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Throughout the week we’ll be revisiting our 2013 Holiday Hosting Guide series. -ed.

All words: Kate Warren & Martin Swift
All photos: Franz Mahr

Throughout the week we’re running our BYT Hosting Guides wherein our favorite lifestyle experts, fashion gurus and all-around social butterflies teach you how to style, dress and host your way to (and through) the perfect holiday party. We kick off our series with photographer and woman-about-town Kate Warren and her stylish partner, artist Martin Swift.

From awkward family gatherings to office parties and galas galore, the holiday season presents a myriad of opportunities for sartorial stress. Whether you’re on a tight budget or just interested in stocking your fridge with seven different varieties of boozy eggnog, we’re here to help you stretch your wardrobe for maximum holiday stylishness without spending. We each took a staple garment and styled it for three festive occasions: the casual hang-out, the cocktail party, and the dressy evening affair.

Martin’s staple is a three piece vintage grey suit (found at Treasury Vintage), and Kate’s is a leather-edged tuxedo blazer (by Elizabeth and James). Each can go easily from day to night, so you’ll never be that guy still wearing his work suit at a fun after hours party.

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  • Occasion 1: Casual Friend Friday Night

These looks would be great at happy hour, a show at DC9, and drinks at Black Whiskey.

Martin: For a more casual look, strut your suit pants and slip the vest over a classic striped tee or henley and leave your blazer at home. Add a scarf or other fun accessories for personal flair. A clutch with clean lines and a pop of color can be functional and masculine – the extra space will be an added bonus for your date. Kate loves to stash her lipstick, phone, and wallet in my bag.

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Kate: Layers are the key to my look. A tee from local band Mission South is topped with a vintage velvet vest and staple tuxedo blazer. Adding festive fabrics and textures are a great way to be seasonally appropriate, and details like the gold buttons on the vest add personality. Leather pants add an edge while being comfortable enough to rock any bar. A statement necklace brings in an air of femininity to finish the look.

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  • Occasion 2: Cocktail

These looks are great for first dates, formal family gatherings, and any party that demands “creative cocktail” attire.

Martin: Pair the suit pants and jacket with a simple button-up.  Dark socks and black monkstraps are a simple way to dress up the outfit.  Add some color and you are ready for a great night out.

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Kate: A red dress that makes you feel a little bit dangerous is a perfect wardrobe staple. Pair yours with the tuxedo blazer to play with masculine and feminine elements at the same time – that juxtaposition makes things more interesting. A fringe necklace adds sassy movement, and patterned platforms from the summer can be re-worked with or without tights. Your feet will be comfortable, but you’ll still benefit from the great posture and height that comes with wearing heels.

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  • Occasion 3: Formal

These looks can go to formal galas, New Years Eve parties, and beyond when you want to creatively deviate from the tux and ballgown norm while still being appropriately attired.

Martin: Trot out the full three piece suit with your best shoes and pressed button down.  You can keep it fresh but subtle with a black skinny tie and statement pocket square; add some fun socks for a hidden flair and you are all set to go turn some heads.

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Kate: No one will accuse you of being under dressed in this gold-on gold look! Trade your gown for a hand-beaded vintage top and a pair of silk brocade tuxedo pants.  Throw on your jacket to take the sheer top from naughty to nice before lacing up a pair of stilettos – these are a great alternative to the classic black pump.  Polish it with a statement red lip and you are ready to join the boys in the smoking section with a decidedly feminine edge.

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