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Chanel leather skirt, Hipstik tights, Puma shoes, Nordgreen watch, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Taylor's Gold'n Stone quartz earrings, and quartz necklace

Festive attire is asked for on the invitation that your are about to RSVP. However, what does this dress code mean? Well, it depends on the situation aka the event that will be celebrated, the location, the time, the date, the invited crowd, and who invited you. Sounds like squaring the circle! This overview post provides festive outfit ideas for various events, and resources where to find more on what to wear. Read to get inspired, dress fabulously and your best for any festivity with this ambiguous dress code.



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What is the Definition of Festive Attire?

In the English-English Interglot, the synonym for festive attire is evening wear. According to the Webster 4th edition college dictionary, the dress code would mean merry, joyous fine or rich apparel or garments. Googling the term leads you to stores with weird (?) Christmas clothing like a green or black suit with Santa Claus all over the fabric for men, and various holiday dresses for women. Think a green mini dress with a colorful twinkle-lights-like print. Add snowmen, reindeer, Santa, Christmas bulb earrings to the mix.

Looking at the rich results you read cocktail attire and as a more detailed definition: “Festive attire, also known as holiday attire, is a combination of cocktail attire, but often with holiday flair. This dress code is particularly popular during winter-time holidays, like Christmas and New Year’s Eve.”


How to Decipher a Festive Attire Dress Code

Obviously, the above definitions contradict themselves. An evening gown is quite different from a holiday dress like the one in my Voodoo Vixen holiday dress review. All that’s crystal clear from the above is

Please, don’t show up in jeans and a sweatshirt.


Now what? Here the first step to the solution: Take a look at the venue, crowd, day, and time given on the invitation. An evening wedding invitation with this dress code, for instance, means to .


festive attire for dancing
7-layers tulle skirt, Halftee layering top, Jäger corset, Hipstik sheer pantyhose, Chantal pumps, Nordgreen watch


An Event after Christmas

Let’s start with the easiest. Unless the invitation states that the party is a belated Christmas celebration, you can exclude holiday clothing. If the venue is a at a bar in a hotel, a cocktail dress will fit the bill. When the event starts after dinner or is a ball, evening wear is appropriate. In case of a  party on New Year’s Eve, read what to wear on New Year’s Eve for inspiration, and to dress your best for the respective location.


Attention: Festive attire for a Military Ball is a different beast. Learn what to wear and not to wear meet the dress code of a military ball depending on your role.


Dress Code for Events prior to or on Christmas

When the event is the work holiday party the time of the day an location give the meaning. The meeting room close to EoB or immediately thereafter means festive business casual. Forget about the jeans. Welcome holiday dress, holiday jewelry, and ugly Christmas sweater with (black) dress pants.

If the venue is in the evening at a hotel, cocktail dresses are appropriate. Keep your HR-approved dress-code in mind with respect to cleavage, arm coverage. More on the best looks for the office holiday party.

Also recall, when in doubt wear a little black dress:


One is never over- or underdressed with a little black dress. – Karl Lagerfeld



What Does the Dress Code Mean for a Winter Wedding

Some couples like my sister-in-law and her husband pick December 24 or 25 as their wedding day. It is obvious not to wear anything holiday-inspired despite it is Christmas Eve or even Christmas day. Read more on what to wear at a winter wedding.


The Festive Attire Dress Code Calls for Glam Accessories

Go for bold statement necklaces, bracelets, rings, and/or earrings. Costume jewelry like in my Happiness Boutique crystal necklaces review are fine.

Silver, gold, crystal-, pearl, beads and sequin embellished sandals, pumps or clutches are best. Put on the glam.

More is more, and less is a bore. – Iris Apfel


When to Wear a Holiday Dress?

The holiday dress is great for family Thanksgiving and Christmas get-togethers that involve a meal in the home of a family member. They are appropriate for parties in the meeting room at work except for corporate work places and/or when the invitation states festive business casual attire. More on Thanksgiving Outfits.


Matinees and Alike

Afternoon matinees like a ballet performance or theater play of your kids ask for cute dresses, skirts or blouses. Go for a gown for evening matinees, and Broadway shows.

More on dressing for the opera, or an Inaugural Ball.


Festive Attire in a Nutshell

Unless the venue is a ball or the office meeting room, and unless the party is related to a wedding or states festive holiday attire, a cocktail dress is in order. Gemstone colors like (ruby) red, emerald, amethyst (purple) are fine. Festive attire is all about accessories.


Photos of me: G. Kramm

© 2013-2023 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Martina

    Hello Nicole,
    this post is really interessting – I like the accessoires and the originally posted by Iris Apfel :-).
    XO Martina from Germany

  2. Jodie

    I am in the camp of might as well take the opportunity to dress up and look nice!!

  3. Nicole Mölders

    Yes, I agree. We have to cherish what we still can do.

  4. Festive attire is whatever we choose it to be! If we learned anything from the pandemic, it’s to cherish the celebrations.

  5. Amy Johnson

    Such pretty festive looks!

  6. shelbeeontheedge1

    Great post, Nicole! I love your festive looks!


  7. Lovely

    Brilliant suggestions! Love that bodycon ruffle dress!

Comments are closed.