How To Dress Up When You Don’t Wear Dresses

When it’s time to get fancy — a holiday fête, a wedding, that highly anticipated third date — a dress is an easy, effective (albeit quite obvious) sartorial solution. And if that’s enough to sate your style needs, frock on. But for those who refuse to settle for anything other than an outfit you put on one leg at a time, think of the seven looks ahead as an answer to an age-old question: How do you dress up without a dress? For women who already live in pants, perhaps the answer is a bit more apparent: Despite occasion or dress code, they understand how amazing a pair can be. Slim-tailored and flamboyantly flared alike. So with this in mind, we picked our favorite pairs from Neiman Marcus and gave them our own festive spin to create inspired, cool, and super stunning ensembles that push the parameters of what classic feminine style looks like. After all, why should dresses have all the fun?
Tiers Of Joy
The beauty of choosing pants for a special event is that it's like having multiple hemlines to work with. In the below look, we’re specifically speaking of a sleek suede trench layered over two wide, flared legs. This triple play creates tiers of fabric that softly swing, while a cinch at the waist and modern statement necklace provide subtle details that polish off the look.
Photographed by Christine Hahn.
Derek Lam 10 Crosby pants, Billy Reid jacket, Anndra Neen necklace, Lanvin shoes, Clyde hat.
The Other Red Suit
Red is not only a color that’s ubiquitous this time of year, it’s also a seriously powerful shade. And it looks especially bold in this unconventional, tailored silhouette. The long-line jacket almost masquerades as a dress itself, and the cropped trousers show off lace booties that contrast the plaid pattern. In short, it's far from Santa-suit territory.
Photographed by Christine Hahn.
Victoria Beckham coat and pants, Altuzarra top, Gianvito Rossi shoes, Eddie Borgo bracelet and ring, Meadowlark earrings.
Unseasonably Cool
One of the most iconic fancy-pants moments in history is the creation of Yves Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking. But that’s only part of the inspiration behind this magenta getup. The tuxedo jacket has been swapped for a moto and the trousers fast-forward to spring with a vibrant floral print.
Alice and Olivia top, Lanvin jacket, Etro pants, Manolo Blahnik shoes, Eddie Borgo bracelet and ring, Meadowlark earrings.
One & Done
Somewhere between the throw-on-and-go quality of a dress and the safe-to-break-it-down-on-the-dance-floor appeal of pants, comes the jumpsuit. This one is sophisticated with its button-up, necktie top. Although for this holiday season, we suggest keeping it undone and adorning your décolletage with jewelry instead.
Diane von Furstenberg jumpsuit, Sarah Jessica Parker shoes, Oscar De la Renta bag, Dannijo necklace, Alexis Bittar ring.
Don’t forget a sparkling handbag and shoes that don’t apologize for being spotlight stealers.
Party In A Pant Leg
These bottoms practically call for a celebration, or at the very least a happy dance. The dramatic ruffles and high slit on one side create a unique silhouette that’s almost a dress-trouser hybrid, while the other leg is much more streamlined.
Rosie Assoulin top and pants, Sarah Jessica Parker shoes, Eddie Borgo bracelet and ring, Alexis Bittar earrings.
The look balances out with an asymmetric, ruffled top cascading down one side.
Comfort Zone
The beauty of party pants — especially for the girl who RSVPs more for the cake, not the wild crowd — is how easy it is to stay comfortable. A loose silk trouser in a bold shade looks polished and sleek unto itself, but can be as cozy as pajamas. And if you want to push the limits a bit more, pair them with a sweatshirt-like top in a contrasting hue and slip on a quirky shoe. Everyone will be so dazzled by the colors and shapes, they won’t even notice if you get a little too comfortable.
Etro top and pants, Bally shoes, Lady Grey necklace and bracelet, Alexis Bittar ring, Meadowlark earrings.
You Feel Me?
This outfit is proof that a straightforward silhouette and basic color can be taken to another level with rich texture. The embossed surface of these black bell-bottoms give the pants dimension, and a feathered vest pushes it even further into full-on festive territory.
Photographed by Christine Hahn.
Alice and Olivia top and pants, Oscar de la Renta handbag, Sergio Rossi shoes, Eddie Borgo choker and bracelets.
This monochrome approach feels far from minimal, especially when paired with a high-shine shoe and an elaborate handbag.

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