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We’ve once again reached the holiday season; a time when the streets are filled with busy shoppers, and holiday parties are in full swing.

While many admit they have no problem dressing for a party whose guest list is filled with family and friends, they’ll often say that when it comes to a work function in the evening, the lines grey as to what is appropriate. After all, our evenings are normally dedicated to personal time and evening attire can be revealing.

So what’s appropriate for a holiday work function? The answer depends on where you’ll be and how formal you dress for work during the day.

First off, you’ll need to find out where your office party is being held. Will it be at your workplace, a ballroom, hall, restaurant or home? Knowing the setting for the evening will be a great indicator of how casual or formal you’ll need to dress for the occasion.

Generally speaking, if you’re going to be in a hall or in a ballroom/reception hall for the evening, the dress code for the night will most likely be cocktail attire. For men, this would mean grabbing a suit to wear, not a tux (unless it’s been indicated that your evening is formal, in which case you would wear one then).  Black or dark charcoal suits are seen as evening appropriate for men.  For women, a cocktail dress would be the best choice. A cocktail dress is one that is approximately knee length. Gowns wouldn’t be required unless the evening is formal. With cocktail attire for women, it’s important to watch the neckline, remembering that you’re still at a business function and are representing yourself in a work-related environment. A neckline that is as low as the top of your bust is as far as you’ll want to push it.  If you’ll be among a conservative crowd, pairing your dress with a blazer or throw may be considered.  Accessories should remain as refined as possible.

For those that are at a work function where a business casual dress code for the evening has been set, think of using different textures and fabrics to make your holiday outfit come to life. This is where you’ll have more room for personal style.  For example, velvet, silk and sequins are all examples of textures that you could incorporate into your look. For men, your business casual attire from day-to-evening won’t need to change for this occasion. A suit jacket is definitely not required but can be used. For women, your attire can vary greatly. You could opt for a little black dress, slacks and a nice top, a skirt and a silk top, or even a suit.  For evening, the sky is the limit in terms of colour, so if you enjoy incorporating it into your outfit, don’t hesitate. Just note that the darker your clothing becomes, the more formal you look. That’s why many retailers offer black this time of year to be paired with splashes of colour such as a blue, red or green.  Accessories are also a wonderful way to take any classic items in your wardrobe and make them exciting this time of year. So many pieces this time of year have the bling of some king incorporated into them. Pair some oversized statement bling to your LBD with a colourful blazer and you’ll instantly be transformed for the night.

Still unsure what may be appropriate for your holiday work function? Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Your neckline should be no lower than the top of your bust.

To be kept business appropriate, hemlines shouldn’t be any higher than 2 inches above your knee.

If your garments have sequins on them, keep your accessories simple so you don’t look like a walking disco ball.

Keep makeup neutral or have one feature on your face accented. A smoky eye and bold lip are too much at once.

If you aren’t sure what’s appropriate, stick to classics such as a suit or little black dress. Accessorize with statement pieces or a colourful blazer to make your look holiday appropriate.

Go easy on perfume and cologne. A spritz or two is all you need.

Wear flats to work? Exchanging them for heels for the evening will elevate your holiday look.

Don’t have time to go home before your evening begins? Bring some statement accessories to work and put on a bold red lip before you head to your event. You’ll have instantly transformed yourself from day-to-night.

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