What to Wear to a Business Cocktail Party

what to wear to a business cocktail party2017 Update: We still stand by our advice on what to wear to a business cocktail party, but you may also want to check out The Ultimate Guide to Business Casual for Women.

Reader C wrote in with an interesting question about what to wear to a business cocktail party, and it has definitely been ages since we talked about business cocktail party attire! Here’s her question:

I am due to start on a graduate programme for a large energy multinational. I have a 3 day induction in London, and I am informed that on two of the evenings there will be dinner and cocktails.

What should I wear? Scared of going over the top, but also don’t want to play it safe with jeans and a ‘nice top’.

Interesting! We sort of talked about this years ago when we answered a reader question about what to wear to an interview dinner, but that was a bit different because she was meeting them for dinner, not working all day and then going to dinner. Similarly, we’ve discussed the best networking dinner attire, as well as what to wear to a dinner reception and interview — but it’s been a while.

Here’s my thing: if you’re going straight from the induction activities to dinner, then you should wear basically the same thing you wore all day, unless you’re told specifically to wear something else. Take some time to freshen up your makeup to go from desk to dinner, and perhaps reconsider a portion of your outfit (remove the blazer, switch to different shoes for standing-around purposes, add a cocktail ring so it’s an easy conversation starter while holding your drink, etc). Ultimately I think people will remember your energy and attitude at these things far more than your outfit — so do what you have to do to look awake and alive and feel fresh enough to meet a zillion new people and express excitement for working on their projects. (For me this becomes a mix of “put on Touche Éclat and a highlighter like Haloscope or High Beam while listening to a crazy upbeat, silly song like Rock Me Amadeus” — but for you this may look different. Some of my favorite makeup products for faking a good night’s sleep may be helpful here.)

Readers, what’s your advice — what would you wear to a business cocktail party under these circumstances? In general, do you ever think the kinds of things stylists in movies come up with (such as bustiers under blazers or other outlandish ideas) have a place in the real world? what to wear to a business cocktail party during orientation

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Tales from the Wallet: Black Tie on a Budget

Black Tie on a Budget | CorporetteHow do you dress for a work-related black tie — on a budget? Whether you have a formal holiday office party coming up, or you’ve been invited to a charity black tie on behalf of work, you now probably have two primary questions: a) how to dress in a formal dress and still maintain a professional demeanor, and b) how to do it without breaking the bank.  We’ve talked about what not to wear to a black-tie event for work before, as well as how to do black tie on a budget, but not for a while, so I thought we’d discuss. (We also recently did a style guide for the more low-key, weeknight holiday office party.  Ladies, what are your best tips for doing black tie on a budget?  Any amazing scores to share?

Pictured: dress, earrings, clutch, shoes

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What to Wear to a Holiday Office Party

What to Wear to an Office Holiday Party | CorporetteHere’s a fun question: what to wear to an holiday office party? We have six ideas below, all great whether it’s for your holiday company party, your SO’s office party, or some other holiday networking party. (We talked about holiday office party etiquette a few days ago!) As a general rule, pick two from the categories below and mix with regular workwear, unless you are 100% sure cocktail attire (or black tie!) is appropriate. A good clue: if the party is on a workday and all employees are invited (not just management types), take our suggestions here. As always, I suggest young businesswomen avoid showing cleavage, as well as what I’ll call “unexpected” skin (think cutout dresses, etc). Even bare arms may not be appropriate — know your office!) You should also be wary of anything requiring a special bra.

We’re shared some of our top picks for your holiday office party below. (Note that the pictures are clickable, and if you’re uncomfortable clicking a mystery link you can mouse over both the picture and the text link to see the destination.)

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When Should You Wear Pearls?

1.indexedWhen is the right time to wear pearls?  We’ve talked about how to buy pearls, but Reader C sent in a super short email wondering when to wear them…

One of my favorite jewelry pieces is my strand of Mikimoto pearls that I got for my 30th birthday.  They were an investment piece, and they get so much wear that I’m glad I did invest in a quality piece.  That said, there are a ton of price ranges (and there’s nothing wrong with faux pearls) so there’s something for everyone.  For my $.02, when to wear pearls depends on the kind of pearls we’re talking about: [Read more…]

The Hunt: Festive Blazers

2016 Update: Check out our updated discussion on what to wear to the holiday office party — and also check out our most recent roundup of stylish velvet blazers.

Sure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

I seem to recall that some readers were dubious about this the last time I posted that a festive blazer was a must-have, but I’m 100% serious here. Velvet is my fabric of choice — the matte fabric is more office-friendly than a metallic blazer, and — should sequins enter the picture, such as the tank I posted this weekend or one of the sequined miniskirts we’re seeing this season — velvet holds up much better than, say, lace.  [Read more…]

How to Do Black Tie on the Cheap

Caparros - Webster (Black/Clear Satin) - Footwear2015 Update: We still stand by this post, but you may also want to check out our newer post with tips for doing black tie on a budget.

How do you do black tie on a shoestring budget?  Reader J wonders…

I am a law student who will be working at a firm over the summer. I am expected to attend a black tie event, but I don’t know what to wear nor how to find the dress without breaking the bank. I am also hoping to find a dress that is multi-purpose, so that it won’t gather dust in the closet until the next black tie affair comes along.

Congratulations — black tie events can be a lot of fun, and I don’t think we’ve covered them in quite a while (see my advice for what not to wear to a black-tie, as well as how to dress for a black-tie affair at the last minute).  Here are my tips:

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