Office holiday parties are tricky dress-code wise. On one hand side, one wants to dress up, but one still has to navigate the HR dress code. Furthermore, there are corporate parties, festive office cocktail parties, and end-of-the-day aka end-of-business (EoB) parties. This post provides some outfit ideas what to wear at these work holiday parties.
- Stay within the Office Dress Code at the Holiday Party
- What to Wear to a Formal Office Cocktail Party
- What Does Festive Business Casual Mean?
- Corporate Office Party Outfits
- Work Appropriate EOB Holiday Party Outfits
- What to Wear at the Office Holiday Party in a Nutshell
Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.
Stay Within the Office Dress Code at the Holiday Party
A general rule is to stay within the broad lines of the office dress code’s limits with respect to showing skin (toes, heels, cleavage, belly, legs, arms).
Stylist tip: As a rule of thumb: If it works for a date night out, it’s not for the office party.
Pay attention to the invitation for the dress code. If not, take clues from the location. When the party is in a hotel, it is a formal office holiday party dress code.
What to Wear to a Formal Office Party
A formal office party means a modest cocktail dress. When your cocktail dress is strapless, cover up with a matching bolero, or a thin fine fabric stole. You can go for sequins, metallic, brocade, and embellishments. Even a modest plaid holiday dress works. A holiday dress, would also meet the dress code for a festive office cocktail party. Black slim pants with a metallic, embellished or sequin top are also fine.
Go for a big clutch or nice evening bag, i.e. not your usual day bag. In cold climate regions, you can bring your clutch and shoes in an around town tote and leave your boots and tote with the coat clerk. A shiny clutch in silver, gold or patent leather is perfect
Embellished stilettos or open toe pumps fit the bill if you don’t have to wear closed footwear.
What Not to Wear to a Formal Office Holiday Party Outside the Office
Stay away from informal fabrics, daytime outfits, corporate clothes, suits, or denim. You are never wrong with a little black dress. But if you go for one, stay out of the crowd of LBDs by accessorizing with festive rhinestone jewelry.
Because the attendees are your colleagues, try to still look professional. Therefore, steer away from anything that is too short or too long (e.g., maxi dress), or shows too much cleavage (back or front, it doesn’t matter).
What Does Festive Business Casual Mean?
When the dress code is festive business casual style, go for business casual style, and add longer earrings and a festive top or a sequin blazer.
Stylist tip: Riot your closet for items in holiday colors or colors close to the traditional holiday red, green, black and white. Typical holiday associated patterns like plaid are a good choice too. By all means, stay away from the holiday sweaters. They don’t look cute on anyone over nine!
More on festive attire.
Corporate Office Party Outfits
The corporate office cocktail party reads more or less gray or dark corporate style attire as foundation given a twist with jewelry and/or accessories. One statement piece of jewelry only. Avoid double blink. Stay on the road of classics with a twist.
Tights or pantyhose are a Must! Sheer pantyhose as well as opaque work depending on your region’s climate. Cover your arms in agreement with your office’s dress code.
In cold climate regions, wearing a layering top underneath is acceptable. Straight skirts with a feminine blouse, or straight slacks in gray or black with a shell and bolero or Chanel-type jacket, or a classic shift dress with patent leather belt and statement brooch are save options too.
Go for closed-toe pumps. Anything less would look too casual with tights on. In cold climates, classic boots are acceptable on cold days with snow outside. Stiletto booties are risky, but may work when they are the only “twist” in the look, i.e. the statement.
What Not to Wear to a Corporative Office Holiday Party
Stay away from anything informal like knits, jersey, too short or too much skin. Any bright color is risky. Neon is a No-No.
“Work Appropriate” EoB Holiday Outfit Ideas
In recent years, many work places celebrate their office holiday party in their meeting room about 1 hour before EoB. No matter whether it’s a potluck or a party service brings the food, work holiday parties in the meeting room are like going from work to a picnic. Your work outfit namely must do double-duty.
In this case, it’s ok to wear knits or jerseys in cold climate regions. But your look should have some holiday spirit or swapping accessories should be enough to transfer it into a Thanksgiving or easy Christmas outfit.
Holiday spirit means red, green, black, white, plaid. Create the festive aspect with accessories means festive earrings, necklaces, brooches, or belts. Holiday-inspired costume jewelry is fine. A silk scarf with Christmas-print goes a long way. More on styling with scarves.
In a business casual style work environment and/or when the party is on a Friday afternoon in an office with Casual Friday outfits culture, dark denim is ok when styled festive.
Forget about Changing in the Restroom
You can’t block the ladies’ room for a complete outfit change. Furthermore, changing your outfit would be a hassle in the small stalls. Moreover, you don’t want to out-dress your boss, right? Therefore, err around a dressed-up work outfit with a festive twist.
When you don’t have a meeting that day, you may even dare wearing a sequin skirt or wearing metallic at day. Both are hot trends right now.
Outfits Made by Swapping Accessories
- A traditional retro-style holiday dress is a safe option with a sweater or cardigan.
- Wearing a little black dress and swap the vibe by exchanging a scarf, dress pumps and pearl studs with chandelier earrings or a long Swarovski crystal statement necklace and pointy toe pumps.
- Color blocking looks with the traditional holiday colors by adding holiday day jewelry or scarves.
What to Wear at the Work Holiday Party in a Nutshell
Stay within the limits of your HR approved dress code, and adapt the dress code of the party type accordingly.
Have a great holiday season!
Photos: G. Kramm
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