time to party: LA to Paris

What to wear to holiday party in LA
Left: Necklace | Top | Pants | Clutch | Shoes | Jacket | Right: Necklace | Top | Ring | Bag | Pants | Shoes

Tish (A Femme d’un Certain Age) and I thought it would be fun to cross-post on “holiday party style” in our respective cities (Los Angeles and Paris). Other than the concept we haven’t compared notes at all, so I’m as excited as you are to see what she’s written about Paris party style!

In considering holiday party style in Los Angeles, I found myself struggling to pin down a single representative look. After all, LA is a bastion of rabid individualism. Angelenos don’t even bother to scoff at dress codes; they mostly ignore them. At any given event here you might see people in everything from jeans to sequins to pirate costumes (and sometimes a combination of all three). Parties themselves can range from a neighborhood wear-your-Christmas-sweater-chili-cookoffs to catered sit-down dinners. Our city boasts an incredibly diverse population with many cultural influences. But there are a few style guidelines I’ve observed, and this festive time of year is no exception.

  • Be cool. The principal sartorial sin in LA is to look like you’re trying too hard or care too much. As with Parisiennes, the best dressed Angelenos convey that sense of “just threw it on” (even if “it” is a four-figure designer piece). Anything too stiff of fussy or overdone doesn’t fly here. High-low mixing is not only acceptable, but encouraged and will add to your style cred.
  • Unless you’re 25, layer up. Yes, the Bright Young Things go out in December in slip dresses and strappy high-heeled sandals, but the rest of us often add a jacket or a shrug. Ankle or knee boots are just fine. Yes, it’s Southern California, but this time of year evenings get pretty darn chilly, and unless it’s pouring rain you may find yourself on an outdoor patio vying for the spot nearest the heat lamp.
  • Sparkle, selectively. Don’t do a sequined top AND a blingy statement necklace. One or the other. (See above under “trying too hard.”) Costume jewelry works, especially if it doesn’t pretend to be anything else, or is vintage.
  • Makeup yes, but subtle, (unless it’s red lipstick, then go bright). Nail polish, yes but no nail art unless one is under 25.
  • But if you have a signature style outside of these parameters, go for it and OWN it. We adore an original.

I’ve almost never attended a holiday event in LA that’s a formal, sit-down affair. Even the most glam parties tend to be more fluid in structure. (That doesn’t mean they don’t happen, but in our circles, those kinds of parties tend to be once-per-decade events.) At an LA party you may spend some time on your feet (consider the comfort factor of your footwear) or juggling a plate of canapés in your lap. (Watch out for lettuce wraps…I almost always end up wearing some of that. :-/ ) One balances practicality with frivolity. And don’t take dressing too seriously; it’s a party, relax and have fun!

I can hardly wait to read Tish’s take on posh Paris holiday party style!


Affiliate links in this post may generate commissions for unefemme.net. See complete disclosure policy here.

Stay in touch

Sign up to be notified of new posts and updates from une femme d’un certain âge.

Affiliate links in posts may generate commissions for unefemme.net. See my complete disclosure policy here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Two fabulous outfits here, Une Femme. We are decidedly casual for holiday parties here in Florida, so I usually just add rhinestone earrings or necklace to a sweater.

  2. Okay, I’m going with the outfit on the right. That’s if you can deliver it by 5 pm eastern time, for my party tonight. Love the velvet jacket. Tish’s outfit is wonderful too.

  3. What a clever and fun post! The ease and range of the LA style really affords the opportunity to be creative in your style which is so freeing and fun. I like to relax and enjoy myself at parties and find that hard to do when “too” dressed up. Your outfits look perfect to enter into a party with an LA vibe.
    Accidental Icon

  4. Love this, and would wear (it’s my palette)- and add a coloured-stone ring or earrings. (Maybe borrow Tish’s?)

    Your reference to “darn chilly” cracks me up, a holiday evening party here means passing through -5 weather, with swirling snow.
    In Montréal you will see the same deliberate dressing down; however, last night at a soirée the hostess’ adult daughter walked in wearing a black cocktail dress with ecru lace sleeves, and every woman in identical, carefully dressed-down jeans realized, Oh, that’s so pretty!

  5. Bonjour! So happy I stopped by today. This is a clever post idea. It was interesting for me to learn about dress codes on the L.A. party scene. I noticed similarities with Paris. That Eileen Fisher jacket is to die for. Love the J. Crew flats too, but it looks like they sold out. Dommage. Christmas is around the corner, and even if I don’t comment often, I have enjoyed following your blog in 2014. Great new look, by the way, très élégant. I wish you, and your family, un très Joyeux Noël and will be looking forward to more visits here in 2015. A bientôt. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  6. I say you nailed it. It’s so hard to not look try-hard. I think I am getting there though…Restraint restraint restraint.

  7. I enjoyed this rundown on LA party/life style. It’s a free-for-all, with fluid rules, which is wonderful. You’d look fabulous in these outfits, but I quite like what you wore in your previous post as well. You can never go wrong with poils! I saw scenes from a party/fundraiser that LA man Samuel Jackson had at Asprey’s in London. What would one wear to that I wonder.