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How to Transform Office Wear into Holiday Party Chic

By Dawn Stanyon, AICI FLC, Professional Image Consultant

For better or worse, office holiday parties will crop up in a handful of days. I’ve been asked what’s appropriate for work-related get-togethers. Can you go shorter? Sparkley-er? A little more va-va-voom? My answer is KISMIC: Keep It Simple, Make it Classy.

I don’t need to show you a picture. We all know what’s not appropriate for parties with work colleagues: too low cut; too short; too bright or gaudy (we can all insert a holiday-themed sweater quip here!). Your goal should be to project your personal brand. If you have a fun personality, you can go more vibrant for the evening. If you are a supervisor or trying to establish yourself as a professional, you want to carry out a look that will reflect that: donning a bright sequined top and sky-high platforms or a Grinch tie might detract.

And, honestly, you don’t need to change your entire look at 5:00 pm to get to the shindig at 6:00 pm. Keep it simple, remember?

Mixing day and evening clothes creates a modern look, and it’s just more practical. Do you really want to carry a dress, heels, different jewelry and your makeup case to work? It's also less expensive than buying an entirely new outfit. Here are a couple examples for you:

holiday12_WOLook #1: From just another day in the office to dramatic and sophisticated


These looks are examples. Moderately priced or more expensive alternatives can always be found. In this particular look, the pants, earrings and purse remain the same. Switch out the loose and comfortable blouse and sweater for a more stylish and frilled top; slip on a chunky cocktail ring; and kick up your eyeliner. Go!




Look #2: A red dress can work day or night


Not everyone feels comfortable wearing a lot of red, but if you do, this is a great option. First of all, make sure the red dress is the right color for you: do you have “cool” coloring? You should be wearing a blue-toned red. Are you “warm”? Go for a yellow-red. Only 15 minutes to get ready for the party? Take off your black blazer and boots and slip into black pumps and grab a wrap. Pop on some red lipstick and you’re ready for the meatballs, cheese tray and punch.


When you’re putting together your look, remember these tips:

  • You are always sending out messages about yourself. Keep your professional image consistent and clear.
  • Opt for conservative over sexy – this is still a work event.

Do you want to know the smartest thing you can do to keep up your fabulous image? Don’t overindulge in the Champagne. Know your limits. And enjoy a festive holiday-party season!



Dawn Stanyon

Dawn is a Certified Image and Professional Development Consultant. A graduate of The Emily Post Institute, the London Image Institute, 360Reach Brand Analyst training and WSET Level 1 wine certification, Dawn's focus is on empowering people to reach professional success. As Director of Sales at The Emily Post Institute, she worked with the Post family for nine years. Prior to Emily Post, she was a non-profit director of development and community relations, a PR and fundraising consultant, and a graduate of the University of Vermont. 

For more information on Emily Post Business Etiquette Programs contact Steven Puettner, Director of Sales at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .




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