What to Wear to a Work Cocktail or Dinner Party

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You’ve got a cocktail party or a work dinner on the horizon and you’re just starting to think about what you’re going to wear. Should I go with a dress and heels or should I go a bit more casual? Should I break out the 3-piece suit or will a blazer and jeans do the trick? There are so many options to consider and there’s not one single finite answer. It is important to keep in mind however, that what you wear says a lot about you as a person.

When planning your cocktail or dinner party outfit, there are a few things to think about, even if you aren't trying to make a fashion statement. Chances are, you either want to stand out for the right reasons or you want to avoid standing out for the wrong reasons.

Here is a brief list of things to consider:

  • Dress for the situation. Are you going out with the ladies or is this a work-associated event? Also, what is the weather like? Will you be outside?
  • Keep it appropriate. Overly revealing outfits or visible undergarments can be distasteful and distracting when meeting new people. We also recommend staying away from ripped or overly distressed jeans.
  • Don't underdo it. Everyone loves jeans, but they probably won't cut it if the event or the venue calls for formal attire. Slacks or trousers are a nice bump in formality and can be very effective.
  • Don't overdo it. A few small accessories can make an outfit, but don't let them overwhelm it. And if the theme of the party is “casual” there’s no need to wear a full suit.

Choose an outfit and a couple of accessories to accentuate. A few accessories that could work in various situations include:

  • A nice watch and/or bracelet
  • Tie bar
  • Pocket square
  • A clutch purse
  • A necklace
  • Earrings

Always review the points above when choosing an outfit. Above all, use common sense. Anything that you would wear around the house on your day off isn't something you're going to want to wear to a work party.