The holidays are here, and the winter party season is in full swing. And every winter, the question is "What to wear?" This is especially true when the invitation says, "Come for casual cocktails."

Whether you want to buy a new outfit or wear one of the classic pieces already in your closet, here are a handful of fashion-forward tips to guide your get-up.

Today's top party styles

"When the invitation says 'casual,' interpretations differ," says Leah Feldon, a Nashville and New York-based fashion expert (leahfeldon.com) and author of Does This Make Me Look Fat?

"Some people will always dress up, while others won't," she says. "Some will read 'casual' and others, 'cocktail.' If you do your basic black with fun accessories, you'll be exactly perfect, either way."

"The one thing you're always safe wearing is basic black. Then jazz it up with accessories. You just can't go wrong with that," she assures.

"Black is essential," agrees Jenny Le of Opening Ceremony, which has stores in New York and just recently Los Angeles (openingceremony.us). Try this versatile Karen Kane Boyfriend Jacket.

Le recommends a few hot items to pick up this winter to turn heads anywhere you go.

"Velvet dresses, high waisted skirts, severe pencil skirts, cashmere cardigans, waistcoats, trenches and Victorian granny high heel boots," Le lists.

Another hot look, she says, is slim tuxedo pants and a chiffon bow blouse, or full trousers or high waisted pants."

Feldon also points to pants as a standout style. "Wear basic black pants and a red velvet jacket over a basic black top."