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Expert Advice: What to Wear to an Office Holiday Party

What to wear to the office holiday party? Fashion experts from Karen Miller and Boohoo share the trends that could earn you the most stylish coworker award at this year’s work party.

Holiday party season is upon us. Of all the events on your calendar, the company Christmas party may be the most stressful in terms of what to wear. Chances are, you want to step outside the normal office dress code for the festivities. But step too far outside and you risk leaving the wrong impression on the folks in charge of your career path.

Easy fashion formula for office holiday parties

What to wear to the office holiday party collage of coworkers.
Source: Envato.

Here’s an easy fashion formula to lean on: Aim to dress comfortably first, and then incorporate a pop of something interesting.

Dressing comfortably doesn’t mean you’re wearing sweats. It means you’re not stuffed into a dress that’s too tight, too short, or shows too much cleavage. You should be able to sit down without tugging at your hemline. And you should feel confident your clothes will stay in place without the use of fashion tape. 

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A comfortable, but upscale outfit might be a jumpsuit with a baby doll waist. Or, for more casual events, straight-leg jeans paired with a pretty blouse, belt, cropped jacket, and heeled boots.

Holiday work party outfit ideas that incorporate style trends

Now let’s talk about the “pop of something interesting.” The no-fail strategy here is to let style trends be your guide. A well-chosen and trendy statement piece will certainly elevate your look above the rest.

Because, let’s face it. any girl can pull a sequined party dress off the rack and add heels. But you’re not any girl. You have the confidence and style chops to wear a festive and work-appropriate outfit that nods quietly to what’s trending.

To get your creative juices flowing, below are eight partywear trends and tips on using them to create the perfect office holiday party outfit.

1. Sparkle

A tasteful touch of sparkle is always on point for office parties. There are many ways to implement this style hack, ranging from subtle to bold. At the subtle end, you might opt for a sparkly piece of jewelry. A bold 3-stone-design ring, for example, is an elegant touch. Diamonds may be out of the budget, but you could alternatively opt for moissanite or budget-friendly amethyst.

If you want to take that sparkle a step further, opt for a sequined tank. For more casual events, you can pair that tank with a tweed blazer and denim. The result is an polished combo that offers a study in contrasts.

For dressier events, a sequined dress can be your showstopper. Boohoo fashion experts tell me that worldwide Google searches for “sequin dress” have spiked more than 30% over the last few months — so this piece is definitely trending.

Just take care to balance your sequins with muted accessories. Try adding black tights or layering a blazer atop, a la Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Sandra Bullock.

2. Texture

You can also create an eye-catching work party outfit by incorporating textural diversity. A tasseled bag, a ruffle sleeve, a faux leather coat are some options. These textured pieces look very chic within a monochrome outfit. Here are some party outfit ideas in that vein:

  • You can pair your fav little black dress with a silky black scarf, black tassel bag, and a black jacquard cropped jacket.
  • Team a silky gray slip dress with a cashmere gray cardigan or sweater.
  • Try a cream pantsuit with a sequin cami of a similar color, for two trends in one. Finish with a cream leather boot.
  • Combine faux leather pants in camel with a silky blouse and brown boots. For an extra air of professionalism, opt for a tie-neck blouse.

Note that monochrome doesn’t mean your pieces are all exactly the same tone. They can and should vary slightly. That color variation along with the textural elements make for a classy and polished outfit.

3. Cowboy boots or heeled boots

This year, boots are the ultimate party shoe. Cowboy boots have been dominating the social feeds in recent months, according to fashion experts at Karen Millen. And my Boohoo connections are seeing lots of interest in heeled boots per Google search trends.

So you have your pick — add an edgy vibe to your 2023 holiday office party look with a Western-inspired boot or go classic with a heeled boot. Here’s some inspiration:

  • A midi slip dress can look stunning with a sleek pair of mid-calf cowboy boots. The lightweight feel of the dress balances the heavier boot perfectly.
  • Heeled boots make a beautiful anchor for a long, shimmery pencil skirt.
  • Try tall, heeled boots over faux leather skinny pants topped with a surplice blouse or cashmere sweater.
  • A button-front, tie-waist denim dress accessorized with a neck scarf and cowboy boots makes for a chic business casual holiday outfit.

4. Velvet

Velvet falls into the textural category, but also deserves its own place on this list. Why? Because Karen Millen analysts have seen a massive spike in velvet-related Pinterest searches and TikTok views in the last month.

Also, velvet may be the easiest trend to work with this holiday season. Simply find a velvet piece you love and incorporate it into your holiday outfit. For the boldest of you, that piece might be a velvet dress. Or, for a more subtle take, swap out the blazer you’d normally wear during the week for a velvet piece in a bold color. You could follow a similar strategy with velvet shoes or a velvet handbag.

5. Cherry red

Cherry red is the color of the season, according to my sources at Karen Millen and Boohoo. Incorporate this trend carefully, though. A true cherry red has blue or purple undertones, which complement cool-toned skin. If your skin has a warmer hue, you might prefer a red that has hints of coral or orange.

Find the right red for your skin tone and you can go all in with a cherry red dress, coupled with black or dark grey accessories. Or take a milder approach and don a cherry red lip color to add pop to a monochrome outfit.

6. Vest

A trendy menswear-inspired vest — also known as a waistcoat — can add a posh vibe to your party outfit. You can find stylish, button-front waistcoats that are work appropriate at retailers like Zara and Revolve. Pair yours with a blouse, wide-legged pants, and heels. Add a neck scarf for extra visual interest.

The nice thing about this piece is that it’s a versatile investment. Wear it to your company party in the winter and then wear it over a t-shirt and jeans in the spring and fall.

7. Collars

Another conservative choice is to jump on the statement collar trend. Find yourself a pretty blouse with an interesting collar style and pair it with pleated trousers and boots. Easy peezy, right? Some collar styles to watch are:

  • Peter pan collar: The understated design and rounded edges make for a sweet style statement. Paris Hilton recently made fashion headlines wearing this style.
  • Bow tie collar, aka the tie-neck blouse: The collar with an attached tie has a vintage vibe.
  • Ruffle collar: Festive and decorative ruffles wear beautifully to a company holiday party.
  • Mandarin or stand collar: The unfolded standing collar has a minimalist feel, which is just right if you plan to wear bold accessories or a statement skirt.

Note that you can also update a boring shirt collar with a necklace worn on the outside of your shirt as shown below.

8. Silk and satin

A silk dress for the holiday celebration can be a stunning choice if the party is explicitly semi-formal or formal — and you are eager to wear something glamorous and alluring. You’ll likely have to hit the mall and the try-on rooms to go this route, however. Silk’s elegant drape can be very flattering when the dress fits you well. An ill-fitted silk dress will be less so.

For less formal events, opt for a silk or satin midi skirt paired with a soft knit top. Or team a satin blouse with a faux leather skirt that’s knee-length or longer. Either outfit is a chic combo that’s sure to earn your coworkers’ respect in the style department.

What to wear to the holiday party at work

Deciding what to wear to a holiday event with coworkers doesn’t have to be mysterious or stressful. Focus on comfort first and then elevate the look with something chic and trendy. By prioritizing comfort, you’ll likely avoid dressing too sexy — which is one of the biggest faux pas of after-hours office events. (For related tips, see my post on work party etiquette.)

As for incorporating something chic and trendy, you have several fun options this season. Whether you opt for sparkle, fun textural elements, or a festive pair of cowboy boots, your trend-inspired ensemble will earn you major style points with coworkers. And, as a bonus, you’ll be fully prepped for some seriously IG-worthy holiday pics.