Ah, the office holiday party. Is there another work event more fraught with peril? The combination of co-workers, forced holiday spirit, end-of-year stress and cocktails can make for an awkward evening. Don't make it worse by committing a fashion faux pas.
Nobody wants to top her office's version of the worst dressed list. Be festive, but don't be tacky. Let's take a look at some of the more egregious holiday fashion horrors and Christmas catastrophes.
5: Anything that Lights Up
We've said this before and we'll say it again: You should rethink wearing any clothing that requires batteries or a power source. The blinking Christmas sweater -- or worse, sweatshirt -- might seem festive and whimsical when you catch it on a late-night TV shopping network. "Look! Rudolph's nose lights up! Adorable!" Really? It's a little too much for a work event. If you just can't live without your bling, try some sparkly jewelry or an elegant wrap with understated sequins or glittery thread instead.
4: Mistletoe Anywhere on Your Body
It pains us that we even have to bring this up, but we see people doing it every year. The holiday tradition of kissing beneath the mistletoe is beloved and sweet. However, the office party is not the place to kiss someone. Walking around wearing mistletoe is, at worst, an open invitation to a harassment charge. At the least, it's a good way to catch the flu. So, save the mistletoe for the privacy of your own home. If you're looking for some festive holiday greenery, try a holly- or pine-inspired pin or brooch.
3: Jingle Bells
"Just hear those sleigh bells jingling, ring-ting-tingling, too. …" Jingle bells are a hallmark of the holiday season. You can't hear them without thinking about Christmas. However, after awhile they're also super-annoying. Please avoid the urge to wear a jingle bell necklace. Bells are cute and festive -- but only for a few minutes. After that, they just become distracting. And how are you supposed to sneak around and get the juiciest office gossip if everyone can hear you coming? Let the Salvation Army Santa Claus ring those bells instead.
2: Holiday Costumes
Speaking of Santa Claus, unless you've been hired to actually play Santa for your co-worker's children, don't wear a costume to the holiday party. A cute Santa hat might be OK, if that's your thing. But you don't need to pull out your elf ears and curly shoes. Or your felt reindeer antlers. Or your quilted Mrs. Claus Christmas skirt. Or your "sexy Santa" outfit. Really -- please don't pull out your "sexy Santa" outfit. If you feel compelled to show off your holiday spirit, add a splash of red or green to your outfit, or wear a tasteful winter-themed scarf.
1: Over-the-top Party Dresses
Dress appropriately for the function you're attending. You should know the dress code for your office's holiday festivities -- and if you don't, you should make it your business to find out. Many people take the office party as an invitation to show off "who they really are" and let loose. There's nothing wrong with being yourself, but be yourself within reason. That low-cut, skin-tight cocktail dress might work in the club, but it's not the outfit you want to wear in front of your company's CEO. And if your office party is informal, don't show up wearing your fanciest evening gown.
Our advice to you is to be appropriate, fight the urge to make any wacky fashion statements, and remember that the classic little black dress works just about every time. Happy holidays!