this hot pink piece from TopShop. What's great about a solid colored dress is the fact that you can decorate it with elaborate statement necklaces and large jeweled cuffs. All you have to do to give it a new twist is to change out the jewelry and accessories. Nothing ordinary about it.

 Sequins, beads and sparkles are all the rage right now, but you don't have to spend a fortune to own an exciting embellished piece.

 Not a dress person? Test out the menswear look in a fancy tuxedo suit with a pretty top and stilettos. Glam it up with statement jewelry and a red lip.

For the December wedding

Whether it's cocktail or black-tie, long dresses are much more common in winter than any other season for weddings. Just because it may be cocktail attire, doesn't mean you have to go short. Keep it classy with a slinky floor-length frock like this emerald piece from TopShop, and top it with a fur capelet or pashmina. The color is versatile for all seasons and the silhouette is a classic.

Another fabulous option is this galaxy-printed Aqua dress featuring a deep V and gathered shoulders. A very couture look for under $200.

For New Year's Eve

The one word that comes to mind every year around this time is "sparkle." Whether it's the holiday lights, fireworks, or the oh-so-hot sequined dress, sparkle is everywhere. Sequins, beads and sparkles are all the rage right now, but you don't have to spend a fortune to own an exciting embellished piece.

If you're not typically a fan of a ton of flare, buy a piece with just a touch of sequined detail, like this asymmetrical dress at Urban Outfitters. Not over the top, but adds just enough sparkle to help you outshine the rest of the party in an understated way. For a completely decked out dress, choose a sequin-covered dress like this strapless creation from ASOS. Don't like to show off your arms? They've got a dress for that too! Get this long-sleeved sequined mini from ASOS as well.

I've always been a huge fan of sequined numbers, so I own quite a few pieces myself. My pick for NYE this year is this Haute Hippie one-shoulder sequined mini dress. The color is exquisite and the silhouette is to die for. It may be a little much for a wedding or office party, but it screams Happy New Year.

Style Tip: If you're trying to dress down a sequined ensemble, pair with opaque black tights and booties for a polished, but trendy look.

Beck is the editor of fashion and personal style blog, The Style Scribe.