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What to wear to the holiday party

What to wear to the holiday party

From experience, we know that the office party has the potential to be remembered as the best of times, or the worst of times. The outcome depends on how you approach it. The first thing to remember is that no matter where it’s held, the office party is still a company event.

Think of the office holiday party as a chance to meet and connect with colleagues who work outside of your department. (Read Jumpstart Your Career for tips on networking.) It’s also an opportunity to talk with your boss in a more casual setting. It’s not the time to whoop it up. It should go without saying, but just in case, remember to go easy on the alcohol.

One of the biggest concerns at an office party, for women particularly, is the proverbial question, “What should I wear?” To answer this question, we invited image consultants Adele Riepe, Image Solutions, Susan Fignar, Image Works Wonders, and our image expert Sherry Maysonave, Empowerment Enterprises for a little advice. Following are their collective comments on dressing for the office party (yours and his) and transitioning from business to party attire.

Generally speaking, a weekend holiday party (read Friday or Saturday night) likely will be more festive than an after work gathering. Still, it’s important to remember that you should always dress more conservatively for any business function than you would for a office party. When it doubt, don’t be afraid to ask about the appropriate attire.

The holiday party (yours or your partner’s) is not the time for anything too short, too tight or too revealing in any way. Bare arms are ok, but bare midriffs are not. Save the sexy, vamp for another night.

Understated elegance is always appropriate. After all, you want people to remember you, not your dress. Need some ideas? Take a look at the following suggestions:

  • A black skirt or pants suit worn with a sparkly, iridescent or beaded top. This gives you two options: wearing the jacket for a more conservative look or removing it to look a little dressier. Finish your look with suede, silk or other fabric pumps, mules or strapy shoes. Pair the shoes with a small beaded or fabric bag. Add some drop earrings or glittery studs.
  • A simple solid-color dress worn with a matching jacket or evening wrap. A pashmina will keep you warm and soften the look. Finish this outfit with suede, silk or other fabric pumps or strapy shoes. Carry a small beaded or fabric bag or a leather envelope. Finish with some dressy, yet tasteful, jewelry.
  • A black skirt or pants paired with a black top, and worn with a bright-colored jacket (not a cocktail jacket or anything too glittery). Finish your look with fabric shoes and a small envelope or beaded bag. As above, add some drop earrings or glittery studs.

Making the Transition

Office parties held at end of the workday, pose additional problems. How to change from strictly business to evening attire without bringing a suitcase to the office? The key to a flawless transition is choosing the right accessories:

  • Change the look of a black skirt or pants suit with a sparkly, iridescent or beaded top
  • Dress up any outfit with fabric shoes, pumps or sandals paired with a small beaded or envelope bag
  • Add a festive touch with drop or glittery stud earrings, a dressy scarf or an evening wrap
  • Don’t forget to freshen your hair and makeup. Consider putting your hair up for a dressier look

About Annette Richmond, MA

Annette Richmond, MA, CARW, CCELW, is a Certified Resume Writer, Certified LinkedIn Profile Writer, and former recruiter. Her career advice has been featured by Huffington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, Business Insider, Monster, Vault, and WSJ. She helps motivated, senior level professionals tell their unique career story. She also serves as executive editor of career-intelligence.com.


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