What to Wear at the Office Holiday Party

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The office holiday party is consistently one of my favorite nights of the year. I view it as a relaxing celebration with creative collaborators and colleagues. But I am keenly aware that for many, an office party is rife with behavioral and sartorial land mines.

I can’t do much to ease your apprehension about the former. (Although I never, ever drink, which helps!) But when it comes to selecting an outfit for a company fiesta, I follow a few guidelines.

Dress: Altuzarra x Target | Jacket: Mossimo (Target) | Sunglasses: Ray-ban | Clutch: Coach | Fishnets: Calvin Klein (Lord & Taylor) | Shoes: Valentino (Saks)
Dress: Altuzarra x Target | Jacket: Mossimo (Target) | Sunglasses: Ray-ban | Clutch: Coach | Fishnets: Calvin Klein (Lord & Taylor) | Shoes: Valentino (Saks)

I stick with two key parameters: festive and appropriate. This dress is the perfect cranberry color — and a bargain from the Altuzarra x Target collaboration. The dress was originally VERY low-cut, so I took it to the tailor to make it more modest. Best of all? It’s polyester, so it can go straight into the hamper instead of the dry cleaners — thus avoiding another chore before the holidays.

Dress: Altuzarra x Target | Gold Belt: Vintage (C. Madeline's) | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban | Clutch: Coach
Dress: Altuzarra x Target | Gold Belt: Vintage (C. Madeline’s) | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban | Clutch: Coach

This dress originally came with a limp, fringed sash, which I quickly tossed. Instead, I paired the dress with a metal, braided belt from C. Madeline’s, a vintage store in Miami. (I had originally gone there hunting for a vintage Versace belt, but the prices were way over my budget. This non-designer version was a more reasonable and quirky investment.)

When it comes to party accessories, I prefer metallics over blingy crystals. They’re less likely to go out of style, and it seems eternally modern to pair flecks of gold against a jewel tone. This photo of Anna Wintour was taken in 1993, but certain elements — like the statement necklace and the belt — are still relevant today.

Anna Wintour's metal belt is a classic party accessory. The photo is from 1993, according to Who What Wear.
Anna Wintour’s metal belt is a classic party accessory. The photo is from 1993, according to Who What Wear.

The gold accents continued with the studded shoes, which were strangely on the super-clearance rack at Saks. (I didn’t ask too many questions, fearing they were placed there by mistake.)

Quick note on hosiery: I also chose fishnets for this look. I know fishnets get a lot of bad press (hellooooo Pretty Woman), but I find that the flack is unfounded. If your hemline is knee-length, and the hosiery pattern is sufficiently intricate, fishnets add a dimensional element that’s completely appropriate for a party.

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One last note: Most company holiday shindigs tend to be “off campus,” so I recommend bringing your party dress in a garment bag and changing when it’s time to head to the party. It adds a nice element of surprise when you show up — and you can skip wearing cocktail attire in your cubicle all day.