It’s that time of year again – the beginning of sequins, sparkles and plenty of festive cheer!
As the Christmas period nears and party invites start rolling in, the one that’s always on everyone’s mind is the office Christmas party and, in particular, how to dress for it.
You might have worked in your company for years and be wondering how to change up your look this year. Or you might be brand new to the organisation and want to make a good impression by balancing your own style with the office dress code.
Whichever one of the above scenarios you relate to, or even if you find yourself somewhere in between, I have written this article for women who are struggling to find the balance and want more guidance on how to dress for their office Christmas party.
Next week’s blog will be focused on how the men in your life can dress for their office Christmas parties as well, so stay tuned!
Before you start to choose your outfit, there are a few things you must consider:
- Location: is your party going to take place in the office or will the company be renting an external space such as a museum Love Actually-style?
- Time of day: this can often determine many parts of your outfit such as the colours you choose, the length of your dress and even your style of coat. You will also dress differently depending on if it’s a lunch-time affair or if you’ll be dancing the night away.
- Weather: let’s face it, we are in the depths of winter so it’s not going to be a summer dress and sandal occasion (unless you’re one of our Australian readers!). If it looks like rain, you might want to stay away from wearing your suede boots. Alternatively, if it’s very windy, then a flowy dress will present more problems than it may be worth. Check the weather in advance.
- Planned Activities: most companies tend to opt for a dinner or buffet and maybe some music, but every business is different so it would be wise to figure out what the plans are in advance so you can dress appropriately (footwear, I’m looking at you!). Will you need shoes to last you long into a night of dancing or will you be able to rock your highest stilettos at a sit-down dinner?
Find out as many details as possible about your office Christmas party in advance. Then, we can start thinking about the dress code and how your style fits in with that.
Most companies will put the dress code on the invite. It usually forms a part of one of the 3 types of dress code below:
- Casual / Smart-Casual
- Semi-Formal / Cocktail
- Formal / Black-Tie
CASUAL / SMART-CASUAL
When a company suggests a casual or smart-casual dress code, it is usually going to be an inside-the-office or lunchtime party. At the very most, you’ll be in a bar close-by.
Assuming this, here are some styles that will be perfect for your casual or smart-casual office Christmas party:
- Jeans / trousers and a nice top: a classic look that never fails. Go for a darker pair of jeans / trousers with a cami top or party top and a heel for a chic and polished look. Add some festive earrings if you want to add a little playfulness – it is still a party after all!
- A blazer is a great way to bridge the gap between casual and smart-casual. Be bold with your colour choice to stand-out. Or use it to add a little sparkle and glam into your outfit.
- If you are fed up of jeans, make the most of the occasion to wear a gorgeous skirt. Make it long so it’s still office-appropriate, and pair with tights, boots and a glitzy sweater on top.
- If the company culture and occasion allows it why not match your favourite Christmas Jumper / Dressy Knitwear with jeans a smart boot. You’ll be festive, cosy and casual all in one!
Note: casual does not mean boring or frumpy – make sure you are always choosing clothes for your body type, skin colour and height so even when you are rocking the casual look, you feel fantastic!
SEMI-FORMAL / COCKTAIL
This is your chance to wear that dress you bought for a special occasion that still has the tag on…
Semi-formal is the dream dress-code for office Christmas parties because you can wear almost anything. Here are some looks I suggest basing your outfit on:
- The little black dress (LBD) is in its element here. Extremely versatile, pairs well with practically anything and on virtually any figure. Best of all, it doesn’t matter how many other women are also wearing one, the LBD defies all competition.
- Cocktail dress: around knee-length, flowy or tight and room for you to add in sparkles or sequins, a cocktail dress is a no-brainer for a semi-formal event. Pair with strappy heels and a small bag or clutch for a flair of elegance and class.
- The jumpsuit: since the rise of jumpsuits in recent years, they have become a wardrobe staple for many women worldwide. Like dresses, you don’t have to find another top or bottom piece to match. They are also sophisticated and look great with pointy or strappy heels. Style with a pair of beautiful earrings to complete your look.
- The power suit/blazer dress: If you want to embrace both your feminine and masculine side, why not opt for a sexy suit. A good, fitted suit on a woman will accentuate your curves and fierceness. If dresses are not your thing, then this is the perfect outfit for you.
FORMAL / BLACK-TIE
Office Christmas parties become more impressive year-on-year. For larger companies with more budget, they can often mean black-tie events.
These tips will be good to keep in mind for other possible events, such as award ceremonies or charity balls.
The great thing about formal events is that it’s virtually impossible to be too dressed-up. Here is what I suggest:
- Black-tie means full-length. This is your opportunity to get really dressed up and show a sophisticated side of you to your work colleagues. Don’t hold back here, go for the wow factor! Choose a dress that is figure-hugging but still has some stretch (especially if there will be food). A clutch bag works best here.
- While full-length is the norm, it is not your only option for formal parties. Below the knee dresses are also a classic choice and you may be more likely to already have one in your wardrobe.
- Fabrics are your friend: choose an evening-appropriate fabric, such as velvet or lace to add to the elegance.
It is becoming more popular to adopt a theme for holiday parties. Good news if you struggle with choosing what to wear as the dress code is already chosen for you.
I have been to office parties with themes like ‘A Night at the Oscars’, or the ‘Roaring (19)20’s’. Other common ideas can be ‘festive’ focused or ‘ugly jumper’ parties and this is where you can really have fun with your outfit.
Make sure you know the theme well in advance so you have time to plan and shop around!
Those are some of my best tips for how to dress for your office Christmas party in 2019.
I’d recommend also having a chat with your friends or colleagues at work to see what they are wearing. Alternatively, try and get a sneak peek of last year’s photos.
If in doubt, remember the golden rule: it is better to be overdressed than underdressed.
Also don’t forget that your clothes are only part of your overall look. You will also want to make sure your hair and make-up are on point so that your look makes sense as a whole.
If you’d like my support with your overall image or hair and make-up, contact me here or reach me on +34 654 189 358 to schedule a complimentary 20 minutes call. I also team up with the professional photographers at Madas Commercial Photography & Aaron Jean photography to provide Linkedin headshot and business styling services.