With the end of the year looming large, most people will be looking forward to their office Christmas party.
Aside from giving us the most tenuously connected of the recently spawned holiday-themed movie genre in Office Christmas Party, or headaches about how you can possibly avoid telling your colleague that they’re a constant disappointment to you after a few drinks, the party is a chance to gather with your co-workers and, hopefully, talk about something other than how much toner is left in the photocopier.
Yes, choosing what to wear to the festive shindig is a first world problem, but it is not as simple a task as it may seem on the surface. If you work in a place where wearing a suit and tie is the every day norm, then that won’t cut it, while if you workplace is a bit more casual you don’t want to go too over the top for the party.
Here are a few pieces that will make your look stand out from the crowd on the night.
Even if you do wear a suit to work every day, stepping up your game for the Christmas party (and keeping a great piece in your wardrobe for your next job interview or formal event) will still be noticed.
The double-breasted look has been making a big comeback in recent years, and Hackett’s grey Prince of Wales check take on it is a perfect example of it at its best – if your budget allows you to stretch this far. The touch of light blue through the check can be picked up with a tie or pocket square, while the wide peak lapels give the suit a time-honoured, classic aspect.
Shopping around a bit, you can still get a great Hackett suit in the same vein for a lower price. Keeping with the Prince of Wales check, this time in navy, the standard notch lapel may be a bit more suitable if you want to go slightly more conventional.
If check isn’t your thing and you still want to stand out, then try going smaller – at least when it comes to the pattern on your chosen look. Selected Homme have a take on this in grey which can even be dressed down with a t-shirt and smart trainers for a more casual affair after the hangover subsides.
Tommy Hilfiger’s suits are hugely underrated for the price, in particular if you can catch your size in a sale. People will notice the difference, and you will always feel more confident in a good quality suit. This wool and silk blend number still has a hint of a pattern with a fleck through it, although it is subtle enough not to dominate the piece and make it look too casual. It also means you can split the blazer and trousers to wear them separately with jeans or a t-shirt, meaning you get great bang for your buck here.
With all of these options, you can buy off the peg, but allowing yourself some time before the day to get it adjusted will really make it work best.
If your workplace has decided to go down the more formal route and your event is black tie, you can still pull it off in a relaxed way…just don’t verge too far down the boyband route and end up looking like the guy who was told to wear his tie loose so he could be the “rebel” in the band. Here, three of the lads got the same memo and now there are just too darn many cool dudes in this picture. Where’s the straight shooter who plays by the rules?
Pretty much any blazer with a shawl lapel can do the job of a tux if you’re in a tight spot, and this skinny cut from Farah is a nice, modern take on the look that can also be worn with dark denim for a night out. If you want to go without a tie (or bow tie), this will still be a smart ensemble when matched with a waistcoat.
Massimo Dutti do a range of quality formalwear that won’t break the bank, and besides, having a tuxedo ready to call on when it’s needed can’t be a bad thing. They describe it as a very dark navy, and it eschews the aforementioned shawl for a classic notch on the lapels. Styling it simply with a white shirt and a neat white pocket square is a guaranteed way to to tap into this iconic style. Think James Bond, but on a slightly smaller budget.
If you party is a decidedly more casual affair, then you should avoid Christmas jumpers like the plague. Although a shirt and jeans is a pretty standard option, pay attention to the details and you won’t end up in the ever-dependable uniform that we all turn to when heading out of a weekend.
Jack and Jones have a wide range of styles and fits on offer in denim, and a particular favourite is the unwashed look. The styles range from skinny to more relaxed fits, but if you’re unsure then the Glenn – a slim cut – won’t steer you wrong. Opting for unwashed not only adds a vintage aspect to your jeans, but also allows you to establish your own, unique patterns as you break them in over time.
When it comes to shirts to pair with this look, working with blocks of colour rather than prints or patterns is the best way to go. A clean, crisp white shirt with a penny (Penguin) or a China collar (Selected) is an unusual touch, while a pair of leather or suede boots completes a simple but standout look.
Penguin have always been a favourite for polos and shirts, but they are tapping into their roots with some interesting designs this season. The roots of vintage Americana that inspired their brand come through strongly, typified by the Earl polo, which works perfectly with a pair of jeans and a smart bomber jacket. Equally opting for this waffle front navy number, or a plain black long-sleeved version will allow you to match with jeans pretty easily, still giving you those easy colour blocks to work with.
A QUICK WORD ON NOVELTY SUITS
For the love of all that is held sacred to whatever religion you may or may not have, do not wear a novelty Christmas suit anywhere, to any public place, at any time. You know the ones; with snowmen and christmas trees on them, in garish shades of green or red that are normally reserved only for tinsel.
If you are considering buying one, then pause for a moment, and think about why you would want to look like you were stopping in for a drink on your way Santa’s funeral. And even if that were the case, it would be a wildly inappropriate outfit choice, and you should show a bit of bloody respect to the dead.
You may think the novelty suit is ‘great craic,’ but it serves only to let everyone else in the building know that they needn’t waste time or air talking to you – a pressing concern given the impending Trump presidency, as this could be our last Christmas together as a planet. The only person who will talk to you by choice on the night is the other guy who arrived in a novelty suit, because he is secure in the knowledge that you’re both arseholes. Don’t do it.