Just when you thought you’d reached the end of the year relatively unscathed, there’s one last professional hurdle to clear: the work Christmas party.
While one last office ‘hurrah’ is meant to be all fun and games, putting down the briefcase and stepping into your party shoes can be a stumble for many.
“Even though the work Christmas party is a social event, you’re still in a work situation and dressing too casual is a mistake,” says Ross Poulakis, general manager at luxury store Harrolds. Especially, if you get it completely wrong. “People will notice and remember your board short and deep V-singlet combo.”
Concerned your dire outfit might kill your career post-Christmas party? Here’s how to nail your work Christmas party style (whatever the dress code) this festive season, and still march to the beat of your own style drum. Ra-pa-pa-pum.
#1 Black Tie
If you’re the corporate honcho whose Christmas party is more Casino Royale than casual drinks, go the tuxedo. The jacket should be wool, with no vents and boast satin or grosgrain lapels. For a festive twist, why not consider the double-breasted cut, which is equally acceptable as single-breast, but done less, so you’re sure to impress. As for underneath?
“Team the tuxedo with a bib front white shirt, and quality dress shoes,” say Poulakis. Think an Oxford cap-toe in black or a dark slipper if you’re more a fashion man.
Don’t miss on the bow tie, making sure it’s black (obvs), and is a manual tie up — never clip on. “And match the bow tie to your lapels.”
If the party’s venue is still relatively formal, look to a sharp suit but in navy, charcoal or a lighter grey.
“Go a full suit in matching colours,” says Poulakis. Then jazz it up with a personalised shirt and tie combination, that is tasteful. So, avoid Christmas green and red, which are contrasting tones and super kitsch.
“Instead, go for a shirt and tie in complimentary shades.”
Think a forest green knitted tie over a light blue shirt if it’s a dinner affair or violet paired with a summery pink for a day thing.
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#3 Cocktail Attire
When the cocktails are a-flowin’, the suit separates should still be showin’. For cocktail attire, look to more relaxed tailoring, and embrace the split.
“Try a blazer and trouser combination in navy, grey or black,” says Poulakis. Or consider that Prince of Wales blazer you have on your Santa wish list. “See cocktail attire as the perfect opportunity to mix in classic prints, such as checks.”
Then, pair with slim-fit trouser separates or chinos in a dark hue. Add a collared shirt, based out by a leather brogue, a buttery Chelsea boot or this season’s footwear favourite — the penny loafer.
“Depending on the event, you may be able to go open neck,” adds Poulakis. Tie-less, no stress.
#4 Smart Casual
This is the hardest to style define, but is the easiest and most comfortable to wear. First up: smart casual can consist of sneakers, jeans and a tee. But of a certain kind. Luxury sneakers, generally low-cut, in a monochrome white, brown, black (nothing neon and gym-esque) leather are prime.
Jeans should be cut slim-to-straight and dark indigo or black, and your tee should be as fresh as your kicks — neat and stain-free.
“Feel free to add a blazer if the occasion calls for it,” adds Poulakis. Otherwise, the smart bomber jacket is the ultimate dressed-up, dress down ‘tailoring’ to own this Christmas.
Lastly, Don’t Overlook Details
“As always, the devil is in the details and accessories are the perfect way to elevate a look,” says Poulakis.
While dress codes and company expectations will dictate your overall Christmas party style, accessories are where you’ll take home the best-dressed employee award. There’s always a vibrant pocket square or socks, but break away from the norm.
“If you work in an office, now is the time to break away from corporate wear and subtly introduce casual wear staples like statement watches and jewellery,” adds Poulakis.