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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Coffee Break – Caroline Pleated Clutch

Caroline Pleated ClutchAs the season for holiday parties approaches, I have clutches on my mind — in part because I have apparently lost my favorite clutch, a blue leather number. I’m eyeing the Lauren Merkin clutches on sale at Last Call by Neiman Marcus for a possible replacement, particularly this pleated “Caroline” clutch. For my $.02, a classic red clutch is a great investment — it’s great year-round, and while it’s more daring than black, it’s not so memorable that you can’t wear it to a number of different events. This clutch was $250, but is now marked to $180. Caroline Pleated Clutch

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Reader mail: On holiday parties

Reader L writes in today with a question on holiday parties…

We’ve been invited to a Holiday Party, being hosted by the VP at my husband’s company. This is the first time that I’ll be meeting anyone that he works with (he just started at this location in July), and I’m very anxious to make a good impression (the VP is the highest-ranked person in the building). The party is at their home, and I have no idea what to wear – the invitation didn’t say! Do you have any advice for an outfit that would be appropriate for this occasion?

First:  Happy Holidays! Second, we really feel for you, because this situation could be extremely awkward.  The dress code could be anywhere from “festive sweater with jeans” to “festive jacket with work attire” to “LBD” to (if the company is very large, the VP is very swanky, and only executives are invited) something even more than LBD.  First, if your husband has any female friends in his company (either colleagues, or the significant other of a colleague), bug him until he asks one of them (unless you are also friends with them, in which case, ask yourself).  Another option might be to call the VP’s secretary directly (do not call the VP).  Express your excitement for the invitation, and ask about the dress code for women.  If you really feel awkward about asking the secretary, ask a question about directions or something innocuous like that and then slide the question in near the end.  A “safe” bet might be to wear a black shift dress, black hose and pumps, and a festive red or orange jacket or structured sweater — think velvet, silk shantung, etc. (We would suggest avoiding embroidered sequins — you can always tuck a sparkly brooch or necklace in your pocket, and “trade up” or down as necessary once you’ve arrived and assessed the situation.)  (Update: see our more recent roundup of festive blazers here.)  [Read more…]

Suit of the Week: Tahari Arthur S. Levine Envelope-Collar Belted Pantsuit

We have a feeling this post is going to be a controversial one, but: This envelope-collar belted pantsuit by Tahari Arthur S. Levine strikes us as a perfect example of what to wear to a staff holiday party.  It’s festive, without being in-your-face seasonal or glitzy.  It allows you to maintain a sense of authority yet still party with the secretaries and paralegals and other people you may have to supervise.  If you wanted to make it more stylish, you could swap out the patent leather belt for a wide corset-style leather belt; you could also wear an over-the-top cocktail ring or add a few brooches (in an artful way) to the wide collar.  On sale at Lord & Taylor for $179 (was $280).  (Note also that if this is your first holiday party and you don’t entirely trust us, you could wear a black or red sequined t-shirt beneath the suit and remove the red jacket if your staff party is more festive.)

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