I have been self-employed for 15 years.  I haven’t attended a holiday office party since then.  If I did, it would be me and my two cats.  Not exactly a fun time.  I do remember attending plenty of parties in the past.  They definitely had a different flavor than the parties I have attended with friends and family.  Friendships may be built with co-workers, but at the end of the day it’s still a work environment and certain behaviors and dressing rules should be observed.  In today’s post I am giving you some tips and outfit ideas on when attending a holiday office party.

Holiday Office Party Outfit Ideas

Keep it workplace appropriate

The drinks may be flowing and everyone may have their guards down, but a holiday office party is not the time to abandon appropriate workplace dress.  A well built workplace reputation can be torn to shreds with one inappropriate outfit.  Avoid low cut pieces, too much sheerness and showing skin, skirts and dresses that are too short or pieces that convey the wrong message.  It may be a party, but it’s a work party.  When trying on potential pieces to wear to these events, bend and sit down to make sure you can’t see down the neckline or that the skirt isn’t too short.  Halter tops are a big no, as are midriffs, too much lace or anything that would require a backless bra.

Keep it time-of-day appropriate

Decades ago when I was in high school, the senior classes would attend a holiday luncheon event.  It was a lovely party held at a banquet hall.  When it was time for my senior class to attend our event, I vividly remember my parents and the parents of my classmates trying to explain to us that we were attending a luncheon, not an evening event.  Of course, teenagers never listen to their parents and I remember many of my classmates showing up to wearing glitzy, almost-prom-like dresses for a party held at noon.

Looking back over 20 years ago, who cares how we dressed.  We were all young and it didn’t really matter.  But it does sort of matter when you are a grown adult showing up to a holiday office party dressed for the wrong time of day.  If you are attending a daytime office party, wearing a bunch of glitter and rhinestones will not only look wrong but may come across as unprofessional or that you’re not smart enough to know any better.  Conversely, dressing too casually for a more upscale holiday office party also runs the risk of also looking out of place, that you don’t care and can come across as disrespectful.

To give you some ideas for appropriate holiday office party outfits for different types of events, I have put some looks together below to help you figure out what to wear to your upcoming event.

Outfit #1- For an professional evening event

holiday office party

If your workplace requires that you dress professionally, often requiring suits or suited looks, erring on the side of caution and dressing equally professional for an evening holiday office party event is smart.  Just like you wouldn’t bare your arms at work, baring too much of your arms is not the best route to take.  The same goes for how much skin you bare in general.  The best rule of thumb is to follow the same rules for your holiday office party outfit as you would for your office attire.

This doesn’t mean you can’t look classy, stylish or chic.  In the outfit above, I styled this red dress from BOSS Hugo Boss for an evening holiday office party.  Instead of blinging out the dress, I adding evening components sparingly using these pumps from Badgley Mischka and sparkly necklace from Banana Republic.  I finished the look with a black Sondra Roberts bag that can hang off the shoulder so you can keep your hands free while mingling.  With the right accessories, this dress could also easily be worn to work.

Outfit #2- For a business casual event

holiday office party

Some offices don’t host an holiday office party off-site and, instead, shut down work early and starting the party right in the workplace.  If your workplace is business casual, there is no reason to overly do the look you choose to wear that day.  First, you will be working throughout the day, making more formal looks not only uncomfortable but inappropriate.  Second, there will be no reason to change your outfit if the party is happening during office hours.  Instead, adding a bit of holiday cheer to your business causal work look is the way to go.  You can do that with a fun holiday sweater, some accessories, a festive pair of shoes or a layering piece.

In the outfit above, I used a velvet blazer from Theory to make this very basic work outfit look party and work appropriate at the same time.  I simply layered it over a black column of a black surplice top from Ralph Lauren and a pair of black pants from Reiss.  I finished the look with black kitten heel booties from Sam Edelman, a black bag from Coach and a tassel necklace from Cara.

Outfit #3- For a daytime holiday party

holiday office party
My husband started working at a new company this year.  Next week he’ll be attending his holiday office party and it’s a little different.  In addition to being a real estate company, the company also owns a country club and will be bussing all the employees during the day to a daytime holiday party at the club.  For my husband, he’ll just wear a suit but the female employees will have a different scenario on their hands.

While it is a holiday party, it will also be during the day which makes wearing anything too formal or glitzy not workable.  However, their regular work clothes probably aren’t up to snuff.  Thankfully, no spouses are invited, but if they were, I’d go the route like the outfit above and choose a dress that is festive but has no bells and whistles, isn’t too embellished and couldn’t be worn for an evening event.  Someone could technically get away with wearing this dress to work while also being able to wear it to a party.  The dress also remains work appropriate in that it isn’t too exposed or too short.

I styled the green BCBG dress with a pair of over-the-knee black boots from Stuart Weitzman and finished the look with a black clutch and decorative earrings from Stella & Dot.

Whatever you choose to wear to your holiday office party just remember that festive is okay as long as it is appropriate.  Don’t wear anything that could potentially mar your reputation or question the good standing you have with your co-workers.  You can dress stylishly and modestly at the same time, and with these tips you’ll be able to.