Saturday, December 08, 2007

Ask CapHillBarbie: Holiday Fete Edition

Hello, and welcome to another exciting edition of Ask CapHillBarbie! This is a portion of our programming where I invent a question and answer myself as a way of interrupting my usual stream of consciousness posting.

On with it, eh?


I am at a total loss this year. This is my first year on my own with a real job and a boyfriend who has a real job, and we have been invited to at least three different holiday parties with differing dress codes. Help me! I don't know what to wear to any of them!!

Love and kisses, Standing around in my Underwear Looking at my Closet.

Ah, Standing. I understand completely about the first year in the real world where people actually expect you to show up at a holiday party and make small talk about the situation in Darfur, as opposed to getting assfaced on Christmas Tree Jello Jigglers and smooshing your tongue all over someone under what you thought was mistletoe, but was really just a dust bunny.

Holiday parties tend to fall into three general categories: the work function which takes place during the day and no alcohol is served, the cocktail party in the evening, and the formal affair. I will tackle each in order of fanciness.


If you work for the government, this might be the function you attend. It can entail lunch, afternoon snacks, or what have you, but the general theme is that you will have been, or are expected to be, working for at least part of the day, and there is no liquor.

Therefore, since you will be working part of the time, you must dress for work, but I feel that it's ok to take it down a notch. Notice I said A NOTCH. This is not the time to break out your jeans and Uggs or show up in a thigh high mini that would make Ann Coulter blush.

Appropriate for this would be, a sweater dress with knee high boots, nice pants worn with a casual top, or, if you must wear jeans, make them dark and tailored. And pair them with something dressier on top.

Dressier...not sluttier. Seriously people, it's your office, not a bordello.

Keep in mind when picking an outfit that these are your colleagues and, due to the lack of drinky-drinks, they will remember if you bend over to pick up a mini quiche and your shirt is cut so low they can tell if you wear an underwire.


The party of choice for most law firms and other assorted offices that operate to earn a profit. This often takes place either at the office, but after normal work hours, or at a restaurant. Food is served, and so are drinks, but you are not expected to make a night of it. If you are going straight from work, pull one of those things that Glamour is always talking about. Wear a nice skirt or pants, a camisole and a jacket. Then take off the jacket.

If you have a chance to go home first, change into something that you might wear to a fancy dinner with your parents. Re: fun, dressy, but nothing crazy fancy.

For these functions, I'm a huge fan of a sheath dress with a sick pair of shoes. Especially if I am attending as a guest and this isn't my own work party. Everyone complements you on your shoes.


This is the time to pull out all the stops. These are relatively rare, so live it up. Often held on a Friday or Saturday night, as opposed to a weeknight, so you have lots of time to prep. If you happen to think you may be invited to one of these, make sure you have a no-fail formal dress in your closet. And the one you wore to prom or to that semi-formal you went to in college or grad school will not cut it.

However, even though the invitation may say formal, please only wear long gowns if you know that this is like a Ball or the President is going to be there or something.

Also, this becomes a major issue at holiday time due to the weather but I want to say this loud and clear.

Do not. Under any circumstances. Wear open toed shoes. With stockings.


Not ever.

I don't care.


I've heard all the excuses and they suck. Look, if you want to wear open toed shoes in the winter, you suck it up and freeze like the rest of us. If the event or the people attending are so conservative that you MUST wear stockings, you wear black sheer and with CLOSED TOE SHOES. End of story.

I'm sorry for the ALL CAPS. I just feel very strongly about this. I really think there is nothing worse than being out and seeing a beautiful girl in a pretty dress and then looking down to see her seam of her suntan hose sticking out of her strappy sandals.

Ok, so that's my primer on dressing for your holiday party needs.


Heather said...

I have to know how you feel about opaque tights with peep-toes.

Parisjasmal said...

Love this post.

Cracks me up how you "invent" your own question--Brill!!

I agree with you on the hose with open toed shoes--further more when it is -10 degrees and snowy open toed shoes are nary an appropriate shoe least to me.

Thanks for the laugh this morning. We are expecting a pretty bad ice storm so I was feeling kinda blue--but your wit perked me up!

Have a great day!

Justice said...

Just a suggestion for readers - invest in versatile black heels. If you're lucky, you can find something that looks simple and classy enough to work in a professional and formal setting. I happened to come across a pair of black Nordstrom heels that looked great with a black strapless dress and will work well for a summer job or internship. Sadly, the shoes are no longer available on :(

Anonymous said...

Ok, my question:

I just got engaged and want to know what beauty and maintenance routines I need to pick up. I am fairly low maintenance, but don't mind splurging a bit to make sure I look good for the big day. Any advice?

Leanne said...

Thank you for nixing the open-toed-shoes-with-hose look! I couldn't agree more, and it's essential advice for any gal ...

Johanna said...

I'm going to be the lone voice of dissent on the tights/peeptoes issue. I don't think there is a right or wrong answer when it comes to doing this, unless the hose you're wearing is anything less than *super* opaque. Sheer is just not good all-around -- doesn't keep you warm and reminds me of older women at church. I love wearing black tights with gray suede peep toes or gray tights with burgundy peep toes. Or black with black, of course.

Different tastes for differet people, I suppose.

caphillbarbie said...

Point of clarification: Stockings to me indicate the sheer hose style, tights are opaque.

When I was talking about the open-toe/stocking combo, I meant sheer stockings, not tights. My personal feelings on sheer stockings in general is that, unless you HAVE to, don't. It is a little 80's/Brooke Astor.

Tights are a whole other story. I love opaque tights. Love love love. I am actually pleased that people are finally coming around to the idea of a dressy dress with opaque tights too.

As for the tights with peep-toes, I think it can be cute on the right person, however that person is not me. If you are that person, rock on.

Heather said...

WhooHoo. I will revel in the fact that I rock my tights and peeps all the time. one of my favs is black tights with super-pale pink peeps - i love channeling my inner ballerina.

A suggestion: BR makes these awesome black tights with either silver or gold metallic thread in them - so awesome and a perfect evening option.

Anonymous said...

I really need help with my hair for a holiday party. Where should I go to get an updo in Georgetown? Thanks

becka said...

If you feel the need to wear (nude) hose with open toed shoes, they do make some that actually have the toes cutout, I use these occasionally in the chicago cold, cuz almost all of my cute shoes are open toed (impractical, i know)

lisa ( said...

Yeah, hose with open-toed shoes is just wrong. Besides, if you drive or cab to and from the event and you're indoors most of the time, plus the sidewalks are shoveled and salted down, open-toed shoes aren't that bad.

The Fashionable Kiffen said...

Thank you!

Opaque tights with peep toes = yes, provided the tights are truly opaque and the shoes in question are sturdy/substantial enough to wear with tights.

Wearing obviously summery shoes with any kind of hosiery = NO. Yet I see women doing it all the time (and I live in Chicago, where it is definitely too cold for strappy sandals now).

Elisabeth said...

Fantastic post! Wonderful to read (especially when I should be working...)

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