Party season fast approaches, and in between searching for a sturdy coat and boots to get you through the cold, one must also consider festive attire. Whether you like to ferret through the thrift stores looking for cheap, shiny thrills or invest in one stellar piece that you will wear to every event, here is some brain candy to get you started.

Think outside the dress box and think how much non-party use you would get out of a nice-fitting pair of leather pants, how sexy they'll look when they're trashed, etc. If you've got the dough, custom is the way to go (Spartacus is good for more than just dildos, you know). If you can find a good fit going the vintage route, like this pair from Yo Vintage!, more power to you, but a pair that's too big but in good condition is worth a trip to the tailor—you might spend more on the tailoring than the item itself but the end result is essentially a custom pair for less than you'd pay to commission one.

I've been making some moderate headway in weaning myself off a dependence on black clothing, and metallics are a great alternative neutral, especially during the most gilded season of the year. Pop a shiny cropped jacket like this one from Isaac Hers on over whatever else you're wearing, and leave it on. It's chilly.

  • The Red Light

Vintage and thrift stores are the only places that turn me into a raging big-label whore, and it's particularly rewarding to finding something from a legendary house in perfect condition. Portland has a great secondhand scene where things like this mint-condition vintage Oscar De La Renta dress pop up all the time. This particular specimen is from The Red Light.

Even if you can't afford most of the offerings at Mario's, it's an excellent place to find inspiration from high end contemporary lines, like this fantasy dress by Jason Wu.

Men's picks are after the cut!

Whether you view the tie/collar/jacket men's uniform as a comfort or a limitation, take a cue from Adam Arnold's F/W '11 collection and sex it up with an unexpected pop of... lace. Just make sure it's well tailored, and that the rest of your look is straightforward, and you won't look like a slimeball.

  • Frances May

Men's clothing may be formulaic, but the layers make it easy to stay warm. Upgrade your top coat to something heritage (read: hip but sensibly durable and classic), like Pendleton's Ranch Coat at Frances May. The shearling collar is dapper as all get-out, but if it feels too much on a casual day, it's removable.

Oxfords are looking fresher on women these days, so take advantage of the huge moment men's boots are having. These SeaVees from Lizard Lounge are nice enough for a semi-formal occasion, and you can kick around in 'em as a comfortable alternative to sneakers, too.

  • Draught Dry Goods

Yes, you can totally get away with wearing a crew neck sweatshirt instead of a sweater over your shirt (not the lace one) and tie, but it can't be some gross scungy thing full of holes (and no hoodies). This one from Draught Dry Goods is still only available by pre-order, so you won't have time to mess it up.