The Christmas Dress Code: 9 Essential Guidelines for Looking Your Best at a Formal Holiday Event

It is the holiday season when festivities are underway which means you expect a series of invitations to all sorts of gatherings from office parties to formal dinners. The same way we benefit from looking smart and presentable going to work, dressing appropriately for a party can boost up your confidence levels and image.

But it can be confusing what to put on for which occasion with the many holiday season events. Here is a holiday attire guide to avoid confusion and dress right for every celebration.

1-Women’s Dress your best’ office party code

Many office parties use the “dress your best” code these days. This is strange, given that most holiday get-togethers occur during office hours or soon after work. So it means you still have to consider office attire as your baseline. One rule of thumb: You are still at work and an image of your company. Avoid showing too much skin as it can be inappropriate, unethical and even suggestive.

  • If possible add and switch to your office outfit this way:
  • In a bag, carry a spare pair brightly coloured shoes and a layering piece to work neutrals and monochromatic prints preferably.
  • Throw on a shiny, loose jacket (e.g., matte sequins)
  • Add a classy clutch

Remember, shine and sparkle always works for parties around the Christmas season. It may look even more sophisticated when assorted with matte fabrics and won’t look bright or loud if done carefully in one piece.

2-White Tie Dress Code

The white tie is often set aside for the most formal events. Here’s your guide (for men and women) to get their white tie right.

  • White Tie for Women
  • Floor-length evening gown
  • Long gloves
  • Dressy heel
  • A wrap (if it’s winter and cold)

Accessories for white tie

  • Classy matching jewelry
  • Embellished clutch

White Tie for Men

  • Black tailcoat (formal evening coat for men)
  • Same-colored slacks with single satin stripe (US), or double stripe (UK)
  • White piqué wing-collared shirt
  • White Vest
  • White bow tie
  • Braces (suspenders)
  • White gloves (or gray)
  • Black plain shoes (avoid leather loafers)
  • Black dress socks

3-Black Tie Dress Code

Black tie events need a formal dress code. Here’s a guide to help men and women dress for it.

  • Black Tie for women
  • Cocktail-length dress
  • Floor-length gown
  • Dressy heels
  • Accessories for black tie
  • Stylish jewelry
  • Embellished clutch

Black Tie for Men

  • Black tuxedo
  • Black bow-tie and cummerbund
  • White pique shirt with cufflinks
  • Suspenders (optional)
  • Black dress socks
  • Black plain shoes

4-Black Tie Optional

Here’s your guide for a black tie dress code for men and women.

  • Women’s Black Tie Optional
  • Floor-length gown
  • Cocktail dress
  • Silk pants (wide leg) and top (beaded)

Men’s Black Tie Optional

  • Dark suit or Tuxedo
  • Classic Tie
  • Dress shirt (white)
  • Leather dress shoes

5-The Creative Black Tie for formal parties

Unlike other formal holiday season event codes, this code allows you more freedom to dress uniquely. You can have more fun with your options in creative black tie, and both long and short are appropriate.

  • Try a long blank canvas-type dress
  • Pair a simple, solid-color dress in a material that’s more casual
  • Dressy heels
  • Accessories
  • Use bold jewelry (like Matte gold or bronze) rather than the old rhinestone variety.

Choose a material with sheen and draping to formalize your creative black tie attire enough, but one cotton jersey material will make you feel more comfortable and relaxed! The blend of the cut, color, beautiful jewelry and high heels appear creative but official. Alternatively, you could use a shorter dress and put it on with stylish or metallic flats (but not heels) to ensure you stand out and feel at ease throughout at the party. That way, you can dance all night and move around from place to place without putting a strain on your feet. Both ladies and men can add to their looks with accessories such as bright bow-ties, creative jewelry, socks, and other formal-looking accessories.

6-Cocktail attire

Cocktail fashion begins with a dark suit and a tie for men and a fancy cocktail dress for ladies. Cocktail dresses allow a little more skin to show whilst still sticking to the dress code, but many find showing more skin a little uncomfortable in front of colleagues, especially if you don’t feel like cocktail dresses flatter your figure. Luckily, there are many gorgeous plus size dresses available now for those who aren’t as thin as a rake. When the event is in a tropical climate, consider lighter clothing to makes sure you aren’t sweating while partying in the name of adhering to the dress code.

7-Festive fashion

It simply means dressing to impress. For men, a suit is just enough, but you are free to play around with fabric and color. Women, on the other hand, are free to let their personal style shine.

8-Business Casual

Do not confuse this with jeans and a t-shirt. Business casual, or dressy casual as most people call it features the following.


  • A sports coat,
  • Open-collar shirt,
  • Dress slacks,
  • Leather dress shoes


  • Dress or pantsuits or skirt-suit depending on preferences and the situation,

But dressy Casual also allows room for a pair of cool jeans and a lively blazer or sweater. Just make sure you look says “I spent some time pulling this attire together.”

9-Casual Wear

This is the dress code for a relaxed fun evening with your buddies. It is easy to master as long as you know the basic rules of blending clothes. Jeans and a well-fitting shirt is okay for men, and a pair of classic slim jeans, riding boots and a stylish sweater can do it for women. Accessorize casual wear with any fashionable jewelry as long as they match your dressing and do not look too formal for the get-together.

More tips for holiday season parties

  • Some fashion rules apply to all events
  • Clothes should be in good condition
  • Shoes should be polished to precision
  • Go easy on accessories and stick to the fabrics that match with the season
  • Women should keep away from anything too short, low-cut, short, or overly showing at office get-togethers.

Wrapping Up

Lastly, be sure to ask for clues from the hosts if the dress code is isn’t clear to you. No one wants to be the topic of fashion disaster discussions after an occasion.