Style & Shopping

Party Perfect

Master the holiday dress code and look your best this season.

With the holidays fast approaching, your calendar is likely filling up with invitations, all containing those coded party terms: “cocktail,” “semi-formal,” and “dressy casual.”

But what does it all mean? We asked some experts.

If it’s a formal charity gala, notes Lisa Schatz, owner of Fells Point’s Cupcake Boutique, “long dresses can be in order.” However, Karen Ciurca-Weiner, manager of Cross Keys’ Jones and Jones, says short dresses are also acceptable, “if dressy enough.” She suggests “beads, sequins, shimmer fabrics, and lace, chiffon, or mesh overlays.”

If the event is “semi-formal”, our experts advise against long dresses. Instead, try “a cocktail dress, perhaps without beading, but still in a dressy fabric, such as lace, satin, or silk,” Ciurca-Weiner says.

And what about the dreaded “dressy casual?” “For a casual house party, or event at a bar, you can do a simple knit or sweater dress, or pair a beaded or silk top with a nice pair of dark jeans and a heel,” Schatz says.

For a different look, Schatz suggests something non-traditional. “One of my favorites for holiday this year is a jumpsuit. It’s a fashionable update, and they tend to be very flattering,” she explains.

For the finishing touches, Jodi Brodie, co-owner of Owings Mills’ Treasure House Accessories, advises revelers stick to “one or two pieces of good-looking jewelry, focusing on the individual pieces, and not on the amount of pieces.”

Also, don’t forget a dressier bag or clutch. “Anything that has a little bit of sparkle, or a little bit of life to it,” she says.


Lisa Schatz, owner of Cupcake Boutique, presents outfit ideas for upcoming holiday parties.