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Holiday Party Dresses: Christmas Red Not Only Choice

Christmas Dresses Holiday parties jewel tones

by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)

It seems as though most women think of bright red or deep green when it comes to Christmas party wear, but there are lots of other good color options for holiday dresses and tops. 

Any nice, knit dress or pants ensemble in amethyst purple, burgundy wine, hot magenta, emerald green, ruby red, sapphire blue, deep turquoise, topaz brown, or basic black (with a touch of silver or gold) will look oh-so-right during the entire holiday party season and beyond.

Holiday Outfits for Casual Suburban Christmas Parties

christmas party dress for holidayWhat can a woman wear to a casual suburban Christmas party without resorting to a red cotton sweater with eight tiny reindeer and a puffy inebriated Santa flying across her bosom? No, the answer is not a blue cotton sweater with skating penguins and sequined snowflakes.

People hold Ugly Christmas Sweater parties for a reason. (Of course, your fave hipster might think it's ironic to wear a snowman sweatshirt in July. I'm not sure.)

And, why on earth would you want to buy something that you are only going to wear one or two times a year?  We’re in the midst of a flipping recession... or stagflation... or whatever the politicians-with-pensions tell their bean counters to call it.

So, if you need a party outfit, you should get something that will work for you year round… or for most of the year. The great thing about a casual knit dress or an elegant pantsuit is that it can be tarted up with fabulously festive costume jewelry, a glamorous purse, and some kickass shoes. Then, you can wear that same knit dress or elegant pantsuit to the PTA/PTSD/AA/AAA meeting (take your pick) later in the week... without the glitz.

Jewel Tone Party Dresses & Tops

If you get the right outfit, you'll be able to wear it well beyond December. But, the only place you'll ever see a Santa sweater in March is on a bag lady.

A cheap little sweater dress or a casual “holiday” ensemble in a great jewel tone (or basic black or metallic) fabric is a purchase that will live on and on throughout the year. Even if you go wild and buy an expensive designer dress, if it's a designer dress you can wear on your cruise in February, you have made a smart purchase.

And, if you can wear that designer dress every few months for the next ten years you get an A for the day.

read about inexpensive christmas party outfits

Casual Christmas Outfits to Wear Year Round

There are lots of cool outfits that are better investments than most red holiday dresses.  Jeezlouise, you do NOT have to wear red to look festive.  I mean… if you love red and you will wear that red dress out to dinner and things like that... knock yourself out. But, if you won’t wear that red dress for another 365 days, your purchase is a waste of money.

Dressy Holiday Parties

Buy something you can wear again for christmas parties - read more

Glam Christmas Party Outfit

If you want something a little fancier, without going all out glam, try to find a dress that’s more structured, but still simple, like the peplum dresses in the main photo at the top of the page.

Or, try to find something uber trendy like the pants outfit on the right. I can totally see you wearing that in Vegas ANY time of year... or to a wedding... or on a dinner date at El Chic-a-rama Restaurant.

Sometimes it's Cheaper to Buy Something Good

All I’m trying to say is that, unless you have oodles of money to blow, your Christmas party outfit should be pretty, but it should also be “pretty generic.”

You're not saving money if you buy a new outfit for a party and then you have to buy another new outfit in another two months for the next party... even when different people will be attending. I mean... no one would even know if you wore the same thing.

Forget about Facebook. This is Fashion Economics 101.

Buy a Party Outfit You Can Wear Again

A simple dress or pantsuit can be worn on dates, to work, to dinner, to weddings, on vacations, and to all kinds of other groovy places.  Hey… a dress with a reindeer is a bit difficult to wear to an October wedding… unless the wedding is in Greenland.

On the other hand, glamorous dresses and tops with the right embellishments can be sort of “generic” in their own right.  For example, the royal blue lace dress in the photo above may not be something you would want to wear to Wallymart, but you could rock (and roll) this frock for years and years of Christmas parties, Hanukkah parties, 70th birthday parties, New Year’s Eve parties, evening weddings in Los Angeles, divorce parties in Las Vegas, fancy-dancy fundraisers in New York, and lots of other things that life may throw your way… maybe not funerals… well, maybe in Vegas.

And, you could make that same royal blue lace dress look different in Facebook photos by wearing different sparkling, cheapo jewelry every time you wore it (or in my case... different hats). The only way most people would realize you were wearing the same dress to several functions would be if you told them.

Seriously. Unless you're still in high school (or still in Los Angeles), most of your friends won't study your clothes with a magnifying glass... or keep a diary of your outfits.

read about cute holiday dresses plus sizes

Plus Size Holiday Dresses Casual

Online Clothing: Jewel Tones and Stretchy Fabric

If you have a hard time finding clothing that fits, the easiest holiday outfit to buy online is usually a dress or top that’s made from jewel-tone (or black) stretch jersey.  If you need something to wear right away for a trip or a party, and it has to fit with no alterations, look for:

  • A knit fabric
  • No zippers
  • A simple style

If you can find a non-stretch dress that fits, you're in luck!  However, if you find that you're returning everything you buy, a stretchy fabric will expand or contract to fit your torso, as long as the cut is decent and the dress is in the right size. Most items with zippers are harder to fit because the garment will usually be made of straight-up satin, cotton, or some other unforgiving material.

Here are some examples of great, simple party dresses that can be worn by women over 40, 50, 60, or whatever.  Note: Some of the frocks in this article have zippers, so take that into account when you're looking at your timeline.  And, even if these particular dresses don’t work for you, the photos will give you examples of  the type of multifunctional, multitasking clothing you should be looking for.

read about plus size christmas outfits that are easy to fit

Plus Size Casual Christmas Holiday Outfits

Dressy Holiday Party Tops

If you don't want to wear a dress, one simple alternative is to wear a jewel tone top that goes with the black pants or black skirt you already have in your closet.  cocktail dress for women over 40 50 60

Multitasking Clothing for Christmas Parties

I really believe that the best garment for most of you is a stretchy, casual dress or top that is cute enough to wear to a neighborhood get together or office Christmas party, but still casual enough to wear to a nice suburban restaurant... without looking like you just came from The Nutcracker Suite.

Suburban women just don’t have the same type of life as city gals. Urban chicks wear more-formal outfits and have better tailors nearby. However, suburban ladies, like you and me, have a lifestyle that comes with other benefits. We can wear our short “Christmas” dresses as tunics all year long... and then we can take cheap-but-fun cruises with the money we save.

Never buy anything you will only wear once a year, unless it’s a wedding dress... well, that didn’t come out the way I meant it.

Try to find multifunctional Christmas party clothing... something you'll be able to wear on a cruise in May.

More Articles for Baby Boomer Women:

Burgundy Color for Fall & Winter: The New Black

Knit Jersey Dresses: Travel Wear for Women Over 40 or 50

23 Trendy Plus Size Clothing Sites for Large Women Sizes 1x - 12x

Best Fall & Winter Coats for Real Women Over 40

Photo Credits: Prshots.com

  • Main Photo: The credits disappeared when I updated my site. Those dresses are from 2012.
  • Blue Dress: Monsoon 2012.
  • Casual Christmas Outfits to Wear Year Round: Teal jumpsuit - House of  Fraser, Blue lace dress - M&S, Chartreuse dress - M&S, Pink dress - Monsoon.
  • Glam Christmas Party Outfit: House of  Fraser.
  • Plus Size Holiday Dresses Casual: Evans.
  • Plus Size Christmas Holiday Outfits: Evans, Igig i(2), Marisota.
  • Polka Dot Dress: Yumi 2012.

What do you like to wear to Christmas parties or neighborhood parties? Leave a comment at the bottom of the page. It's fun to hear from you.

Tina Boomerina (AKA Christina Gregoire) is a Baby Boomer born at the end of 1952. Her mission is to make the internet a kinder and gentler place for Baby Boomer women around the world. Tina's specialty is fashion for women over 50.

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  2. Vicki

    I always love black for the holidays, no matter what. Black flowy pants with a fitted glitzy top or a fitted long skirt with a sparkly necklace over a jewel colored top. Last year it was hot for Christmas so I wore a long sparkly duster over a black top with black pants and the amount of sparkle was just right, not overkill. I also wore black patent flats encrusted with faux jewels. It was perfect for a hot evening with lots of red wine (more heat) and too much food. :)

    • Tina-Boomerina


      Hey girlfriend, that sounds like a fabulously flattering outfit. I don't wear flats unless it's an earthquake or I'm in the midst of a storm at sea, but I can totally imagine you looking hot in that.

      ps there is no such thing as too much food (that's what stretchy material is for)

  3. Paula Devenie

    Where can I buy the polka dot dress ??

  4. Amanda James

    That cobalt blue dress at the top of the page ( i.e.with the gathers, drape-skirt and rhinestone buckle) is stunning! Really classy.I know this page is now a couple of years old but wondered if you can tell me the make-or else the name of the catalogue/retail outlet? I haven't been able to track it down- or a similar dress that even comes 'close' to being as nice.

    • Tina-Boomerina

      I am sorry to say that the dress is from 2012 and I've double checked for others. It's no longer available. Wish I could help. If you want to know where other things are from, let me know. I often have links to current clothing in my newsletters, so let me know if you want to sign up.