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What to wear to professional holiday parties…

Tis the season to look professionally festive for professional holiday parties!

eloise design co

We thought we would share some tips and gather some examples to help you impress. We want to help you be memorable for the right reasons. Unfortunately, we have seen where the holly jolly has overshadowed the professionalism. And we have heard from YOU that you struggle to find something fun, festive, yet appropriate. We also understand that you don’t want to buy a new outfit for each occasion. Some of us don’t have the money, time, or desire!

I get ALL of that!

But I also get that when you show up, you should SHOW UP. Be completely present and impress.

How to Gauge Formality

Before picking an outfit, you need to be aware of the formality of the event.

How do you do this?

  • Look at the invite for instructions on dress code (formal, semi-formal, dressy-casual, festive).

  • Look at the time for the event - the later the event, the dressier the event.

  • Ask someone who works at your company or someone who has been to the event!

Dress Code Broken Down:

Now that you know the formality of the event, you are probably wondering what it means! Here is a quick break down of the differences in dress for popular dress code terms.


Women: Full-length dresses and skirts or more luxurious fabrics for shorter skirts; accessorize with gemstones/diamonds and dressier heels

Men: Black Suit or Tux

Semi-Formal / Cocktail:

Women: Dresses, skirts, dressy jumpsuits - dressier than you would wear to work; keep your accessories in balance so you don’t look too formal

Men: Suit with jacket and tie


Women: Casual Dresses, skirts, pants, jumpsuits; be careful with denim

Men: Button-down tucked in with slacks

Festive Dressy (no tacky sweaters):

Think about incorporating holiday colors and prints to make it festive. You can wear clothes that you already own (black dress or dressier pants) and add a pop of festive in accessories.

Think red or sequin shoes, holiday printed tie, fun hat or headpiece, or a full holiday suit!


This is more about creativity. You are supposed to stand out! Just remember to be respectful when picking your tacky sweater. There are many online options that can be too revealing, have sexual innuendos, and cuss words. These are NOT appropriate for your professional parties.

3 Pieces of Advice for Picking Outfits

1. More is Usually Better

This is not the time to show your body. Be memorable for your class, not your *ss…

The # 1 fail that I see is ill-fitting dress clothes. Because we don’t wear these outfits often, we wear something from the back of the closet that may or may not fit well. I encourage you to take the time to analyze your outfit and make sure it fits well. This attention to detail makes for a memorable impression - for the right reasons!

If you are worried about the length of your skirt, the tightness of your dress, or the level of your neckline - ASK SOMEONE. If you are worried about it and self-conscious in your bedroom, it is probably not appropriate for a professional party.

And even if you are confident in your outfit, ask at least 1 person if everything fits you WELL.

Have someone check the following:

  • underwear line

  • bra showing

  • cleavage amount

  • skirt length (can you bend over?)

  • pant tightness - especially in the crotch area

  • the amount of skin showing

2. Utilize Staples, Add Festive Pieces

Use what you have first! A black dress can be dressed up with shoes, jewelry, a fun clutch, a shawl, a faux fur jacket, etc. Don’t feel that you need to buy a whole new outfit, just buy/borrow/rent a statement piece.

3. Borrow, Rent, or Invest

In the last couple of years, I have rented my formal and festive clothing from Rent the Runway. (this blog post is not sponsored - just my recommendation). I have rented formal dresses or just an accent piece like a fun blazer. This allows you to have some fun with your outfit while staying on budget. You can rent 1 item or you can sign up for a monthly membership. Let me show you some of the items we have been eyeing for this season!








This is not a sponsored post.

I do love the Rent the Runway brand and work closely with Campus Ambassadors for Rent the Runway.


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