Roundup: Holiday Style, Sparkle-Free Edition

Because, velvet

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer

Holiday Party Dresses | A Practical Wedding

Eliza J Sleeveless Floral Fit and Flare Dress ($124)

Holiday parties are easily one of my favorite parts of being an adult. Since my friends and family are either not of the marrying age or not the marrying type, holiday parties are my yearly opportunity to buy a fancy dress, eat tiny appetizers, and dance the night away with Michael in a room filled with people I genuinely enjoy. With Michael’s company gala coming up in a few weeks (engineers, man, they know how to throw down), I’ve spent the better part of my free time the past few weeks scouring the internet for the perfect dress to match the occasion. My requirements for the perfect holiday dress make this task an enjoyable challenge:

  • Nothing over $150 (I may have cheated on a few for this roundup, but you and I both know these things are going to go on sale in a few days anyway.)
  • Nothing that reads as too “holiday”; I can only justify the expense if I’m going to wear it again.
  • No mother-of-the-bride holiday dresses. You know which ones I’m talking about.
  • It should be kind of awesome.

Normally I’m a sucker for sparkles this time of year (and don’t worry, we’ve got that roundup coming for you soon), but lately I’ve been drawn to more matte textures: velvet, leather, lace. It’s not easy finding the right combination of awesome in one of these fabrics, so today I’m passing along all of my best finds to you. If someone doesn’t buy the purple velvet dress below, I think I might just give up and go home.

Velvet Holiday Dresses | A Practical Wedding

Velvet 1. Ralph Lauren Embellished Velvet Dress ($224) 2. Asos Skater Dress in Checked Velvet ($62.29) 3. Asos Curve Plus Size Kimono Maxi Dress ($115) 4. Mod Cloth Posh At The Party Dress, available in sizes XS-4X ($135) 5. Ivy and Blu Mixed Media A-Line Dress ($107)

Lace Holiday Dresses | A Practical Wedding

Lace 1. Igigi Leigh Plus Size Lace Dress in Gold ($180) 2. Maggie London Long Sleeve Lace Sheath Dress ($158) 3. Mixed Media Fit & Flare Dress ($158) 4. French Connection Lace Jersey Dress ($117)

Leather Holiday Dresses | A Practical Wedding

Leather 1. Aqua Short Sleeve Dress in Leather and Ponte ($138) 2. Asos Curve Plus Size Dress with Shard Embellishment ($67) 3. Asos Skater Dress with Leather Look Pleated Skirt (92.55) 4. Isaac Mizrahi Sleeveless Dress with Floral Skirt ($179)

Bright Holiday Dresses | A Practical Wedding

Color 1. Monif C. Isabel Plus Size Lace Peplum Dress in Red/Fuchsia ($208) 2. Felicity & Coco Contrast Panel Sheath Dress ($118) 3. River Island Red Asymmetric Frill Scuba Dress ($100) 4. Topshop Sleeveless Formal Drape Dress ($92) 5. Coast Lisanne Dress ($190)


Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, Maddie currently lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband, Michael and their mastiff puppy. Current hair color: Purple(ish).

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  • Jessica

    And of course my favorites in each category are the most expensive ones. These are beautiful!

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      You and I have the same problem. Do you know how much restraint it takes for me NOT to put the $400 dresses in these things? Because those are on a whole different level.

      • Jessica

        I hear ya. Because it’s my “friday” at work and I’m bored, I went hunting for more on a designer discount/bargain site–ruelala. Here are my faves from there. All but one is under $160!

  • Emmy

    Wait, do people actually have fancy-dress holiday parties? Because I see these lovely round-ups every year, but I’ve never had a party to wear such a pretty dress to!

    • TeaforTwo

      Emmy, I know what you mean! My family and friends are pretty casual at the holidays, although I like to go hear the Messiah every year, which is usually an excuse to dress up a bit. Fortunately, I am marrying into a family that has a fancy dress-up party every boxing day, and I start thinking about my outfit months in advance, because tights and sparkles are my favourite things to wear.

    • I’ll second what Maddie says…engineers know how to throw down! Now that I’m marrying one, I get in on their fancy holiday parties!

      Also, when I was in college, my friends just threw a fancy dress party every December so we had an excuse to wear fancy clothes. Highly recommend.

      • PS During the holidays, I kinda feel like you can wear fancy dresses or holiday sweaters or whatever over-the-top holiday look you love basically anywhere and you’ll never be overdressed.

        • Shotgun Shirley

          And if you get there and feel overdressed, just leave early and say you have another engagement… or play it safe, get there late – you just came from something fancier (but not as fun as you guys who are the best, obvs).

      • Katie Schwing

        I also have friends who throw fancypants birthday parties from time to time — hey, if it’s your birthday party, you make the rules!

    • Sonarisa

      Emmy- this exactly! I found an amazing sequined gold dress in a store a couple days ago and thought back to these round -ups. Still trying to figure out a reason to get that dress, I made the mistake of trying it on and I looked fabulous. If I wasn’t planning a wedding in March, I’d be tempted to throw a cocktail party, but I’m 4 months away from the date, and my friends aren’t the type to dress up for an apartment get-together anyways.

    • Kayjayoh

      I have a friend who specifically does a black-tie party every year. Aside from the clothes, it is the same house party he always has, but we all get to dress up. Also, I dress up for NYE, no matter what we are doing. Back when I was still with my worst ex ever, I wore a cocktail dress, opera gloves, and a tiara to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVR in his room.

      • Maddie Eisenhart

        You are my hero.

    • Laura

      Man, I just don’t people who like to dress up. We dress up for new years every year though, whether we stay in or go out, so that’s fun.

  • Guest

    (nevermind, I just found the link I was looking for.)

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      You can! I just realized that the link doesn’t look like a link when it’s formatted that way, but it can be yours! And surprisingly not the most expensive of the bunch.

  • TeaforTwo

    My M of Honour is wearing this in my Christmassy wedding, and you should wear it somewhere this season, too.

    $50, made in America, 2X and 3X in stock. YOU ARE WELCOME, plus-sized friends. (Preferably shorter plus-sized friends, because this skirt is short.

    • Jacky Speck

      Oh that is super cute and I love ModCloth! Keeping with the velvet theme, I got this for an upcoming holiday party with family: I like that you can easily dress it up or down.

      • TeaforTwo


    • KISig

      I’m also a huge Modcloth fan! I bought my wedding dress there for $60!

  • MrsM

    First – THANK YOU for including a plus size option in each category! And second – my wife and I are bringing back the dressi’ness to our family holiday gatherings this year because we bought killer outfits to attend a late Fall wedding this year. We’ll be overdressed in comparison – but hey its our first holiday as wives and we feel like looking fancy! Yay for gettin all gussied up!

    And where was that white with black flowers Mod Cloth dress when I was wedding shopping?! I totally would’ve rocked that as a wedding dress!

  • TeaforTwo

    The link from the Eliza J dress doesn’t seem to be working. This is a problem, because I really, really want to buy that dress.

  • Kayjayoh

    Having learned my lesson from the Happy Hour thread, I won’t include my referral code again, but I am super jazzed about my holiday dress:

    I plan to add a small red crinoline underneath it, to jazz it up a bit for parties. (And…POCKETS!)

    • Laura

      I too, am obsessed with this website. POCKETS!

  • Shiri

    I really, really need something to wear that blue Coast dress to. Oh. My. God.

  • Lace number one – wowza!

  • Laura

    Hello lace dresses!! I don’t know if this is a new trend or if I’m just now noticing, but I’m head over heels for lace on outfits! I should change my line of work just so I can dress up every day.