What to Wear When You’re the Hostess

So let’s say you’re having some people over for the holidays. It could be just family and friends for Hanukah or Christmas dinner, or it could be a big bash for your office or association. You’ve got a million details to attend to – menu, shopping, cleaning, organizing – so I’ll only pester you with one other thing: what are you planning to wear?

I ask, because all too often these days, it seems like an afterthought. While our mothers (and grandmothers) may have bought special hostessing outfits in which to greet their guests and hold court, I can’t tell you how many parties I’ve been to where the house and table were magazine-shoot ready but the hostess was dressed like she was still cleaning house. I know, I know – it’s a challenge to get everything done on time. Trust me, I’ve been there! The more kids you have, the less picture-perfect things seem to be.

But if you’re taking the time and effort to put together a memorable event, shouldn’t how you look be just as memorable? In fact, I’d go so far as to say that how you dress could have a SIGNIFICANT impact on the success of your party. Get it wrong, and your guests will suffer. Get it right, and everyone has a good time.

Sound dramatic? Good. I have your attention.

Dressing as the hostess is very different from dressing as an attendee. When you go to a party someone else gives, your goal is to look good, schmooze, laugh, and have a good time. Your clothing choices should reflect that.

But as the hostess, you’re not just “working the room,” you’re physically working: greeting guests, serving food, refilling drinks, etc. You want to look good and feel confident yet still be comfortable in clothes that allow you to move.

Seem like a tall order? Here are some guidelines to help you narrow your choices:

1. Consider Your Guest List

Something sexy might be great with a group of close friends, but it’s inappropriate with the office crowd. Think about who will be there and the message you’re trying to send.


Too sexy for the office crowd
Okay for intimate parties; too sexy for the office crowd

2. Make It Touchable

Indulgent fabrics like silk and velvet look great and invite embrace. Since you’re likely to get many hugs and/or kisses as the hostess, wear fabrics that are resilient and can be touched.

3. Make It Cool

Never let them see you sweat-even if you’re lingering over a hot stove. Try short sleeves and breathable fabrics without tons of details. Stay away from long, dangling sleeves if you’re cooking and cover your clothes with an apron just in case. Pull it off the instant you’re done – or splurge on a pretty, festive apron — so you can rejoin your guests in style.

Festive and cool
Festive, cool, and short-sleeved

4. Make It Comfortable

You’ll be bending, stretching, hugging, and serving, and you need room in your clothes to do this with grace. Stay away from plunging necklines, short skirts, and tight clothes that can restrict your movements or that might reveal more than intended.

5. Wear Appropriate Shoes

The best shoes a hostess can wear are low heeled, attractive, and comfortable. You’ll be doing a lot of walking, and you need shoes that are up to the task. Avoid heels, fussy slip-ons, or suffocating boots. Don’t try to break in a new pair of shoes on party night. You want to enjoy your guests, not wish them home early so you can tend to your aching feet.

Comfortable shoes are a must
Be comfortable in pretty, flat shoes

See what a little forethought can mean? If you take the time to plan your outfit as carefully as you have the rest of your party, you can’t help but succeed. If you’re having a good time, so will your guests. Being “the hostess with the mostess” is simple: plan carefully and execute with precision.

Need some more help on what to wear this holiday season? Download a copy of OCCASION MAGIC, 


Occasion Magic

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