How to look professional at the office holiday party

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Stay within the office’s dress code at the holiday party

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. #workholidayparty Click To Tweet
Yes, even when or especially when it is a corporate cocktail party. Stop! Let’s do one step at a time. There are corporate parties, festive office cocktail parties and end-of-the-day parties.

A general rule is to 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 holiday 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 or around town tote to carry your shoes and a clutch inside that you place on the table. Leave the satchel with the coat clerk if possible.

accessories cross-body clutch Amber convertible cross-body minibag/clutch c/o Olivia + Joy. Detaching the strap makes this mini bag a perfect clutch for a festive office cocktail party
handmade designer purse Handmade designer clutch c/o Bellorita<. Detaching the chain converts this beauty in a clutch. It also has a wrist handle, perfect when there is a buffet.

What not to wear to a festive office holiday party outside the office

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.

details of posh corporate office party outfit

midlife style blogger wearing corporate cocktail holiday party look

fashion blogger in LBD and stiletto booties
Outfit details: Ann Taylor blazer featuring a Chanel-jacket type fabric, DIY statement blackened silver necklace looking like Christmas bulbs, GAP LBD with Harley Davidson stiletto booties, GNW opaque tights, DIY silver necklace, H-bracelt (all own), and layering top c/o Adea for a corporate office cocktail party

Tights or pantyhose are a must! Sheer pantyhose 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. #holidayparty Click To Tweet
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 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 days with snow outside. Stiletto booties are risky, but may work when they are the only “twist” in the look, i.e. the statement.

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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. Neon is a No-No.

“Work appropriate” EOB holiday outfit ideas

When the party starts about 1 hour before end of business, your work outfit must do double-duty. In this case, it’s ok to wear knits or jerseys in cold climate regions. Go with the spirit. Red, green, black, white, plaid. Create the festive aspect with accessories like earrings, necklaces, belts or scarves for style. If the work dress code is business casual and/or you have a Casual Friday culture and the party falls on a Friday afternoon, even dark denim is ok when styled festive.

It’s best to have a look where you can swap the jewelry or exchange a scarf or jacket in the restroom prior to the party. A total change of your outfit would be a hassle in the small stalls. Moreover, you don’t want to outdress your boss, right? Err around a dressed-up work outfit with a twist to festive.

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What kind of office holiday party do you have at work? Do you go? Let me know your style challenges, 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.

Like these outfit ideas? If so, please feel free to pin them to your own Pinterest board.

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Photos of me: G. Kramm

Other photos: N. Mölders

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