We’ve officially entered December – the month of gifts, merriment, and parties. Since you’ve already done your holiday shopping, it’s time to focus on the parties.
If you’re like most of my male friends and clients, you’ll have a loose idea, at best, about how to act and what’s appropriate to wear to a work, friend’s, or family holiday party.
So I’ll lay it out for you in my 3-part Holiday Party Series. In Part 1, we’ll focus on this year’s office holiday party.
Formal Event/Sit-Down Dinner
Some companies throw serious parties this time of year, which may include a sit-down dinner at the local country club or ritzy restaurant. This type of event calls for you to step up your game. Think of this as a perfect opportunity to impress the boss and higher-ups.
Time to break out the tailored navy suit. If you don’t have one, Topman makes fantastic ones for basically the price of a song.
Topman Navy Slim Fit Suit, $250
TopMan White and Light Blue Mini Grid Long Sleeve Dress Shirt, $55
The Tie Bar Melange Twist Solid Tie, $19
The Tie Bar Brushed Straight Silver Bar (1.5″ wide), $15
The Tie Bar Solid Linen Pocket Square with Rolled Border, $10
H&M Leather Dress Belt, $20
Allen Edmonds Park Avenue Cap-Toe Oxfords, $395
Don’t forget the accessories: If you don’t know this by now, The Tie Bar is, hands down, my favorite one-stop shop for ties, pocket squares, and ties bars. You can’t beat the variety, quality, and price! Silk knit ties are a great way to update your current suit, especially for the holidays. Stick with a charcoal knit tie for a more conservative look.
Finish with black oxford dress shoes and feel free to mix it up with some holiday-themed socks, if that’s your thing.
If your company throws a cocktail party, then you’ll want to dress down a bit because this is less formal than a sit-down dinner. Since you’ll be mostly drinking and socializing, we’re going to modify the suit from the previous event slightly by skipping the tie, unbuttoning the top 2 buttons of your dress shirt, and throwing on a sweater underneath the jacket.
WARNING: If you’re not careful, you’re going to look like a sweaty mess in a matter of minutes. Go to any holiday party and look for the sweaty guy and you’ll see someone who doesn’t understand how to wear layers. The key to to staying comfortable with this look, since it’s layered, is to ensure each layer consists of lighter fabrics. Definitely avoid any wool or cashmere sweaters. Instead, go for silk/cotton blends, which will keep you at a comfortable temperature.
Tips & Etiquette
- Make sure to unbutton your suit jacket when you sit down. When standing up, remember to re-button your jacket’s top button.
- Do your homework. If you’re not already familiar with the C-level (CEO, CFO, COO) executives as well as the Presidents and Vice-Presidents of your company, spend a few minutes finding their names, titles and pictures and create a little cheat-sheet for yourself and keep it on your phone for quick reference. You’re going to need it when it’s time to introduce yourself to them. Yep, you’re going to go up to them at the party and say hello.
- Make sure to have an almost empty drink in your hand and go up to the executives and tell them you’re having a great time at the party and thank them for throwing it. Immediately tell them your name and your position at the company. Let them lead the conversation, they’re probably much better at talking to strangers than you are, so all you have to do is answer their questions and have an exit strategy. As soon as you hit a dry spot or the conversation is winding down, tell them that you’ve got to freshen up your drink and ask if they’d like one as well. They’ll probably say “No” and now you get to leave on a good note.
- You will adhere to a 2 drink maximum for the night (maximum 1 drink per hour) – or at least until the bosses and higher-ups have left. You’re there to impress and not make an ass of yourself. As much as everyone likes to say that this is “off-hours”- that’s complete bullshit. People always remember and gossip about the drunk guy from accounting who hit on the marketing girl the next working day. Don’t fall for the trap! NOTE: If the boss wants to do shots, completely disregard my advice and do shots.