Holiday Party Dresses Inspired by The Nutcracker

Because beautiful stage costumes = fabulous holiday style inspiration.

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Two dancers, one man and one woman, in front of a blue backdrop in The Nutcracker Ballet
The Nutcracker Ballet

Next to A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life, Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker is one of those iconic and beloved works of art that keep getting revisited every year during the holidays. It’s hard not to see why: with its magical themes, straightforward storytelling, and whimsical nature, The Nutcracker ballet brings to life the very essence of a Christmas narrative. 

A Synopsis

For those of you unfamiliar with The Nutcracker, here’s the quick version of the story: A young girl named Clara gets a toy Nutcracker from her godfather on Christmas Eve, which then comes to life. (Not really, though—Clara just falls asleep and dreams of the rest.) The Nutcracker fights the evil Mouse King, turns out to be a real-life prince, and takes Clara to the Land of the Sweets, where they are both honored with extravagant dances and gifted treats. 

After the final waltz, Clara and the Prince say goodbye to their subjects, and are whisked away (presumably back to her house, after the dream ends) in a reindeer drawn sleigh. The curtain is drawn, the audience cheers, and here The Nutcracker ends. It’s a simple plot, really, allowing the talented ballerinas, diverse choreographed dances, and stunning costumes—which is what we’re focusing on today—to work their magic on the audience without the added burden of a complex narrative.

On to the Fashion…

Now that you’ve got the general gist of the ballet, keep reading for holiday dresses inspired by four Nutcracker personas: Clara, The Snowflakes, The Sugar Plum Fairy, and The Spanish Dancers. (Don’t worry if you don’t know who most of these are just yet; we’ll explain on the way!)

#1 Clara

A young girl

Clara in The Nutcracker ballet
Clara in The Nutcracker

As you all know by now, Clara is the glue that holds The Nutcracker together (with the sole exception of The Nutcracker himself). She’s young, sweet, and innocent. More than that, however, Clara is imaginative, having the power to dream up a world of anthropomorphic mouses and dancing snowflakes. 

For a look that’s both modest and old-fashioned, invest in some short, white dresses of the lace or cotton variety. The material should look delicate and feminine, like Clara’s ballerina outfit. If it’s particularly girly and sweet (bows and frills are a must), then it’s a perfect Clara look for the holidays!

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#2 The Dancing Snowflakes

A snowstorm personified

The Snowflakes dancing during the Nutcracker Ballet, with fake snow falling on them
The Snowflakes in The Nutcracker 

After Clara’s Nutcracker prince defeats the Mouse King, they retreat into the pine forest, where the previously mentioned Dancing Snowflakes beckon Clara’s companion on to his royal kingdom. Their waltz is among one of the better known melodies of the show; see if you recognize the tune here!

I went with a blue motif for the Snowflake holiday dresses, mimicking the color of their costumes, in addition to their original snowflake form. Find a dress that’s this color and made out of flowy material, and you too will be dancing the whole night through!

Products: 13 – Modcloth | 14 – JCPenney | 15 – Modcloth | 16 – Target | 17 – JCPenney | 18 – Dillard’s | 19 – Modcloth | 20 – Target

#3 The Sugar Plum Fairy

Temporary ruler of the Land of the Sweets

The Sugar Plum fairy in The Nutcracker ballet
The Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker ballet

While the waltz of the Dancing Snowflakes closes the first act, it is the Sugar Plum Fairy—played by the resident prima ballerina—that opens up the second act. Ruling the Nutcracker prince’s kingdom in his absence, she gracefully accepts him back and hosts a large celebration in his (and Clara’s) honor upon his return. Her solo, “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy,” is probably the most recognizable musical extract from The Nutcracker; revisit it here.

Because of the Sugar Plum Fairy’s name, a nice plum color is the perfect choice for a lovely Nutcracker-inspired holiday dress. Follow that up with similar purple-ish hues (remember: purple is the color of royalty) and add in the maxi factor for a truly regal appearance

Products: 21 – Modcloth | 22 – Target | 23 – Nordstrom | 24 – Macy’s | 25 – Lulu’s | 27 – Lulu’s | 28 – Lulu’s | 29 – Lulu’s

#4 The Spanish Dancers

Dancers from the land of Spain

Spanish Dancers in The Nutcracker ballet
The Spanish Dancers in The Nutcracker ballet

Throughout the celebration held in honor for Clara and her Nutcracker prince, different groups perform, each representative of a specific nationality and bearing a generous gift for the pair. One of my personal favorites from the bunch are the Spanish Dancers, who bring chocolate and a rich, Hispanic flavor to the show.

Like the exotic and extravagant costumes featured above—and in this video of their dance—the dresses down below are sure to bring you into center stage anywhere you go. Moreover, they exude confidence and sexiness, making them popular options for any important party or social occasion. (Oh, and be sure to check out #30, from the Spanish brand Zara!)

Products: 30 – Zara | 31 – Modcloth | 32 – Forever 21 | 33 – JCPenney | 34 – Nordstrom | 35 – H&M | 36 – Forever 21 | 37 – Modcloth | 38 – Forever 21


Is The Nutcracker one of your favorite ballets? Would you wear any of the Nutcracker-themed holiday dresses out to a party? Which character was your favorite? (Personally, I adore The Sugar Plum Fairy!)

Comment down below with your input!

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