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The best holiday dress

Think of the types of events you might need to attend during the holiday season prior to purchasing your outfits. It's a good idea to make sure you have several stylish holiday dresses to get you through the various cocktail parties, work functions and fundraisers you may attend.
Think of the types of events you might need to attend during the holiday season prior to purchasing your outfits. It's a good idea to make sure you have several stylish holiday dresses to get you through the various cocktail parties, work functions and fundraisers you may attend. (BestReviews)

The holiday season comes with lots of special occasions. It's not just the big official holidays -— it's all of the gatherings like cocktail parties, dinner parties, office parties, fundraisers, pub crawls and everything in between. You might need to dress up more during the holiday season alone than you do all year long. That's why making sure you have several stylish holiday dresses like the Ever-Pretty Women's Retro V-Neck Wrap Velvet Maxi Dress to get you through this festive season is important.

What to know before you buy a holiday dress

Consider every occasion

Think of the many types of events you might need to attend during the holiday season. There is probably a variety, and each one requires a slightly different outfit. For a friend’s cocktail party or a hotel rooftop New Year’s Eve party, you can go with something a little flirty. However, you’ll need something more conservative for the office holiday party and for that dinner with your family. There will also be several events that call for something in between the slinky little number you’ll wear for New Year’s and the button-downed look for the office. So look at your calendar of invites and make sure you’re covered for every dress code.

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Buy a dress you can accessorize 

It's often a good idea to buy a holiday dress that doesn't have a lot of print or patterns. A solid-colored dress gives you the option to accessorize in many ways, almost making one dress look like different dresses on different nights. You can add chunky jewelry, scarves, waist belts, headbands, dangling earrings ... the list goes on. If you have more holiday parties than you can count and need to reuse a dress many times, you can at least make it look different through the use of accessories.

Leggings are your friend

While the holidays might be filled with dress-worthy parties, they also come with cold weather. Cold weather and dresses don’t typically go together. That’s why it’s a good idea to get several pairs of warm leggings to wear with your holiday dresses. In addition to solid black or gray leggings, you can wear leggings that are sparkly, plaid, woven and colorful. Paired with a simple dress, leggings add a lot of personality to an outfit and keep your legs warm.

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Holiday dress features 

Material

Holiday dresses come in many materials, including those found year-round like cotton and polyester blends. However, there are some materials that are iconic for holiday dresses and really make an outfit stand out. Velvet or velour is always a nice choice for a holiday dress. In addition to having a sheen that looks instantly elegant, velvet and velour are also warm, making them ideal for cold winter weather. Lace is another classic holiday dress fabric because it looks much like the decorative tablecloths or cut-out decorations you might find around the home for the holidays. For something a little more casual, there are some holiday dresses made of flannel that you can belt, add a necklace to and dress up.

Cut

You’ll want to consider the occasion when choosing your cut. If you’ll be doing a lot of dancing at a holiday party, a dress with a loose and flowy skirt is best so that you can move. You also won’t want something that’s too restrictive around the arms. However, if you’re looking for something slightly sophisticated for a date night, a body-con dress that hugs the curves and creates an hourglass figure is a good option. For office holiday events, look for something with a high-rise neckline that is at least knee-length.

Color

There are a few colors that are perfect for holiday dresses as they bring out the spirit of this festive time of year. Different hues of green including forest and emerald are always appropriate. Different variations of red including ruby, burgundy and scarlet are also great for the holidays. You can’t go wrong with navy blue or black if you want to keep things simple. And for those who like something a little different, mustard yellow is a nice color for a holiday dress. For events like New Year’s Eve parties and holiday balls, you can opt for a silver or gold dress.

Holiday dress cost 

Holiday dresses are available in many price ranges. You might find some made with synthetic materials and simple cuts for as little as $20 while those featuring higher-end materials like real velvet or pearl detailing can cost $100 or more.

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Holiday dress FAQ

Can you wear black to holiday parties?

A. While wearing black might be inappropriate at some events, it's perfectly acceptable for holiday parties. Black is classic, chic and easy to match with all sorts of accessories and shoes. Plus, it hides stains well.

How do you wash velvet?

A. Velvet is a popular holiday dress material, but it isn't easy to clean. Hand wash velvet — never put it in the washing machine. Fill a basin with cold water and add a very small amount of detergent made for delicates. About a teaspoon should be fine. Turn your velvet dress inside out, put it in the water and move it around gently to cycle the soapy water through. Rinse it thoroughly.

Which holiday dress should I get?

Best of the best holiday dress

Ever-Pretty Women's Retro V-Neck Wrap Velvet Maxi Dress: Available at Amazon

Our take: This elegant dress is floor-length and ideal for more formal holiday occasions like galas and balls.

What we like: Made of plush velour, this dress is warm, soft to the touch and has a festive sheen to it. It's available in several beautiful holiday-appropriate colors including maroon and navy blue and has flattering flowy sleeves and a low neckline.

What we dislike: It is not made with real velvet as advertised.

Best bang for your buck holiday dress

Floerns Women's Beaded Fit and Flare Short Skater Dress: Available at Amazon

Our take: This dress has a playful flared skirt and is great for dancing.

What we like: It's stretchy with a side zipper making it comfortable and easy to get on in a hurry. It has attractive faux pearl details and comes in several holiday colors. Its flared skirt is ideal for dancing.

What we dislike: The zipper can bulge out slightly.

Honorable mention holiday dress

Allegra K Sequin Spaghetti Strap Mini Party Dress: Available at Amazon

Our take: This sparkly dress is perfect for a New Year's Eve or cocktail party.

What we like: With adjustable straps and five size options, this dress easily fits most body types. It's available in several colors including gold and silver and sits just above the knee.

What we dislike: It is rather shapeless and not flattering on curvy women.

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Julia Austin is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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