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.
THE DAYTIME WORK FUNCTION
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 COCKTAIL PARTY
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.
THE FORMAL AFFAIR
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.
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.