A handy guide to attending with style—no matter the occasion.
Holiday parties, especially New Year's parties, can be all over the map when it comes to dress code. Especially when anything in the ballpark of "creative black tie" or "business casual" is involved. Whether it's an upscale event or something low key, here are eight style tips to get you through the holiday's festivities.
TIP NO. 1 - PUT YOUR OWN SPIN ON BUSINESS CASUAL
Unless you're going to a wedding or (wince) a theme party, the invite isn't going to tell you what to wear. You can either ask the host (if he's a friend) or just put your own spin on business as usual. A sharply cut (read: non-work) suit minus the tie is an always-reliable style choice.
BUSINESS CASUAL OPTION #2
Another option is to mix high and low, like dark jeans with a smoking jacket. This way you'll land right in that sweet spot where you don't feel too dressed up or too casual.
TIP NO. 2 - GET ADVENTUROUS WITH LIGHTER JEANS
Jeans at parties: Why the hell not? Lighter jeans are always more casual looking than darker ones, so if you do go light (or even distressed) with your denim, balance it out with a dark blazer and a (tucked-in) collared shirt.
TIP NO. 3 - BRIGHTEN UP THE PARTY
If you really want to wear a suit and tie, but don't want to blend into the crowd, ditch your traditional navy suit and try a bolder shade of blue. It'll grab just the right amount of attention, but without making you look like a cartoon.
TIP NO. 4 - A TURTLENECK CAN BE YOUR BEST FRIEND
The turtleneck is the best not-too-dressy, not-too-casual alternative to a collared shirt at your disposal. If—big if—you do it right. Go dark (black works, though darker blues and reds are less severe), and layer a blazer over it. And never tuck it in.
MIX IT UP WITH SOME CONTRAST
Ain't no shame in keeping things simple, but for a bolder look, try layering on the patterns and textures. The key to success is contrast: This pairing of wool, cotton, and silk works because none of the textures are too similar; the pileup of patterns looks good because of the varying scale of each.
TIP NO. 6 - DITCH THE WORK SUIT
Give your work suits a break and look for a suit that's cut a little closer, a little shorter, and a whole lot sharper. Some folks might call it a cocktail suit. We prefer to think of it as a suit you wear because you want to, not because you have to.
TIP NO. 7 - A THREE-PIECE FOR JUST SHY OF FORMAL
If the invite says "black tie" (or "black tie optional" or "alternative black tie"), that means "black tie." But for something only slightly less formal, a three-piece power suit is a very fine choice indeed.
TIP NO. 8 - AND OF COURSE, YOU CAN NEVER GO WRONG WITH A TUX
Sure the invitation might say "black tie optional," but why skip out on an opportunity to wear the single most flattering thing a man can wear.