It is the season for office holiday parties, those merry affairs where co-workers mingle out in the wild and consume alcohol in each other’s presence. The semi-awkward, fish-out-of-water situations always pose a tricky question: what to wear?
While pop-culture can sometimes serve as a reference point for navigating unknown dressing territory, Office Christmas Party — the upcoming film about a company party-turned-Project X-style rager thanks to a perfect cocktail of desperation, poor workplace morale and a snow machine spewing cocaine — might not be the best place to start.
With the exception of a few characters, including Allison (Vanessa Bayer) and Meghan (Jamie Chung), costume designer Karen Patch suggests you do not take cues from the wild cast’s looks. Instead, she advocates a more conservative approach. Number one? Wear pants.
“You don’t have to look super dignified,” Patch told The Hollywood Reporter. “You’re supposed to have fun, sure, but always remember it’s not a bar. You’re not at a cocktail lounge. You’re most likely going to be working with these people for some time, so you should have a sense of decorum.”
To get into the holiday spirit, Patch proposes the fabric of the season — velvet — as well as lace or sequined pieces that spice up an otherwise bland outfit. Leave that bra top at home, but showing a little extra skin with a festive low cut blouse, like the emerald brocade top worn by Bayer in the film, is a do.
“In this world today, that’s ok,” she said, adding that women should feel confident showing cleavage. “You can wear something festive and show a little skin, but just keep in mind that you have to work with these people tomorrow.”
Patch is also a fan of more outrageous, over-the-top themed looks, like the ugly Christmas sweaters that have become popular in an ironic way, in the past few years — if it suits your personality.
As an example, she points to the “non-denominational” holiday sweater worn by Mary (Kate McKinnon) in the film, created with the help of a professor at New York’s Pratt Institute. “I kept sending him ideas and he created the sweater with a special knitting machine,” she said. (A replica of the sweater is now available on TipsyElves.com for $65.) “You might never have the occasion to wear something like that again,” she added.
Patch went on to compliment T.J. Miller and his wife, Kate Gorney, for their picture-perfect ensembles at Wednesday evening’s L.A. premiere, which would make for the perfect office party attire of a more adventurous sort. “Her dress was amazing, it was a sheer fabric with gold baubles. It was very fun and beautiful and she looked great in it.” Of Miller, she added, “The sleeves and pants were knit like a sweater. I say, why not?”