And, you thought there were only four seasons in the year. Nope, folks — the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve deserves its own section in your calendar. Think about it. When else do you need a carefully curated, annually updated wardrobe that depends on the time of the year? Heck — forget pre-fall. Holiday deserves its own tab on Style.com.
So, to arm you with the only pieces that'll get you from party one to party 100 this month, we've put together a list of the holiday wardrobe essentials you'll be relying on to keep the season interesting. From warm, sophisticated layers to the surprising underpinnings that'll keep things exciting, the 30 elements ahead are key to any stylish social butterfly.
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The Super Wide-Leg Pant — Not just wide, but WIDE — these flowy bottoms are a must for cranking up the drama in a snap. We love pairing them with a cropped sweater or your boxy tuxedo jacket. Just remember the rule with wide-leg trousers: platforms only.
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The Avant-Garde Pearls — This past Fashion Week, we saw both old and new pearls making more of a comeback, and we're way onboard. The trick is making them feel messed up and modern as opposed to heirloom and uptight. Even better, do like Karl and try them supersized, or mix them up with other contrasting pieces.
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The Little Glitter Dress — So much glitter, so little time. But, lo and behold, your moment to haul out all your best shiny stuff is happening NOW. If you don't have a sparkling dress you love, now's the time to check it off your list. And, if you're not a short-dress kind of girl like some of us, try wearing a shimmery mini over a pair of skinny leather leggings.
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The Metallic Leather Bootie — Lately, the metallic shoe is just as indispensable as basic black, so if you've been jonesing for a solid metallic bootie that's both glamorous and practical, we've got your number.
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The Skinny Cuff — Because we're not yet over the mix-and-match bracelets thing AND because Chloé-inspired minimalism is equally appealing, we recommend adding the sleek metal cuff to your accessories arsenal. Just the thing to wear every day or easily mix into your party-prepping repertoire. Hint: Sisters, moms, daughters, and girlfriends would also likely love these at holiday time, too.
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The Teddy Bear Coat — C'mon, every lady wants to roll into a party feeling like Keith Richards back in the day...maybe a little? Even so, the season's fluffy teddy bear coat is not only fashion-forward, it's functional (a.k.a. warm!).
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The Ear Cuff — If you've been thinking of giving this '90s trend a whirl, holiday party season is the perfect time to do so. We're partial to the more minimal styles that blend in perfectly with all your other mismatched ear candy.
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The Gladiator Stiletto — The likelihood is you probably don't need another pair of party shoes. Us either! But, if the gladiator heel is missing from your arsenal, it's time to make it right. Not only is this shoe incredibly flattering on almost everyone, but this is a timeless style that defies seasons and trends.
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The Seasonal Sweater — Quirky and bold, YES; kitschy, NO. Mix it up with some sparkly trousers and heels, and you're totally set.
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The Plaid Pant — It's one of the few times in the year when you can get away with wearing full-blown plaid without getting called Avril Lavigne. Preppy but still whimsical, this look can be dressed up with metallic heels and lace tops or down with boots and sweaters.
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The Understated Slip Dress — The newest throwback dress silhouette, the slip dress is comfortable, easy to wear, and totally sexy. Make sure it's in a darker color or a print with minimal shininess. You don't want anyone assuming you forgot to actually get dressed for the party!
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The Velvet Clutch — These look incredibly chic tucked under your arm, and it's a great excuse to edit down your everyday carry to just the essentials (you know — cash, cards, phone, keys, mints, lip gloss, business cards, random Starbursts, loose receipts, stretched-out bobby pins, and a spare earring).
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The Faux-Fur Trimmed Coat — A coat that'll never go out of style, the fur-trimmed parka is a must-have coat (seriously — if you should only own one coat, this might be the one). Want something a little bolder than your average army green? Find one in a lovely print or contrast sleeves for something a bit more fashion-forward.
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The Fashion-Forward Ski Cap — You're wearing your beanie around the clock anyway, so make it a hat worth showcasing. A pill- and fuzz-free cap in a luxe-looking knit is one of the best ways — practical and stylish — to upgrade an outfit.
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The Leather Skirt — This season, think loooong. A skirt with a knee-length or longer hem is unexpected (in a good way!). Keep things from veering into '90s-Gwyneth territory by choosing a skirt in a fun metallic or bright hue.
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The Gala Gown — Sure, you might be asking yourself just how many galas you have to go to this month. But, we guarantee that if you have the dress, you'll find the opportunity. Something with a simple cut (but with a trend-forward twist like sheer panels or a racer neck) will set you apart from the crowd.
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The Classic D'Orsay — A d'Orsay-style shoe, where the vamp is cut super close to the toe box, is a big deal right now — and for good reason. It gives your foot a super-sleek shape and, in a fun color, adds just a touch of whimsy to your outfit. Look for a d'Orsay with a pointed toe.
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The Leather Top — In the thinnest, supplest material, a leather top (faux or otherwise) can crank up the X factor of your outfit. Pick a top in a classic silhouette and a minimalist shape, lest you want it to look like a sandwich board.
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The Skinny Statement Belt — The quickest way to take a dress from blah to babely is to cinch things with a belt boating some hardware. Spend a little or spend a lot — you'll find that it'll be just as useful during casual situations, too!
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The Party Stocking — Basic black is a staple, but you want something a little more fun for nights out. With a smattering of sparkle or some garter-like stripes, even tights get a bit of an upgrade this time of year.
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The High Neck Sweater — This not-so-ugly sweater has been gaining more popularity this past year. Wear it with a longer skirt and flat boots for a loft party, or skinny jeans and trainers for when you might be nursing that hangover afterward.
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The Heeled Ankle Boot — Cutout, peep-toe boots are cute, but they're not exactly boots in our books. For parties where you're going to have to brave slushy sidewalks, a closed-toe ankle boot with a devastatingly sexy stiletto heel is a must. Don't forget to treat them with waterproof solvent before you step out!
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The Crossbody Chain Bag — A compact pocketbook with a solid chain strap is literally like wearing jewelry for our bodies. Its hands-free practicality is a nice plus, too!
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The Grown-Up Gloves — Drugstore stretch gloves work in a pinch, but you've moved past those days when you needed to pin 'em on your sleeves to keep track of them. A show-off pair of gloves is indispensable come wintertime.
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The Cheeky Hair Accessory — An unexpected way to lighten the mood of stuffy updos is to stick a couple of irreverent hair accessories in there. A fun bobby pin or a hair comb with some spunk immediately adds a wink to a sophisticated look.
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The Textured Skirt — Menswear fabrics and prints like tweeds and herringbones are hugely popular this season, but up the festive factor with bright, poppy colors and a bit of glint. Just make sure the length doesn't go past below-the-knee; in a maxi, this style of skirt could look overwhelming.