Our foolproof guide to making a good impression
Words: Nhlanhla Masemola | Styling: Chris Viljoen | Images: Ian Engelbrecht
‘Tis the season to be festive, so everyone is running to their closets in search of something worthy to wear. Given that fashion can be a fickle business, it’s tough to know where to start, which is why we’ve compiled a thorough list of updates and essentials that will keep you looking fresh – without the need for a total style intervention. From swapping out your button ups and smart shoes for cuban collars and cool kicks, up your style by a few notches, just in time for all the festivities to come.
Wearing holiday cheer on your sleeve at the company party isn't always easy. If you're not quite ready for a bold jacket or patterned trousers, let your accessories do all the talking. One item to easily upgrade your office party look is a watch. Opt for a sleek watch that’s functional and fashionable, keeping in mind that a bulkier watch can easily read as less formal. Whatever your taste, a watch is the statement piece to subtly stand out at any special occasion.
In an office or at a black-tie event, it’s hard to find ways to look unique, but there are many traditional accessories that are stylish enough to do the job. These include tie clips, pocket squares, lapel pins and timepieces. And you can also add socks to that list. Patterned socks are more casual by nature and you should make sure the pattern works with the rest of your look. You might want to stay away from colourful socks for more traditional office spaces, but for a party, they’re the perfect place to subtly express yourself. Slip them on and show that you don’t take yourself too seriously all year round.
THE FORMAL SHIRT
A crisp shirt will never let you down. It’s versatile, timeless and can make you look elegant even when you may not feel it. It’s one of those staples that will save you at interviews, business meetings, weddings, funerals and everything in between. For a slightly fancier holiday office party, they are crucial. Swap out your work top with a buttoned shirt and you’ll be good to go.
THE CASUAL SHIRT
The beauty of a casual shirt is exactly that – it’s casual, so have a bit of fun and pair with some simple chinos. With the rise of streetwear, dress codes, too, are relaxing and it’s becoming more and more socially acceptable to wear whatever you please, within reason. The rule book of summertime style has been torn up. Never more so than at a less formal end-of-year function. How bold you go is entirely up to you. Simply wear it under your work jackets or bring it in bag to work and change a little later. Want something more smart casual? Try a golfer.
Jeans always feel so personal, through wearing and washing them to fit your body, with every tear and crease telling a little story. If you want to stand out confidently but casually at any event after a long day, why not go for a pair of your much-trusted, best-fitting denim jeans? If the dress code calls for tees and sneakers, jeans are your best bet. We recommend a darker wash without distressing to make you feel sharp and polished yet approachable.
THE SMART TROUSER
Even if you have only a passing interest in style, you will be familiar with smart pants. Trousers, like chinos, are some of the most versatile, hardworking trousers you can own in a foolproof closet, coming in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colours and price ranges. If you work in more traditional work spaces, you can enter your workplace in a pair and hop to the party all the same (depending on the dress code, of course).
THE SMART SHOE
It’s tempting to think of work shoes as Oxfords and Oxfords only, but there are many shades of formal when it comes to footwear. A pair of lace-up smart shoes in brown or black leather or suede is a timeless choice and work with many smart or casual outfits. Perfect with a suit for important business occasions or cuffed chinos or jeans for day-to-day office attire, they can easily take you into other evening occasions, too.
If the invite says sneakers are allowed, go for it. Sneakers have come a long way and currently combine retro and futuristic styles at the same time with aplomb. They are undeniably more off-duty, but can still look sophisticated with the right style of trousers. When in doubt, choose sneakers with charisma that will match – or even enhance – yours. Team them with a dark pair of jeans and get ready to dance the night away.