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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

Festive Friday: How to Dress for Your Casual Office Party

office party
Gades Photography/Unsplash

If you work in an office that’s keeping things low key for this year’s holiday party, you may be struggling with what to wear. After all, you want to look festive and nice enough for rubbing elbows with the higher-ups—but without looking over-dressed or out of place.

Well, it can be done, and I’m here to help! I’ve got some great ideas for both guys and gals for casual party attire that’s relaxed but still looks sharp and professional.

For the Gals: A Sweatshirt, Slim Pants, and Heels

Make the casual aspect of your outfit super causal by wearing a sweatshirt. Not a ratty old one, of course—I love a funnel neck sweatshirt in a soft heather gray, myself. Then, dress up the rest of your outfit just a touch with slim black pants and heels. Keep the shoes understated and classic—nothing too flashy needed here.

For the Guys: Jeans, a Sweater, and a Blazer

Wear your perfectly worn-in jeans with a collared shirt in a solid color and a sweater over the top. Try a patterned sweater to add a little interest (just beware of getting too patterned—unless it’s an ugly sweater party), and then pop a gray blazer over it, and you’re ready to go! You can wear casual brogues or opt for sneakers; the blazer adds enough sharpness that your (non-gym) favorite pair of sneakers will look great.

For the Gals: Plaid Pants and a Striped Top

Want a bolder look? Don’t be afraid of mixing and matching patterns! This combo works beautifully together and is a perfect way to try something new that you may otherwise be unable to wear to work—plus the plaid is so festive. Find slightly cropped, slim plaid pants in a traditional color combo (think red and navy, blue and white, or red, black, and white) and pair with a classic Breton-style striped top in the same colors as your pants. Wear stacked heel booties if you want to add a little extra height or classic black ballet flats to keep things simple.

For the Guys: A Tee, a Blazer, and Dark Wash Jeans

Yes! You can finally wear jeans and a tee around your co-workers (that is, if you don't already work in a casual office!). Wear a perfectly worn-in t-shirt (that’s not sports-affiliated, ratty, or otherwise inappropriate) with a pair of dark-washed jeans and a blazer in black or navy. Skip the sneakers, and make sure you wear shoes that are darker to keep the outfit from going too casual.

For the Gals: All Black, a Little Sparkle, and Some Sneakers

Keep things refined by wearing a well-cut black tee (extra pretty if you can get a silk one!) and black pants, then adding a little sparkle. The most important part is adding sneakers to this: not your ratty gym ones, but your favorite Converse or weekend go-to pair. Up the glam factor with statement earrings, a big sparkly necklace, or some pretty barrettes.