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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

What to Wear to the Office Holiday Party When You Have Nothing to Wear

office holiday party
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There are plenty of things to stress over this time of year: getting all your work done before the holidays, figuring out what to get your office Secret Santa who you may or may not have just met yesterday in the kitchen, whether or not you should say yes to taking home another cookie tin that someone’s client sent over.

Whatever’s causing you anxiety this season, figuring out the perfect office holiday party outfit shouldn’t be on the list.

We know it can be tricky—especially when your company comes up with dress codes like “casual dressy,” “holiday spirit,” and “just have fun with it.” Should you approach this like it’s your company prom and your outfit is everything? Or, is it just like a regular office happy hour, plus a purposefully-askew Santa hat and heels?

We don’t work with you, so we can’t say for sure what the perfect outfit will look like. But if you’re currently panicking because the big event’s this week and you have nothing to wear—don’t. We have a few hacks that can help almost anyone pull off a holiday party outfit.

You might not look like you just walked off a runway (at least not until the open bar’s been up and running for a while), but you’ll fit in perfectly with everyone else.

1. Create an Outfit Around Your Coolest Accessory

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Whether it’s a necklace that completes a basic black dress or a clutch that quietly brings the rest of the look into focus, the right accessory can be the answer to your what-to-wear dilemma.

2. Wear the Shoes That Always Makes You Feel Awesome

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Scrambling to put together an outfit from the depths of your closet? That’s perfectly fine, as long as you’ve got a great pair of shoes to go with it. For obvious reasons, avoid new heels or boots if dancing is on the short list of party events.

3. Opt for a Bold Color (and No, Your Little Black Dress Is Not Bold)

Make a splash with the color of the season—red! If this isn’t a color you wear normally, the holiday party is the perfect time to break it out (without feeling like it’s too much).

4. Choose Something Sparkly

One shimmery or metallic piece means you can keep the rest of your outfit super casual and still feel like you’re headed out for a night that’s unlike all the others.

5. Focus on Your Face

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Nothing goes better with a classic, simple ensemble than a bold red lip, so grab that untouched lipstick from the bottom of your drawer and apply with confidence.

6. Just Look (Extra) Put Together

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Regardless of how casual or relaxed your organization’s party is, it doesn’t hurt to put a little extra care into your appearance—but this means simply no wrinkles, stains, or scuffs. Throw on a leather jacket or cool broach if you want to bring a bit more to the table.

7. Wear What You Have, Feel Comfortable in, and Love

While some of us love a good excuse to go shopping, this night does not demand you buy an entirely new holiday party outfit.

Wear what you’re comfortable in. If that’s a pair of jeans and favorite sweater, go for it. If that means a cozy tee tucked into a knee-length skirt, put it on and strut your best ready-for-party self. So long as the invitation doesn’t say formal attire or black-tie, you can probably get away with donning what makes you most confident.

We’ll leave you with one last piece of advice: Think about if you’d want your boss (or the most senior person at your company) to see you wearing this outfit. If there’s any concern that something is too short, too tight, too baggy, too sheer, or too flashy, it’s probably safe to say it’s a no-go. Save it for New Year’s Eve when you take to the bar with your closest pals.

More than anything, the company holiday party is about bonding with your co-workers and celebrating a year of hard work. If you’re not comfortable, you’re not going to enjoy yourself. So stop stressing, pick something out, and enjoy the night.

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