I absolutely love holiday parties and having an excuse to get a fun dress!! While I’m pregnant this holiday season (and I shared maternity specific cocktail dresses for the holidays in a separate post), I did a huge try-on of cocktail dresses last year, and I honestly still LOVE them, so I’m re-sharing all the ones that are still in stock. If you’re looking for plaid or tartan style dresses for the holidays, I have a separate blog post rounding up affordable plaid dresses right here.
I also picked out a few new dresses that I would absolutely buy if I didn’t have a bump right now, so one of you should order them and let me live vicariously! The best part of this haul is that everything is under $100, so you can buy something special for an upcoming party and not sweat the fact that you won’t get a ton of wear out of it afterwards!
Also, I tried on many of these dresses in this Holiday Cocktail YouTube video so you can see how they fit and move.
Alright, let’s get into the festive cocktail dress options!
I find that the best Christmas dresses are red. Don’t get me wrong — I also love a green or black dress, but something about red during the holidays feels extra festive.
I ordered this tiered mini dress in both the red and green colorways last year, and I ended up only keeping the red. It sold out quickly last year, so I’m grateful they brought it back and fully stocked all sizes.
I’m wearing an XS in this, and I dressed it up even more with fun gold earrings. The wing earrings are a splurge, but they’re worth it. I noticed QVC is carrying them at a discount right now, and while QVC may sound like a random place to shop, they often have great deals (and I actually met with the brand last year!). If you like the style and want a more budget-friendly option, Etsy has a great pair.
I paired this dress with my favorite black heels that are easy to walk in and comfortable for being on your feet all night making small talk.
I’ve always LOVED velvet, so when I saw this button-up mini dress in the wine-red colorway, I ordered it immediately. I sized up to a medium and it didn’t quite fit by my bump; it was close but still just a little snug, threatening to pop the cut buttons off! However, loved the long sleeves, the deep v-neck, and the velvet. It felt almost a bit retro which is fun.
One of my favorite red dresses to date is a bodycon style I wore years ago for a holiday party (and then again for Valentine’s Day, a wedding, and a work event). Since it’s very old, but I still get questions about it, I was determined to find a similar option. The Iconic Moment Plum Purple Bodycon Midi Dress is as close as I can find, and I LOVE it. I actually already own it in black, so you’ll see photos in that colorway below. And it’s under $60!
A bodycon dress is always an easy choice for cocktail parties. They’re tastefully sexy, comfortable, and dressier than most other styles in our closets. I always style a tight dress with strappy heels or closed toed pumps and dressy earrings.
I’m sharing photos of my old dress below, but you can shop the new (similar) version, here.
I fell in love with this feather mini dress and ordered it, praying it’d fit even though I’m in my third trimester of pregnancy. It actually worked well with my bump since the fabric is a bit stretchy, but the straps fell off my shoulder, which makes me think this is a better option for someone who is taller. (I’m petite at 5’1″). It was such a fun dress and the quality was great.
The red colorway is a gorgeous muted red, but it also comes in black, if that’s more your speed. It’s under $100 and has great reviews.
If you’re shopping for a black dress for the holidays, I recommend getting something that’s a little more fun with cutouts, an unusual hemline or neckline or with fun fabrics like velvet, lace, or sequins vs. just a plain black cocktail dress.
You can get away with more daring choices during the holidays and especially for New Year’s Eve parties. And I find I’m more daring in something that’s black vs. a bolder color like red. Red with cutouts may be a little too much for me.
With black dresses, I prefer to wear fun shoes and wear a red lip to make the look more festive. These gorgeous jeweled pointy toe heels would make a simple black dress immediately feel perfect for the holidays. I just ordered them in two sizes to try. And this is, hands down, the most flattering red lipstick ever (shade chili). It looks GOOD on everyone and the cooler tone makes teeth look whiter (some reds make them look more yellow which we do NOT want).
Little black dresses will serve you well for years to come so it’s worth the effort to find one you lovve.
This backless bodycon dress was the #1 best seller from this entire post last year. It’s under $100, fits true to size (I am wearing an XS below), and will make you feel so confident. I appreciate that it hits right at my knees for a dressier look, but not quite a midi dress style. This dress is flattering and fun — but appropriate — to wear to a work party around your coworkers.
The only issue I have with it is that the button in the back is hard to do on your own, so you may need a spouse or friend to help you out.
I paired it with my all time favorite black Christian Louboutin pumps (this Sam Edelman pair is a cheaper option), gold wing earrings, and a glittery gold sequined clutch.
Here is the black colorway of the bodycon dress I mentioned above. This is something I’d wear for office parties, and I’d feel totally appropriate given the slightly longer length. Since it’s a simple shape, I’d dress it up with the same gold wing earrings and strappy heels. I’d also carry a fun clutch! This dress is on super sale, so you can snag it for under $50.
I just tried on this this short sleeve sequin dress yesterday and absolutely loved it. It’s the perfect option for all of us –– bump or not! It was a little short, especially factoring in the side slit, but if you want a sexier cocktail dress that’s not too revealing, this is a great option.
I ordered this sparkly dress last year in navy since I thought it would be a great option for NYE! I love navy since it’s different than what most people wear for NYE but still totally appropriate. It’s right under $100 and runs a little large since it’s a wrap dress, so size down for a more fitted style. This is an XS.
I styled it with my favorite Loeffler Randal platform heels last year, but I think I’d go for a strappier heel if I were wearing it again this year so the dress and shoes didn’t compete.
Here’s another non-black dress that felt appropriate in this category. This sequin mini dress is one of my favorite purchases ever. It fit me like a glove and made me feel SO confident. I loved wearing it to Tommy’s work Christmas party last year! I have an XS, and it fits TTS. It’s very fitted, so keep that in mind!
I love dark green option for a holiday cocktail dress. It’s so simple to make festive – get a red mani, put on red lipstick, neutral heels and you’re good to go! Green works especially well for Christmas party dresses since green has become such an on-trend, popular color this year. I’ve also linked a cute jumpsuit below that would be quite the statement, as well as some really fun mini dresses with beading.
This color makes me SO happy! If you’re looking for a fun (yet modest) cocktail dress, this mock neck midi dress is perfect. It’s under $100, runs true to size, and can be worn with any heels! The bodice is a little large, so it’s perfect for large busts. Just be sure to steam it. I didn’t before I took these pics and it still pains me.
I noticed this green mini dress while I was scrolling through Lulus and immediately fell in love with it. In find that corset style dresses can look a little bit too trendy for my liking the majority of the time, but this taffeta material and fun skirt is really working for me. The reviews say that it’s best for a smaller chest or to size up, so keep that in mind if you order.
Last, but certainly not least, is this emerald green long sleeve bodycon dress. I LOVE the deep v-neckline, the gathered bodice, and the looping sash. It’s under $100, has a ton of positive reviews, and would be a great option if you love green but don’t want to wear anything that shimmers.
Lulu’s has a great selection of affordable cocktail and holiday dresses and Tuckernuck has a wide variety of styles and price points as well. Have a little fun and get something a little more bold this year, maybe try some embellishments! A seasonal party is the perfect excuse. If you’re ordering from Lulus, get your true size unless I noted otherwise. I found that the sizing was pretty consistent across the board for the dresses I tried on.
For accessories, Revolve’s accessories selection and Baublebar both have a great selection of statement jewelry that’s affordable and, in my experience, both have fast shipping too. I also found cute holiday accessories at Vici; I just ordered these bow earrings and can’t wait to wear them come December.
Typically, cocktail attire means a balance between formal and casual. It’s not quite as formal as a black tie event where you’d wear gowns, but it’s dressier than dinner out with your girlfriends. Most retailers will categorize their dresses as “cocktail dresses” for the best possible shopping experience.
For a cocktail party, men will usually wear a suit and tie, and women will wear a dress with heels. I also find that you can easily get away with wearing dressier boots with a heel for cocktail attire.
Happy holidays and have fun celebrating!
SHOP HOLIDAY DRESSES