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5 months, 19 days ago  |  Get Dressed

Rocking the Perfect Work Party Look

By Gretta Monahan

There’s one way you definitely don’t want to celebrate your bright career this holiday: By showing up at the office party either massively overdressed, tragically underdressed or dressed as if you might be ready to dance on a tabletop or expecting a bowling tournament.

The key to landing on a fantastically appropriate ensemble for your office fete is this easy: Take your first clue from your company’s overall culture (odds are a funky, casual atmosphere won’t be holding any kind of formal soiree); combine that with the way the invitation was issued and where it will be held (if it was via email as opposed to a paper invite, and if it’s at a bar/restaurant rather than a hotel private space, then odds are even better that you’ll have more room to improvise); and then add your own creative spin on the whole thing.

All that said, the time of day and type of party also figure into the equation. So use the following examples as guidance and inspiration.

1. The daytime on-site office party: This isn’t the time or place to show off your vast knowledge of avant garde fashion. (Remember: You’re still in the office, after all.) Go for a slightly more festive take on what you’d normally wear at your desk. For example: A favorite suit (skirt or pants), but with a ruffled silk blouse underneath. That kind of subtle ingenuity brings together office-appropriateness and a flash of fun. Diane Von Furstenberg currently has a terrific ruffled blouse that you’ll wear again and again ($285 at neiman marcus.com).

2. The after-work off-site party: Ready to get a little more offbeat? Here’s a great opportunity to reach for a gorgeous pair of satin pants. Depending on how you wear them, they can look oh-so-casual (with, say, a simple black T-shirt and black velvet flats), or thoroughly glam (with a tailored jacket and metallic, strappy heels). Nanette Lepore makes some that are definitely worth splurging on ($298 at saks.com).

3. The party at a fancy hotel: Rise to the occasion while showing some originality with a women’s tux — a la Katharine Hepburn, but with even more feminine flash. Try any of the designs by Stacey Bendet for Alice + Olivia, including fab sequined black pants, or other designers for tux shirts (browse on shopbop.com), and mix and match it with cool vests (they start at $40 at target.com).

4. The party at your boss’s house: Here’s where you bust out the classic LBD. (After all, unless you hang out at your boss’s place regularly or actually are the boss, it’s tough to tell what kind of environment you’ll be walking into.) One universally flattering, gorgeous one: Ralph Lauren’s off-the-shoulder sheath dress (on sale for $115 at lordandtaylor.com).

5. The party at a restaurant or club: Here’s the perfect excuse to show a little more festivity: Don a sleeveless velvet sheath over a sheer lace, long-sleeved blouse for a conservative but fun statement. If your firm’s a little more loosened-up, lose the blouse underneath, and simply add a beautiful, funky long necklace and a silk evening jacket. Vince makes an incredibly versatile silk-rayon velvet dress that looks incredible either way ($325 at saksfifthavenue.com).

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