Three Tips for Professional Dress at the Holiday Party

12/15/2017 12:42 pm ET
Jake Dietrich

By: Kerry Cordero

Every year, this happens.

You’re invited to a holiday work party, after-work get together, or out for a networking event. But then, on the day of your outing, what happens as you attempt to get dressed? Do you rush out to the store during work to buy a new outfit? Do you leave everything to the last minute, rush home and try to pull something from your closet from things you’ve worn in past years? Do you have a meltdown and email an excuse about a big deadline or a flu-like feeling coming over you?

Ban those thoughts! Take a deep breath… that’s good… now let’s talk some style sense. There’s good news! You could actually be more prepared than you realize. And do not worry! Everyone goes through style breakdowns but you can learn to curb yours with a few tips about looking like “oh, wow!” instead of “oh, no!”

Easy and elegant, look and remember me. 

Don’t overcomplicate your outfit; instead, choose a suit or a dress in a dark, monochromatic color that makes you look glamorous. Now, add in one eye-catching focal point, whether that’s a great necklace, a wonderful neckline, an incredible belt or killer shoes. Finally, match your lipstick to your focus item, layer up your mascara and pull back your hair to show off your neck and cheekbones.

Go treasure hunting in your closet. 

You really can create a festive, party, or special occasion look based on things that are in your closet. Here’s how it’s done by an expert: visit your closet the weekend before the festive event and take a slow look at what’s there, including bags, scarves and shoes. Now, scan for glitter and shine. What do you see that’s shiny, silky, velvety, tasseled, zipped, has a chain, or is a glamorous shade of red? Don’t worry, you’ll find something! Those pieces tend to pop out of the closet because, well, they have pop, and they are the perfect start for making you pop out of the business crowd.

Use color to make a grand entrance. 

It’s so easy to wear black when you build your wardrobe around neutral, dark and serious suits that are appropriate for work. Your Image Coach’s recommendation? Take this chance to shine. Add some glam with bright or rich colors and don’t be afraid — it’s nighttime and you’re prepared! Get out any of these items that you already own, your red boots or pumps, lipstick, blouses or jackets. Now, here’s the glam part: wear two together. Whoa, you say? You can do it. The way to match two different colors is to make sure the texture of the fabrics are different or one of the items has a pattern to it. And if red is a little over-bright for you, try blush for a feminine and romantic evening feel.

And if you’re confused about making sure your outfit is professional, keep this expert tip in mind: wear only one. That means when you bare your skin for a work party or event, you only show off your arms, or only show off your legs or only show your décolletage. Just one. You get to make the choice of wearing a lower neckline, a sleeveless top, or a skirt with a hem at the mid to lower thigh. Remember my little rhyme: just one and your done, and not too-too fun.

And if you’re worried about keeping up your serious impression, then keep my other super tip in mind: polish is perfection. That means when you wear your finery for a festive event, you still attend to all the smallest grooming, tailoring and self-care details. Check your shoes and bag to be sure they are un-scuffed and cleaned, check your hems and pleats to make sure they are crisp and neat, check your hair and makeup to make sure it’s polished and fresh looking, check for stains and lint at the end of the day to be sure you don’t look worn, check your teeth for lipstick stains, and turn around in the mirror and check your back for lint and stains as well. Even at a party, dressed for the holidays, everyone still takes you more seriously when all your details are in order and elegant looking.

And remember, managing your self-talk is a big part of a successful event. So before you walk in, tell yourself you look special and you were thoughtful and purposeful about your outfit. Then don’t worry and let yourself feel good inside. When you give yourself that boost of confidence, you look and act comfortably whatever the setting you’re in.

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Kerry Cordero is an Image Coach who specializes in helping clients dress and express themselves in the most confident and bold way possible.  Her favorite moment is when her client's body language shifts, a slow smile grows and they see themselves not just looking beautiful in an outfit but also as bold and authentic.   Go to www.thefirstlookimage.com for more info and Link to her at https://www.linkedin.com/in/kerrycordero/

Ellevate Network is a global women’s network: the essential resource for professional women who create, inspire and lead. Together, we #InvestInWomen.

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