The After-Hours Office Party
It’s that time of year when business and social mix more than any other season. If the venue of your office party is a restaurant or catering hall for an after-business-hours gathering, standard work attire generally won’t make the cut. An-amped up appearance meets the more-formal challenge. Some tips for dressing (and behaving):
1) Pay respect to invitation details and the occasion’s dress code. If it’s “Black Tie,” then only a tux or formal, dark-colored suit will do for men, and an evening gown or short, but elegant, cocktail dress is in order for women. “Cocktail attire” is more lenient and allows for a variety of dressed up clothing. Tasteful clothing (as you might wear to a wedding service), but with stepped-up glam fits the bill for a festive, holiday mood. “Business attire” means just that – a suit or other professional attire. Business Casual clothing won’t suffice unless an invitation reads “casual.”
2) Attention to detail and meticulous grooming says you have good sense and judgment. Can you comfortably adapt when circumstances take you outside of your familiar everyday work environment? The holiday office party is an opportunity for colleagues and business leadership to get to know one another on a new level. Be sure not to disappoint with poor or inappropriate choices.
For women, a holiday look in a festive evening environment calls for heavier makeup to compensate for the low-lighting of p.m. events; interesting accessories in dressed-up materials (unique evening bag, etc.); and a hairstyle adjusted to the formality of the event and attire (the everyday ‘do generally won’t cut it.). Guys will want to take the time for a shoe polish, clean shave, and groomed hands that match the occasion’s dressed-up mood and attire.
3) Avoid overtly sexual or revealing attire (i.e. excess display of cleavage). While the environment feels “social,” the occasion is a business event and the impression you make carries over to your workplace reputation (or that of your partner when you’re the guest at their work party). Show-stealing bling and drama translates as a scream for attention and a lack of regard for others — not at all the spirit of a team player.
4) Go easy when libations are flowing. “Eat, drink and be merry” the saying goes. So it’s party-time, right? Not so fast,… consider the consequences before wearing the lampshade on your head. Keep in mind the word “office” in “office party.”
A positive reputation in the minds of your supervisor or colleagues can be unraveled in a second with poor party behavior. Moderation is key in the “eating and drinking” arena. It’ll be difficult to make a good impression if you’re feeling poorly or lose your equilibrium. As for merriment, avoid off-color (politically incorrect) jokes or exclusive conversation. Sensitivity to your fellow party-goers goes a long way in positively reflecting your strength of character.
5) Practice damage control now to save regret later. The worst thing for your workplace image? Becoming intoxicated. This is hands-down the behavior most damaging to a professional image. From a practical perspective, if your judgment is impaired, you won’t be in the position to appropriately edit comments to your boss, the colleague who threw you under the bus last week, or the co-worker you dated last year. Keep your wits about you to avoid office party indiscretions and day-after regrets. Your professional reputation will thank you.
Coming up Next: When your office party is at the office.
More about style and occasion.