10 Holiday Party Attire Atrocities - InformationWeek

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11/21/2014
08:36 AM
Shane O'Neill
Shane O'Neill
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10 Holiday Party Attire Atrocities

Remember, this is Christmas, not Halloween, and this is a company event, not Vegas. What happens at the company party does not stay at the company party.
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Welcome to the office holiday party: that annual perfect storm of co-workers, cocktails, revelry, and awkward moments.

We sincerely hope awkwardness doesn't trump fun at your company events. But if it does, don't make things more awkward by dressing like a fool.

Besides the obvious advice to dress tastefully -- ladies, that means avoiding skimpy dresses, and gentlemen, avoid shirts unbuttoned to the sternum -- we'd also like to warn you about overdoing your holiday attire to the point of being bizarre, or underplaying it to the point of being rude. The important thing is to walk the line of dressing formal without being boring, casual without being unkempt, and merry without being tacky.

Not to stereotype, but IT folks are not known for their fashion radar. Combine that with their independent, creative streak and you might witness some irreverent or over-the-top outfits. But this slideshow isn't only for IT staffers. Any employee can show up in holiday threads that cross the line. So this is for you, antler-and-red-nose-wearing sales guy. And you, overly enthusiastic marketing gal wearing an elaborate Santa hat that jingles when you move your head. But also you, hipster developer who's wearing what he wore to last week's Vampire Weekend show.

You want to dress festively, but avoid being garish or weird. Remember: A company party is a great occasion to unwind and socialize with colleagues, but you don't want to end up chatting with the CIO about digital disruption and data analytics while wearing a snowman sweater adorned with flashing lights. Should he take you seriously?

Remember, this is Christmas, not Halloween, and this is a company event, not Vegas. What happens at the company party does not stay at the company party. So act and dress accordingly.

Do dress up. Wear a red dress mixed with some green flourishes; wear a vibrant Christmas scarf or candy-cane colored tie, or even a Santa hat (no bells or lights please). Pin a sprig of holly on your sports coat. Get into the spirit of the season with your wardrobe; just don't turn yourself into a cartoon.

As a visual guide of "don'ts" we've put together some of the most cringe-worthy Christmas party get-ups we were able to find. Happy holidays!

Shane O'Neill is Managing Editor for InformationWeek. Prior to joining InformationWeek, he served in various roles at CIO.com, most notably as assistant managing editor and senior writer covering Microsoft. He has also been an editor and writer at eWeek and TechTarget. ... View Full Bio

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Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
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11/21/2014 | 10:04:55 AM
You (rightfully) jest, but ...
It can be pretty stressful to decide what to wear to one's spouse's holiday party. Last year I opted for a less-dressy slacks option, and the company owner showed up in a sequined number. Doh.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
11/21/2014 | 10:26:22 AM
"Not to stereotype, but IT folks are not known for their fashion radar."
Shane, I never knew you had such fashion police ambitions.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
11/21/2014 | 10:29:40 AM
Re: "Not to stereotype, but IT folks are not known for their fashion radar."
Also: "Wear a red dress mixed with some green flourishes" - should I try that?
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
11/21/2014 | 10:30:49 AM
Re: "Not to stereotype, but IT folks are not known for their fashion radar."
Giorgio Armani's got nothing on me, Dave.
Susan Fogarty
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Susan Fogarty,
User Rank: Author
11/21/2014 | 10:33:45 AM
Re: You (rightfully) jest, but ...
True, but at a work social event for you or your spouse, I think you're better off to be underdressed than overdressed when it come to sparklies. I was grateful Shane didn't include a visual for the way-too-little little black dress or cocktail dress, that now is worn with impossibly big platform shoes. You don't want to be the one everyone is looking at because you have tiniest dress in the room. Pants make you blend right into the woodwork.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
11/21/2014 | 10:46:58 AM
Re: You (rightfully) jest, but ...
True, Susan. There were several extremely small dresses paired with extremely high shoes. Plus I got points for talking to a customer who tagged along -- his company makes a very interesting app and peripheral for 3D printing, and I knew what these items were. So bonus.
Susan Fogarty
IW Pick
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Susan Fogarty,
User Rank: Author
11/21/2014 | 11:25:06 AM
Re: You (rightfully) jest, but ...
You go, girl! In my book, it is far better to be remembered for something interesting you said than for the interesting way you looked :)
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
11/21/2014 | 3:11:19 PM
Bonus tip
Shane can dress for success with the best of them. Bonus tip, guys: Do not put so much "product" in your hair that you are likely to catch fire when standing by the fireplace. Nuff said.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
11/21/2014 | 7:21:38 PM
Re: You (rightfully) jest, but ...
Can't personally speak to slacks versus a sparkly dress, but I'd almost always prefer to be slightly underdressed when compared to the CEO. If someone doesn't like it, after all, I'm just the IT guy.
freespiritny25
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freespiritny25,
User Rank: Ninja
11/22/2014 | 4:19:17 PM
Re: 10 Holiday Party Attire Atrocities
Okay, I got it. No wooly christmas sweaters, antlers, clothes or accessories with bells or batteries. And I can't go in a diaper like baby new year. No hipster jeans. What to wear, what to wear!
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