Dresses, especially Little Black Dresses, are all the rage at holiday party time. I fully support the fab factor of party frocks if you’re a dress gal at heart. They are ultra feminine, usually more formal, an easy all-in-one outfit solution, and less complicated than putting together an outfit of separates. 

There is life beyond the LBD. Party separates are not to be underestimated. Here are four reasons why they make sense, and why they might have the edge on party frocks. 

  1. More Versatile: You can change up the support act of separates to create current and fashion forward looks, party after party and season after season. I get bored wearing party dresses because they look essentially the same when you don’t layer over them. Mixing and matching separates provides the ability to change the outfit more dramatically. And if you’re concerned with wearing pieces that will be remembered by people from the same social circle at different events, remixing separates to create new combinations is the way to go.
  2. Extra Warm: Separates can be warmer than dresses, which in the dead of Winter is a welcome toasty treat. 
  3. Look Fresh: Party separates look modern and fashion forward to my eye just because they are the less traditional choice. 
  4. Easier to Dress Down: In our age of casualization, holiday parties are more casual than they used to be. Separates are easier to dress down than a party frock.  

On that note, here are eight party pieces that can be remixed each season with an on trend support act. Remember that black is NOT your only colour option here. Think all shades of neutral, pastels, jewel tones and even the odd bright colour. 

  • Lace Pencil Skirt: Wear it with a sparkly sweater to one party, and with a shirt and tie to the next. Match it with a tuxedo jacket or moto. If lace is not your thing, think shiny jacquards or sequins. 
  • Dressy Fit & Flare Skirt: Choose one in a dressy fabrication, like jacquard, lace, flocked velvet, a sophisticated pattern, or even leather. Wear it with a cheeky sweater or turtle neck, hose and heels to one party, and tuck a shirt into it for the next. 
  • Tuxedo Trouser Suit: The jacket comes in handy as a topper over dresses and skirts, while the trousers can be worn with a dressy sweater and heels. Or wear the suit with a silky camisole, or a tuxedo shirt. 
  • Sparkly Sweater: Pop this over any party separate, wear it under the tuxedo suit, or simply pair it with jeans and dressy footwear. 
  • Evening Coat: A dressy coat in an extra refined cashmere wool, velvet, faux fur, or shiny and formal fabrication is a useful topper. I vote longer than mid-thigh length for maximum versatility. 
  • Sparkly Jeans: These are becoming more popular as parties become less formal. Wear sparkle on the bottom and pair it with a solid top and blingy arm candy. 
  • Gorgeous Black Trousers: ‘Tis the season for Kendal Farr’s Little Black Pant. You’re after a stunning pair of wool trousers in a fluid fit for extra chic and elegance. They need to drape like a dream and make you feel magical. Choose flares, straight legs, or even a harem style if it’s formal and dressy. I have a pair of luxurious flared black wool trousers that I turn to over and over again as a dressy bottom. I match them with anything from a structured and tucked button-down shirt and formfitting turtleneck, to a swingy high-low sweater and cropped chunky cable knit pullover. These trousers never let me down, and I love the way they move as I stride. 
  • Beaded Clutch: A small, retro beaded clutch is always in style. I vote in a neutral other than black, a colour, or metallic, to break up a sea of black separates. Holding a shiny little package in your hands is ladylike and dressy with all party outfits. 

If you’re looking to put together a mix-and-match party capsule that you can turn to year after year, a few of these separates will make a solid starting point. Build onto the base with trendy pieces to refresh their look and stop stressing about what to wear during party season. Over the years I’ve accumulated all of these party separates apart from the lace skirt, which is still on my shopping list.