Ah, the office holiday party. A sticky social situation to navigate.
The holiday party is often seen by some to be the perfect opportunity to ruin their carefully cultivated work reputation by drinking one too many gin and tonics and taking over the dance floor when Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” suddenly blares over the rented restaurant’s speakers.
That kind of embarrassment will be difficult to avoid, unfortunately. What’s easier to avoid: looking like a fool in your outfit.
Dressing for the annual holiday party is tricky. It’s not a work setting — there’s no need to dress like you do for work. In fact, if you do, your colleagues might label you a square addicted to your job, or worse: a Grinch.
Dress too far outside of the norm, and you may create an altogether different impression on many people who haven’t seen you outside of the 8th-floor conference room before, however. (Read: Leave the Phish band T-shirts at home.)
So what can you do? First, identify the dress code of the party. This isn’t always easy, as it will more than likely not be stated plainly on the invite. In such a case, employ the “office dress code minus one” rule. If your office dress code is business professional, dress business casual for the party. If your workmates dress closer to business casual on any given work day, don’t be afraid to wear jeans and ditch the tie.
Second, remember that it’s a holiday party. That means don’t be boring. Sure, you can wear a grim charcoal business suit, but then you shouldn’t be surprised when a stranger offers their condolences.
As for not making a fool of yourself when you actually get to the party: you’re on your own.
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