Casual holiday: Red party dress 2 ways

holiday party red dress outfit

Dressy: Lush dress (runs small, with DIY underskirt), Gap shirt (old), DIY clutch, KS heels
Casual: ASOS scarf (sold out, similar), BP “Transit” boots (review)

I’m in full-on festive mode and can’t stop gravitating towards cheery reds and all things bows and gold. I’ve partnered with Nordstrom to show two ways to wear this dress (3 colors) for the holidays, whether you’re headed to a casual gathering or something slightly dressier. There’s tons of pretty dresses on their site, from which I picked this for our annual casual Thanksgiving gathering (a meal I look forward to all year, so stretchy fabric is a must!). It’s from the juniors department, which in general for me is a tradeoff between good fit and lower quality materials. I still shop there because the fit is usually very petite-friendly, but as a heads up most items there such as this are made of thinner poly blend fabric. I liked the color (a deeper wine red), style, and fit of this dress, and thought quality felt fair for the price.

holiday party red pleated dress2

For a simple and classic look, you can style this with just pearls and neutral or black heels. I layered a tie-neck blouse underneath for the festive bow, and added a petticoat (yes…can’t believe I’m using this term in the 21st century!) underneath. I had recently made an easy tulle skirt to experiment as a petticoat under my skirts and dresses. It does a wonderful job of adding fullness to garments with less structured fabrics. Here’s how the dress looks as-is versus with an underskirt (you can also layer a bell-shaped or full mini skirt underneath for a similar effect):

holiday party red pleated dress1

Left: dress as-is  Right: dress with tulle underskirt

I don’t love fullness for every occasion (such as the office, or travel), so a poofy underskirt works well to slightly change up the look when appropriate. The ladies from the 1500’s were on to something!

Glimpse of my simple elastic-waist tulle underskirt:

tulle underskirt

For a laid-back gathering with friends, I love how it looks with a cozy, over-sized scarf and tall boots. I picked a scarf with similar deep red hues within the pattern, and found chocolate brown tights to create a more streamlined look with the boots.

red dress plaid scarf

Please note that this dress runs small, and the XS is a snug fit on me. I also would not recommend it for anyone taller than ~5’1″ unless you are short torso’d due to where the waist hits. Reading the reviews, I figured this dress would work well for my shorter self since a shopper complained about how high the waistline was on her (she was also larger-busted which may cause the waistline to shift up even higher). Sure enough it hit right at my natural waistline, and the skirt falls about 2″ above my knees.

Material is stretchy with a slight texture as shown below. It’s thinner in weight and unlined, and style is pullover with two side pockets. Label is dry clean only, however I have a poly dress from the same brand also labeled as such and I have hand washed cold and laid flat to dry with no issues (as always, though, please stray from care tag instructions at your own risk!). Measurements of XS: 14″ across armpit, 12″ across waist, 14″ from top of shoulder to waistline, 17″ long skirt, 9.5″ long sleeves.

holiday party red dress plaid scarf

Back view:

holiday party red pleated dress3

This post was sponsored by Nordstrom to share holiday dressing ideas. As always, opinions are my own.


49 thoughts on “Casual holiday: Red party dress 2 ways

  • Reply Dolly November 21, 2014 at 12:01 am

    I really love this look! It definitely gives off the holiday vibe. I think adding the underskirt made all the difference since the full bottom makes it look a little more playful.

  • Reply Audrey Lin November 21, 2014 at 12:09 am

    The first look actually seems really business-y to me, and the second look is so perfect for autumn! The tulle under the skirt is so fun, and I'm completely taken by the pockets! Also loving the plaid scarf! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

  • Reply Nicole N November 21, 2014 at 12:13 am

    Where are the boots from?

  • Reply Dressed with soul November 21, 2014 at 12:16 am

    This dress is a dream! Especially the tulle skirt underneath makes it super cute and you styled it always simply prefect!
    Lovely greetings from Bavaria, Rena

  • Reply Petite-ish November 21, 2014 at 12:35 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Reply Petite-ish November 21, 2014 at 12:39 am

    Love these looks, especially the casual version! And that red is so pretty.

    Your note reminds me, a cautionary note to your readers about washing things labeled dry clean only. I machine washed my navy blue BR sloan pants recently on a cold gentle cycle and they definitely shrank. I also noticed that the former luster of the pants has somewhat faded and the material looks more worn now. They are a bit more risqué for work now. I probably wouldn't recommend washing the pants to others! That being said, I do love it when you tell us if you've tried washing things as a reference, it's super helpful to know so thanks for that!

  • Reply Mei Fleming November 21, 2014 at 1:05 am

    LOVE the casual version. It's so perfect for fall.

  • Reply Kesly Winona November 21, 2014 at 2:59 am

    Stunning and very chic! I love how you paired that red dress with brown knee high boots – very equestrian and classy!

  • Reply prudence yeo November 21, 2014 at 3:05 am

    Adore the cute and pretty flirty version! This look is so suitable for a tea party during the festive season. The gold ribbon is absolutely lovely!


  • Reply Annie Lee November 21, 2014 at 4:34 am

    this got me excited for x'mas!

  • Reply Aleksandra Ivanko-Deel November 21, 2014 at 9:39 am

    This dress is just so pretty on you. I love the color.

  • Reply Anonymous November 21, 2014 at 9:43 am

    That dress looks super cute on you! I don't know if you watch TV, but that red dress is identical to the dress Zoey Deschanel wears in the New Girl title credits, from the color to the way the skirt poofs up. So you look like an Asian Zoey. 🙂

  • Reply Anonymous November 21, 2014 at 9:53 am

    How do you layer shirts under sweaters and dresses and get such a smooth, non-bulky look?

  • Reply Julie November 21, 2014 at 10:27 am

    I'm totally with you on feeling festive! I keep pulling ultra-christmasy outfits out of my closet.

    I love the shape of the dress, especially with the tulle petticoat. I'm interested in trying it out, but I'm curious, is it comfortable to sit on? Sometimes I find tulle to be sort of itchy and stiff and annoying after a while.

    Style by Joules

  • Reply Jean November 21, 2014 at 10:53 am

    They are BP brand – I linked to them above

  • Reply Jean November 21, 2014 at 11:01 am

    Yikes! Good to know that washing might shrink it too and it's not just the dryer. After my initial deliberate machine dryer shrinkage with mine, I just machine wash lay flat to dry and haven't really noticed additional shrinkage. I do this pretty regularly, and perhaps the color has faded a bit but I wear them so much and don't have time for the dry cleaner each time. Just goes to show how every washing experience can be different so I need to keep including the cautionary note!

  • Reply Jean November 21, 2014 at 11:03 am

    I don't watch, but just had to look it up! That dress does look super similar, maybe a little more structured…she looks fabulous!

  • Reply Jean November 21, 2014 at 11:05 am

    Silky and silk-like polyester tops works well for me when layering since they have a more fluid surface feel. The shirt I have on here is actually textured so I was afraid it wouldn't work especially under a thinner dress, but the results were surprisingly smooth. Perhaps the textured material on the dress too helps conceal under lumps as well.

  • Reply Jean November 21, 2014 at 11:06 am

    Tulle is definitely stiff and scratchy by nature so I'd only wear it for parties or events, nothing like a long day at work : ) I ended up sewing an underskirt to my slip out of a smooth poly which helps too.

  • Reply Thao Lai November 21, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Can you please post a link on how to DIY tulle with the material?

  • Reply Rachel Dinh November 21, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    Jean, you are the master of dressing from desk to dinner party! Amazing!

  • Reply Daisy @ Simplicity Relished November 21, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    I LOVE this! I think I have the same pink blouse as you 🙂 The dress looks fantastic, girl!

    Simplicity Relished

  • Reply Florence November 21, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    I bought this dress a few months ago and I LOVE it. It's so cute.

  • Reply Anonymous November 21, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Great post! Wouldn't expect a deal like that from Nordstrom!!!

  • Reply Champagne Star November 21, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    Great outfit ideas, and I love the way you paired the dress with a blouse underneath it! Total genius!!

  • Reply Yi Li November 21, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    Hello Jean! I have been on the look for tights that are thicker for the winter, do you have some recommendations? Thank you!

  • Reply Roslyn Leung November 21, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    After seeing your previous post on the scarf, I bought what could be the last piece on asos (it was sold out right after I placed the order). Just received it today and I must say the colour looks even more pretty and vibrant than the photos. Thanks for sharing the ways to wear it! xx

  • Reply andrea November 21, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    Love this dress (and the price) and how you added a DIY skirt underneath! Such a flattering look!


  • Reply Connie L. November 21, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Tights! Black tights! Aha always found tights looking good with dresses 🙂

    Connie from theconbonz

  • Reply Anonymous November 21, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    I have been following your blog for quite sometime now. Love your outfits and ideas. I have trouble finding something to wear at home and not look sloppy 🙂 If you could do a post on different outfit ideas for lounging at home, that would be great.

  • Reply Anonymous November 21, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    I love your chocolate brown tights. I am tired of wearing black opaque tights everyday to work but couldn't find any other color that doesn't look too much for work. Where did you get those chocolate one? Any place you recommend? Thanks in advance!

  • Reply P November 22, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Hi Jean! Love the holiday outfits! I have an upcoming outdoor wedding to attend and would love if you did a post on an outfit for an outdoor fall/winter wedding. I would wear boots but I feel like it might be too informal. It would be so helpful if you could show how to pair tights with pumps and a dress that would be appropriate for a colder wedding temperatures. 🙂 – Phoebe

  • Reply Styling Fun November 22, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Love the holiday reds and plaids.

  • Reply November 22, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    I love how you layered it with a blouse and a underskirt. It makes the dress look more sophisticated!


  • Reply Jean November 22, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    Hi Thao – I don't have a link on it, but I just searched tulle skirt on pinterest and there are TONS of options. I bought some new fabric and am working on a tutorial since a few ladies have asked, but not sure when that'll be complete so maybe try the ones on pinterest in the meantime!

  • Reply Jean November 22, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    Hi Yi – my tights are not the thickest (I wear them under tall boots and stuff so they're fine for my short commute), but several ladies have recommended fleece-lined tights which sound amazing. You can google search for them for a store near you. Last year I know Forever 21 and H&M; had them.

  • Reply Jean November 22, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    Hi Roslyn, you must have gotten a lucky pop-back! I'm so glad you like it!

  • Reply Jean November 22, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    Thank you for your kind words! At home, I love black leggings and chunky knit or longer sweaters. Out of the items I've posted about in the past, the Bobeau fleece from Nordstrom over a simple tee and leggings, or legging jeans is one of my ideal lounging outfits. Lou & grey (that new line by Ann Taylor) is almost entirely loungewear and doesn't look sloppy. I would also recommend the utility blouse from LOFt for lounging because it's super comfortable and lightweight, plus machine washable, but looks put-together especially if you need to run out for errands.

  • Reply Jean November 22, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    Hi there – I can't remember as they are old, but you can actually find chocolate brown almost anywhere! I've seen them at Talbots, Target, and Marshalls/TJ Maxx often. For the office I would also recommend navy. I think I almost wear my navy ones more than black, as they look great with brown, grey, cream, and colored pieces alike.

  • Reply Jean November 22, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    Hi Phoebe! What kind of climate (how cold?) is this outdoor wedding in? Hopefully not the northeast as that would be a bit brutal this time of year! I do think tall boots might be a bit formal, but ankle booties should work nicely with similar-colored tights as the boots. For a formal setting I wouldn't really stray with creative tights color scheme and would stick with black, brown or navy.

  • Reply Amber November 24, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    Hi Jean! I am new to your blog, and I must say…I wish I would have found this years ago! I love this dress and both of your outfits, but I have a couple of questions. First, do you feel this dress runs small enough you could have sized a complete size up? I'm struggling between ordering a S or M. Also, are you wearing your DIY skirt under the casual look? Thanks!

  • Reply Merrie K. November 27, 2014 at 12:10 am

    I love how you glammed up this casual look!! Lovely style.That red is so cute
    -Merrie K.

  • Reply Ethel Evans December 3, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Hi Jean! I ordered this dress last week and just got it in the mail last night. Thank you for letting us know that it runs small to avoid ordering the wrong size. Size small was perfect! Cant' wait to wear it for christmas!!! I am a newbie and been following your blog for just a couple of months….bought some pieces you recommended and definitely made sure that it fits me right before purchasing them. Can you please post more casual stuff like for going out to the mall or grocery shopping? I live in Southern CA and people here are pretty casual. I am not a sweats kind of gal and my husband hates it as well. Thank you and please continue supporting us petites!!!

  • Reply Anonymous December 5, 2014 at 12:47 am

    Hi Jean – I also got this dress and am happy with it. Your review is spot on. Material is not outstanding, well I paid 26$!! What is outstanding is the fit. I am short torso and lots things are too long but this was perfect. Love pockets too.

  • Reply Anonymous December 5, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Hi Jean, I've been following your blog for a while. LOVE it!!
    Could you recommend a place where I can get the tulle underskirt? It definitely makes the dress prettier in the first look! Thank you.

  • Reply Anonymous December 5, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Hi Jean: Im desperate loking for the tie neck blouse that you are wearing with the red dress, but is sold out in gap, can you tell me were I can find one like this? I fall in love of that shirt!!!!!…..please!!!

  • Reply mangoscript December 6, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    Hi Jean. I love your style. I want your closet!!! Can you recommend a coat to wear over this dress? I love the AT Loft Funnel Neck Coat you posted elsewhere but fear the line is too straight. I'm thinking it probably has to be belted? Maybe a wrap coat?

  • Reply Sandy Boston December 18, 2014 at 11:38 am

    wearing this dress today to xmas party here at work, got a lot of compliments all morning…I like the style that is not too formal but yet very cute…ordered S, fits perfect, thanks for this great post from your Boston Fan..;)

  • Reply Evey Foi December 22, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    I love reading your blog! I came across a similar ASOS multi plaid scarf and thought I'd share

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