Best Party Looks of 2022

After two years of lockdown sweatpants and Zoom galas (remember those?), the party circuit in New York City came roaring back. Black-tie benefits went mask-free. Cultural performances held opening nights. Fashion labels hosted raves and intimate dinners. Movies and TV shows had red-carpet premieres. Gallery openings spilled out onto sidewalks.

The social set was not only raring to step out, but ready to dress up. While some dusted off their tuxedos and shopped their own closets, veteran partygoers were eager to unveil new looks. Designers showed evening dresses again. And the city’s peacocks flaunted their new feathers.

“People wanted to dress up and express themselves and look fabulous,” said Di Mondo, one of the city’s most photographed society figures.

The Styles desk captured this party renaissance in a new column called The Most Dressed. Each week, the editors pored over hundreds of photos and selected outfits that felt the most festive, the most original, the most creative and the most individual.

Looking back over 2022, we noticed a few trends: Colors were brighter, prints were bolder and accessories sometimes took center stage. Some outfits also felt more personal.

“I dress up to express what I feel,” Di Mondo said.

Partygoers, many of them men or nonbinary, pushed the boundaries of what constituted black-tie this year, wearing flowing dresses and lace tulle to some of the city’s most august galas, including for the Met Opera, the CFDA Fashion Awards and the New York City Ballet.

Why limit the fun to clothing? Partygoers were not afraid to let their outfits get upstaged by novelty statement bags — the more whimsical, the better.

Forget about Pantone’s color of the year, Viva Magenta. It should have been neon chartreuse, judging by how often this otherworldly hue showed up on red carpets, dance floors and opening nights.

Skinny jeans may be dead, but denim’s fashion days were hardly over. Whether it’s worn as a trench coat, layered or as a flared skirt, denim still starred in its own parade.

Manicures and blowouts alone would no longer cut it. To elevate their style game, nightlife denizens brandished ornate and intricate nail art, occasionally accessorizing with a confection of jewelry.

Gala hoppers not only let their hair down, they tossed it sideways, braided it down their backs, dyed it every color of the rainbow and spit-curled it like an octopus.

Peekaboo fashion was big not only on runways this year, but on the party circuit. Chests were bared by men and women in the most unlikely of places, including formal galas, jazz clubs, film festivals and even the opera.

First impressions are important, but sometimes the best view is from behind — plus, it makes for a grander exit.

Here’s to this year’s risk takers, the ones who defied convention and dressed as quirkily and originally as they saw fit. Yes, dress codes are made to be broken.

The Most Dressed features great outfits from up, down and all around town.