Midnight Express: Party Like It’s 2009 in These Unexpected New Year’s Looks

Tastemakers, free spirits, emerging style icons, and wallflowers alike: If only for a night, New Year's is that one time of the year to shed your inhibitions from years past and indulge your inner sartorial hedonist. With so many options for creative dressing, why default to the standard black dress? Instead, we've cooked up some inspired ideas—from harem pants to hot-pants—to make sure you stand out in a sea of forgettable frocks. So, whatever you end up doing on New Year's, and wherever you end up at the stroke of midnight, we promise these looks will snag more New Year's kiss propositions than a sprig of mistletoe.
Photo via Topshop
Heavy Chains
If only we had $10,000 and Riccardo Tisci's heavy-metal, statement-making, gold-chain-wrapped dresses could be ours. But until that happens, engage in some heavy necking of your own by wearing a multi-layer chain necklace over your trusty 'lil black dress, and be prepared to outshine the disco ball.
Above, from left: Givenchy Fall '08 runway, Marciano Multi-Layer Chain Necklace, $78, available at Marciano; Maren & Ruby Large Multi Chain Necklace, $216, available at Maren and Ruby.
Harem Pants
From the moment we saw Olivier Theysken's shiny, rusty, silky harem pants on the Nina Ricci fall '08 runway, we knew we had to get our hands on a pair. Alas, the last time we tried to wear drop-crotch pants to a party, it felt a bit like wearing PJs to a black-tie gala. But would wearing sleepwear to a New Year's function seem more like a seductive come-hither gesture? We say try this look with a sleek fitted top and some killer heels.
Above, from left: Margherita Missoni in Nina Ricci Satin Crop Pants, $1,575, available at Net-A-Porter; Topshop Hareem Cropped Pants, $90, available at Topshop.
Embellished Hotpants
The spring '09 runways posed a serious question: Where have all the trousers gone? No, really: From Dolce to Pucci, designers eschewed traditional legwear in lieu of something more, well, leggy. And while the likes of Daisy Lowe can rock out with her bum out on a nightly basis, we working girls like to keep our cheek-baring to a minimum. For New Year's however, we're ready to try our own tasteful version—over colored or fish-net tights and with some solid platforms. A nice little blazer on top always finishes things nicely.
Above, from left: Liz Goldwyn in sequined hot pants, via; Silence & Noise Sequin Shorts, $28, available at Urban Outfitters; Topshop Studded Hotpants, $60, available at Topshop.
Patterned Tights
Makeover your simplest dress and give yourself a leg up over other plain-Jane party-goers by pulling on a pair of vibrant tights in neon or lace. These also work wonders with a cropped party skirt, too.
Above, from left: Louise Ebel in lace tights; Topshop Rose Lace Tights, $20, available at Topshop; Express Zebra Print Tights, $16.50, available at Express.
Tuxedo Looks
Ahh, if we could always channel Bianca Jagger in her chic Le Smoking phase back in the 70s. Instead, we'll just borrow some inspiration and choose our own cool, tailored tuxedo-inspired jacket—it's always in style and works with everything from sleek iridescent leggings to the slimmest jeans. For New Year's, you can up the ante trying out a luxe velvet or faux snakeskin version in lieu of traditional satin.
Above, from left: Alexander Wang pre fall 2009 collection; French Connection Sequin Sister Jacket, $158, available at French Connection; Topshop Grossgrain Collar Tux Jacket, $125, available at Topshop.
There's even more inspiration coming from the '20s, thanks to the revival of fringe. Whether it's layered from top to hem or just placed mindfully around the hips (who doesn't love a little shake?), a bit of flapper'esque fringe feels fantastically festive for New Year's or really any after-dark occasion.
Above, from left: Topshop holiday collection; WPQ Fringe Dress, $85, available at Pixie Market; Silence & Noise Flapper Skirt, $58, available at Urban Outfitters.
All-Over Ruffles
Even if sequins and marabou aren't your thing, you can still channel your ultimate party-girl persona wearing a gorgeous tiered ruffled dress. For the past two seasons, designers have been experimenting with ruffles and pleats galore. And while we adore all the added drama an abundance of layers can create, we're happy to stick to a simple flapper-style number—in chiffon or satin, these pretty party-perfect dresses are totally timeless and allow for plenty of dance-floor time.
Above, from left: Sophia Lamar in ruffles, via Misshapes; Can Can Frill Dress, $110, available at Topshop; Erik Hart Ruffle Dress, $342, available at Oak.

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