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What to wear to the office party

...or any other holiday gathering

It’s great to have a friend who’s also a professional image consultant with legit chops. Knowing we’re all a little stressed about holiday attire this time of year – what with holiday office parties and family gatherings looming, I corralled my pal Lee Heyward for some guidance on how dress appropriately this holiday season.

Image expert Lee Heyward

Style consultant Lee Heyward

Holiday Party Fashion Tips from a Professional Stylist 

Me: What's the biggest mistake we make when dressing for holiday parties and events and how can we avoid it?

Lee: The biggest mistake I see is people feeling like they "have to" wear certain things because it’s a certain function. I truly believe in dressing for the occasion, but make sure you’re being true to yourself at the same time.

So how do you address the age-old conundrum: "what to wear to the office holiday party"?

Cute picture from a holiday office partyThe most important thing about a holiday work party is to remember that you are always at work, even if the location is somewhere else. Dress in a way that helps you maintain your professionalism and personality. This is not an opportunity to show off your wild side, because everything you do, even outside of work, reflects on how people view you.

Shiny is a recurring wardrobe theme this time of year. If we don't feel like busting out the lamé, what's the best way to add some shine or sparkle to the old holiday wardrobe?

I love playing with accessories to add holiday pizzazz. You can add a strappy sandal and a bold necklace to transform a dress you find for work into a party-worthy style. Accessories are a great way to get more versatility out of your favorite thrift store find, too.

Right. I’ve seen some fun seasonal tie-clips, pins and scarfs or handkerchiefs on out there, too.

Now, let’s talk about plaid, which is having its annual moment. What's your best advice for doing it stylishly?

Don’t overdo it. Adding a dark jean or black velvet pant to a favorite plaid keeps it sophisticated and chic.

Some of people bust the budget on holiday themed clothes they can wear only a few days a year. What's a better plan for creating a holiday wardrobe?

A cute snowflake pinPut your money in pieces and accessories that help make the outfits you already have more versatile. Calculate the cost per wear of an item to help make a purchase decision. Simply take the cost of the item and divide it by the number of times you think you’ll wear it.

Let me put in a shameless plug here for the Image Edge calculator you have on your website. What a cool way to figure out how much it makes sense to spend on style.

A truly ugly holiday sweater vestNow, one last question: If there was one wardrobe item you could ban for the holidays, what would it be?

I have to say holiday sweaters and vests. I know they’ve made a huge comeback, but they’re now so common it’s almost taking the fun out of them.

Learn more about dressing smart from Lee’s super helpful book, Strategically Suited.

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