Festive vs. Tacky Holiday Fashion

As the holiday cocktail and office party invites start to flood your inbox this season, it’s important to remember a few things: Eggnog really can be a meal. It’s perfectly fine to buy yourself a gift while shopping for others (it was on sale!). And there’s a fine line between dressing “festive” and “tacky.”

To help keep you on the style nice list this year, we’ve found six shining examples of looks to avoid and looks to embrace as you head out to your celebratory soirees. Leave the naughty clothes for the Ugly Christmas Party folks—and Santa is sure to reward your good fashion sense.

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Whoever came up with the idea that women should parade around during the holidays in sweaters festooned with snowmen, Santas or Christmas wreaths—bedecked in beads, sequins and gems, no less—should receive a lump of coal in his or her stocking for eternity. Unless your party invite insists you purposely wear an ugly sweater, just say no, no, no.

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When it comes to choosing a holiday sweater, here’s proof you can be playful and stylish. This wool/angora blend number features a bow that has been knit right into the sweater. Add a pretty skirt for a dressier affair or jeans or slacks for a casual brunch and—voila!—you’re the total package.

J.Crew Giant Bow Sweater, $98

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Accessories and holiday parties go together like hot chocolate and
marshmallows—but step away from the tree pins, reindeer pendants and snowflake
, especially if they light up. Santa has Rudolph. He doesn’t need you lighting the way, too.

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Dress up that LBD or take your office look from cubicle to club-bound with a fancy pair of dangling earrings. This metal and glass style is sure to bring plenty of good cheer.

Banana Republic Holiday Lights Chandelier Earrings, $49.50

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The real reason Grandma got run over by a reindeer? She dared to wear this novelty dress. If you want to get laughs at the Ugly Christmas Party, fine. But if you’d prefer people to not snicker at you behind your back (or to your face), steer clear of overly-kitschy styles.

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You know a little black dress is always a safe bet, but sometimes you just want to live a little and wear a dress with a little vintage holiday nod that still looks cool and festive. Exhibit A: This ’50-style number with a winter wonderland-print skirt. The flattering silhouette and fancy feel will have you twirling all night. Just be ready to be the center of attention.

Bernie Dexter Rockabilly Girl Swing Dress, $136, Unique-vintage.com

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Going sleeveless to a holiday party is perfectly acceptable. Donning a sweater vest covered in Christmas trees, wreaths or ornaments (or all of the above) is not. Nope. Never.

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Go ahead and get your holiday shine on with a super-chic sleeveless style, like this chevron-striped top that places sequins on black chiffon. On Vixen!

Vince Camuto Blouse, $99, Nordstrom

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Things not to stick on your head at the office party: Lampshades. Your boss’s toupee. A pinecone headband. Seriously, pinecones belong in holiday tabletop centerpieces, not in your hair. Didn’t realize that already? Consider it your Christmas bonus.

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Up the glam this season with an embellished headband that will take even the most basic outfit from “eh” to “oh, yeah!” We especially love this black beauty that sparkles without being too overpowering. Bad hair day? Whatever!

Twinkle For Yourself Headband, $14.99, ModCloth

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Holly as a decoration is jolly. But embroidered on mom jeans? Pure folly. Really, no one has any business wearing high-waisted, light-wash denim covered in jagged leaves and berries. No one.

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Green pants can scream “Look! I’m a Christmas tree!” Red pants can be fun, but also can tread into Santa Claus territory. So how to be festive, but still fashionable? Oxblood, baby. The trendiest color of the season—a dark, deep, brownish red—looks fab done in a skinny leather shape. Pair it with a black turtleneck, tank or blazer, throw on some heels and get ready to party. Bonus: No one will notice that red wine spill!

Rich & Skinny The Legacy Leather Jean, $176, Lester’s

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