'Tis the season! Well, the season for office/work parties, that is. Almost as soon as Thanksgiving is over, office holiday parties start to take over everyone's December calendars.
It's also the season for education on what IS and ISN'T appropriate to wear to an office party. Below is a quick guide to help you understand some of the fashion do's and fashion don'ts when it comes to partying it up with your coworkers. Many offices have holiday parties that are cocktail or dressy attire. These guidelines apply to those. (If you are one of the awesome offices that has a tacky Christmas sweater party...I'm 100% jealous!)
Sequins/Glitter: It's the holidays, so why not? However, I would encourage doing a more subtle or neutral color if doing a dress that is completely covered in sequins. Red glitter is gorgeous, but it might be a bit much if you're covered from neck to knee in it. :)
Mesh/Cut-Outs: Mesh/sheer fabrics are okay depending on where they are. I love the look of mesh shoulders/sleeves on a dress. It's festive but still classy. Mesh or cut-outs anywhere else are fashion don'ts. People should not see your cleavage, chest, abdomen or most of your back. Leave the cut-outs for the club.
Low/Plunging Necklines: These are fashion don'ts. (well, they are always a fashion don't in my book, but I am a bit more prudish than most.) Low necklines are fine for other situations...but not for office parties. (and definitely not for brunches with your grandmother either!)
Strapless: On the rare occasion that an office party is black-tie, a strapless dress is appropriate. (because usually that means it's more like a prom dress or gown) For cocktail attire, I think it's better to have straps or sleeves. Now, I am very partial to sleeves myself, but I think strappy dresses are perfectly appropriate too. Sleeveless and sleeves = okay. Strapless = probably will make you look either overdressed or underdressed depending on the actual outfit. I would venture as far as saying one shoulder looks also fall into a strapless category. Not so much for work parties.
Cliche Christmas colors: I love wearing red during the holidays. I love wearing green all the time. Wearing red and green together to your holiday party will probably make you look like you belong in the movie Elf. Avoid, avoid, avoid!
The most important thing to remember when selecting your office party outfit is that just because it doesn't look like work and it doesn't smell like work doesn't mean it isn't really work. You might not actually be working but you are with the people who see you working almost every day. Anything outlandish, overly revealing or inappropriate might change how your coworkers (and/or boss and supervisors) view you.
Now, ladies, don't get your panties in a wad. I'm not saying that your coworkers judge your professionalism based on your looks...but I am saying that if your looks don't compliment your professionalism it could change their opinion. Also, your behavior at these "after work functions" can also influence someone's opinion of you as well. So, if you get the outfit right but are falling over yourself sloppy drunk in front of your boss...that's not going to fare well either.
Just remember to keep it classy, fun and festive.