What to Wear to a Holiday Office Party

several hands raise champagne glasses as gold confetti floats in background; it's a great holiday office party

several hands raise champagne glasses as gold confetti floats in background; it's a great holiday office party

This post was last updated in October 2022.

Here’s a fun question: what to wear to an holiday office party? We have six ideas below, all great whether it’s for your holiday company party, your SO’s office party, or some other holiday networking party.

As a general rule, pick two from the categories below and mix with regular workwear, unless you are 100% sure cocktail attire (or black tie!) is appropriate. A good clue: if the party is on a workday and all employees are invited (not just management types), take our suggestions here. 

As always, I suggest young businesswomen avoid showing cleavage, as well as what I’ll call “unexpected” skin (think cutout dresses, etc). Even bare arms may not be appropriate — know your office!) You should also be wary of anything requiring a special bra.

We’re shared some of our top picks for your holiday office party below…

{related: all our best tips on holiday business etiquette}

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{related: here are some fancy but easy updos for the office or beyond}

Festive Blazer

There are SO MANY festive blazers in velvet this for the holidays this year! This Eliza J one is almost always in stock as well, and this BlankNYC one looks great for under $100.

I’ve always loved a festive blazer. Not only can you maintain a maximum of professionalism, but I often find that a layered look is the best way to dress for the holiday office party: party blazer + statement necklace, or party blazer + bright work dress, for example. You can also use your festive blazer to extend the life of your weekend clothes and wear things that wouldn’t normally be appropriate to wear to work.

For example, a jumpsuit, a heavily sequined top, or even something like a leather skirt or a lace top that requires a strapless bra — all of these things look great beneath a festive blazer.

You’ll be surprised how often you wear it, and how many years you’ll get wear out of it — your own holiday parties, your SO’s holiday parties, vague networking events, even “desk to dinner” events where you really don’t feel like donning a dress or anything sparkly. Personally I’ve always preferred the structure of a blazer, but a sparkly cardigan can also work here.

{related: what to wear to a business cocktail party}

Polished Party Skirts

A party skirt is one of the easiest things to find and wear, but be wary of spending too much money on it — it will be memorable, and because it kind of is your outfit, it’s going to be hard to wear it again year after year.

Keep the hem length appropriate for the office, and note that the fancier (and less office-appropriate) the skirt feels, the more subdued your top and shoes should be. Note that some skirts straddle the line between office and party — they’re less festive, but more versatile (and you can pair them with something else sparkly on top).

Some Recent Picks for Party Skirts To Wear to Your Office Holiday Party

Below are some of our favorite polished party skirts as of Oct. 2022 – we’ve primarily avoided miniskirts because they show a lot of leg, which isn’t appropriate for every office party — but know yourself and your office. (As someone who’s only 5’4″, also, I find that a lot of “mini” skirts are almost knee-length on me.)

{related: the best semi-formal attire for business events}

Selected Sequins, Lace, and Leather

Sequins, lace, and leather aren’t usually office-appropriate — we’ve talked specifically about lace at the office and leather skirts at the office before.

But when deciding what to wear to your office holiday party, you can break some of these rules, provided that you’re not going all out.

Example: a sweater with a few sequins on it, or even a sheer sequined camisole (worn with an opaque black camisole beneath it) are fine, particularly when paired with a festive blazer or fuzzy cardigan.

But the all-sequin legging or all-sequin dress can be… well… a bit much for an office holiday party.

Some of Our Recent Favorite Office-Appropriate Sequins, Lace, Velvet and Leather

Note that regardless of how it’s shown on the model, you should a) not wear a sheer top to an office party, and you probably should not wear a crop top or anything that exposes your belly. Depending on the office environment you may want to keep a cardigan, shawl or shrug with you if your top exposes a lot of your arms, such as with a halter top.

{related: what not to wear to a black-tie affair for work}

Party Pants

Another great option: party pants. Paired with a regular work staple like a button-front or a cashmere sweater (ooh, or this DvF ballerina sweater), party pants are celebratory and happy, but not too crazy. Look for velvet, jacquard, limited sequins — and tuxedo pants or dramatically wide, flowy trousers can also be great for this kind of event.

For my $.02, I’d avoid any pant that makes people wonder if they’re actually seeing skin (such as black lace underlaid with a beige satin), and in general, be wary of leather and of too-tight leggings.

Recent Picks for Festive-but-Professional Party Pants

In 2022, for party pants we’re seeing a ton of sequins, velvet, and lace. There’s so many leather pants for work that we’re not even including them in this roundup!

Work-acceptable velvet pants can also work here!

Recently there has been a TON of velvet jeans — note that those are not acceptable at every office, so know yours. You can find a wide variety of colors and fits at Banana Republic, Loft, and Talbots, as well as from brands like Paige. Also of note, some nice trouser-styles of velvet pants at Nordstrom.

{related: how to do black tie on a budget}

Office-Appropriate Party Dresses and Jumpsuits

For my money, this is the hardest one to get right. Sometimes a bright dress or blouse feels festive but will feel like a snoozefest at the party itself. Sometimes a lace dress will feel ladylike and elegant, but other times it may feel like you’ve unwittingly gotten dressed for a wedding when you just have a step up from what you would normally wear to work.

A few notes in general: Watch your hem length, as well as cleavage. I wouldn’t recommend a dress with bare shoulders (i.e., strapless) — layer it with something else like a cardigan or blazer, but if you end up taking that layer off, don’t worry too much.

Sometimes a party dress can be worn to work; sometimes that’s going to be harder.

Recent Picks for Jumpsuits and Party Dresses for Professional Settings

Some of our favorite jumpsuits and party dresses for professional settings include these as of Oct. 2022… depending on the event, you may also want to check out our latest favorite colorful sheath dresses (great for alumni events, or just get darker colors like navy).

{related: where do you draw the line between wedding wear and office-wear?}

Desk to Party: Cocktail Jewelry

It’s true, statement necklaces aren’t as popular as they once were — but I still say there’s nothing better for an office holiday party, and no better way to instantly jazz up a regular work dress or the like. Add one other thing from this list and you’re golden.

Here are some fun statement necklaces as of Oct. 2022… note that Alexis Bittar, Karine Sultan, Bauble Bar, Deepa Gurnani, Knotty, and even All Saints and Kendra Scott often have some nice options as well.

More Holiday Party Accessories

As of Oct. 2022, these are some of our latest favorite party shoes — also consider using shoe clips on some of your regular shoes if you’re on a budget!

{related: what to wear to a black-tie dinner for a benefit}

Perky Party Shoes

As of Oct. 2022, these are some of our latest favorite party shoes — also consider using shoe clips on some of your regular shoes if you’re on a budget!

{related: here’s our roundup of the best foldable flats}

How to Save on Holiday Party Attire

A general note: Rent the Runway is perfect for these kind of purchases, particularly if you have several parties to go to over a few days. (Or, hey, it’s a perfect excuse to set up a date night or girls’ night out if you don’t have several parties.) Other great deals can be found at Nordstrom, Poshmark and more!

(Want $30 off your first Rent the Runway order? Here’s our referral code.)

Ladies, what are your favorite things to wear to office holiday parties? Have you seen any fashion gaffes with regard to office holiday party attire (or been victim to any gaffes yourself)? 

Stock photo via Pexels / cottonbro.

N.B. This post was originally written in 2015, but updated substantially in Oct. 2022.

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