The office holiday party is no dress-up occasion

“We are asked to wear ‘festive’ clothes and there is always a wonderful display of disgusting Christmas sweaters, which I avoid wearing if I can.” That’s what Lydia Yadi, 30, a senior editor at a large publishing conglomerate, said of her office holiday party.

In the new age of hybrid work, corporate dress codes have faded, making the nuances of what to wear for the office party even harder to navigate. Yadi’s fix this year is a crimson velvet suit with a camisole underneath, or his old “go-to”, a green velvet mini dress with a high neckline that is suitable for a big party with everyone in the crowd. guest publishing house.

But more of us will be treading new ground – or perhaps thin ice – as many corporate events take different forms in the age of Covid. Anna Berkeley is a former Prada and Selfridges buyer who now styles private clients, many of whom work in the corporate sector. Several have recently asked for her help dressing for newly shrunken evenings happening at the office or department level, with unspecified dress codes.

Frame one-button blazer, £ 617, frame-store.com

Frame mini pants, £ 362, frame-store.com

“The men are really casual now, not in suits, maybe a shirt with a sweater, and I think a lot of women have struggled with that,” Berkeley says. “It’s so much easier to be smart and harder to be smart / laid back. You don’t want to be too casual, because that hits the wrong note.

She suggests increasing the focus on accessories as a simple way to go from day to night. “Change up your makeup, add more mascara or lipstick, and add huge jewelry, big earrings or a big necklace. It’s low-key, but it does something to show that there is an effort there.

For the best jewelry edition in London, visit Felt on Chelsea Green (feltlondon.com). Founder Eliza Poklewski Koziell’s stock is a mix of notable second-hand finds and new jewelry from a range of smaller designers, as well as her own designs. You can sell your own jewelry there on store credit, and it also offers jewelry rentals.

Marni black pearl chandelier earrings, £ 140, feutrelondon.com

I visited last weekend and Poklewski Koziell showed me a shiny box full of Christmas tree brooches (from £ 25), which were on the good side of kitsch, unlike an elf polyester sweater . She also has a few vintage Givenchy gold chain necklaces (£ 350 each) that would look great with a simple black dress, and a pair of black pearl chandelier earrings by Marni (£ 140) that could be worn with n anything from an evening gown to your everyday couture.

Corporate lawyer Natasha Ong, 34, expects “more casual chic than full-fledged glam” at her team’s sit-down dinner followed by a drink, “because I think Christmas are still a little reduced this year “. However, she still plans to wear “something shiny,” namely a sequined skirt with a simple shirt and heels – for her, at least, these are still part of her work wardrobe.

This solution to the chic / casual problem is a good one: choose a standout single piece to mix with more neutral clothes. Taller Marmo’s El Pareo midi skirt (£ 670, matchesfashion.com), in red and black floral jacquard with long fringes that move beautifully, is quite impactful on its own – wear with a white shirt or black mesh sweater fine. Totême’s black wool-silk-blend blazer (£ 590, net-a-porter.com) is a party-friendly iteration of this tailoring staple with a slight sheen to the fabric and a self-tie belt. size, and could be worn with the matching pants as a suit, over a pair of jeans or a silk dress – my favorites are Bias Editions (£ 215, biaseditions.com).

Totême belted wool and silk-blend blazer, £ 590, net-a-porter.com

“This season we’ve made a conscious effort to provide party pieces with more versatility,” says Libby Page, Senior Market Editor at Net-a-Porter, “like a Lurex knit for the evening that can also be stripped down. with jeans or a velvet dress that can be worn during the day with flat ankle boots It is certainly not a casual party look, but rather choosing the right pieces, which can enhance the casual items.

Working from home has hit heel wearing hard, but maybe the office Christmas party will change that. One of Net-a-Porter’s bestsellers last week was a pair of Amina Muaddi’s crystal-adorned four-inch heels (£ 850, net-a-porter.com, although they are now out of print). The Outnet has a great selection of party shoes, whether you’re looking for crystal-adorned skyscrapers or something a little closer to those slippers. Magda Butrym’s red velvet mules fall somewhere between Fragonard’s “The Swing” and Mother Christmas (was £ 708, now £ 354, theoutnet.com).

But there are those who seize the opportunity to give their all after so long spent wearing sportswear, and who feel confident enough to dress like new, whether the dress code requires it or not. Liane Wiggins, Head of Women’s Clothing at MatchesFashion, said: “Customers focused on the resumption of party and dress up, and the market really reacted to that too, so the offer was even wider. than normal. “

Renting makes sense for those looking for an over the top and fabulously frivolous outfit for one night only. “After Christmas Day and New Years Eve, Christmas in the office ranks as the third most popular reason to rent,” said Victoria Prew, managing director and co-founder of the fashion rental platform Hurr. “We expect a strong all-weather demand for sequined dresses, trendy pockets, feathers and lace. ”

Saloni Bow Dress, £ 60 for rent, hurrcollective.com

Prew will wear a printed silk dress by The Vampire’s Wife with a pair of low-heeled mules to throw his company party this week, cocktails and canapes at their concept store on Chelsea’s King’s Road (£ 1,395 new, but available for hire from £ 95, hurrcollective.com). Velvet is a high performing category, and the group’s choice is Saloni’s black velvet midi dress finished with oversized beaded knots (£ 600 new, rentals from £ 60).

To shop I found the beautifully cut wide leg Montana jumpsuit in plush burgundy or black velor blend at Jane (£ 880, janeatelier.com). Frame’s bright red velvet suit could be worn separately since Santa’s season (£ 617 and £ 362 respectively for the blazer and pants, frame-store.com). Mother of Pearl has a beautiful black dress with faux pearl buttoned sleeves for an always subtle decoration (£ 325, motherofpearl.co.uk). A few steps away from that, everything is trimmed with feathers: 16Arlington’s mini-dresses are must-haves, and just a little showgirl (£ 705, net-a-porter.com).

Some of us will miss the big office parties that have thousands of people; I suspect many will not. There certainly hadn’t been any networking on my last night, where someone at the director level left within the first 10 minutes. But the sequins are worth keeping, dress codes are worth dusting off. For my part, I’m nostalgic for the buzz in the ladies’ restroom in the hours leading up to the party, where a fine mist of deodorant and hairspray thickened the air and some glitter lingered on Monday morning.

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