It’s party time!

The days are getting shorter and the weather is getting colder (for many), which means the holidays are right around the corner. And with the holidays come holiday parties. When November and December come around, it’s common for companies to hold holiday functions and work parties. Some of these are simple parties during the work day at the office, while others are more elaborate events to celebrate the holidays with their employees after hours.

As party day approaches, you might be contemplating what to wear, given that it's not just another day at the office. You want to have fun with your attire, but still keep it work appropriate. Not sure how? If you need some help figuring out your outfit, here are some tips for what to wear to a company holiday party.

If the holiday party is during work hours:

Some companies prefer to keep their parties small and during normal work hours. If this is the case for you,  then you'll likely opt for work-appropriate attire. However, don't be afraid to dress it up a little bit with a nice dress and shoes or a fun holiday-geared blazer with a little sparkle. Typically, you'll need to stick with the office dress code policy unless you're provided with guidelines that it's OK to dress differently for the event.

If the holiday party is after work hours:

After-hours holiday parties can be a lot of fun. They give you an opportunity to let your hair down, relax a bit, and connect with co-workers outside of the typical office environment. However, that doesn't mean you can forget that you are still around co-workers and at a work function. You want to have fun, but consider that what you wear and what happens at the party will be remembered by those you see daily in a professional environment.

This careful balance between professional and fun tends to be trickier to find for women to find because they typically have a wider variety of clothing options. As image expert Sarah Shah shares in her post, What to Wear to the Office Holiday Party, "The professional environment dictates that all outfits must be modest: keep cleavage covered, clothing can be fitted but not clingy/body-conscious, thighs should be covered with clothes or opaque tights/leggings, and more skin should be covered than is exposed." While wearing tights is probably not such a useful tip for the men out there, this rule about modesty applies to you too.With that in mind, have fun picking out your holiday outfit while utilizing the following tips and guidelines for office holiday party attire.

Related: 5 Tips for Surviving Your Office Holiday Party

Tips for picking out your company holiday attire:

Before you head into your closet, confirm the dress code — get clear on what the expectations are and go from there. You can go more formal or casual than the code if you choose, but use good judgment.

Office party attire tips for women:

Keep the cleavage to a minimum. A higher neckline can be extremely flattering, and it will make a big difference in keeping your look professional. If things still feel a bit bland, a necklace is a great way to add some pop or sparkle while still keeping it appropriate.

Consider where your hemline hits when selecting your wardrobe. You can go a bit higher than the typical “two inches above the knee” rule, but use caution and don't go too short. Also, make sure you test sitting down in your outfit before the party to ensure it doesn't show too much when you sit. After all, no one wants to be worried about fixing their skirt while their manager is speaking to them at the party.

Finally, use caution with sheer fabrics. If your party’s venue is going to have bright lights, then try to avoid sheer fabrics —  they may end up showing more than you’d like.

Holiday party outfit tips for men:

If you’re going to wear a dress shirt, make sure you iron it. A smooth shirt will help you look clean and put together, and it will show your co-workers that you care about the impression you make. It’s a job that only takes a few minutes, but it will make a big difference in your overall appearance.

Take the time to choose appropriate socks. There’s nothing worse than seeing a handsomely-dressed man only to look down and see a pair of white gym socks breaking the line from legs to toes. If you’re wearing black pants and black shoes, reach for the black socks. If you’re using socks to have some fun with your fashion, go for it! Just make sure it doesn’t look like a faux pas.

Last, remember that your appearance goes beyond your clothing. Like an ironed shirt, a clean-shaven face will keep you looking polished and refined. If you prefer to rock a scruffy look or full beard, just make sure it’s trimmed and neat.

For everyone:

Be comfortable. If you'll be dancing and walking around a lot, you don’t want your clothes to keep you from having a good time. Make sure your buttons will stay buttoned, for example, and if you sweat easily, you might want to avoid wearing silk.

Consider purchasing items that can be worn again or select pieces you already own. Unless your holiday party is super formal, then it's a smart move to get pieces that can be versatile additions to your wardrobe. To save money, you can even dress up pieces you already own. Real Simple's post "5 Easy Holiday Outfits" gives some great options and combinations, including the "not so simple black dress" that can easily be worn again for another event, or even to work if dressed down a bit.

Don't be too casual. Some might see the holiday party as an opportunity to go casual instead dress up, and that's OK — to each his own. At the same time, you don't want to go any more casual than you would for casual Fridays at work. In other words, sandals, loose-fitting jeans, and shorts probably aren't appropriate (unless your holiday party is a beach party!).

In general, your goal for dressing for a company holiday party is to keep your look classy and conservative while also finding ways to show your personality and have fun. The perfect accessories, for example, can really add to your look, like a nice pair of shoes or the perfect belt. In the end, it’s all about feeling good about yourself (within the guidelines of what’s appropriate, of course), so make sure the outfit you choose leaves you confident and ready for some fun. For a step-by-step guide on how to select your outfit for your work holiday party, check out Sarah's post mentioned above.The Huffington Post also has a helpful article titled "Party Dress Code: What to Wear to Your Office Holiday Party Sans Stress." And for you men out there, consider reading the Biz Journals' post "Guys, Here's How to Dress for Your Office Holiday Party" and GQ's post "What to Wear to Your Office Holiday Party."

Click on the following link for more workplace advice.

Recommended Reading:

Related Articles: