‘Tis the season to be jolly! Once again, it’s time to deck the halls, figure out if you’ve been naughty or nice and if anyone really knows what ‘Galway Bay’ is. Oh, and reaffirming your hatred for Wizard and Noddy Holder of course.

However, the return of festive spirit brings with it a level of uncertainty of how to dress appropriately during the holidays. Not embracing it can lead to all kinds of Scrooge-like allegations, hurt feelings and a potential visit from three ghosts.

But then again, go too far and you run the risk of turning into a walking, talking Christmas advert. The sick love child of the Coke and John Lewis adverts. The human version of your neighbour’s grotesque decorations. And, trust me; neither of these looks is appropriate for a modern gent this holiday season.

Dressing For A Festive Occasion: Tips

It’s pretty much a given that you’ll be attending some sort of festive occasion during December. It could be the dreaded Christmas work party, a few too many pints down the pub with your mates on Christmas Eve or drowning in cranberries, whiskey and family members from the 25th onwards.

Regardless of the occasion, it’s important to hit just the right Christmassy note. And after a couple of years of experimenting (read: embarrassing myself), here are a few ideas and suggestions to help you get through it all…

1. Layer a Festive Knit

This is the easiest one to do and can work for all kinds of occasions. As soon as the holidays kick off, people generally tend to get into the spirit of things – so why not break out that bolder Fair Isle jumper? Or that Jacquard shawl neck cardigan? Or that snowflake patterned navy roll neck?

If you’re going somewhere casual, just throw it on over a simple tee or Oxford shirt, and pair with selvedge jeans and brown desert boots. Anywhere slightly more formal and you can then layer it under a textured jacket, and pair with chinos/trousers and a shirt and tie. Just remember to keep the rest of your outfit simple and neutral so you can let that bold jumper do the talking:

Men's Christmas Knitwear Lookbook

  • Scotch And Soda Jumper With Snowflake PatternScotch And Soda Jumper With Snowflake Pattern
  • Topman Blue Vertical Snowflake JumperTopman Blue Vertical Snowflake Jumper
  • Allsaints Howard Zip Up CardiganAllsaints Howard Zip Up Cardigan
  • Burton Natural Pattern CardiganBurton Natural Pattern Cardigan
  • Norse Projects Mens Birnir Multi-colour KnitNorse Projects Mens Birnir Multi-colour Knit
  • Fairisle Shawl Neck Toggle JumperFairisle Shawl Neck Toggle Jumper
  • Nn.07 Akira Fair Isle Wool-blend SweaterNn.07 Akira Fair Isle Wool-blend Sweater
  • Monsieur Lacenaire Louis Fair Isle Wool SweaterMonsieur Lacenaire Louis Fair Isle Wool Sweater
  • Reiss Crossbow Shawl Neck Jumper Dark GreenReiss Crossbow Shawl Neck Jumper Dark Green
2. Mad for Plaid

Plaid is one of my favourite autumn/winter patterns, and one of the simplest ways of injecting a little bit of festive cheer into your look.

Whether it’s a quality wool tartan plaid tie paired with a simple white Oxford shirt, chinos and brogues combination or a full on Glenn plaid suit in navy with a pale blue dress shirt and black penny loafers, you can’t go wrong.

It lets everyone in the room – from pub to ball-room – know that you’re here to have a good time.

Men's Plaid Clothing & Accessories Lookbook

  • Topman Rust Check Plaid ShirtTopman Rust Check Plaid Shirt
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Mens Custom Fit ShirtPolo Ralph Lauren Mens Custom Fit Shirt
  • Bespoken Slim-fit Button-down Collar Plaid Cotton ShirtBespoken Slim-fit Button-down Collar Plaid Cotton Shirt
  • Alexander Olch Plaid Woven-wool Pocket RoundAlexander Olch Plaid Woven-wool Pocket Round
  • Burberry Brit Burnt Orange Plaid Wool CoatBurberry Brit Burnt Orange Plaid Wool Coat
  • Alexander Mcqueen Plaid Wool BlazerAlexander Mcqueen Plaid Wool Blazer
  • Cream Plaid ScarfCream Plaid Scarf
  • Alexander Olch Plaid Woven-wool TieAlexander Olch Plaid Woven-wool Tie
  • Beams Plus Plaid SocksBeams Plus Plaid Socks
3. Make A (Foot) Statement

Again, because of the general cheer that resides in everyone this time of year, break out something that makes a bit of a statement. Those mustard Aztec socks for example. Or what about those green tassel loafers you weren’t sure you should have purchased this spring/summer? Even those black velvet slippers are a go.

The important thing is to wear these statements with confidence and really get into the spirit of things. Who knows, you might enjoy it so much that you start wearing these neglected pieces that little bit more when the New Year starts.

Men's Statement Shoes and Socks

  • Reiss Swiss Jacquard Pattern Socks MustardReiss Swiss Jacquard Pattern Socks Mustard
  • Corgi Fair Isle Thick Wool-blend SocksCorgi Fair Isle Thick Wool-blend Socks
  • Pantone SocksPantone Socks
  • Reiss Guernsey Cable Knit Socks GreenReiss Guernsey Cable Knit Socks Green
  • Paul Smith Shoes Navy Dip Dyed Leather Miller Brogues With Tan HeelPaul Smith Shoes Navy Dip Dyed Leather Miller Brogues With Tan Heel
  • Reiss Bologne Toe Cap Oxford Shoe With Leather Sole Dark GreenReiss Bologne Toe Cap Oxford Shoe With Leather Sole Dark Green
  • Topman Miller Suede Slim Soled LoafersTopman Miller Suede Slim Soled Loafers
  • Asos Velvet Tassel Loafer With Leather SoleAsos Velvet Tassel Loafer With Leather Sole
  • Stubbs & Wootton Velvet SlippersStubbs & Wootton Velvet Slippers
4. Transform Your Suit, Simply

What about formal occasions? Those events that have been put on for you by your company or being the ‘plus one’ for your girlfriend are what spring to mind here. In those cases, simply amp up your everyday business suit.

All you’re going to need is a white hidden placket French cuffed dress shirt, a black bow tie and some cufflinks. Pair these with any of your usual suits – navy, grey or black – and you will instantly transform it into something ready for the event you’re heading to. Just keep those shoes black and polished and you can’t fail.

Men's Festive Formal Outfit Inspiration

  • Topman Black Self Tie Bow TieTopman Black Self Tie Bow Tie
  • Black Bow TieBlack Bow Tie
  • Reiss Dexter Bow Tie BlackReiss Dexter Bow Tie Black
  • Topman Knotted CufflinksTopman Knotted Cufflinks
  • Striped Rectangular CufflinksStriped Rectangular Cufflinks
  • Rose Black Circle CufflinksRose Black Circle Cufflinks
  • Lanvin Silver-plated And Onyx T-bar CufflinksLanvin Silver-plated And Onyx T-bar Cufflinks
  • Alice Made This Dawson Brass CufflinksAlice Made This Dawson Brass Cufflinks
  • Lanvin Bar Cufflinks 142948Lanvin Bar Cufflinks 142948
Other Little Touches

Another super easy one to do; wear colours that remind people of Christmas. I’m talking blue, red and green. Luckily, when taking into account the colour wheel, they tend to go quite well together. My preference is to opt for navy and red with a small hint of green. For example, a navy merino wool v-neck with a red flannel plaid shirt that has hints of green within the check. Having a mid to olive green tie can also work wonders. Experiment and find out which combination works best for you.

Just a casual get together? A few mates at the pub? Dinner with your mum and dad? Not the sort of occasion you really want to go all out, right? That’s fine; just remember when you are keeping things simple to add a point of difference. The sort of twist that turns an everyday look into an individual look.

For example, my go-to for these occasions is a crew neck t-shirt in white layered underneath an unlined patch pocket wool navy blazer, paired with autumnal coloured corduroy trousers (think sunburnt orange, mustard yellow, chocolate brown or forest green). Sure, it’s a pretty average look, but the injection of a warming colour in the cords gives it that little twist that every guy’s style needs.

Final Word

Finally, the most important rule of dressing for a festive occasion is: embrace the season and absolutely go for it! Within reason, of course. Other people will appreciate it, whether it’s your family, friends or work colleagues. And more often than not will have wished they’d done the same.

As always, I’d love to hear what you guys have to say. What sort of looks will/have you put together this Christmas? What are your hints and tips to getting festive with your fashion? How exactly do you avoid that catastrophic December 27th hangover at work? Let me know in the comments section…

Matt Allinson