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.


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.


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 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 261 articles for us.


  1. i legitimately think this is what i will be wearing on new year’s eve because ever since your piece on blazers and the blazer i purchased on black friday shortly thereafter, my life has changed.

    • Oh yes. I am completely in love with blazers too! Nearly as in love with them as I am with hoodies, which is to say, a lot.

    • 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.)

    • APPROVE! I too am a blazer addict. I think I have about 6 of them, including this shiny-ass, blinged-up, Gaga-like one, which will be PERFECT for NYE. o.0

  2. I’m a “drink margaritas and play Bananagrams in the kitchen for New Year’s” kind of girl, but, um. I would go to black tie events if all the ladies dressed like the ones in that link.

    • bananagrams! this is a fun game that i just barely learned tonight and it is fun. i would play bananagrams in a ball gown.

      • I want to combine your comment with Brittani’s and have a formal Bananagrams tournament. Maybe New Year 2013.

    • I’ve won about 20 games of Bananagrams in a row at this point so I think I should play on New Year’s so I enter 2012 a champion and watch it all go downhill from there.

  3. I’m somewhat scared shitless of looking fancy so it’s my goal in life to avoid ever going to an actual black tie event

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

    • I must also note however that I am wary of (shudder) jeggings. I want skinny pants, not…whatever most jeggings are. (Ankle-strangling skinny)

      • Jacob has skinny black pants and skinny khakis but I don’t know if you have that store in the US. Or try target maybe? They have decent clothes for a a walmart clone as I recall from my trips to Arizona. OH and I saw some at my (Canadian) Forever 21 this morning

      • I like Jcrews matchstick jean, they are skinny but not ankle strangling. While they are a bit pricey seasonal sales are the best. They are a bit high waisted but I dont find that uncomfortable nor mom-jeanish, in fact they make my ass look great!

      • urban outfitters has black non denim skinny pants in a variety of rises and lengths. i love mine. i think they’re called ‘cigarette pants’

    • You could also consider buying straight non-denim pants and then have them narrowed by a tailor specifically to your body.

      Never underestimate the power of a good tailor. They can work magic.

  6. 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?

    • I think you should rock your own style – whatever it is, whatever makes you happy!
      So if heels float your boat, do it :)

    • Wear the heels, then pretend you are Fonzie. Smile crooked, lean against things, develop an oral fixation so women look at your mouth. If nothing else, have confidence in the excellence of your style. The bevies of beauties falling at your feet follow shortly after.

    • Listen up people. Please adopt the ‘anyone in the gay bar is fair game’ rule that is less stringent than the ‘anywhere oxygen is present’ rule to which some of us already abide.

      • I’m with Brittani, I wear heels all the time to girlsnight and I assume everyone knows I’m down for the get down ’cause, um, I’m at the girlsnight.

        • True that.

          It was such an eye opener when this girl I know told me “Girl, to me they’re all gay until proven otherwise’, when I was lamenting about being a total spaz with a shitty ass gaydar.

    • Naww man, never ever worry about looking too “straight.” Yeah it helps out people with poor gaydar (like me) if you are wearing flannel and men’s jeans, but if that doesn’t feel like you (it definitely doesn’t feel like me) then don’t dress that way! Besides, a lot of the lesbians I know are femmier than some of the straight girls I know. You can always show you’re into girls by, you know, hitting on girls.

    • i love all of you, i can’t wait to tower over people on saturday night.

      (and by tower over people i mean be a normal height for once.)

  7. my girlfriend told me she wanted to wear a vest. i was like, “well so do i”. she goes, “we can’t dress alike that’s supa gay”. i reply ” do you know how many girls are going to be there in vest?!?!”

  8. 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.

  9. If it’s black tie, you -have- to wear black tie and it -has- to be proper black tie. Here’s a brilliant reference:

    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.

  10. What are your thoughts on a little red dress? Too much? Perfect for getting that girl you’ve been eyeing to kiss you at midnight?

    • I like black and sparkly for NYE, but there are no rules! The next day is a whole new year! Wear that red dress and get that kiss!

  11. 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.)

  12. Not having to leave home and being with seventeen cats and someone to make popcorn with sounds perfect.
    That being said, I will be wearing this outfit to things. Things I have to leave the house for.

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