It's that time of year!

The days are getting shorter and the weather is getting cooler (for many), both of which mean the holidays are right around the corner. November and December are popular months for holiday company functions and work parties. Some companies have simple parties during the work day at the office, while others have more elaborate parties to celebrate the holidays with their employees after hours.

As the party day approaches, you might be contemplating what to wear to a company Christmas party, given that it's not just another day at the office. You want to have fun with your attire, but still keep it "work appropriate," unless, that is, you want to be the talk of the office when you return to work following the party, because your outfit was a bit too provocative, your hemline was way closer to your hips than your knees, your chest hair was popping out, or too much cleavage was showing. And though it's true that it's often the females who invest more energy into what to wear to a holiday party, there are some office holiday party attire guidelines men should consider, as well.

If the holiday party is during work hours...

Our focus for this article is primarily for after hours holiday parties, but if your company holiday party is held during work hours, then you'll likely opt for work appropriate attire. Don't be afraid to dress it up a little bit with a nice dress and shoes or a fun holiday-geared blazer with a little sparkle. Typically, you'll need to stick with the office dress code policy unless you're provided with guidelines that it's OK to dress differently for the event.

If the holiday party is after work hours...

After hours holiday parties can be a lot of fun. They give you the opportunity to let your hair down, relax a bit, and connect with co-workers outside of the typical office environment. However, that doesn't mean you want to forget that you are still around co-workers at a work function. You want to have fun while considering that what you wear and what happens at the party will be remembered by those you see on a daily basis.

As Sarah Shah, Image Expert, Keynote Speaker, Broadcast Expert and Author shares in her post, What to Wear to the Office Holiday Party, "The professional environment dictates that all outfits must be modest: keep both cleavages covered, clothing can be fitted but not clingy/body-conscious, thighs should be covered with clothes or opaque tight/leggings, and more skin should be covered than is exposed." I agree with Sarah, and with that in mind, have fun picking out your holiday outfit while utilizing the following tips and office holiday party attire guidelines.

Tips for picking out your company holiday attire.

Confirm the dress code. First things first, get clear on what the holiday party dress code is, and go from there. You can also go more formal or casual than the code if you choose, but use good judgment and use the following office holiday party attire tips as guidelines.

Keep the cleavage to a minimum. Yes, you can let your hair down and loosen up a bit at the holiday party, but that doesn't mean you need to let it all hang out. Avoid showing off your cleavage. You still want people to make eye contact with your eyes and not anything below your neck!

Don't let the thighhighs show. Consider where your hemline hits when selecting your wardrobe. You can go a bit higher than the typical two inches above the knee rule, but use caution and don't go too short. Also, make sure you sit down in your outfit before you wear it to ensure it doesn't show too much when you sit. After all, who wants to be pulling at their skirt to make sure it's covering their tush when their manager is speaking to them at the party?

Use caution with sheer fabrics. If you're party is going to have bright lights, then avoid sheer fabrics that are sure to show everything you have underneath your outfit!

Be comfortable. If you'll be dancing and walking around a lot, you not only want to feel good about what you're wearing, but you want to be comfortable in it, as well. Make sure your buttons will stay buttoned, for example, and if you sweat easily, you might want to avoid wearing silk.

Consider purchasing items that can be worn again or select pieces you already own. Unless your holiday party is super formal, then it's a smart move to purchase a dress or pieces that can be worn again. To save money, you can even dress up pieces you already own. Real Simple's post, "5 Easy Holiday Outfits," has some great options and combinations, including the "not so simple black dress," that can easily be worn again for another event, or even to work if dressed down a bit.

Don't be too casual. Some might see the holiday party as an opportunity to go casual vs. dress up, and that's OK. To each their own. At the same time, you don't want to go any more casual than you would for casual Friday's at work. In other words, for men, sandals, overly relaxed slacks, jeans, and shorts probably aren't appropriate (unless your holiday party is a beach party!). For women, shorts, loose fitting jeans and sandals probably aren't appropriate.

In general, my advice on what to wear to a company Christmas party is to keep your look classy and conservative, while also finding ways to show your personality and have fun. The perfect accessories, for example, can really add to your look, like a nice pair of shoes or the perfect belt for men or women. When you put your outfit on, you want to feel good without being self-conscious, as well. For a well thought-out step-by-step guide on how to select your outfit for your work holiday party, read Sarah's post, also mentioned above, "What to Wear to the Office Holiday Party."

For more tips to consider when dressing for work, in general, that might also help you determine what to wear to your holiday party, consider reading "Are You Dressing Appropriately for Work?" The Huffington Post also has a helpful article titled "Party Dress Code: What to Wear to Your Office Holiday Party Sans Stress." And for you men out there, consider reading the Biz Journals' post, "Guys, Here's How to Dress for Your Office Holiday Party" and GQ's post, "What to Wear to Your Office Holiday Party."

On a final side-note, if your company function offers alcohol, keep in mind that you're around co-workers and that any embarrassing behavior could be remembered by your supervisors and peers (I've seen this happen to more than one employee in the past). Happy holidays, and have fun!

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