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Ten Holiday Party-Ready Dresses, and Where to Buy Them in NYC

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In a city where everyone looks so put together all the time that it's literally insane, the holiday season calls for you to look even better than your regular best. And while it's tempting to rely on your trusty standby of an LBD once invitations for this party and that party start rolling in, now is not the time to play it safe. The festive season calls for vibrant colors, dramatic silhouettes, and sequins. Like, a lot of sequins. More sequins than you've ever seen.

If this sounds overwhelming, don't stress. We've taken all of the guesswork out of what to wear this season by mapping out ten New York City stores where you can find festive dresses — with our favorite picks highlighted right alongside them — that will ring up under $200, still leaving you with money to spend on gifts. See the north-to-south rundown of where to shop before the party season really starts post-Thanksgiving.

Photo: Driely S.

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American Apparel

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Despite recent troubles, American Apparel is moving forward with its collections, and we’re seeing better fabrication and fashion-forward silhouettes in its latest offerings. This season, take this skater dress off the racks and out for a spin — both on the holiday party circuit and on the ice.

Topshop

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When Topshop opened this Fifth Avenue location exactly one year ago, its main floor was already in holiday party mode. Fast forward to now, and you’ll see that festivity has been channeled into this season’s dress offerings. Pick up our favorite lace fit-and-flair option that's on the racks right now and pair it with a chunky, sparkly necklace.
Zara’s newest location is really huge (the word “cavernous” was thrown about when describing it) and stocks plenty of party dress options to choose from. Pick up this velvet one with lace detail and head to the dressing room — there shouldn’t be a line, since the location is still pretty undiscovered.

Rent the Runway

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Sure, you could consider this an obvious destination, but for good reason: you can’t beat this selection of hundreds of fancy styles right at your fingertips, like Badgley’s Mischka’s sequin sheath. Make the most of your shopping appointment here by selecting a few dresses beforehand, just in case what you’re looking for needs to be trucked in from the massive New Jersey warehouse ahead of time.

& Other Stories

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The & Other Stories midtown flagship is a singular destination for a holiday look both head to toe and inside and out: lingerie, dress, shoes, and accessories are plentiful. Beginning with the dress, this one is made from soft fabric with an abstract, colorful agate print. Work your way through the store to complete your outfit, ending at the green-leaning lending library.

Sincerely, Tommy

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Sincerely, Tommy, Kai Avent-deLeon’s store-slash-café, stocks a mix-up-and-coming designers like Nanushka, Collina Strada, and Deer Dana on the racks — in other words, there’s something for everyone to be found at a non-intimidating price point. Pull on Collina Strada’s oversized leather dress with organza side paneling for a bit of an unexpected holiday look.
Counterbalance holiday excessiveness during the season’s festivities in one of this store’s Scandinavian minimalism designs, which are often compared to Céline. Try this one that features a drawstring hem — it’s both fashion- and waistline-friendly.

In Support Of

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This Meatpacking District boutique champions eco-friendly, under-the-radar designers who produce their garments locally. Each year, proceeds are donated in support of a different charity — this season, they’re partnering with Community of Unity, a education based organized in NYC that reaches about 1,500 kids a day. How’s that for a conversation starter?

Think Closet

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This East Village shop is full of playful tops and dresses with eye-catching patterns — the perfect for standing out in a monochromatic crowd — and price tags that don't hurt to look at, either. We love a good geometric print, like the one on this dress (because not everything needs to have sequins).

Babel Fair

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Pwner Erica Kiang’s seasonal dress selection, mostly from indie international labels, is overflowing with cuteness in Williamsburg. Expect understated but adorable holiday-ready styles, like this shift, coming into the store over the next few weeks.

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American Apparel

Despite recent troubles, American Apparel is moving forward with its collections, and we’re seeing better fabrication and fashion-forward silhouettes in its latest offerings. This season, take this skater dress off the racks and out for a spin — both on the holiday party circuit and on the ice.

Topshop

When Topshop opened this Fifth Avenue location exactly one year ago, its main floor was already in holiday party mode. Fast forward to now, and you’ll see that festivity has been channeled into this season’s dress offerings. Pick up our favorite lace fit-and-flair option that's on the racks right now and pair it with a chunky, sparkly necklace.

Zara

Zara’s newest location is really huge (the word “cavernous” was thrown about when describing it) and stocks plenty of party dress options to choose from. Pick up this velvet one with lace detail and head to the dressing room — there shouldn’t be a line, since the location is still pretty undiscovered.

Rent the Runway

Sure, you could consider this an obvious destination, but for good reason: you can’t beat this selection of hundreds of fancy styles right at your fingertips, like Badgley’s Mischka’s sequin sheath. Make the most of your shopping appointment here by selecting a few dresses beforehand, just in case what you’re looking for needs to be trucked in from the massive New Jersey warehouse ahead of time.

& Other Stories

The & Other Stories midtown flagship is a singular destination for a holiday look both head to toe and inside and out: lingerie, dress, shoes, and accessories are plentiful. Beginning with the dress, this one is made from soft fabric with an abstract, colorful agate print. Work your way through the store to complete your outfit, ending at the green-leaning lending library.

Sincerely, Tommy

Sincerely, Tommy, Kai Avent-deLeon’s store-slash-café, stocks a mix-up-and-coming designers like Nanushka, Collina Strada, and Deer Dana on the racks — in other words, there’s something for everyone to be found at a non-intimidating price point. Pull on Collina Strada’s oversized leather dress with organza side paneling for a bit of an unexpected holiday look.

COS

Counterbalance holiday excessiveness during the season’s festivities in one of this store’s Scandinavian minimalism designs, which are often compared to Céline. Try this one that features a drawstring hem — it’s both fashion- and waistline-friendly.

In Support Of

This Meatpacking District boutique champions eco-friendly, under-the-radar designers who produce their garments locally. Each year, proceeds are donated in support of a different charity — this season, they’re partnering with Community of Unity, a education based organized in NYC that reaches about 1,500 kids a day. How’s that for a conversation starter?

Think Closet

This East Village shop is full of playful tops and dresses with eye-catching patterns — the perfect for standing out in a monochromatic crowd — and price tags that don't hurt to look at, either. We love a good geometric print, like the one on this dress (because not everything needs to have sequins).

Babel Fair

Pwner Erica Kiang’s seasonal dress selection, mostly from indie international labels, is overflowing with cuteness in Williamsburg. Expect understated but adorable holiday-ready styles, like this shift, coming into the store over the next few weeks.