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What to wear for a Christmas party

What to wear for a Christmas party

The first three weeks of December contain more events than the rest of the year combined. Which put your wardrobe under as as much strain as your social calendar. “A lot of guys think that they need something unusual, so that they stand out,” says Thread stylist Brooke Philips. “But because it’s Christmas, everyone’s thinking the same. Which is when going understated looks more chic and can make a big impact.”

If, that is, you nail the dress code. Quite what’s expected at your office party, or drinks with friends, is often unclear. “But it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed,” says Brooke (within reason – it’s best not to wear a tuxedo to the pub). “That’s because it’s easier to make something formal more relaxed than it is to smarten up a casual outfit.”

You can lose the pocket square and tie, undo your shirt collar or hang up your jacket. But if you’re in jeans and a t-shirt and everyone else has a blazer, you’re stuck. Our guide to what to wear for three different styles of Christmas party will ensure you’re always dressed for the occasion.

Black tie

Black tie Christmas party outfit

The outfit: Dinner jacket, tuxedo trousers, white shirt, black leather shoes, bow tie

Make it festive: At Christmas, shops are full of all manner of festive accessories. Avoid the temptation. “There’s something beautiful about a classic tuxedo,” says Brooke. “If you want a tie that’s a bit different then don’t restrict yourself, but think single colours rather than Christmassy patterns. And stick to one thing.” A red bow tie, white jacket and striped trousers will give the other guests headaches.

Whatever colour it is, the most important thing is that isn’t pre-tied (if you’re not sure how, follow this video and practice on your knee). “It’s a small thing that makes a massive difference,” says Brooke. “It also means that at the end of the night, you can undo it and add a touch of James Bond to your look.”

After Christmas: Whether your year is full of high-end client galas, or you’ve got one drinks party with an unexpected dress code, you’ll never regret having your own tuxedo. “Fit is everything with black tie and a rental will never be quite right,” says Brooke. “A tuxedo is all about class. If it hangs off you and looks sloppy, you may as well not have bothered. You may not think you’ll wear it often, but if you’ve got one that looks great, you’ll discover scenarios where it works because you’ll want to break it out.” And when you do, you’ll generally be the best-dressed guy in the room.

Office party

Office Christmas party outfit

The outfit: Blazer, formal trousers, rollneck, brogues, pocket square

Make it festive: To make an outfit party-ready, it should feel different to what you wear day-to-day. But because you’ve only got the office bathroom to get changed in, you need to avoid anything that requires a Mariah Carey-level outfit change.

“Hang your blazer while you’re actually working and have a rollneck rolled up in your your bag, so it doesn’t crease,” says Brooke. “Then if you swap out of your shirt, slip into your jacket and pop in a pocket square, you’ll be dressed for the party in seconds. The rollneck offers a good amount of formality, but it’s a little bit cooler. It shows you’re paying attention to what works for you.” Stick to dark colours, which provide a neutral backdrop for a brighter, patterned pocket square. Just please, nothing with Santa hats.

After Christmas: Because this is a party look, it’s best to break the pieces up once the festive season’s over. “It’s quite striking, even though the colours aren’t vivid,” says Brooke. “So wear the pieces separately.” You could swap the trousers for jeans and lose the pocket square, or try chinos and a grandad collar shirt instead of the rollneck.

The pub

Pub Christmas outfit

Outfit: Harrington, long-sleeve polo, chinos, trainers

Make it festive: Your annual get-together with old friends should be a relaxed affair, but it’s also a chance to impress people you don’t get to see often enough. “You should make sure that things feel premium and a bit looked after,” says Brooke. “It’s the pub, but it’s also a special occasion.” If everything’s clean and pressed, and you’re wearing things that feel a touch more luxurious than your day-to-day, your friends will appreciate the effort.

“It’s a really simple look, so you should focus on fit,” says Brooke. Buttoning the polo makes it feel smarter, as do the long sleeves, but make sure the shoulder seam and cuffs are flush with your upper arm and wrists. That way, you can take the jacket off but still look put-together. “It’s casual, so the little details can feel casual. If you like to roll your trousers, then do. It shouldn’t feel overthought.”

After Christmas: “This is a classic look that you can wear, in its entirety, pretty much any day of the year,” says Brooke. “But the pieces also all work by themselves.” You could swap the chinos for jeans to make it more casual, or the Harrington for a blazer if you wanted to dress things up a little bit.