Christmas parties: How glamorous is too glamorous?

How do you go from your working day attire to getting your glam on in the office toilets? If it is a work-related event, how far do you take that glamour? Jackie O’Fee has some answers.

Heading into Christmas often means Christmas parties – not just your own, but also those of the clients and suppliers you do business with. 

While it’s always lovely to get an invitation to a special event it can also be challenging, especially when it is work related or straight after work. How do you go from your working day attire to getting your glam on in the office toilets? If it is a work-related event, how far do you take that glamour? Can you look ‘sexy’ or is that undermining your carefully maintained credibility?

For men, it’s actually quite easy. You can look the part by wearing a dark suit for the day and in the evening simply add a beautiful shirt that’s a step-up from your usual daywear: think crisp, textured white or something with a slight sheen in the fabric.

One thing that is absolutely key for men however is that your shoes be sufficiently dressy enough – no suede, no rubber soles, no trainers. Choose a leather pair with a bit of a sheen.  

For women, it is slightly more complicated. To save you schlepping your entire outfit to the office on the day of an event, here are my tips for getting ‘gala function appropriate’ directly from the office.

•On the day of the event wear a simple dark dress or pant suit. For daytime, add a brightly coloured jacket, a scarf and your normal working-day shoes and accessories.  

•If wearing pants, ensure they are slim-line enough to team well with a more glamorous shoe. 

•Take in your kit bag: strappy high-heels, jet beads and earrings (or other glamorous ‘evening’ jewellery), an evening clutch and a pair of sheer tights. If wearing pants, take a dressy top (that is, something beaded or silky/shiny).

•Take your make-up to touch up and intensify your daytime eyeshadow with darker shadow, add more gloss and consider putting your hair up. If this is beyond your skill-set, it is worth booking in to have your make-up and hair done. 

•Trade your daytime look for your night-time look by swapping your shoes, adding the jewellery, and replacing your normal handbag for your evening purse. 

•Step out and enjoy the evening.  

To the next point – how sexy can you take your look for a work event? I say tread a little carefully here, as you don’t want to be the topic of watercooler conversation for weeks following the event.

Yes, an out-of-hours function is a great opportunity to show a little more of who you are when not in the confines of a business meeting, but that should mean showing another facet to your personality rather than showing too much flesh. 

Think about the look you are portraying – sophisticated and elegant maintains who you are without compromising your credibility and, as such, will always win over anything overtly sexy. Head in that direction and you may find you come across as trashy and tarty, or even worse, desperate for attention. 

Remember too, that you are still ostensibly ‘working’ when attending an event such as this – keep your alcohol consumption to a level where you can still think straight and maintain your business status. As always in a working situation, keep your manners impeccable and lascivious thoughts to yourself. 

You can party hard with your friends, but it pays to be careful when with work colleagues or clients.

Yes, alcohol and social events can be great lubricators of business relationships, but your reputation as a ‘party animal’ will only take you so far and is certainly the last thing you want to be defined as in business.    


Jackie O’Fee is the owner of personal style consultancy Signature Style. She works with both individuals and organisations.

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