"Recently, I've concluded that jewel tones are Not Really For Me (I think they don't work well with my skin tone), and I'm trying to dress in more natural / earthy / autumnal tones. But when I look at ideas for holiday and party outfits, pretty much everything is jewel-toned and glitzy.
Do you have any advice/ideas on looking good for a holiday or party occasion, without wearing a ton of jewel tones or a bucket of sequins?"
Before I give specific suggestions about party pieces, I want to talk about shopping for pieces that aren't the most popular style for a season. Pretty much every store will start getting in a collection of glitzy dresses for the holiday so it can quickly feel like there are no other options. But if you approach your outfit search from the right angle, you will be able to find a great look without a lot of stress.
First, check out the sale section. All the fall pieces (with their lovely autumnal colors) are going to be marked down and put together in an overwhelmingly crowded section at the back of the store. It takes a little bit of patience, but there are often gems back there. When shopping the sale rack, be willing to try on multiple sizes. Sometimes pieces end up back there because their fit was slightly different than the brand's normal sizing and other people were unwilling to try a size up.
Second, shop at department stores. They have a much wider selection because they need to cater to a large audience (and also because their larger physical space means they have room to display more pieces). You can also try a store that focuses more on vintage-inspired or bohemian fashion, such as Anthropologie, because the color palettes there tend more towards the earth tones.
Now onto answering the original question. My immediate thought when I read this question was that bronze would be the perfect party color. It is earthier and more subdued than gold or silver, but it is still in the metallic family so you have a bit of shine. Plus, the great thing is that bronze comes in many variations as some lean more towards rust red and others to chocolate brown.
If bronze still feels too glitzy for your tastes, instead focus on the fabric. Taupe or olive green may not seem like party colors, but if your dress is made of flowing silk or delicate lace you will look appropriately dressed. For the holiday season I absolutely love jacquard and flocked fabrics because the texture adds visual interest and since they are thicker fabrics, they feel seasonal.
Also, don't forget about navy and black. While they are darker and harsher than most earth tones, they are great as a contrasting color in a pattern. For example, you will have many more options for party dresses off the rack that are a black and taupe pattern than for one that is only taupe. A pattern or print also is great when you want a piece that feels festive without layering on sparkle. For many of the less popular colors the only options you may be able to find are bridesmaid dresses, which I rarely recommend buying for anything except a stint as a bridesmaid.
I have created a Pinterest board with party outfit inspiration that is completely free of sequins and that focuses mostly on neutrals and earth tones. A sample of the board is posted here, but be sure to click through to see all the options. (And I will be adding more pins as the holiday season gets underway, so check back to see what else I find.) Also, if anyone else has holiday outfit ideas that fit these requirements, please share them in the comments!