Reader Request: Styling Sequins for Holiday

sequins holiday party

Reader Magnolia had this question:

Now that the holiday season is around the corner, this year I am feeling very attracted to glitter and sequins and all things shiny. I am loving this Adrianna Papell dress in lead color. [Shown in image above, plus size version here]

But, this is the first time I am thinking of wearing something SO shiny. I am wondering how to style this? If nude pumps will be fine or I need to wear high metallic heels. I feel like going all glitzy but totally unsure how to go about it. May be you would like to take this up for one of your posts? How to wear sequins and glam for the holiday season?

FUN! This is such a gorgeous dress and can definitely have a life beyond the holiday season.

In terms of how to style it (or something similar to it), that depends on several factors:

  1. What time of day is the event? Afternoon and early evening gatherings are generally less formal – and therefore, less over-the-top sparkle-friendly – than dinners, cocktail parties, and later evening events.
  2. Where will it be? If you’re going to a hotel ballroom for a charity event or work gathering, that’ll be dressier by nature than a house party. You can wear this dress to either of course, but depending on your preferences you might want to subdue it a bit for a dinner with friends.
  3. What’s the climate or temperature like? If I were to wear this to a holiday party in Minneapolis, I’d likely have to figure out hosiery and possibly a way to wear snow boots to the venue and swap in party-ready shoes on arrival. If you’re in Miami, however, neither will be a concern.
  4. How comfortable will you be with the people there? Or does that matter? I’m thinking, is this a gathering of your significant others’ bosses and coworkers that might make you feel a bit more self-conscious than usual? If so, would you rather turn down the sparkly a bit? Or are you totally fine going all-out regardless of the guest list?
  5. Will there be dancing? Four-inch heels might not be your best bet, if so.

In case listing out most of the possible decision-making factors didn’t make it plain, how you style a glamorous holiday dress or look is very much up to you. Your tastes, coverage preferences, and mood day-of will also influence your choices. As will he climate of formality in your region: A soiree in Manhattan might be far dressier than a gathering in Denver … or it might not. So, obviously, these are just suggestions.

If you want to be sparkly but subdued …

… I’d recommend layering. So with this specific dress, a jacket or wrap would do the trick. If you’ve got a sparkly skirt, jacket, or pants you want to wear, make that item the sole source of sparkle. That means patent shoes will work, but metallic or highly embellished ones won’t. Keep jewelry relatively small and free of large, faceted stones. Plain gold or silver is great, and a few cabachons are fine since they tend to glow instead of glitter. Simple hosiery, a minimalist clutch, and hair worn down or in an easy up-do. Makeup can go either way, in my opinion: A subdued-glam outfit can work with dramatic makeup, but you can also tone it down and look equally elegant and party-ready.

If you want to go all-out glam …

… skip the layers. I’d still recommend a single sparkly piece per outfit, but your secondary pieces (if there are any) can be more metallic, textural, or eye-catching. With all-over sequins, though, solids will be less overwhelming than patterns when it comes to pairings. Embellished or glittery shoes can work here, as can tamer footwear. Jewelry can be bolder, though a single statement piece should do the trick. With Magnolia’s dress, I’d say go for some elegant chandelier earrings. Layering jewelry OVER a sequined surface can look awfully busy. I’d still opt for simple hosiery, but a glittery or ornate clutch will look fab, and a more elaborate hairstyle will look appropriate. Depending on how showy your clothes and accessories feel when grouped, balance with makeup: Go dramatic if it feels right, or slightly less so if your look already screams “glamour.”

Since I know you’ll ask, hosiery is a tough call. Nudes have come a long way in recent years, and are likely the best bet for outfits in paler colors. I adore Falke hosiery, and this matte nude looks like it will work for several skin tones. If your outfit is mainly black or dark gray, black sheers or opaques can work. If you’re wearing a bright color like red or cobalt, it’s really your call, but I’d err on the side of nude-to-you tights or hose.

Above all, have fun with your look! Holiday parties are parties, after all, and a great excuse to dress up and step outside your comfort zone a bit. Experiment, try new things, and wear what makes you feel festive and happy.

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details. Sustainable options are either used, handmade, made in the U.S., artisan made in non-sweatshop conditions, or made using sustainable/fair trade practices.

Originally posted 2015-12-01 06:14:25.

Next Post
Previous Post

9 Responses to “Reader Request: Styling Sequins for Holiday”

  1. Pretty pink

    Thank you so much for these great tips Sally! I am so looking forward to styling this dress in multiple ways based on your advise. ! Magnolia ( Old name Pretty Pink) : )

  2. crtfly


    I know you don’t like absolutes and I think I know what your answer will be. However, I’m going to ask anyway. Dov you think there is an upper age limit for sequins? I was thinking about this and then I found several pictures of the fabulous Helen Mirren in sequinned gowns.


    • Sally McGraw

      Ah, Chris you know me so well. 😉 I think the upper age limit for sequins is whenever you feel like you don’t want to wear them anymore. I also think that a knee-length dress in red sequins would be flashier than the taupe-y gray dress shown above, so some if it is down to color and style. If you’re worried about being mutton-dressed-as-lamb-in-sequins, think about subdued colors. And maybe a sequined top or jacket instead of a full dress. If you’re not worried, sparkle away as long as you like!

      • crtfly


        Thanks for the ideas! I would not have been able to carry off a knee-length red, all over sequin dress even when I was 19. I think it’s a matter of personality and presence and I don’t have it. However, I do like the idea of a red, emerald, or cobalt sequin jacket with a black skirt or black trousers. THAT I would enjoy and feel only a little out of my comfort zone.


  3. Denise Rogers

    So I bought this cute pair of sequined wedge heels (not high, just sparkly and gold). I don’t go out to many evening events but I just could not resist them. How can I wear them during the day? I teach at a university but not always face to face. I don’t want them to be too showy, but I do want to wear them. So do I wear them with jeans? I would love your ideas. I’m 60, so I’m at the “wear what I want” stage, but I do what them to look cool and not weird.

    • Sally

      Denise, I think jeans are your best bet! Sequin shoes with dress pants or even a fairly classic dress will seem like you’re edging toward party-wear, so balancing the sparkle of the shoes with super casual clothes should work well. Hope that helps!