It’s party time! // Style Counsel

Style tips to keep you looking stylish and appropriate for holiday office parties

By Donna Wilson

On Wednesday November 10th, 2010


photo by Rennett StoweThe holiday party season is fast approaching, and that means it is time to start looking for party dresses. Many holiday parties centre around work or family; therefore, a more conservative look is needed. Conversely, New Year’s Eve is a great excuse to go overboard and throw conservatism out the window.

Most of the fall/winter 2010 trends are bold statement-makers. If you have not had time to keep up with trends this fall, here is a short cheat-sheet of what is in right now:

  • Menswear-inspired tailoring
  • Animal prints
  • Tights in bright colours or interesting textures
  • Mixing prints
  • Leather
  • Capes
  • Thigh-high boots
  • Tweed
  • Faux fur
  • High-heeled booties
  • Velvet
  • 60s silhouettes
  • Lace
  • Bold colours

The holidays are also a time for embellishments such as ruffles, bows, sparkle or chunky jewellery.

So, what to wear?

For your firm’s holiday party, ask one of your peers how the other women typically dress for this occasion. At many law firms, the majority of female lawyers simply wear their favourite office dress. If this is the case, consider jazzing yours up with an evening clutch and your favourite heels.

If you are attending a holiday party where the women actually dress up, it is possible to incorporate some of the above trends while still maintaining a modest look. Simply pick an elegant dress with a reasonable neckline and hemline and go bold with your accessories where appropriate (e.g. no thigh-high boots at a business or family function!).

LBDpink shoeleopard




For example, you could pair this sparkly tweed LBD (Michael Kors $156 [Ed. Note: No longer available], with a pair of bright pumps (Badgley Mischka $209 [Ed. Note: No longer available], and a leopard print purse (White House Black Market $58 [Ed. Note: No longer available],


blue dresslace shoegold bag




If you are in the mood to splurge, you could wear this colourful Mad Men–esque dress (Caroline Herrera $2,690 [Ed. Note: No longer available], with lace heels (Stuart Weitzman $381 [Ed. Note: No longer available], and a sparkly evening bag (Kate Spade $195 [Ed. Note: No longer available],


For a more affordable look, H&M has a great selection of party dresses right now, and it is launching a temporary collection of Lanvin for H&M on November 23. Check out the look book here.

Whatever style you are looking for, it is a good idea to start now. Shopping for an event at the last minute almost guarantees that you will end up spending money on something you are not crazy about. Happy shopping!

Donna Wilson is a Toronto-based commercial litigator at Affleck Greene McMurtry LLP. Her style and beauty column will appear every second Wednesday.

Photo by Rennett Stowe