The Formal Mix-Up: How To Dress For Your Holiday Party


The new way to dress for a holiday party is to pair formal with a little informal. The idea is to take an attitude that is sophisticated and nonchalant, and bring it together in one look.


Read the invite carefully – then go your own way. The “black tie” or “formal” dress code was created not as a guideline for stylish men but as a baseline for the sartorially unsure. A way for party-throwers to say, “Please don’t ruin our event by showing up in jeans and a t-shirt.” I say, if you know the rules, you’re free to break them. How? Well, start by wearing any color but the one everyone else will be wearing.


When you’re going to be rubbing shoulders with folks in formal attire, you should at least be within the same style ballpark. With that being said, you don’t have to wear all the traditional accoutrements. I’m talking about the ruffled shirt, the jewelry, a cummerbund, the patent leather shoes, and so on. Your holiday party look has already established that you’re going your own way. Continue down that path. Just make sure your shirt is crisp and you’re wearing a good pair of shoes.


To rent or not to rent

Renting a tux is a rip-off. Extraordinary prices for threadbare fabrics, adjustable waistbands, and knee-length pleats are the industry standard. And that’s not an industry that deserves your cash. I recommend buying something you can tailor to your own body.


Your suit or tux should be immaculately tailored. The pants should be tapered and your jacket should have high armholes and a nipped waist. People should be able to tell that you’re not just wearing a suit – you’re wearing your suit.



Adding the final touches

Your shoes don’t have to shine. Leather, suede and canvas have the opposite effect of a patent leather shoe – and that’s okay. Sport a pocket square if your jacket has a breast pocket. (You get bonus points if you play with unexpected colors and prints.) And lastly, bracelets and watches are fair game as long as you don’t overdo it.