What to Wear to a Party in Winter: Fashion Tips
While everyday winter styling is relatively straightforward — layers, layers, layers! — winter event-styling is another story entirely. The light, floaty fabrications, vibrant colours, and strappy designs we’d usually reach for in warmer months don’t quite work when the temperature drops. Just the thought of braving the icy elements at a winter party may be enough to turn you off the event altogether. But don’t cancel your plans just yet! These fail-safe styling tips will keep you cozy and stylish at every winter party on your calendar. Below, we unpack exactly what to wear to a party in winter.
Winter Party Styling
First things first: when you receive your winter party invite, take note of the dress code (if there is one).The dress code will help to guide your styling choices, particularly when it comes to silhouettes, hem lengths, and coverage.
At a black tie ball, your best bet is an elegant maxi dress. At a garden party with a casual dress code, a floaty midi skirt and turtleneck would be perfect. Once you’ve worked out your hem length and silhouette based on the dress code, you can start thinking about colours, fabrications, and design elements — the fun stuff! Below, we break down what to wear to a party in winter depending on the occasion.
For example, a work event with a lounge suit dress code generally calls for a classic midi dress or statement suit. On the other hand, a flippy mini dress would be appropriate for a birthday party with a cocktail dress code.
Daytime Events: Powerful Prints
It’s pretty simple to pick an outfit for a daytime party in summer or spring — something colourful in linen is always a crowd pleaser.But in winter, things get a little more challenging. The darker block colours we’d usually reach for during winter can feel a bit heavy during the day.
We recommend opting for statement prints instead. It’s still a good rule of thumb to go for earthy or neutral tones, as this will keep your look seasonally relevant. But adding a print into the mix delivers a lighter, slightly more casual daytime feel.
We love earthy prints for all winter daytime parties, from birthday brunches to high-tea events.
Work Lunches: Statement Suits
When it comes to work parties, we can’t look past a statement suit. A statement suit is a gender-neutral outfit hero that puts a contemporary spin on event styling.Whether you’re heading to a work cocktail party in the evening or a business-formal lunch, a power suit delivers on style, comfort, and workplace-suitability.
We’re loving the return of 80s-inspired power suits, featuring padded shoulders and wide-legged trousers.
Florals in spring may not be considered ground-breaking, but florals in winter feel a bit more exciting.Whether you’re heading to a conservatory for a birthday party or to a winery for lunch, a floral dress is a great choice.
Darker bases also work to create contrast against the floral print. You could keep things tonal and opt for a dress with earthy florals, or go all out with a bold red or orange floral print inspired by autumn leaves.
Steer clear of bright hues or pastel tones — these are better suited to warmer months. Instead, opt for dark-based florals. Think black, navy, or earthy bases. These hues speak to moody, cool-weather landscapes.
Engagement Parties: A Pop of Colour
To give the look a casual edge during the day, throw a leather jacket or oversized coat over your shoulders.
Black and navy can sometimes feel a bit dark for joyful events — particularly if you’re wearing them on repeat. For celebratory occasions, such as engagement parties, we love playing with pops of colour.
Winter may be grey and dreary, but that doesn’t mean our outfits have to be.
The key is to go for colours that still carry a wintery feel. So, we generally recommend avoiding hot pinks, standout yellows, lime greens, or soft lilacs — these tones are more suited to warmer seasons.
Birthday Parties: All That Shimmers
Heading to (or hosting) a birthday party in winter? This event calls for something bold and fun. Enter: the sparkly dress.
The metallic look is a winter-party favourite for a reason. It’s eye-catching, lively, and works well in cool-weather environments.
For the boldest among us, really lean into the look and go for a dress with full-body sequin detailing. Alternatively, opt for a dress with metallic embroidery for a more subtle look.
As for colour, anything goes! Gold, silver, or black metallic options are timeless and elegant, while a bold red, emerald, or white sequined dress is sure to make a statement.
Mini dresses with sleeves work well in winter, as do stand out jumpsuits. For a bit of extra warmth, add a faux-fur coat on top.
Cocktail Parties: Satin Fabrications
Luxe satin fabrications return each winter to elevate our eventwear.
Satin dresses are a staple when it comes to cocktail parties no matter the location. From bars and inner-city venues to events at home, a satin dress will always deliver.
Satin drapes beautifully and creates a streamlined effect when worn. This makes the fabric a flattering and easy-wearing style.
We love satin dresses with ruching or ruffles for a feminine flair. Alternatively, if you gravitate towards more minimalistic looks, opt for a classic satin slip dress.
Deep plum, black, and khaki tones work beautifully with satin. These colours allow that stunning satin sheen to do its thing and create a silky-smooth effect.
Evening Parties: Luxurious Velvets
With its luxurious, rich, and weighty texture, velvet delivers warmth and elegance.
We love to see velvet making an impact this season thanks to the revival of 90s fashion trends.
Velvet is an elegant and sophisticated fabric, which makes it perfect for evening parties and events. Think galas, balls, and special functions.
Go for rich jewel tones such as navy, black, wine, and emerald. If you’re really feeling the cold, add a faux fur neck scarf or wrap. The combination of faux fur glamour and velvet exudes old-world glamour.
What Shoes to Wear with Dresses in Winter
We all know shoes can make or break a look, so tread carefully.Wondering what shoes to wear with a dress in winter? We’ve got you covered.
For parties and events, slip on pointed-toe heels with your mini, midi, or maxi dress. The toes are covered, which delivers a more winter-ready look than open-toed varieties.Pointed-toe heels also create a chic, elegant silhouette and elongate the leg, which is a bonus!
Loafers also work well in winter, but avoid loafers with maxi dresses as this combination will have a shortening effect.
If you’re after a more casual look, pair your dress with gumboot-style boots, sock boots, or chunky sneakers. These options add a relaxed and unexpected edge.
Finding Your Winter Party Look
When you’re deciding what to wear to a party in winter, the source of your outfit matters, too.Most of us have splurged on a designer dress we ended up wearing once and then shoved to the back of our wardrobe (where it remains, collecting dust).
Ready to browse winter party looks? You can hire all of the outfits mentioned above (and hundreds of others) at Dress For a Night.
Hiring your party outfit means you can wear designer outfits for a fraction of the price. So, you save money and space in your wardrobe. By hiring your dress, you’re also contributing to a circular fashion economy and helping to minimise textile waste in landfills. The benefits are three-fold!