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That lamp does not go with those shoes

Five Mistakes When Dressing for the Firm Holiday Party

By Samantha Morris

The annual firm holiday festivities are a great way to celebrate and network with co-workers you don’t normally get the chance to interact with. However, maintaining a balance between being fun and professional is key, as the combination of booze, co-workers and holiday stress can become volatile.

You don’t want to be the one who embarrasses themselves at the big firm holiday party. Remember to drink responsibly and choose an appropriate outfit that fits within the party’s dress code, whether it’s black-tie, informal or festive.

Five Faux Pas

If you’re lost on what amounts to an “appropriate” outfit, here are five fashion faux pas to avoid at the firm holiday party.

Ignoring the dress code. While the holiday party is your chance to dress up and express yourself more than you would for a normal workday, it’s still important to remember the senior partners are going to see you in whatever outfit you choose. Your clubbing outfit will almost definitely be the wrong choice. Then again, you don’t want to underdress either.

Avoid going over the top or underdressing by making sure your outfit stays within the limits of the expected dress code for the event. If you don’t understand what the dress code is, ask around the office. Black-tie means going for a tuxedo or floor-length dress; semi-formal generally means a suit or little black dress; a “festive” dress code means you have the chance to add more holiday flair. Just not too much flair.

Holiday costumes. While this partially depends on your workplace culture, in general, it’s a big no-no to show up as any kind of elf, reindeer or in full Santa gear. A cute Santa hat should be your absolute limit for a potential costume. If you want to show off your holiday spirit, go for subtlety. For example, burgundy and dark green are great, stylish substitutes for the bright reds and greens generally associated with the holiday. Accenting your outfit with holiday jewelry or adding a winter-themed scarf are also great ways to express your holiday spirit. Just avoid the jingle bells …

Wearable jingle bells. Jingle bells are a beloved holiday staple. They are cute and festive up to a point, and that point generally lasts only a few minutes. After the initial novelty, the bells become an annoying distraction. You don’t want to be jingling all throughout the party as you move about and network, so leave the jingle bells for the decorations.

Wearable mistletoe. Mistletoe is another beloved holiday staple. But, no, the office party isn’t the place to wear it on your body. Worst case, it’s a quick ticket to a talk with the HR director. And even in a best-case scenario, you don’t want to be the person messily kissing your co-workers. If you want to incorporate festive holiday greenery into your outfit, consider a holly or pine-inspired pin instead.

Outfits that light up. Any clothing that requires batteries isn’t going to be appropriate for a work event. Before you press “add to cart” on the sweater that has Rudolph’s nose lighting up, consider other ways to add bling to your outfit. Men may opt for a bold colored blazer or bomber jacket, while women might wear sparkly jewelry and other accessories, like a sequined wrap.

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

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Samantha Morris

Samantha Morris is an outreach professional specializing in men’s formal wear, with a mission to provide helpful tips on dressing for any occasion.

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