While there are several events and gatherings to look forward to throughout the year, the formal Christmas party, whether it’s at the office or among friends and family, is perhaps one of the most exciting parties of the festive season. 

Looking stylish yet sophisticated and not overdressed can be a hard nail to hit on the head when planning your attire for the evening as you don’t want to seem daffy or ill-considered of the dress code. Striking that balance can feel like a tedious endeavor, especially if you are someone who doesn’t necessarily attend formal events for much of the year. 

Whatever the event calls for, if it’s black-tie, cocktail, business casual, or even smart casual – taking a bit of time to put together a stylish outfit that allows you to look your best while still having fun can quickly become an easy task you will be able to tackle in no time. 

Things You Must Consider

Before we dive right in, when planning your Christmas party outfits, or shopping around for the right pair of pants, or a sophisticated dress, take a look at some of the factors you will need to consider beforehand.


Much of the time, people tend to plan their attire based on the physical event, such as the theme or even the color scheme may be. While this is an important consideration, it’s also more important to consider the physical location or setting where the event will be hosted. 

Have you been invited to an indoor or outdoor Christmas party, and if so, how can you dress appropriately yet formally at the same time to ensure your look sophisticated while dressed down enough to have a bit of fun? 

If the event is taking place outside, and it’s a formal dress code, you might want to dress down a bit, either a looser fit suit or a more neutral-colored dress. It’s important to see how well you can blend with the environment while still maintaining a strong contrast against the surrounding background. 

Time of day

The time when the party will be taking place is also an important consideration, as this will help you prepare your attire according to the events that will occur throughout the gathering. 

For an evening party, try to go with darker colors, such as black, gray, or red. You can also collaborate your attire with the festive Christmas colors, which are often dark green, deep red, and gold. 

If the event is taking place during the day, you might want to look for colors and patterns that are more neutral and light, while still within the spectrum of the Christmas color scheme. 

In terms of the dress or suit, you’ll be choosing, try to go a bit more formal for evening events, while a day party can be a bit more casual. 


Weather also makes it difficult sometimes to dress appropriately, as you never know what to expect. In this case, if you already know where and when the event is taking place, depending on the weather, you can either dress a bit down or add a faux fur jacket or coat in case it gets colder throughout the festivities. 

Always make sure to take a formal coat and jacket with you when you are attending a formal Christmas party; not only does it help you to be prepared for the worst possible weather conditions, but it also helps you to know whether you might feel a bit colder or hotter during the party if it’s taking place inside or outside, or even both. 

Before you set off, take a bit of time to look up some other ideas for an office Christmas party outfit or holiday party back dress festive flair.

Planned Activities

There’s a good chance that you might be enjoying several different activities during the party, whether it’s dancing, sitting at a dinner table, mingling with others, or even enjoying some games – having your Christmas party outfits ready for whatever the night might throw out is almost a no-brainer. 

Usually, the invitation will include whether there will be planned activities, but if you’re unsure, ask a friend or colleague who has attended a similar event before so that you have some idea of what to expect.

Check Out What Men Should Wear to a Holiday, Office, New Year’s Eve Party:

Dress Code for Holiday Party

Often, more than many, a Christmas party will have a dress code, which is usually announced in the invitation. Always make sure to read the invitation properly and that you know what to expect. 

With this said, it’s also important to know that not every dress code is the same and that dressing up for each might look a bit different. As always, remember to keep in mind the location, time of day the event is taking place, the weather conditions, and if there will be any planned activities you may be enjoying during the party. 

Black Tie Attire

When an invitation says black tie, you wear a black tie or suit, consider this the most formal dress code for a Christmas party. 

This is usually where many people lose the plot of things, as black tie generally means that you should either wear a good-fitting suit, or perhaps a formal dress, either an evening or cocktail dress, depending on the setting and location. 

A black tie might be a bit more formal, even stiff at times, but know that it’s better to always look your best at a black tie event. 

Business Formal/Semi-Formal

Still somewhat formal, but not as formal as it requires you to wear a suit or gown throughout the event. 

In this case, business formal usually refers to you wearing either a good-fitting blazer or jacket that’s neatly tailored, with a matching pair of pants and either tie or bowtie. You can also look for a less formal dress, something shorter if you’d like, or a pants suit. 

When an invitation reads semi-formal, you can either pair your outfit with some sneakers, or comfortable shoes, while still looking formal and sophisticated at the same time. Make no mistake, semi-formal is still a formal look, regardless of what people may tell you, but just don’t show up with your best tuxedo, as you will be overdressed for the occasion. 

Festive Dress Code

In short, a festive dress code simply refers to guests wearing either a themed outfit or using some sort of festive-related color or symbolism in their attire. Usually, people will either wear a shirt that matches one or two of the festive colors or even swap out a plain dress for something a bit more eclectic. 

Whatever it may be, remember that it’s a formal event, for now at least, yet you’d still want to have a stylish and relaxed look without completely feeling out of place or overdressed. 

Check Out Flattering & Comfortable Christmas Party Outfit Ideas – You Can Wear in Multiple Different Ways:


Can I Wear Jeans for Formal Attire?

For a formal event, it’s best to consider what the dress code may be, but as a general rule of thumb, jeans are more considered casual wear and can be worn in a less formal setting. 

What Do You Wear to a Corporate Christmas Party?

Depending on the dress code and what the theme of the party is, it’s best to wear something formal, either a well-tailored suit, a cocktail dress, or something a bit longer. Usually, corporate Christmas parties are more formal but can also lean towards being a bit more semi-business casual.

What Color Shirt Is Formal?

The best color shirt for a formal event is always white or black, depending on the color of the entire outfit. A general rule would be that white is always the best option. 

Is a High-Low Dress Considered Formal?

High-low dresses can be considered formal, depending on what the dress code of the event may be, where it is taking place, and at what time of the day. A high-low dress would also work with a well-tailored jacket or coat and can be removed whenever the weather starts to change.

What Do You Wear to a Casual Business Christmas Party?

Employees attending a casual business Christmas party can wear loose-fitting clothes, sneakers, or anything that is considered less formal yet stylish at the same time. Make sure that you have at least one item that is a bit more formal than the rest, either a shirt, a jacket, or your pants. 

Final Thoughts

For any person attending a formal Christmas party this festive season, it’s best to read what the dress code of the party may be, and also what you may expect at the event. 

If you notice that it’s something a bit laid back and relaxed, opt for semi-casual yet sophisticated. On the other side of the spectrum, you can always be invited to a formal black-tie event, which might require you to up your outfit a bit. 

Always make sure to read the invitation properly and that you take the time to plan and execute your outfit accordingly, as you never want to look overdressed or underdressed, for that matter. 

Sabine Ghali

Kelly Murphy


Certified Meeting planner with 20+ years of event management experience, founder of ConferenceSource, expert in meeting facility sourcing & contracting in North America, Europe, South America and Asia. Kelly will manage your budget as if they were her own, negotiating the best possible rate and hotel contract to benefit and protect every client and exceed all expectations for all planning aspects for sales meetings, educational meetings, product launches, incentive trips down to a small board of directors meeting. We make meetings easy understanding your meeting objectives and delivering meeting matched components.