Holiday Outfit Ideas: Party Pants

Holiday Party Outfit Idea with velvet pants and leopard print shoes. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Around this time of year, I get a lot of requests for holiday party outfit ideas. So over the next few weeks, I’ll put together and share some options.

necklace | top (similar) | coat | ring | pants | shoes | bag

Over time, my strategy for the holiday season (or other party situations) has shifted away from the Special Occasion One Hit Wonder. I think we’ve all made this mistake at one point or another: splurging on something fabulous, unique and memorable that gets worn once and never again. These days, most of us want to get more wear for our money, and be able to get dressed without stress over the holidays.

So my solution? Pieces that are just a notch above “basics,” but that can be re-mixed and dressed up or down. One of those categories is what I call “Party Pants.” (Or a skirt.) Think print, a sumptuous color, a luxe texture (like velvet or velveteen), or an interesting silhouette like a lantern or palazzo pant. Pair with a simple top, some sparkly jewelry and fun shoes, et voilà!

To dress down your Party Pants, just add a soft sweater, denim jacket and your favorite sneakers. Below, I’ve looked for styles that aren’t too constricting or fussy, and that could be worn as part of a work or casual outfit.

Do you have a go-to formula for putting together holiday party outfits?

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26 Comments

  1. Book Goddess
    November 5, 2019 / 5:05 am

    I think this is a fabulous approach. Sometimes you can find such an item in an unlikely place. Last year I came across some gym pants in a black on black embossed (?) leopard pattern. The material was substantial and I sized up just to be sure they weren’t too clingy. I wore them to our office Christmas party with a deep red shirt. Unfortunately the red shirt ripped on the lawn furniture (Florida), but the pants were great.

  2. Jill Ann
    November 5, 2019 / 6:24 am

    Love the idea, I use it myself quite a bit. I’ll just use this comment as an opportunity to vent once again about pant lengths! Why are so many pants SO short? Really wishing that full length pants would come back in style. I’m not even super tall (5’7”), so can only imagine the frustration of taller women. I have been known to order Tall sizes online, just so an ankle pant will at least hit my ankle bone!

    • Laura
      November 5, 2019 / 6:57 am

      I think pants are intentionally cut shorter to allow for wearing booties with a taller shaft.

    • Nancy
      November 5, 2019 / 9:02 am

      I agree Jill Ann. I wish the retailers would sell at least a few styles full length. The shorter pant leg is not an especially flattering cut for many.

    • Victoria D.
      November 5, 2019 / 9:21 am

      I can’t stand the shorter pant look either. It does not work for skinny calves, and you can’t wear trouser socks under them in the winter. It also seems to shorten the look of the leg, which isn’t flattering. I hope this trend passes soon!

    • Susan
      November 5, 2019 / 9:53 am

      I’m 5’9”, and it means that most winter pants are unwearable for me. You’re right, Jill Ann. So frustrating! Most brands aren’t made in Talls, and I hate to order online because the rest of the pants rarely fit.

    • Rita Prangle
      November 5, 2019 / 10:21 am

      YES! I hate ankle pants and will NEVER wear them. And, too-short leggings!

    • Claudia
      November 5, 2019 / 10:41 am

      I’m with you Jill! And about the same height. Remember when too short pants were “floods”? I can’t get past that. Oh well, it makes shopping easier…so much to not even consider!

  3. Téa
    November 5, 2019 / 6:35 am

    My “formula” is similar to yours! I bust out my vintage charm bracelets and wear them ALL…they jingle and are a good conversation starter! Just ordered the JCrew pants…it cracks me up that they’re actually FEATURING an elastic waist back on a size 0 model – times are a changing!! I would not have been caught dead in those type of pants a while ago, as they seem “aged”…apparently, now, I’m “hip” 🙂

    • Rita Prangle
      November 5, 2019 / 10:20 am

      I’ve never understood why elastic waist pants were frumpy, but drawstring pants were A-OK.

  4. Jan Whichard
    November 5, 2019 / 7:35 am

    Good morning! Just experiencing a link to a non secure site about background checks when I click the link about accessories on your Napa trip blog post. You are most definitely on my safe sender list.
    Also, I would list don Giovanni in Napa as a go to restaurant as well as Della Sabrina if you want authentic Italian food.
    Vine Cliff winery on Silverado Trail is wonderful with a cave tour and a gorgeous picnic area for that charcuterie, bread and cheese day all of which you can buy at Oxbow market place in Napa or really anywhere. I would also list Harvest Inn as a nice place to stay although since we are in Sacramento we don’t stay over often! Glad you enjoyed the wine country!

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      November 5, 2019 / 8:05 am

      Thanks, Jan! That was a formatting glitch…you can disregard those bottom two panels.

  5. Mary
    November 5, 2019 / 7:46 am

    My formula is to flip the script a bit…I like to wear a festive top since in my opinion, at parties and dinners most people are going to notice you from the waist up….sparkly top or a velvet blazer over a simple pair of pants it my go to!

  6. Lyn
    November 5, 2019 / 7:48 am

    Black palazzo pants with an elastic waist! Dressy and comfortable — what more could you want?
    Actually, you could want comfortable high heels to go with them. There’s the real problem. Party pants are easy to find, but party shoes for finicky feet that need arch support — that’s the sticky part. I’m short, so flats, no matter how adorable (like those leopard mules!!), just don’t don’t give me that party look.

    • Lisa B
      November 5, 2019 / 11:56 am

      I was at a point where my feet were so bad I was looking for a “dressy” clog! The shoes are always the issue. No matter how great you look, if your feet are hurting and you can’t wait to take your shoes or boots off, it’s no fun getting dressed up. I’m 5’2″ so I totally get it.

  7. Lily
    November 5, 2019 / 9:39 am

    Simple slim black pants and a sweater with a metallic weave or sparkly beading or a blazer with a fabulous rhinestone brooch is my recipe. After the holidays the look can be toned down under a jacket worn with jeans.

  8. Claudia
    November 5, 2019 / 10:43 am

    I’m with you Jill! And about the same height. Remember when too short pants were “floods”? I can’t get past that. Oh well, it makes shopping easier…so much to not even consider!

  9. November 5, 2019 / 11:24 am

    Sequins, brooches, velvet, satin. I love it all for the holidays. I tend to go for dark, simple bottoms and showier tops. I’ve craved a red velvet jacket for years, and treated myself to one on sale a couple months ago. I’m a rare Californian who “overdresses” for almost everything.

  10. Lisa B
    November 5, 2019 / 11:54 am

    I ordered these J Crew pants in the Spicy Jade to match the same color J Crew sweater. I really like that monotone look. I do wish the pants didn’t have those front pockets as it just adds visual “pounds” to my hips. Ordered my regular size and will have to see if it fits. Taking my cue from you and trying to add some color to my wardrobe. I had all I could do not to order the black and pair it with a black turtleneck as I usually do!

  11. November 5, 2019 / 1:29 pm

    Hi Susan, last year you posted several versions of a long cardigan in a blue red . I have looked now for awhile and can’t seem to find anything like this for my travel wardrobe. Any suggestions?

  12. Sandy
    November 6, 2019 / 4:05 am

    I’ll use this comment to vent about special occasion wear for women. I’m in Chicago, IL, so we have cold winters and evenings for party outfits. Why are women’s special clothes designed with sleeveless tops? Most clothes I see, I would freeze in at a Christmas party – same with clothes for a wedding. Why do men get fashion that completely covers them and yet women are expected to show an abundance of skin?

  13. RoseAG
    November 6, 2019 / 4:41 am

    I recently joined a new company that skewed young and their parties are casual and often active – think bowling. I love it because I’m casual myself. So for me the formal corporate party is gone.
    On the life side if I’m at a holiday event there is food and I’m either making it or eating it, often both!
    Pants, sweaters, more jewelry, less jewelry, sometimes even a holiday sweater dress with cozy tights.

    I am about having fun and making sure my family is happy, so my outfits need to go on and stay on. If I got my “dressy clogs” or tie-up shoes it just means I’m comfortable and ready to help with the last load of dishes.
    At my point in life fussy things are out the door.

    It’s good to get holiday ideas out there this far in advance. My December calendar is about half full and if I’m on my game I’ll have a total plan in place before Thanksgiving so I’m all ready.

    • Lisa B
      November 6, 2019 / 7:48 am

      I’m with you! I love my “dressy clogs” which are black velvet. LOL

  14. Patricia
    November 7, 2019 / 5:41 am

    Not one of the models in the post is wearing anything I could wear here in Wisconsin around the holidays…bare ankles and high heels?…only if I were being tele-transported into my final destination! Any pants I wear have to accommodate boots. (If I’m invited to someone’s home, I’ll bring along some nice, clean flats to change into.)

    I usually wear a pair of palazzo style pants over my Aquatalia waterproof dress (low heel) boots and wear a velvet blazer or top. Lately I’ve been wearing black skinny knit pants with an Eileen Fisher velvet, button up tunic/dress. Perfect for dressing up or down; washable and oh so comfortable.

  15. SF-dre
    November 10, 2019 / 6:54 am

    My company doesn’t do their holiday party until late January or early February, between needing a large venue and our busiest time is leading up to and after the holidays. The party’s pretty dressed up for the Bay Area — lots of long dresses and quite a few men wore tuxes. I went for blue velvet top and matching long skirt though my usual go to is a sparkly top and simple pants.

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