Introduction: perception.

A man once said, “If too many people know your name, change it; then change it again”. Ironically – and I think that was the intended – that man was Diddy.

Or do we insert the P? Or drop the P and add Puff? Or drop the Diddy all together and replace with Daddy?

What the above intends to do is maintain perception, one that you haven’t already made up your mind on. Walking in to a room with no perceptions attached to you is nowhere near as cool as walking in to a room and blowing any preconceived ideas out of the water. It's playground tactics, only this time; you're on the Fashionbeans playground.

The above (and the above above) does not denounce you in suggestion from 'John' to 'Chester'. I'm not nudging you to follow in P/Puff/Did/Dad's example without discrepancy. What I am suggestion is that you consider a blank canvas – if you aren’t one – make it so. However, to avoid confusion [address yourself by your name here] let’s use your dress to create it.

There is something I say over and over again yet not nearly enough. Changing what you wear is a mere dent in the tin of spaghetti that is your wardrobe. Changing the way you approach dress, respect fashion, and consider perception is still not enough [just yet] because I've had to tell you to do so. In time, it will be done without thinking and that is when you're footing the ladder.

The Christmas Party Season

Walking into the office, perceptual canvas blanked, a transformed persona (even if it is just aesthetically speaking) on a drab Wednesday morning is the equivalent to walking in to a bull-fighting arena and faced with a chicken.

Playing all your efforts into 'wooing' a lady – dinner leaving a significant dent in your wallet – charm was by no means in short supply and you even went some way to peeling last Tuesdays underwear off your bedroom floor. You dabbled in scented candles that will leave your clothes smelling like 'orchid tranquillity' for weeks which she loved as she kisses you all the way to the bed. You remove your skinny jeans with the implausibility of seduction and climb into bed before whispering, “I’m off to kip, night love”.

I think you appear to getting seeing my point… an anticlimax?

Some do believe in the subtle approach; not appropriating yourself to the centre of attention when any effort is made in a new suit or haircut. When you meet someone new, you have approximately 3.5 seconds before they have decided if what you say on the fourth second has any validity, or whether they even give a damn. Not making your new effort known is a concept I just cannot conceive.

There will be no memory of the time you completely transformed your look on the morning of Wednesday the 24th of November.

The time you entered the Christmas party, putting an end to conversations and diverting attention away from the p*ssed boss, carrying no fewer than five bags of swagger, will be a monument of water-cooler envy discussion.

People expect you to show up to the office Christmas party the same as you are expected to show up to the office. However, the party is a jungle of cynical judgement and satire humour – no doubt at least one person is looking out to see who wears their office suit misguidedly or brogues after dark even. Leaving the only cynicism being that you outdid all others is nothing to be a wallflower about.

Black tie

Unless your invitation states otherwise, office parties are usually an 'access all attire' events. If a code is suggested or marginally hinted at, it's as much gospel as if they had dressed you themselves – it's the timid hosts plea.

Where 'black tie' is cited, consideration of anything but is not seen as rebellious non-conformist trendsetter, you’re just an idiot. Hollywood black tie is the loose-buttoned collar of black tie. It is the sort of thing Keith Richards would claim if turned away from any sartorially formal setting.

Apply these rules at the request of black tie:

  1. Don’t entrust colour nor cut as your chance to waddle out of the penguin society in which you are invited. Favour (by favour I mean disregard all else) the black & single-breasted suit. Midnight blue became a popular choice, as did burgundy – unless you’re braving it in velvet stick with what your Noir.
  2. It’s a bow tie not a tie-tie type of attire. You run the risk of breaching into lounge suit or Hollywood black tie and betraying your fellow penguin, I mean man! As the weeks progress you will be a penguin (I mean pro!) at telling when barriers (non negotiable barriers) are crossed.
  3. Don’t sit down; it will crease the pants. If you have to sit down, don’t. If you really have to sit down; you get the idea.

You can read the full guide to black tie attire here.

Party Season Looks on Lookbook

Where a code is not called upon, act as the reasonable man would. The polished man will take into consideration the event, the accompaniment (it is then usually best to go in the other direction), the venue and the boss. The last one often receives raised eyebrows. A boss rarely likes to be outdone, that’s why he’s the boss. Where a big cheese lacks sartorial affluence this can be hard to tackle. If you want to dress three notches above his own, try not to stand with him all night. Equally, point him in this direction and you never know; he might dress four above you.

'No code' is no code for safety; it is also no signal for recklessness. I can’t arrogate you in any such which way. Being it that you have understood the considerations needed, you will know which side of sensibility to wander. Your recklessness should not lead you outside the season in which it falls, A/W in this case of course. Main offenders of the A/W party season:

  • Light-coloured suits
  • Espadrilles
  • Sunglasses (believe it or not)

You can err to be timeless and classic or act as a child would, be under the impression that a code has applied 99% of your life and this is your chance to pull the rug from under its feet.

Party Season Outfits For Men

Party Season Lookbook: Statement Shirts

Shirts are the backbone (or walking stick, in later life) of a man's wardrobe. A key look for this party season is sharp shirts. Shirts that do not act as filler between suit jacket and the rest, but as an independent piece, a statement follower of fashion. For the less than limelight favouring, contrasting shirts are a great way to show this isn’t office hours any more.

When wearing a statement shirt, do not over indulge in hats and feathered necklaces, you're avant-garde enough for one night!

Pair statement shirts with:
  • Skinny tailored trousers/cords. Avoid asymmetrical/drop crotch/carrot fit. Eccentric trousers will take focus away from the intended and dilute your look. Cords should only be appropriated in black, you're doing a cheeky deed in a formal situation anyway – let's not push it.
  • Pointed shoes/boots. Brogues are a before dark moment, take note of the patent Gucci sorts but perhaps scale down your wallets ambitions. Boots are back in a big way; Chelsea boots are a great way to transcend into formalwear with a rock n' roll dapper feel.
  • Slouched braces. Accessories are certainly few and far between when pairing with statement shirts. Wearing slouch braces slouched (hanging from the waist downwards) is a quirky twist on the gentlemanly staple. This perhaps should not be carried in the more formal of encounters and should never be attempted in the company of a suit jacket. Braces have already been tipped as the unlikely essential of the season but it does not mean they should be called on in unlikely (or unwelcomed circumstances). If pairing with a studded statement shirt, it is best to stick to braces with minimal buckles; no Robocop here.
  • Skinny Cord Trouser
  • Black Slim Suit Trousers
  • HUGO Hotomo trouser
  • Linea Cannes chelsea boots
  • KG By Kurt Geiger Carnival Patent And Suede Lace-Up Shoes
  • ASOS White Braces
  • AAA Chain Braces

It has been said that office party 'misdemeanours' have been forgiven at the hands of a good outfit. The boss expects you to keep your hands off his wife (although his wife doesn't), but he is far more likely to forgive a man who prepared for the endeavour well.