There are inevitably two sources of stress during the holiday season: money and what to wear. The two can even go hand in hand if you’re trying to spend money on others, not a new dress for a party. Then, you can add in another headache: location, location, location.
Where you wear your party outfit matters. Spending time with out-of-town relatives and socializing over drinks with friends do not generally call for the same dress code. Being conscious of who you’ll be with is the first step to looking fabulous while raising a glass to the new year, or gathering around the Christmas tree.
After that, you just need to pick a style that accentuates not only your body but your personality. From classic to trendy, here are 25 dresses under $150 that will make you the toast of the party without toasting your budget.
1-5. The little black dress
An LBD is a staple for a woman’s wardrobe, and depending on the cut, detailing, and material, it can be a work dress, casual dress, or party dress. It’s worth investing in one you love that can be worn for years, because it is never going out of style. This dress by Anthropologie is deceiving: It may appear simple, but it has a lot going on. The detailing on top and pleated skirt elevate this from an everyday LBD to one worthy of a festive occasion.
Above: Pleated Dropwaist Dress
This ASOS Curve dress (far left) is perfect for a holiday party. Sleeves and a long hemline may appear a demure choice, but the dress will show off curves, and it creates a longer look by hitting mid-calf rather than above the knee. Other fantastic curve-flattering choices are the KamaliKulture Shirred Sleeveless (second from right) and the H&M (far right) dresses. The H&M option is shorter and more showy than the others. The Eliza J (second from left) is great for a more conservative setting, but at the same time, the V-neck keeps the dress from feeling stuffy.
6-10. Lace dresses
Lace is all the rage. With dresses in a variety of colors and cuts, there are endless opportunities to find a style that suits your needs. This green dress is a way to stand out colorfully.
The cut will hang well on curves, creating an hourglass shape. To keep wearing lace in the winter, opt for a deep rich color, like this green. Try to avoid pastels and unlined lace.
Green not your color? Not to worry, red lace dresses are another way to stand out this season. If you are trying to mask your arms, look for something with a full sleeve. A cinched waist will help create an hourglass shape on everyone, and fit-and-flare dresses hide the hips and stomach. Fit-and-flare styles (second from left) do as much for shape-making as they do shape-masking. Almost everyone can wear a dress in this cut, which is popping up everywhere this season. Lace detailing is perfect for those who do not want an entirely lace dress but still want to stay on trend this season.
11-15. The red dress
Like the LBD, red dresses are a staple, as well. The color immediately calls attention to you, so pick the cut that is most flattering for your body. Where you’ll be wearing the dress matters, as well.
Although this dress has full sleeves and hits below the knee, the small cutout and close fit create a look more appropriate for partying with friends than for having a holiday meal with the family.
A snug-fitting dress, like the Ruched Double Drape (far right), will emphasize a small waist and curves, but a close-fitting pencil dress (second from left) will create lean lines, since it is less body-hugging. The Luck be a Lady (far left) and Spence (second from right) dresses have fit-and-flare elements, and by adding a belt, one can further define the waist. The first three options can transition from work to party by adding statement jewelry and ditching a cardigan.
If you really want to shine this season, metallics are the way to go. The pleated skirt on the dress above de-emphasizes the hips and the high waist slims the midsection. The sequins on top keep grey from appearing drab but without going over the top and making you look like a disco ball. It’s a great choice for a night out for drinks or a New Year’s Eve party.
Above: Ore My Darling Dress
Been hitting the gym and want to show off your toned arms and legs? The THML sequined dress (far left) is conservative on top, but the short hem and pencil-dress style will make you sparkle. For the more daring, the Sparkle & Fade dress (second from left) shows some skin and has a flattering waistline. The waist on the Twinkling at Twilight Dress (second from right) and the Jacquard Scroll A-Line (far right) bring the dress in, creating — or highlighting — a slim waist. They are all fantastic choices to shine on New Year’s Eve, but the Twinkling at Twilight option could also work for a family holiday party.
21-25. Winter whites
Winter whites are another way to stay on point this holiday season. Depending on the hue, whites can incorporate other trendy fashion choices like lace or metallics, as well. The dress above has a lot going for it: First, as a fit-and-flare, it will flatter a variety of body types. The metallic shimmer keeps it winter appropriate, and the V-neck shows off some skin without revealing too much. A black heel, like the one worn by the model, is a stark contrast that works with the dress, adding something extra to the outfit.
The sweetheart neckline and bow on the strapless dress give a little oomph to the less-than-fortunately endowed. On the other end of the spectrum, if you want to stay fully covered this season but still dressed in white, the Festive Metallic dress (far right) covers your top half and highlights the legs. Stay conservative but playful in the A Wear Jacquard Tulip Dress (far left), or find an hourglass shape with the Soutache Lace Fit & Flare (second from left). The first two dresses are appropriate for everything from a work party to drinks with friends, and the final two are perfect for a night out.