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What to Wear on New Year’s Eve: Outfit Ideas For Every Kind of Plans


In terms of “the most wonderful time of the year,” New Year’s Eve beats any other wintry holiday. Besides sharing a cinematic kiss with that cutie at midnight, this holiday gives us an excuse to dress up. Whether you’re going to a big bash or chilling at home, it’s your duty as a collegiette to put on a sartorially superior ensemble for this occasion. But searching for the perfect New Year’s Eve outfit is not as easy as you’d think. After all, a black bodycon dress and platforms won’t work for your New Year’s Eve with your parents. Collegiettes, allow us to help you plan that awesome—and appropriate—ensemble for the most glamorous holiday of the year

Scenario 1: House party

If you’re spending New Year’s Eve in your hometown, there’s a good chance you’ll be invited to a few parties. Now is the time to impress your friends from home with an awesome outfit. If your ex from high school is magically at the same party and instantly regrets not trying that long distance relationship with you, all the better. The trick to dressing up for a house party is to keep your outfit fun without going overboard. “Try a little leather skirt with any kind of top, with black tights and flats,” says Kyle Alexandra, fashion stylist. “That’s what I think I’m going to wear for New Year’s!” Though a leather skirt may sound a little pricey, Alexandra assures us that there are plenty of affordable options. For example, Topshop’s Black Zip Detail Mini Skirt ($78) is sure to wow any crowd. Not to mention the faux leather look is cruelty-free! Style this edgy skirt with a peplum top—we’re loving Dorothy Perkins’ ($37)take on this trend. Not only is peplum all the rage, it’s also a perfect way to put your mature collegiette foot forward. Sport a pair of black tights and flats with this ensemble—our expert says that heels may be too formal for this type of party. Zara’s Shiny Flat Court Shoe  ($70) will give your New Year’s Eve ensemble a hint of sparkle. But what if you’re craving some more shimmer? Sydney Threet, a senior at the University of North Alabama and HC Contributing Writer, likes to jazz up her ensemble with sparkly makeup. “Working in shimmer with your eye shadow or nail polish is a must for New Year’s Eve,” she says. Add a pair of metallic earrings and you’re ready to take the party by storm. That girl who won “Best Dressed” over you will be super jealous of your ensemble.

Scenario 2: Girls’ night out

Who needs a pseudo-high school reunion when you and your gal pals plan to paint the town red? Whether you’re treating yourself to a delicious dinner at that trendy restaurant or are dancing the night away, it’s important to turn your sparkle on. And we don’t just mean your charming personality.  “I would go with a cute sequined dress,” says Dawn Del Russo, a fashion and lifestyle expert and author of 101 Glam Girl Ways to an Ultra Chic Lifestyle. “Just make sure it has a long sleeve if it’s above the knee, so it’s not too revealing.” Though it’s a little more expensive than other options, this French Connection sequined dress ($200) will be the center of attention no matter where you are! To balance your dress’s shine, pair this ensemble with black tights and a pair of black booties. If this dark ensemble is a little too drab for you, spice up your look with silver earrings. Channel your inner Edie Sedgwick by piling on the mascara. With a fabulous outfit on and your besties by your side, nothing can ruin your night.

Scenario 3: Girls’ night in

You and your posse don’t have wild plans for New Year’s Eve, but that shouldn’t stop you from having an awesome time—and a great outfit. Plan a chic dinner at your house, make some Carrie Bradshaw-approved cocktails (or mocktails if you’re underage) and spend the night dancing to One Direction’s latest album until the ball drops. Sounds wonderful, right? Unleash your inner slumber partier by rocking one of the latest trends: silk pajamas. Wait­-what? “A lot of designers are doing the silk pajama look,” says Del Russo. “You’re playing with the sleepover sort of look, but it’s still a little dressy and fun for New Year’s.” If you love scrolling through street style blogs during your classes- it’s okay, we all do it- you know that this cozy trend is loved by many fashion gurus. But what if you’re afraid you’ll look like Hugh Hefner? “If you don’t want to do the whole look, you could wear the pajama top with a pair of jeans,” suggests Del Russo. J.Crew’s silk pajama set ($128) gives this trend a polished twist. Finish your cozy outfit with a pair of “smoking loafers” and a stack of metallic bangles. To reach optimal glamour, finish this look with a luscious red lip. Trust us, everyone who stalks your “New Year’s Eve” Facebook album will wish they were there. 


Scenario 4: Family tradition

Contrary to popular belief, New Year’s Eve doesn’t need to involve partying with your friends—hanging with your family is fun, too! But just because you’re watching Ryan Seacrest with your grandpa and eating your mom’s delicious seven-layer dip doesn’t mean you have to forgo a fierce outfit. “Wear a cute button-up in a fun print or color with a fuzzy sweater over it,” says Haley Loewenthal, a fashion stylist. “I would pair it with skinny jeans.” Like what you’re reading? To ace this look, pair a John Lewis polka dot button-up ($63) with a fuzzy Society for Rational Dress sweater ($230). Cozy and stylish—we approve! Since your fuzzy sweater and printed shirt are enough pizzazz for one outfit, Loewenthal suggests ditching the bold jewels and sporting some delicate pieces.  Just don’t forget to tie this cozy look together with a pair of colorful flats. Though you may be spending the night catching up with your cousins, think outside your personal beauty box by trying a cat eye—you need to practice for the new semester anyway!

Scenario 5: Date night

Though we tend to associate New Year’s Eve with champagne and resolutions, let’s not forget this holiday can be pretty romantic. Even if you and your flame decide to stay in on New Year’s Eve, sporting a pair of sweatpants and a ratty shirt will not make the cut. Mood-killer, much?  Instead, wow your s/o with a show-stopping dress. “Tone down a really dressy dress with tights and tall riding boots,” suggests Alexandra. But for your own sake, avoid wearing a super short dress. “You don’t want to send the wrong signal,” adds Erin Murray, Alexandra’s styling assistant. “To keep it chic, you have to keep it classy.” For example, Vero Moda’s black lace dress ($46) is fashion-forward and sophisticated. If you and your main squeeze decide to go outside, keep this look casual by throwing on a leather jacket. For a fashion-forward twist, try Miss Selfridges’ cream collarless biker jacket ($91).  Don’t forget to give your New Year’s ensemble a gilded glow with Robert Lee Morris’ gold cuff bracelet ($95). As for the makeup, focus on achieving that perfect smoky eye. After all, your lover’s going to need something to gaze into before that wonderful New Year’s kiss.

Scenario 6: Work function

Winternships are great for a plethora of reasons: they boost your resume, give you something to do over break and, just maybe, they lead to stellar New Year’s Eve plans. Or maybe you’re invited to a soiree hosted by your supervisor from your summer internship (crazier things have happened). In this scenario, it’s important to keep it classy. Though you may have to nix that sequined dress- it’s just a little too… festive for this atmosphere- there’s a slew of other stylish options to choose from. “Try dressing up a basic shift dress with some sparkly jewelry and a great pair of heels,” suggests Fashion Stylist Mia Tucker Williams. J.Crew’s Jules shift dress ($139) is comfortable, chic and will definitely make your co-interns worship the fashionable ground you walk on. Even if you’re not into loud jewels, Bethany Christie, a junior at Lafayette College, says it’s the perfect time to try the trend. “I was just getting into statement necklaces,” says Bethany, as she recalls last year’s New Year’s Eve ensemble. “It’s been a love affair ever since.” Pair your intern-approved ensemble with black tights and a pair of tall black boots. Complete your look with natural-looking makeup and a low ponytail. Best dressed and best intern—sounds good to us!


Scenario 7: Watching the ball drop

While watching the ball drop in real life sounds like a good idea in theory, many collegiettes forget one tiny detail: it’s freezing. But for the very determined, going outside on New Year’s Eve can be loads of fun. Though comfort and warmth are key for this occasion, you don’t need to sacrifice your style. Instead, make sure you sport trendy winter accessories. “I would do a fun printed coat—you’re still having fun even though you’re all bundled up,” says Loewenthal. “And I think a simple winter accessory, like an earmuff or hat.” New Look’s black and white belted coat ($105) will make your wintry excursion warm and stylish. Unless you’re planning to party the night away, you can keep the rest of your outfit casual with a black turtleneck, riding boots and a pair of leggings. Don’t forget to treat yourself to some hot chocolate and a cozy blanket after the ball drops—you need to thaw somehow.

Scenario 8: Black-tie soiree

If you’re lucky enough to attend a very formal New Year’s Eve party, try a glitzy gown. According to Del Russo, a form-fitting dress is the perfect way to wow the crowd. If you’re feeling risky, opt for a sparkling number—we adore Jane Norman’s silver sequin dress ($120). Channel your inner vixen with a pair of platforms.

Since your dress is packed with sparkle, keep the rest of your accessories to a minimum. Instead of piling on the diamonds, opt for a mirrored clutch. “It’s really dressed up and so in right now,” notes Del Russo. Pump up the glamour with a messy updo and a berry lip. Unlike Cinderella, your fairytale ensemble won’t go away when the clock strikes midnight!

With an awesome outfit, your New Year’s Eve is sure to be a success. Just remember to take these styling guidelines with you in the new year – most of these tips can help you out all year long.

Photo Sources:

Girl on New Years
All Polyvore images created by author


Kelsey is a senior at Boston University, studying Magazine Journalism  in the College of Communication. As a magazine junkie and fashion fanatic, she loves being a part of the Her Campus team! At BU, Kelsey is president of Ed2010 at Boston University.  She has interned for Time Out New York, Lucky, Anthropologie, and Marie Claire. Kelsey also has a fashion blog, The Trendologist, where she covers the latest trends, fashion shows, and red carpet reports. When she isn't busy, Kelsey loves hanging out with her friends and family, shopping, reading style blogs, going for a nice jog, listening to music, creating baked goods in the kitchen, watching movies, and eating tons of frozen yogurt and sushi! After graduation, Kelsey hopes to work as an editor for a fashion magazine. Follow Kelsey on Twitter and Instagram at @kmulvs and don't  forget to check out her "Catwalk to Campus" blog posts!
As the Senior Designer, Kelsey is responsible for the conceptualization and design of solutions that support and strengthen Her Campus on all levels. While managing junior designers, Kelsey manages and oversees the creative needs of Her Campus’s 260+ chapters nationwide and abroad. Passionate about campaign ideation and finding innovative design solutions for brands, Kelsey works closely with the client services team to develop integrated marketing and native advertising campaigns for Her Campus clients such as Macy’s, UGG, Merck, Amtrak, Intel, TRESemmé and more. A 2012 college graduate, Kelsey passionately pursued English Literature, Creative Writing and Studio Art at Skidmore College. Born in and native to Massachusetts, Kelsey supplements creative jewelry design and metal smithing with a passion for fitness and Boston Bruins hockey. Follow her on Twitter: @kelsey_thornFollow her on Instagram: @kelsey_thorn