This time last year, the novelty of 24/7 sweatpants and Zoom interactions hadn’t quite worn off, yet one thing was sorely missing — the joy of festive fashion. Many made up for the lack of in-person soirees by dressing up on-screen in, mostly, a more comfortable version of their go-to party attire. But, the celebratory feel wasn’t quite the same. However, this year, in stark contrast to last, party fashion has returned for the holidays in full swing. Smaller gatherings are, indeed, still happening, but larger-scale festivities have ultimately returned, marking a triumphant revival of shimmer, sequins, and whimsy to be seen in person and not solely on-screen.
“Going glam is back in a big way this holiday season,” Marissa Galante Frank, Bloomingdale’s fashion director for accessories and beauty, tells TZR. “ I’m so excited to dress up again, and our customers share the same feeling.” Similarly, Kate Bellman, managing editor at Nordstrom, says, “We’re seeing a return to head-to-toe party dressing to compensate for the virtual happy hours of the past year.”
Though you might expect an ease-in effect with festive fashion, the two retail experts say customers are diving back in headfirst. “Customers are shopping earlier,” Galante Frank says. “With packed social calendars, this requires extra planning for finding the perfect outfit and a thoughtful hostess gift. Party dresses, heels, and fine jewelry are all areas that are top of mind for the customer.”
In addition, Bellman has noticed customers embracing a mix of celebratory fashion suited to hosting at home or stepping out for the first holiday party. “Festive Fair isles and textured cable sweaters offer a cozy alternative for the at-home party, especially when paired back to soft separates or straight-leg jeans,” she tells TZR. “The return of the party dress has been a go-to this season as well, particularly with glam details such as sequins, paillettes, and embellished embroidery.”
Keep reading for more on the return of party fashion for the holidays, jewelry, dresses, and bags included. Plus, an edit to shop for megawatt style in 2021.
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Metallics are quintessential for the holiday season, and both retail experts say this shimmering approach to party attire returns with gusto for 2021. “Silver is the essential metallic of the season as a reference to the 1920s, the era that mirrors our current delight of once again dressing up,” Bellman says. “Whether fringed or embellished, silver is the must-have for decadent dressing and emerging a metallic muse.”
Jewelry is another way to master this look, such as cascading crystals on a statement necklace or silver beads dangling from a velvet clutch. “This [type of] embellishment feels rightfully retro and thoroughly modern,” Bellman adds. Similarly, Galante Frank notes a metallic throughline between fashion and beauty, particularly with jewel tones. “I’m obsessed with a colorful metallic eyeliner,” she says.
Riffing off the roaring ’20s theme, Galante Frank says embellishments are another celebratory trend customers are gravitating toward this season. “This is across both ready-to-wear and accessories, with shoes, handbags, sweaters, and mini dresses, as everyone is looking for pieces that make them sparkle inside and out,” she tells TZR.
A monochrome outfit is always one that looks bold yet effortless, despite plenty of thought behind it. Bellman says it’s a popular choice this holiday, telling TZR, “There has been no chromophobia on the red carpet this past year as celebrities step out in high-impact color. This is the primary trend we’ve seen replicated for party season as sequins shimmer with vibrancy, and luxe materials, such as velvet and satin, are elevated with rich jewel tones.”
In line with the resurgence of Y2K fashion, Galante Frank says spliced and peek-a-boo silhouettes are trending in a major way this holiday. “The runways highlighted how skin is in, leading to [the] popular trend,” she tells TZR. “Our customers are loving cutouts on tops and dresses, and this trend will continue into the new year.”
Not a dress person? Not to worry. Bellman says, “A shift in occasion silhouettes has taken form with modern separates, suits, and tuxedos. From chic two-piece matching sets or a new twist on the tuxedo, celebrities are bending the rules on formal dressing.”
Shearing flats or satin slides likely accompanied your 2020 holiday attire at home, but 2021 marks the return of one sorely missed accessory: heels. “When stepping out this holiday season, heels are definitely back,” Bellman says. “[They’re] pointed, sky-high, and ready to party; embellishment and strong color [are two trends] signaling they’re ready to be seen.”
Galante Frank highlights platform heels as a must-have for 2021. “The higher the heel, the closer to 2022,” she says. “This retro shoe style is making a strong comeback in fun colors, crystals, and metallics.”
Like heels, party bags took a back seat last season. But this year, they’re back in rotation, says Galante Frank. “Party bags are the It bag this season as we all need fun bags to store our essentials for upcoming celebrations. Often these party bags are mini, embellished, and have novelty details.”
The ultimate party move in the accessory department this season? Bright colors and bold detailing. Both on bags and shoes, Bellman says sparkling jewel adornments in multi-colored hues and vibrant satin make for an expressive holiday statement. This extends to baubles for frosting yourself. Galante Frank says, “Bold jewelry will also be all over your holiday celebrations, with a focus on statement earrings and cocktail rings.”