The holiday season is upon us and with it comes maxed out credit cards, deciphering Christmas gift hints, and holiday parties. Even though one of those is actually enjoyable, you still don’t come out unscathed — unless you have a little too much eggnog.
Sure, the intention of Christmas and holiday parties are to be a fun way to get together with friends, family, and coworkers and let loose. But there’s a darker side to holiday parties — and it’s not Steve in Accounting’s drunken dance moves.
It’s the dress code.
Most hosts list what attired you’re expected to wear to their holiday shindig. As if trying to figure out what to get your special lady for Christmas isn’t enough confusion for you during the holidays.
Well, have no fear. We’re here to help.
Check out our holiday guide to men’s fashion in 2018. You’ll never worry about the differences between “black tie” and “cocktail” ever again.
Men’s Fashion in 2018: Holiday Dress Code Guide:
Decoding the holiday dress code for men isn’t always easy. You can ask your lady what all the dress codes mean and likely have in the past.
Or, you can surprise her this year by picking out your attire on your own. There are six main dress codes and you’ll soon see you’ve been overcomplicating it this whole time.
Let’s start out with the easiest one: the “festive” party. This attire is going to be casual, but calling it “casual” isn’t very creative.
You don’t have to break out the ugly sweaters — unless you’re invited to an “ugly sweater party,” of course. But, sweaters can be a classic and casual look perfect for a holiday get-together.
Choose colors that are seasonal like red, green, and white, but go with deeper shades as opposed to bright ones. If you’re the life of the party, be bold and go with tartan plaid.
If you’re more of an understated guy, keep with solid colors and add a touch of the holiday spirit to your socks.
If your company opts to have a holiday party during your lunch break, you probably don’t have to worry about your dress code. You’ll already be in your business attire.
But, if your boss decided to go off-campus for the company Christmas party, you may not be too sure what to wear. Keep it business casual if the dress code isn’t mentioned.
This means a nice blazer with an optional tie. Wear a button-down shirt with festive colors and a pair of slacks. Finish off your look with some loafers or moc boots.
If you think your holiday office party will lean heavily to the casual side, a nice pair of dark, designer jeans (no holes!) can also work.
Pro tip: If you’re attending your holiday office party and booze will be involved, limit your alcohol intake. Every holiday party should only have one Steve and you don’t want to be him.
Cocktail is the same as semi-formal. Think about what your wife or girlfriend will wear. She probably bought a dress or skirt either at or just above the knee. This is opposed to the floor-length gown she wore to your brother’s fancy-schmancy wedding.
See a correlation?
You’re going to want to follow suit (no pun intended) in your own way, of course. We’ll break it down into tie and no-tie.
A no-tie look works for cocktail attire if you rock a dark tailored suit with a white button-up.
If you’re a tie-guy, bypass the suit and opt for slacks and a button-up instead. Throw on a blazer and you’re ready to go.
Don’t go with a boring black tie, though. Find a darker color that works for both the holidays and the rest of the year. Learn more about different patterns and materials and what looks best on you before deciding.
Accessories will really add the finishing touches to your look. Shine up your Oxfords, wear a nice analog watch, and even get yourself a pocket square. You’ll look suave and confident as soon as you walk into the party.
4. Black Tie:
Remember when we said the festive dress code was the easiest? We lied. It’s actually “black tie” for one simple reason.
Black tie means tuxedo. Now, you may not have a Tom Ford tux hanging in your closet, and that’s fine. You can either rent a tuxedo or go with a tailored three-piece suit instead.
5. Black Tie Optional:
If “black tie” is the easiest, “black tie optional” is usually the most confusing.
No, it doesn’t mean wear what you want — we know you’d rather wear sweats and a hoodie.
It means you can wear a classic tux or something a little more creative. You can wear suspenders and a bow tie or a funky three-piece suit.
As long as you keep it formal, you should be just fine.
6. White Tie:
We’ve covered five dress codes so far and you’ve probably had no problem following along. Until now.
“White tie” may sound like nothing you’ve ever heard of, but the truth is, you have. It’s like black tie on steroids.
White tuxedo tie, jacket with tails, the whole nine. That’s what someone means when they tell you it’s a “white tie event.”
Unless you’re a celebrity or attend the Vienna Opera Ball every year, you likely don’t own this kind of tux. You, of course, can rent one. And no, it won’t be cheap.
The bright side is that the traditional foot attire for white tie is velvet slippers, which will at least have your feet feeling like they’re wearing sweats.
You’re Ready to Be the Fashionister of Every Holiday Party:
Now that you’re up to speed on the men’s fashion in 2018 holiday dress codes, you should have no problem looking like a Hollywood A-lister on your own.
But, if you still need some helpful tips, check out our 7 fashion tips exclusively for men.