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.

When you purchase through the links on this blog, I may earn a commission. Thank you for your support!

When you purchase through the links on this blog, I may earn a commission. Thank you for your support!

For Daily Posts

Leave a Comment


  1. Evey Foi wrote:

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

    Posted 12.22.14 Reply
  2. Sandy Boston wrote:

    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..;)

    Posted 12.18.14 Reply
  3. 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?

    Posted 12.6.14 Reply
  4. Anonymous wrote:

    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!!!

    Posted 12.5.14 Reply
  5. Anonymous wrote:

    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.

    Posted 12.5.14 Reply
  6. Anonymous wrote:

    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.

    Posted 12.5.14 Reply
  7. 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!!!

    Posted 12.3.14 Reply
  8. Merrie K. wrote:

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

    Posted 11.27.14 Reply
  9. Amber wrote:

    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!

    Posted 11.24.14 Reply
  10. Jean wrote:

    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.

    Posted 11.22.14 Reply
  11. Jean wrote:

    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.

    Posted 11.22.14 Reply
  12. Jean wrote:

    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.

    Posted 11.22.14 Reply
  13. Jean wrote:

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

    Posted 11.22.14 Reply
  14. Jean wrote:

    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.

    Posted 11.22.14 Reply
  15. Jean wrote:

    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!

    Posted 11.22.14 Reply
  16. I love how you layered it with a blouse and a underskirt. It makes the dress look more sophisticated!


    Posted 11.22.14 Reply
  17. Love the holiday reds and plaids.

    Posted 11.22.14 Reply
  18. P wrote:

    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

    Posted 11.22.14 Reply
  19. Anonymous wrote:

    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!

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  20. Anonymous wrote:

    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.

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  21. Connie L. wrote:

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

    Connie from theconbonz

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  22. andrea wrote:

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


    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  23. Roslyn Leung wrote:

    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

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  24. Yi Li wrote:

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

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  25. Great outfit ideas, and I love the way you paired the dress with a blouse underneath it! Total genius!!

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  26. Anonymous wrote:

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

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  27. Florence wrote:

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

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  28. I LOVE this! I think I have the same pink blouse as you 🙂 The dress looks fantastic, girl!

    Simplicity Relished

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  29. Jean, you are the master of dressing from desk to dinner party! Amazing!

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  30. Thao Lai wrote:

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

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  31. Jean wrote:

    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.

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  32. Jean wrote:

    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.

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  33. Jean wrote:

    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!

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  34. Jean wrote:

    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!

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  35. Jean wrote:

    They are BP brand – I linked to them above

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  36. Julie wrote:

    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

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  37. Anonymous wrote:

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

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  38. Anonymous wrote:

    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. 🙂

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  39. This dress is just so pretty on you. I love the color.

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  40. Annie Lee wrote:

    this got me excited for x'mas!

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  41. 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!


    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  42. Stunning and very chic! I love how you paired that red dress with brown knee high boots – very equestrian and classy!

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  43. LOVE the casual version. It's so perfect for fall.

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  44. Petite-ish wrote:

    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!

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  45. Petite-ish wrote:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  46. 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

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  47. Nicole N wrote:

    Where are the boots from?

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  48. Audrey Lin wrote:

    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

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply
  49. Dolly wrote:

    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.

    Posted 11.21.14 Reply

Get the newsletter!

What updates would you like?