Go beyond basic with cocktail party looks like these, from left, Talbot's gold sequined top, lace and metallic dresses as worn by Karen Freemand and Erin Featerston, and festive red, a la Christina Hendricks. Photos: Talbots.com; Stephen Lovekin, Getty Images for The Weinstein Company; Dario Cantatore, Getty Images

Holiday cocktail parties are upon us and whether your festive fete include an evening of mistletoe and martinis, sips and sups with your co-workers or beers with your best buds, deciding what to wear can be as tricky as figuring out which Christmas drink to order – cranberry bellini, eggnog rum or a nice winter lager?

To help with your cocktail attire conundrums, we've enlisted the help of fashion experts Janie Bryant, costume designer for "Mad Men" and author of "The Fashion File," and Michael Smaldone, chief creative officer of Talbots, the man who has turned around the brand's look, gaining fans including Michelle Obama and Julianne Moore.

"The fun thing about the holidays is that whether you're in a casual or dressy environment, you can bring out those extra sparkles, for sure," Bryant tells StyleList.

Here are the tips for maintaining holiday style:

Invite only: "I always like to go as festive as possible, and I always look to the invitation to see how dressy it is," Bryant says. "I think styles can range from classic to funky to Bohemian to formal to wearing an amazing festive sweater with skinny jeans. But it really depends on who's hosting, and you can kind of tell the level of dressiness by which friends invited you."

Dress code: "This holiday season, the most modern look to wear to a cocktail party is a slouchy menswear-style suit," Smaldone says. "Go bare if you dare or wear a sexy lingerie-inspired top underneath the jacket with oversized earrings and a super-sexy shoe."

Puttin' on the glitz: "I'm into party fabrics, which I would describe as anything embellished," Bryant says. "I love sequins. I also love shiny fabrics. I love tulle. If you have an amazing little black dress, then accessorize and add your layers of necklaces and wear a fabulous pair of brocade shoes."

Focus on the fabulous: "But, it's about also keeping it simple and really having that one accent piece, whether it be your dress or your accessories or your shoes, and letting that one element really shine," Bryant says.

After hours: "Dressing for a work party can be easy and quick," Smaldone says. "Just add some sparkle in the form of a chunky crystal necklace or a pile of glittery bangles to your suit or basic shift dress. Trade your basic flats or pumps in for an embellished shoe and you have a great evening look. Both dresses and suits work for office parties -- wear whatever makes you feel great and what you feel comfortable in."

Undergarments count: "Of course, especially in wearing cocktail, you want to make sure you're wearing the proper shapewear and you want to make sure your clothes fit you perfectly," Bryant says. "Your jacket has to be tailored, your pants have to be hemmed. Make sure you really have that great, polished look."

Beyond basic black: "Since most people opt for black, any color will stand out, but I love gold at this time of year," Smaldone says. "It's so festive and it adds a little glow to winter skin."

"I love winter white," adds Bryant. "Most people do wear black, so you can really stand out in white. And I do love red velvet at Christmas-time. A beautiful red velvet pantsuit is amazing."

Accessories, please: "I love statement necklaces, just that one piece," Bryant says. "I always love the layering of the beads, whether it's pearls and chains, or pearls and different colors of beads. It's a very easy thing to have that simple silhouette for day, and then add, going into evening, great accessories. And bring an extra bag, too. That's really the best thing to change for a work party. Bring your accessories, your bag and your shoes and you're good to go. And don't forget to wear a dressier coat to the office that day.

Casual and cool: "A dressier, beautiful, feminine blouse with any kind of detail, like embellishments or ruffles, with tailored jeans and some beautiful shoes is a way to go for a casual cocktail party," Bryant says. "You could even do a beautiful tunic and belt it and wear leggings or a skirt or jeans. And wear heels. I think that changes everything."


For more holiday style tips, here's more tips from the pros.

And click here to learn quick fixes for party fouls.