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What to Wear to Office Year-End Celebrations

Categories: Workplace Etiquette

Holiday-Office-Party-Looks-FirstPicBRODY’s year-end holiday dinner is next week. When is yours? If it hasn’t happened yet, you can benefit from this blog ...

Actually, the title of this post might be a bit misleading, because without knowing you, your figure, your age, your industry, or the level of formality of your office holiday party, I can’t actually tell you what to wear.

Even without any of that information, however, I can tell you how to dress with one word: respect.

I think dressing up for the holidays is part and parcel (pun intended) of the joy of this season. So, definitely do dress up for that office shindig, but pay close attention to exactly what is said on the invite. Is it black tie? Is it semi-formal? Is it being held at a fancy restaurant, the ballroom of a hotel, or just in the office conference room at noon on Christmas Eve?

The answers to all of these questions will partly determine your choices. You’re not going to show up in a strapless cocktail frock or a tuxedo to a party in your own lunchroom.

What if your firm’s party invitation says “semi-formal,”and it’s going to be at a nice hotel downtown? Don’t panic.

Here are some basic rules of thumb:

I suggest that you treat the party and your party attire with the same respect that you treat your career, position, company, and employer. This will ensure that others – managers included -- still respect you.

Remember, respect is a two-way street, however. You need to give it to get it. And it’s really easy to lose it.

So ladies, if you don’t really like the idea of your CEO, CFO, or COO ogling your cleavage, then DO NOT put it on display. (If you do like that idea, that’s definitely a subject for another post!)

What I’m trying to say is, by all means dress up, dress festively, and bring on a little bling — but remember that people are still people, regardless of the occasion.

You are always being judged at work by your professionalism, your results, and your appearance.

Don’t let a holiday party erode that all-important respect you’ve worked so hard to secure throughout the year.

Shiny or wildly colored pantyhose (see picture above)? Go for it!

High heels? Now’s the time.

Fancy up ’dos and your best jewelry? Bring it on!

But, micro-minis, plunging necklines, backless dresses, or anything else too revealing is a definite no-no. Save that stuff for your own party or a night out in a club. Dress thoughtfully, appropriately, and respectfully.

Now, I’ve mostly addressed women’s wardrobe options in this post, because we have more opportunities to go “wrong” at these occasions. But for men, if you aren’t sure whether or not you need a suit, a tuxedo, tie, or how to read what your invitation is calling for, ask a more knowledgeable friend or co-worker.

Bottom line: Make sure that whatever you wear is appropriate, well-fitting, and well-pressed. This will show your respect. And it will save you from becoming the clueless guy I know who once showed up to a black-tie event in a normal suit with a black tie … and white socks!

Unrelated tip: Set a firm limit for how much alcohol you will drink and stick to it. Don’t let anyone keep refilling your glass, causing you to lose track of your consumption. “Not just yet,” or “no thank you” are perfect replies when that champagne bottle heads your way. Of course, if you are driving, be doubly cautious.

Enjoy your holiday parties, but remember: A work party is STILL WORK.

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