Office parties are tricky with respect to the dress code. Thus, keep the rule
if it works for a date night out, it’s not for the office.
Yes, even when or especially when it is a corporate cocktail party. Stop! Let’s do one step at a time. There are corporate and festive office cocktail parties. A general rule is to
stay within the broad lines of the office dress code’s limits with respect to showing skin. Skin in the sense of toes, heels, cleavage, belly, legs, and arms.
Pay attention to the invitation. Often it has a hint for the dress code. If so, go with it to dress for success.
What to wear to a festive office party
Let’s start with the festive office party because of the holiday season. Here you can go for sequins, metallic, and embellishments. Even a cocktail dress that does not show too much skin works. When it is strapless, wear it with a matching bolero, thin fine fabric stole, or a nice leather jacket. Black slim pants with a metallic, embellished or sequin top are also fine. What about a sequin or brocade skirt? A holiday dress, would also meet the dress code for a festive office cocktail party.
Go for a big clutch or nice evening bag (see photo below), i.e. something different than your usual day bag. Embellished stilettos or open toe pumps fit the bill. In cold climate regions, have a large satchel to carry your shoes and a clutch inside that you place on the table. Leave the satchel with the coat clerk if possible.
What not to wear to a festive office holiday party
Stay away from informal fabrics, daytime outfits, corporate clothes, suits, or anything denim. You are never wrong with a little black dress. But if you go for one, stay out of the crowd by festive rhinestone jewelry. Also steer away from anything that is too short or too long (e.g. maxi dress), shows too much cleavage (back or front, it doesn’t matter). Recall the attendees are your colleagues. Thus, try to still look professional.
Corporate office party
The corporate office cocktail party reads more or less gray or dark corporate style as foundation given a twist with jewelry and/or accessories as shown in the first two photos of this post. One statement piece of jewelry only. Avoid double blink. In other words, stay on the road of classics with a twist.
Tights are a must! Sheer as well as opaque work depending on climate. Cover your arms in agreement with your office’s dress code. A little black dress in a classic cut is always a good idea. In winter, wearing a layering top underneath is acceptable in cold climate regions. 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 a statement brooch are save options too.
Go for closed toe pumps. Anything less would look too casual with tights on. In cold climate regions, classic boots will be acceptable on cold winter 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
Again stay away from anything informal like knits, jersey, too short or too much skin. A shiny clutch in silver, gold or patent leather is perfect. Any bright color is risky.
Further “work appropriate” holiday outfit ideas
What kind of office holiday party do you do at work? Do you go? Let me know your style challenges by email, so I can help you.
Have fun at the party, and have a designated driver or take a cab. 🙂
Do you like style recipes like those in this post? Then you may want to purchase my book How to Dress for Success in Midlife. It has style recipes for the dressing situations and challenges of women over 40. Give yourself the gift of style.
Photos: G. Kramm, N. Mölders
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