The Hottest Holiday Cocktail Dresses

As the party invitations start to arrive—your partner’s office holiday party, Christmas Eve with the in-laws, the splashy New Year’s Eve bash—immediately the thought sets in: What am I going to wear? Next to a bathing suit, finding the perfect party dress can easily rank among your most frustrating dressing room experiences. Like swimwear on a beach, a party dress puts you on display—and you know other friends, family and co-workers (and, ahem, your boss) are going to be turning it out, so the pressure is on.

Exhale! We’ve done the homework for you and rounded up a collection of dresses that are not only posh and party-perfect, but also work beautifully for a bevy of body types. Add some jewels, fab heels and the perfect clutch, and you’re ready to make an entrance.

1Flower Power

We love the fit-and-flare of this luxe floral jacquard sleeveless dress. Nipped in at the natural waist, the dress flows out in an A-line skirt that’s ideal for Triangle-shaped figures. And can we talk about the pockets? Pockets on a cocktail dress are just the chicest touch, and also perfect for stashing a lipstick should you decide to leave the clutch at home.

Talbots Floral Jacquard Dress, $229

2Eye-Catching Ruching

Curvy girls, like Hourglass and Triangle shapes, know that ruching is so figure-flattering, especially when placed asymmetrically on the body. This bewitching look offers a wealth of body-friendly options: an asymmetrical necklace, which draws the eye up; the elbow-length sleeve, for those of us with upper-arm issues; the gathering at the side hip; and the of-the-moment longer length that hits just below the knee. Add the entrance-making red shade, and we guarantee all eyes will be on you.

Tadashi Shoji Asymmetrical Ruched Mesh Dress, $228

3Lovely in Lace

Lace is so hot for fall/winter 2013, and is ideal for any party, as it’s equal parts festive and luxurious. With its sheer-lace long sleeves, this dress allows you to feel both a little covered up and sexy, but Rulers should take note of the seaming in front, which creates the illusion of curves where there might be none.

Ann Taylor Midnight Lace Dress, $169

4Faux and Fabulous

Speaking of illusion, this LBD creates a fantastic slimming effect thanks to the curved seaming on its ponte-knit front and its faux-leather side panels, while the crystal-embellished neckline draws the eye up—and gives you one less accessory to worry about.

Guess Sleeveless Faux Leather Mixed Dress, $118

5Shine On

So you know you have great legs, you wouldn’t mind a little bit of sleeve, but you’d also prefer something that isn’t skin-tight, because you’d love to actually enjoy the fancy dinner your company has planned. This sheath is the answer, flattering on a variety of body types—from Circles to Hourglass gals—with its looser silhouette, and bringing the glam in a splashy print with just a touch of shine. Add a pair of black tights to create one long, lean line.

Club Monaco Ophelia Printed Dress, $229

6Pop in Peplum

No hips? No problem. Peplum dresses are the answer if you’ve long bemoaned your lack of curves (we’re talking to you, Rulers), adding instant shape and, with their prevalence on recent runways, also a touch of instant chic. Here, touches of strategically placed lace—including a super-sexy lace back—create curves, while the peplum starts at the hipbones rather than the center-front, so even if those curves already exist, you won’t be adding to them by padding your stomach with peplum.

BCBG Max Azria Whitley Dress, $368

7White Hot

Winter white is such a hot trend this season, and you’ll stand out amid the sea of black cocktail dresses you’re sure to encounter at holiday parties. This color-blocked sheath offers a slimming effect thanks to its cunning placement of black faux leather on the skirt. Pair it with ankle boots for a touch of edge.

Vince Camuto Colorblock Faux Leather Sheath, $189

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