New Year’s Eve Fashion Part One: What To Wear That’s Not A Suit Or Tie

Welcome to my multi-part what-to-wear series on New Year’s Eve! If you’re like me and you own infinity number of little black dresses and high heels then New Year’s Eve is awesome and really straight forward. On the other hand, if the idea of wearing a dress makes you feel a little queasy and/or oppressed then New Year’s can be sort of terrifying and stressful and maybe make you want to stay in all night and watch the ball drop with your roommate and seventeen cats. But never fear, I’ll be rolling out some sweet styles for the femmebutch, the not-butch not-femme, the androgynous, the totally butch and the scared shitless of looking fancy. Well, okay, let’s be real — I’ll do my best.

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Before I get started, I just want to say a few words about black tie events. You might find yourself invited to or buying tickets to a black tie event this New Year’s. Maybe your best friend is gay marrying their girlfriend at midnight or maybe you’re attending a hoppin’ New Year’s charity event. Maybe your rich mother-in-law bought your and your wife tickets without considering how uncomfortable an ultra-formal gala might make you. Here’s the deal: if dresses are ever a thing you would wear, you should wear a floor length gown. If dresses are never a thing you would wear then you have to wear a black tuxedo or the nicest black men’s/women’s suit you can find with a white blouse. You might even want to consider a black vest or even a tie as well. Basically, if you’re not going to wear a gown to a black tie event, you need to look as formal or more formal than then men attending. You might even want to make a trip to Nordstrom. I’m sorry, but them’s the black tie attire rules. Check out these looks for ideas.

If you’re not going to a real honest-t0-goodness black tie event, then here’s the deal. I get a lot of Formspring questions from readers who feel like they want a not-a-dress but also not-a-suit look for New Year’s. I’m sure this could translate in to a ton of different outfits, but I came across a particular look I love.

Pants But Not A Suit Or Tie Look


What I like about this look is that it’s extremely versatile and you might even have everything you need already. Isn’t that the best? When you don’t have to buy anything and you can spend all the monies on other things you love like dinner for two or booze?

Let’s start from the bottom. For pants, you’re looking for something skinny or straight leg. I prefer super skinny, but that’s because I have freakishly small calves I like to show off. Your body/style might be more of a straight leg pant and that’s fine. These pants can be jeans, (faux) leather or a nicer fabric, but they should be black. If you’re wearing leather pants, make sure that you look casual and not like you’re in a bondage club (unless that’s the look you’re going for. You do you). Investigate a black belt for your pants.

On top is where things get crazy. Pick a loose, silky grey, purplish or otherwise neutral but sort of metallic colored tank top/sleeveless shirt. Tuck your shirt in. I know it’s scary but just bear with me. On top of that shirt wear a black suit vest unbuttoned. Buttoning up the vest will look weird. On top of that vest/shirt combo wear a straight collared jacket. With fabric or jeans, a grey or gunmetal colored leather jacket will look cool. That being said, there’s no reason a black jacket won’t look just as good. The thing to keep in mind is that it should be a straight collared jacket as oppose to a heavily zippered motorcycle style jacket. Leather blazers are also cool and you could certainly wear one instead. I do not suggest wearing a leather jacket with a leather pants because it’s be all squeaky. Instead, wear a canvas or light weight fabric straight collared jacket. You could also wear a blazer, but I think a jacket looks cooler with the leather pants. Of course, you can also forgo the jacket/blazer completely.

You can finish off this look by styling it more butch-ish or more femme depending on how you want to look. You can certainly make it look more butch with a pair of loafers or other flat lace up shoes and a cool chunky watch. Alternatively you could wear it with black or sparkly pumps or black heeled boots and a long necklace. Regardless of your hair length or style this is a sleek look so I suggest slicked, smooth styling for short hair or a straight back pony tail for longer hair. If you have long hair and/or an undercut, a small knot on the nape of your neck on the non-shaven part of your head would also look nice.

The great thing about this outfit are the layers. If you have to wait outside a club you’ll be nice and warm with a vest and a jacket. Plus, once you get inside you can keep the jacket on to look cool/have a security blanket of layers or take it off and still look good and properly dressed up.

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Feel free to ask me specific New Year’s Eve fashion questions on Formspring or through ASS messaging and watch closely for more stuff about stuff to stuff your stuff in to for New Year’s Eve in the days/hours/moments to come.

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Lizz is a consumer, lover and writer of all things pop culture and the Fashion/Style Editor at Autostraddle.com. She is also full time medical student at Brown University in Providence, RI. You can find her on the twitter, the tumblr or even on the instagram.

Lizz has written 274 articles for us.

51 Comments

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      Wait I’m so excited this comment exists because I am officially obsessed with the blazer I bought after Lizz told me to (and then she told me it’s the same one she has and I DIED) and I was actually planning on just commenting on any random article she posted to be like LIZZ YOU CHANGED MY LIFE no matter how random and weird it would be, but then she said the word BLAZER in this article and I was like YAY RELEVANCE and then YOU said the word BLAZER and now what I am saying is (sort of, if you bear with me/live in my crazy world) SO RELEVANT.

      I’m wearing my blazer at work right now and I’m not even mad that I’m at work when clearly this week should be a vacation week because my blazer makes me so happy. I mean okay I’m a LITTLE mad but really the blazer makes everything so much better.

      (I’m wearing a dress on New Year’s Eve because that’s how I do, BUT I LOVE MY BLAZER.)

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    Oh shit this reminds me I left my tacky as shit “happy new year’s” tie at my parents’ place. So I will now need this advice.
    I’m definitely doing the vest thing, though my giant dancer legs will not fit in either straight leg OR skinny jeans, so bootcut it is for me.

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    Okay, so where do people buy skinny leg not-denim pants? I have the hardest time finding these- they are never skinny enough for the fit I want. I also have a weirdly shaped lower half, where my hips/waist are normalish and my legs are very skinny. But I really need black not-denim pants for dressing up to wear with my sweater vests/oxfords!

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    ok guys serious question: will girls really think i’m straight if i’m wearing heels? i have very little experience in the “going out to gay bars” area and don’t want to be getting the “go away straight girl” look all night. for clarification: they are wedges, not pumps. help a babygay out?

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    Good article, but i don’t think the styles will work for anyone past a tomboy, unfortunately. How about incorporating button downs, vests, and girly jeans with good old boots to keep it from going too femme. It’s not about the actual outfit, but how you rock the outfit.

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    If it’s black tie, you -have- to wear black tie and it -has- to be proper black tie. Here’s a brilliant reference: http://www.blacktieguide.com/index.html

    I’m absolutely a traditionalist when it comes to this. Call me old fashioned, I’m actually a 34 year old man from the 19th century. If it’s not black tie, yay choice! That looks like a winner. Metallic shades are awesome when paired up with a jacket or blazer. Layers for the win.

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    In my opinion, whatever you’ll be wearing: NYE is THE night where being overdressed is way less of an issue than any other day of the year. If being overdressed even a possibility at all. (Okay, NYE and your birthday. And Christmas, but that might just be in the country where I live.)

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