The Christmas Party

Yes, it’s that time of year again, already. It only seems like yesterday that your Nan was napping on the sofa, your parents were snoozing in the chairs and you were passed out on the floor (at least that’s what happens in my house). The shops are stocking up on crackers, mince pies, Christmas puddings, awful music and all the other guff that generally makes Christmas a miserable time of year, contrary to the popular belief of children.

But wait, I create such a bleak outlook because I’m a grump. The build-up, the anticipation, the compulsory viewing of ‘Home Alone‘, all lead to one thing and one thing only – a bloody fantastic dinner. Sod the tree, just hand me wine and that turkey.

It becomes abundantly clear that as you get older, the purpose (and therefore priorities) of Christmas changes quite dramatically. Once past the age of eighteen, it would appear that the sole purpose of the Christmas season is to consume as much alcohol as physically possible. I wonder how many of us will go for a Christmas themed night out? How many of us will get utterly ruined on Christmas Eve? Who will continue the excessive drinking on Christmas Day (I’m rather fond of sloe gin), Boxing Day and perhaps the day after?

And how many of us will have to face the dreaded work Christmas party?

A Social Phenomenon

The work ‘Christmas Do’ is a bit of a strange event. I’m not entirely sure a vast quantity of alcohol, your colleagues and your boss is a particularly good mix. Take into consideration the fact that it will be after hours – a situation in which you would not normally see Pete from accounts or Susan from HR – and the stage is set for a potentially very awkward evening.

But aside from the obviously delicate balancing act of drinking and not embarrassing yourself, you also need to think about what you’re going to wear.

Wearing a suit to the office doesn’t really provide you with the opportunity to showcase your true personal style; you can of course wear snazzy socks, a crazy pocket square or simply be fantastic at matching shirts and ties, but at the end of the day, you’re still wearing a suit, just like everyone else.

On the other hand, the Christmas party can be a good opportunity to show everybody just how well you can dress.

However, as with other events of this nature, picking your outfit is a potential minefield of misdirection, misjudgement and mistakes. It is a social situation in which all of you are out of your comfort zone, talking to people you might not normally talk to, or trying to avoid discussion about work. In a situation like this, being too bold and brash could be just as bad as hiding in the toilet all night.

Key Considerations

With that said, here are a few things to consider:

  • Think about your office – who do you work with? Who is actually going to come? Do you get along with everyone? If things tend to be a little cold, don’t force your most fashion forward looks down their throats. Better to create subtle talking points.
  • Think about their style – how do they dress? Are they likely to be impressed by the more fashion forward elements of your style or would you risk sticking out like a sore thumb?

    I’m not saying don’t dress for yourself, we all want to make an impression on the one night of the year designed to encourage social interaction, but throwing caution to the wind might result in some nasty nicknames and a lot of whispers by the coffee machine.

  • Consider what you are actually doing – is it in the office? Going for a meal and then for drinks?

With all this in mind, tailor your outfit to your situation – there is no such thing as a one size fits all look.

Outfit Inspiration
Look 1: Shirt & Knitwear Combination

Men's Shirt and Knitwear Combinations

There was a thread about appropriate Christmas party outfits on the forums recently, the consensus in that instance was that simplicity was the way forward. Not every Christmas party is a formal affair; turn up to the Bowlplex in your suit and you’ll look like a dad that has gone straight to a children’s party from work.

A pair of jeans, a slim fit shirt (white or blue probably) and a good, chunky cardigan is a winning combination whenever you wear it and where-ever you go. If you want to make it that little bit more interesting, try finding a shirt with some added details, a penny or rounded collar, or with a very light pattern such as the Reiss one shown below.

The best thing about this look is how versatile it is. Each part is interchangeable, so find the right combination for you and feel confident in the knowledge that you look good.

You don’t always need to be ‘the man’ at your Christmas party; not every party is the same and not everyone will appreciate or understand your best attempts at fashion forward dressing.

Outfit Inspiration:

  • Reiss Earl Polka Dot Print Shirt WhiteReiss Earl Polka Dot Print Shirt White
  • Allsaints Guard CardiganAllsaints Guard Cardigan
  • Topman Dark Wash Vintage Slim JeansTopman Dark Wash Vintage Slim Jeans
  • Clarks Originals Suede Desert BootsClarks Originals Suede Desert Boots

Key Pieces:

  • Allsaints Brut Cigarette JeansAllsaints Brut Cigarette Jeans
  • Reiss Mississippi Clean Raw Denim IndigoReiss Mississippi Clean Raw Denim Indigo
  • Jean.machine J.m-2 Straight-leg Raw Denim JeansJean.machine J.m-2 Straight-leg Raw Denim Jeans
  • Selected CardiganSelected Cardigan
  • Funnel Neck CardiganFunnel Neck Cardigan
  • Rag & Bone Avery Cotton And Merino Wool-blend Shawl-collar CardiganRag & Bone Avery Cotton And Merino Wool-blend Shawl-collar Cardigan
  • Allsaints Border Crew JumperAllsaints Border Crew Jumper
  • Asos Cable Knit JumperAsos Cable Knit Jumper
  • Reiss Jupiter Merino Wool V-neck Jumper AubergineReiss Jupiter Merino Wool V-neck Jumper Aubergine
  • Reiss Haque Suede Leather Wingtip Brogue GreyReiss Haque Suede Leather Wingtip Brogue Grey
  • Opening Ceremony M1 Suede Desert BootsOpening Ceremony M1 Suede Desert Boots
  • Sanders Snuff Brown Suede Bertie Desert BootsSanders Snuff Brown Suede Bertie Desert Boots
Look 2: Utilising Accents

Men's Accents Lookbook - Scarves, Footwear and Belts

Lookbook: polo shirt with trousers, bold shoes, silk scarves, trend pieces like double brested and knitted jackets

If you do want to show off your fashionable wardrobe, or wear something you know that no one else will be wearing, try to keep things small.

Rather than shouting in everyone’s face with your outfit of bold colours, crazy patterns or luxurious textures, inject some interest through your shoes or accessories. A flash of colour at the wrist or something a little different on the feet is a great talking point and will exude just enough fashion forwardness to show off your knowledge and confidence. Likewise, a trend cut such as a double-breasted jacket (still in a muted colour) can be a subtle choice that hints you know what you are doing.

Should you choose to take this approach with something fairly substantial, like your shoes, keep the rest of your outfit nice and simple – let the shoes do all the talking. A polo shirt and a pair of tailored trousers is a great starting point and tucking that polo in is another small touch that will elevate it to a whole new level.

This combination is surprisingly smart, so mix in another of this season’s must haves – a knitted jacket – and you have something really usable and versatile.

Outfit Inspiration:

  • Fred Perry Slim Fit Twin Tipped Polo TopFred Perry Slim Fit Twin Tipped Polo Top
  • Band Of Outsiders Double-breasted Wool CardiganBand Of Outsiders Double-breasted Wool Cardigan
  • Allsaints Coimbra TrouserAllsaints Coimbra Trouser
  • Acne Bleeker Contrast-sole Leather Derby ShoesAcne Bleeker Contrast-sole Leather Derby Shoes

Key Pieces:

  • Mr Hare Mens Wilde Loafer ShoeMr Hare Mens Wilde Loafer Shoe
  • River Island Wedge Sole BroguesRiver Island Wedge Sole Brogues
  • Mark Mcnairy New Amsterdam Navy Suede Yellow Danite ShoesMark Mcnairy New Amsterdam Navy Suede Yellow Danite Shoes
  • Trickers Navy Brogue Monk Strap ShoesTrickers Navy Brogue Monk Strap Shoes
  • Topman Miller Suede Slim Soled LoafersTopman Miller Suede Slim Soled Loafers
  • Opening Ceremony Leather Oxford ShoesOpening Ceremony Leather Oxford Shoes
  • Reiss Jimmy Double Breasted Boiled Wool Blazer NavyReiss Jimmy Double Breasted Boiled Wool Blazer Navy
  • Reiss Al Single Breasted Boiled Wool Blazer Dark GreyReiss Al Single Breasted Boiled Wool Blazer Dark Grey
  • Hartford Knitted Wool BlazerHartford Knitted Wool Blazer
  • Uniform Wares 200 Series 202/br-01 Calendar Wrist WatchUniform Wares 200 Series 202/br-01 Calendar Wrist Watch
  • Priestleys Vintage Scarlet Tootal ScarfPriestleys Vintage Scarlet Tootal Scarf
  • Etro Printed Silk-twill ScarfEtro Printed Silk-twill Scarf
Look 3: Blazers & Roll Necks

Men's Statement Blazers and Roll Necks Lookbook

We’ve already had two slightly more casual looks, so now it’s time to scratch the itch that I know at least half of you will be suffering from.

For this look we have a small check list: Blazer? Check. Roll neck? Check. Smart trousers/chinos? Check. Smart shoes? Check. Just go all European on their arses.

Because this outfit is quite sharp, you can choose to keep things crisp and slim with Derbies or Oxfords, or on trend with monk straps or Chelsea boots. Keep things playful – you’ll find an outfit can be drastically altered simply by switching your footwear. Personally, I would stick to slim and refined but it really is up to you.

An important thing to remember here is just how formal your trousers are. Be wary of chinos that are too casual as this will change the whole aesthetic and might not suit the tailored upper half. To make sure you don’t experience this, you might find it easier to wear formal navy trousers.

If you can afford to, I would suggest you make a statement by wearing a checked or velvet blazer. Just make sure your workmates will appreciate it.

If the roll neck isn’t your thing, feel free to switch in a shirt and maybe even a club tie to add a preppy edge.

Outfit Inspiration:

  • Reiss Next Prev Neptune Roll Neck Merino Jumper Dark BrownReiss Next Prev Neptune Roll Neck Merino Jumper Dark Brown
  • Sandro Prince Of Wales Check Wool Suit JacketSandro Prince Of Wales Check Wool Suit Jacket
  • Topman Navy Textured Slim TrousersTopman Navy Textured Slim Trousers
  • Allsaints Conduct ShoeAllsaints Conduct Shoe

Key Pieces:

  • Alan Paine Claret Linton Merino Roll-neckAlan Paine Claret Linton Merino Roll-neck
  • Allsaints Yale Cashmere Roll NeckAllsaints Yale Cashmere Roll Neck
  • Gant Rugger Jumper With Roll NeckGant Rugger Jumper With Roll Neck
  • He By Mango Prince Of Wales Check BlazerHe By Mango Prince Of Wales Check Blazer
  • Paul Smith London Abbey Slim-fit Check Wool BlazerPaul Smith London Abbey Slim-fit Check Wool Blazer
  • He By Mango Velvet BlazerHe By Mango Velvet Blazer
  • United Colors Of Benetton Check Slim BlazerUnited Colors Of Benetton Check Slim Blazer
  • Topman Teal Velvet Skinny BlazerTopman Teal Velvet Skinny Blazer
  • Hartford Camel Washed Velvet Jules BlazerHartford Camel Washed Velvet Jules Blazer
  • Contemporary Style Tailored TrouserContemporary Style Tailored Trouser
  • Vanishing Elephant Navy Classic Benedict TrousersVanishing Elephant Navy Classic Benedict Trousers
  • Reiss Youngs T Formal Trousers InkReiss Youngs T Formal Trousers Ink
Look 4: Formal Wear

Men's Dressed Down Formal Wear Lookbook

I know for a fact that a few of you will want to wear a dressed down suit. It’s just one of those things, especially if you’ve just invested in a little burgundy number.

However, a word of warning – if you choose to go down this route, there are a few things to consider.

Do you wear a suit every day? Please don’t wear a work suit, go for something bold (only on the basis of the parameters set out previously being met and your colleagues appreciating it) or something classic but in a more statement colour and/or fabric. It’s worth remembering that not all navy suits look like business suits.

Once you’ve chosen your suit, look for ways to differentiate it from the kind of thing you would wear to work; whether this is through bold accessories, different textures or mixed aesthetics (such as a denim shirt and stand out shoes) is up to you.

A denim shirt is a fantastic way to immediately dress down a suit and because it’s blue it will pair with every colour under the sun – you can even dress it up with a bow or knitted tie.

Outfit Inspiration:

  • Asos Denim ShirtAsos Denim Shirt
  • Reiss Malt Retro Textured Suit Mid BrownReiss Malt Retro Textured Suit Mid Brown
  • Alexander Olch Plaid Woven-wool Pocket RoundAlexander Olch Plaid Woven-wool Pocket Round
  • Asos Shoes With Wedge Sole Made In EnglandAsos Shoes With Wedge Sole Made In England

Key Pieces:

  • Light Grey Plain Wool Tie Nick BronsonLight Grey Plain Wool Tie Nick Bronson
  • Burberry London Knitted Cotton TieBurberry London Knitted Cotton Tie
  • Reiss Dexter Bow Tie NavyReiss Dexter Bow Tie Navy
  • He By Mango Slim-fit ShirtHe By Mango Slim-fit Shirt
  • Reiss Zackery Long Sleeve Denim Look Shirt BlueReiss Zackery Long Sleeve Denim Look Shirt Blue
  • Topman Blue Curve Collar Denim ShirtTopman Blue Curve Collar Denim Shirt
  • Topman Camel Liquid Ultra Skinny SuitTopman Camel Liquid Ultra Skinny Suit
  • Burton Montague Burton Taupe Slim Fit Heritage SuitBurton Montague Burton Taupe Slim Fit Heritage Suit
  • Asos Slim Suit In TweedAsos Slim Suit In Tweed
  • Asos Slim Fit Suit In Herringbone CheckAsos Slim Fit Suit In Herringbone Check
  • Hampshire Slim Fit Fashion Suit JacketHampshire Slim Fit Fashion Suit Jacket
  • Austin Reed Slim Fit Burgundy Sharkskin JacketAustin Reed Slim Fit Burgundy Sharkskin Jacket
Final Word

With this article I hope to have shown you four outfits that cover almost every possible situation you could find yourself in. I wanted to strike a balance between all out style and refined sensibility by taking into consideration the fact that not everyone in this world understands or appreciates every aspect of fashion.

Please remember that this is also just a guide. It has been designed as a simple source of inspiration and all of the outfits I have shown are completely interchangeable – with just a little thought you can adapt them to suit your own purposes and image. By altering just one item, you can create something completely different and all of your own.

So, if you want to impress this party season, taking the time to create the perfect, event appropriate outfit is key. Get it right OR wrong and the chances are you’ll be the talk of the office; make sure it’s the right kind of talk.

As always, I want to hear what you guys think, so let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Have you planned your party season outfits yet? What approach will you be adopting this year and where is the event being held?

Will