Don’t Be a Yule Fool

It’s party season, but making merry by dressing like an elf, revealing too much cleavage, and chugging down holiday spirits are all Noel no-no’s
Yule Fool
Illustration by Darcy Muenchrath

Tips for Men

ONE // If the invitation says “black tie,” guess what? It means a black bow tie, formal wing-collar shirt, and a tuxedo. Sure, some style “authorities” say you can wear a colorful tie, but why chance looking like a dweeb? Several men show up at these affairs in business suits, or worse, jackets without ties. Don’t insult your host; dress as the invitation requests. If you rebel and want to stand out, you will — as a rude slob.

TWO // Don’t compete with the Christmas tree. If you’re invited to a holiday party, by all means dress festively. But that doesn’t include blinking-light ties and hideous holiday sweaters. And, unless you’re an elf, leave the red stocking cap at home.

THREE // What happens at the office party doesn’t stay at the office party. Indiscretions, including fashion faux pas, result in gossip that will spread all over the office and beyond after the holidays. So keep your mitts off anyone who isn’t your wife, don’t guzzle the hooch, and dress appropriately. Remember: Almost everyone’s cell phone is equipped with a camera — and they’ll use it.

FOUR // Cocktail parties are usually fairly informal affairs, but just because you’re loosened up doesn’t mean you should loosen your shirt buttons. The Tom Jones look may fly in a Vegas lounge, but nobody wants to gaze at a grizzly-bear carpet of chest hair, or worse, man-jugs.

FIVE // Slim-fitting or athletic-fit shirts are in style, but unless you’re on the slim side, choose a roomier cut. Few things are more unsightly than a tubby dude trying to squeeze into a tight shirt (think sausage casing), with every ring of blubber exposed and the seams begging for mercy.

SIX // If there’s one accessory that men don’t pay enough attention to, it’s shoes. Scuffed kickers and worn-down heels aren’t attractive, especially with an otherwise natty outfit. Do everyone a favor and buy yourself a Christmas present: a good pair of shoes. At the very least, get some polish and buff.

SEVEN // So it’s midnight on New Year’s Eve. If you’re at a bash, you’re going to kiss or be kissed. Start the year off right and make sure to use lip balm, especially during the cold weather. You’re not going to get lucky with chapped lips.

EIGHT // Too many men think that dressing up requires lubing up their hair with product. Over-gelled hair is a turnoff. Unless you’re Fabio, a little dab should hold your hair in place, which is fine. But the stiff look is strictly for stiffs.

NINE // A gentleman never wears his hat indoors. And, above all, don’t wear one at a party. You may think you look cool, but the rest of the party thinks you’re trying too hard.

TEN // In fashion, symmetry is everything. Make sure your tie, lapel, and shirt collar coordinate. A skinny tie with a spread collar and wide lapels looks silly. The trend is leaning toward a narrower look, so keep your duds in slender proportion.

Tips for Women

ONE // With few exceptions, there’s an inverse relationship between how much skin you expose at the company Christmas party and how far you’ll climb the corporate ladder.

TWO // All cleavage is not pretty, and it certainly shouldn’t be flaunted when it’s a floppy “benefit” of extra poundage. Even the prettiest décolleté is better suited for a romantic dinner, the casino, or the beach — yes, there can be too much of a good thing. Try a little mystery — and modesty. (Oh, and it’s wise to do a little “gap” test before leaving the house.)

THREE // Bare legs (as opposed to stockinged gams) have been a trend for a while now. But you can’t go wrong with lovely hosiery, especially in cold weather. And, face it, most women don’t have naturally airbrushed legs.

FOUR // Besides being typically garish, most holiday sweaters are boxy, which translates as matronly. Christmas cardigans and crewnecks should be reserved for elementary schoolteachers and room mothers in December. They get a free pass for the sake of the children.

FIVE // Red is undeniably festive. But unless you want to look like everyone else at the cocktail party, consider using crimson as an accent. Think evening bag, earrings, or shoes, even lingerie. Flashes of red outerwear are also cheery in the form of a scarf or eye-catching leather gloves.

SIX // Don’t confuse holidays. Scary makeup is for Halloween.

SEVEN // If you opt for the drama of bright red lips, remember two things: It can make teeth appear more yellow, and it should be the only cosmetic focal point. A pretty red pout calls for understated eyes and cheeks.

EIGHT // Dress your body type. Clingy jerseys, minis, and bare midriffs are meant for toned figures. And, if you are in shape, it’s important to remember that just because you can squeeze into young, trendy clothes doesn’t mean you should wear them. Dressing one’s age still matters.

NINE // Manicured nails embellished with little designs, like holly and wreaths, are, well, a bit cartoon-y. If you feel playful, have them applied to the nails of your piggies and flaunt them for fun at home.

TEN // Over-imbibing will take a toll on the pretty look you worked so hard to create. And speaking of hangovers in the making, being the life of the party gives colleagues something to gossip about at the water cooler. Everyone can outlive embarrassing incidents. But driving drunk can lead to tragedy.