It's that time of year again. Oh, sure, everything's all fun and festive until the invitation to the office holiday party arrives. Few things strike fear in our hearts more than this invite, and not just because we remember (or don't remember) what happened at last year's event. There's always the dilemma of what to wear. So I asked style expert Lee Heyward to give us some tips.

How to dress for the office holiday party

If you’ve ever seen the Seinfeld episode with “The Elaine”, you know what happens at an office party can leave a lasting impression—one that isn’t always good.

When it comes to how you dance, act, and especially what you wear, you have to remember that no matter where your office party takes place, you are still at work. Create an outfit that is fun, festive, and professional:

Be willing to ask for direction. If you aren’t sure what to wear ask someone who attended last year’s party. The venue and invitation can also give you cues as to how dressy the party may be.

Dress for the job you want.  Imagine the disappointment you would feel if you were passed up for a promotion because of an inappropriate outfit you wore to last year’s holiday party.  Yes, people do remember what you wear so leave the revealing and non-professional clothing at home.

Show your personality. The best part of a holiday party is getting to know your co-workers on a more personal level. Be sure to show people a little more about who you are through the details of your clothing. Ladies, if the party is right after work make your work dress more festive by adding bold jewelry and a metallic heel.  Men, if the dress allows, change into a dark denim jean with a sport coat in lieu of the same old work khakis.

When in doubt, dress up. Interpretations of holiday dress codes can leave you wondering what to wear. When in doubt strive to be overdressed—after all the goal of a holiday work party is to dress to impress. Men, if you walk in and feel overdressed simply take off your tie and remove your jacket. Ladies, remove a piece of jewelry or switch out your shoes to feel more casual.

Think outside the box. Leave your holiday themed sweaters, socks and ties at home. Show your holiday spirit by thinking outside the box. Ladies, give a festive flair to your outfit by adding a sparkly belt to a great cashmere sweater or your favorite dress. Men, try a tie in a beautiful and sophisticated color paired with a jacket made of an interesting fabric like suede, tweed or leather. [Ugly holiday sweaters? There's an app for that]

Bring your A-game. Confidence is the best thing you can bring to an office party.  Choose clothing that makes you feel good. Before deciding what you want to wear, decide how you want to feel. If you want to feel powerful, fun, and sophisticated remember that when shopping for something to wear. This ensures you don’t get talked into wearing something that doesn’t make sense for who you are and the professional image you want to portray.

[Speaking of holiday style, here's a fashion gift list from Esquire for the guys on your list]

About Lee:
Style expert and author Lee Heyward believes anyone can have great style. Lee teaches her clients how to make style simple and effortless. Her real-world approach shows people that great style isn’t about being egotistical; it’s about achieving the confidence and happiness you deserve. She is the author of Simply Effortless Style: A Real Woman’s Guide to Making Style Easy and Fun.

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