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How to dress for every kind of festive party

How to dress for every kind of festive party

Remember festive parties? What was mostly a Zoom exclusive last year is back with a bang in 2021. This year, we assume your holiday party is going to take place, in actual real life, with actual people who will in fact see what you’re wearing from the waist down. Daunting? Maybe a little. Exciting? Absolutely. 

Not to fret, getting your party outfit just right is exactly what we’re here for. From an office Christmas party to a friend’s annual festive shindig and everything in between, these three looks styled by Toby Standing have you set for just about anything. Happy holidays! 

The fancy party

Dressing smart without looking like you’re going to work, a funeral, or a wedding can be pretty hard. The trick? Texture. Where the previously mentioned occasions call for a suit that tends to lean more classic and simple, dates like New Year’s Eve and a Christmas party mean you can afford to be a little more expressive with your tailoring choices.

Velvet is a great place to start, but to keep yourself from feeling a bit too Austin Powers (baby), keep the colour palette neutral or dark. Charcoal grey, navy, and even black still feel that little more special because of the texture. If velvet’s not your thing, however, cord is also an equally desirable option. Dark chocolate brown and forest green is what Toby recommends here – they both feel appropriately wintery, but not like something usually associated with your old Geography teacher. 

The office party

No one wants to be the person trying too hard at their office party, but you also don’t want to look like you’ve put no thought into it all – oh, the politics. Toby suggests opting for subtle updates to your usual day to day – noticeable, but not obvious. For example, if you’re usually seen wearing a crew neck sweater, try something knitted with a collar, like a polo shirt, perhaps. 

For your outer layer, a chore coat or blazer in a more casual fabric (think wool, twill, or cord) is a great way of adding an element of being dressed up, without looking like you’ve thrown on your everyday suit jacket in an attempt to seem put together (which never works, trust us). Then, on the footwear front, anything leather is always a great step up if you’re usually in more casual styles, and something like a loafer is a good middle ground that won’t feel stuffy. 

The best part about all of this? You’ll be able to wear everything after the party too. All these items are super versatile and easy to pair with all of your mainstay wardrobe staples. 

The friend’s party

Now this is the one you’ll probably need to think about the least. You’re not necessarily dressing to impress when you’re just having an evening with your nearest and dearest pals, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put in some effort – it is Christmas, after all. A good way to approach dressing for this kind of thing is taking your regular style and dialling up the festive a good couple notches. Fan of a classic overshirt? Go for a patterned option like a tartan in some colours that feel right to you, not just the season (to avoid looking like a gift wrapped present).

The biggest and most important thing to keep in mind is to be comfortable. You want to relax at this sort of party and not be constantly thinking you’re stuffed into an outfit that makes you feel not yourself. 


Words: Yasmine Kennedy
Photography: Jack Batchelor
Styling: Toby Standing