It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday, the regular crowd shuffles in… except it’s not a Billy Joel song - it’s the office Christmas party. The reason you can hear those lyrics is because Sam from Accounts is using your shoulder as a microphone. On the dance floor, your colleague Jane is dancing with the nice guy from the mail room. He’s wearing a tie in the shape of a reindeer and she’s wearing a dress that might fit your toddler. When she bends over to pick up an elf hat that fell off her head during the Macarena, you can see her underwear. It reads: “I saw Mummy kissing Santa”.
What happens to people at office Christmas parties? They seem to lose their minds, along with all sense of style. Festive hats, short skirts, neck ties that sing carols… there are certain things you just shouldn’t wear around the people who control your career. With the corporate party season already in train, this column serves as a timely reminder that when it comes to office Christmas parties, there are some serious fashion commandments - and if thou art smart, thou shalt follow them all.
1. Thou shalt not wear Christmas decorations instead of clothes
Tinsel instead of a belt, baubles as earrings, a chain of snowflakes where a necklace might have been… you’re kidding yourself – save it for the tree.
2. Thou shalt not wear red and white
“Hey Santa can you grab me another margarita while you’re at the bar?” Whoops! It’s not Santa. It’s Lucy from the Front Desk. This is a party, not a pantomime, and red and white is for candy canes.
3. Thou shalt not wear a dress that is smaller than a sheet of A3 paper
Know this: If you wear a dress that barely covers your bottom in front of your boss, the next time you have a performance review, ALL he or she will remember is that dress.
4. Thou shalt not wear a novelty sweater
Remember Colin Firth as Mr Darcy at the buffet table in the reindeer jumper? Google it and remember that not all women are as forgiving as Bridget Jones. If all you want for Christmas is a kiss under the mistletoe then avoid festive knits/shirts of any kind.
5. Thou shalt not bring your breasts as a plus one
There is nothing wrong with dressing sexily but for the love of rostered days off, please don’t put your boobs out on a shelf from which they fall off. Do you need the push-up bra tonight? Sure about that? The guy who sits two desks down will never recover - and nor will you when you discover he’s turned a close-up of your cleavage into a screen saver.
6. Thou shalt not wear a tie that plays music
Oh My God! That’s so hilarious when your tie lights up and sings Jingle Bells like Elvis! Except it isn’t. It really, really isn’t.
7.Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's
This is an actual commandment with no bearing on fashion whatsoever, but it’s one I strongly recommend adhering to at any office Christmas party.
8. Thou shalt not dress like a XXX-Mrs. Claus
This isn’t Halloween and you’re not Paris Hilton (see also commandment number 3). If dressing like a centrefold is not one of your KPIs, maybe reconsider the white fur-trimmed playsuit and suspenders.
9. Thou shalt not use a colleague's outfit as a napkin
This happened to me about five years ago. I was wedged between a chief sub-editor and a fashion assistant on a banquet in a restaurant. The latter was a little merry, a little emotional and her face was covered in spaghetti sauce. She mistook my white skirt for a napkin and let's just say that I unwittingly broke commandment number two.
10. Thou shalt not take this list too seriously
'Tis the season to be jolly, etc… but remember, Santa is always watching - and Tom Ford designed his suit.
Stuck for present inspiration? Check out our Christmas gift guides...