How To Dress For Virtual Holiday Parties
Business holiday parties are happening this year, albeit with a key difference — many companies, professional associations, nonprofits and other organizations plan to celebrate virtually. While you’ll be raising a glass from behind a screen, these gatherings are still a great opportunity to socialize with colleagues and professional contacts in a relaxed and festive atmosphere. Like with any other virtual business gathering, how you present yourself visually is still important. Your personal style impacts impressions.
It’s Still A Party
What you wear to virtual holiday parties should show that you’ve dressed for a special occasion; it’s not just another Zoom meeting. As Aysha Saeed, CEO and Creative Director of AYSHA NY, points out:
Use your outward appearance and outfit selection to project a polished confidence as you celebrate with the group.
Know What’s Expected
Some invitations include details on suggested attire, like a festive theme or degree of formality. Even if the planned theme is not your preference, Saeed advises to go along with it. Not only does it show that you’re a good sport, some holiday themes (like ugly sweaters) can be a great ice breaker that adds a bit of levity and humor to the occasion. Themes can also provide leeway to show a bit of personality and flair that you wouldn’t normally get to share with colleagues.
When dress code isn’t specified, ask the host/event planner or look for clues to indicate what will be most appropriate. Is the event for employees only? Are partners/spouses and/or children invited? Has your firm invited clients and vendors? Is the board of directors attending? Consider the tone you want to convey through your fashion choices and whether it will send the right message to these various audiences.
Stand Out In A Good Way
Use your style to draw positive attention to yourself with a well-planned and proper fitting outfit so you stand out for the right reasons, not the wrong ones. “How we dress really matters in helping others get to know us and making a personal connection,” according to Saeed. “For example, if you look sloppy in your dress or grooming, it may cause others to conclude you put little effort into your appearance because you don’t care about them, you’re lazy, or don’t know any better.” None of these conclusions makes for a positive impression. Alternatively, a polished look that aligns with the event communicates that you are attentive, engaged and invested in your business relationships.
Make Small Changes For A Big Impact
Putting effort into changing your style for a virtual holiday party does not mean you need to create a whole new style or wardrobe; little changes can make a big impact. For instance, if you usually sport solid colors, Saeed suggests trying out a print, or vice-versa. Cobalt blue, scarlet red and sage green are all examples of festive colors that will pop on screen.
If you’re making a change by shopping for something new, Saeed offers clear advice, “If you plan on buying a new outfit for your company party, make sure it’s something you will want to wear again. And, just because something’s on sale, that alone is not a good enough reason to buy it. Always shop styles that you love — that’s how you ensure you will wear it often.”
Whatever you decide to wear, make sure you’re comfortable and can move your arms freely. If the outfit is too tight or restrictive, it will be difficult to conceal that discomfort from others who have an up-close view of you on screen all evening.
Style Tips for Virtual Holiday Parties
Here are some quick tips from Aysha Saeed to plan a virtual party-ready look. For both women and men, while you’ll be on video, plan a complete outfit from top to bottom. Remember that this is an occasion, so opt for nicer pants, not shorts or sweats.
- Choosing The Right Neckline
If you always wear buttoned tops, try V or U necklines for an easy look change. Note: Do a video test run before the party! Depending on the camera angle, cleavage can be more visible than what you see in the mirror.
Stick with your normal makeup routine but elevate it slightly by pairing a brighter shade of lipstick than you normally wear and include mascara and eyeliner if you don’t normally wear them. (Business parties are not the time to experiment with bright eyeshadows, however, especially if you haven’t worn them before.)
Avoid jewelry that moves too much or makes a lot of noise when you speak or move your hands (e.g., big earrings, loose bracelets). Go with subtle jewelry if you wear a bold print or bolder jewelry if you wear a solid color. Balance is key!
Even though no one will see them, wear a great pair of heels! You will feel complete in your look and that will give you an extra boost of confidence.
- Choosing The Right Shirt
If your work dress code is usually casual, it’s ok to wear a blazer; it shows effort and thought into dressing for the occasion. If that’s not your style, wear a dress shirt or polo shirt with color. Avoid t-shirts, especially any with writing or a logo.
Hair should be combed and neat. If you normally shave, be clean-shaven. If you’ve grown a beard, be sure it’s trimmed. Zoom party conversation shouldn’t revolve around your unkempt look, even if in jest.
If you want to wear an accessory to feel dressed up, wear a watch. Others may not see it, but it will make you feel put together and polished. If ties are optional, wear one to differentiate from your everyday virtual meeting attire.
Even though no one will see them, wear them. Dressing in a complete outfit that you feel good in will give you an extra boost of confidence.
Last, But Not Least — Have Fun!
Don’t lose sight of the purpose and overly stress about what to wear to virtual company parties this season. “It’s key to remember that your boss or company organized a party to the bring your team together to have fun — so dress to have fun! Let your hair down (quite literally) and smile and be grateful,” Saeed suggests. “Everyone gravitates towards and loves positive energy, so radiate it in your attitude and in your dress code.”
Virtual holiday parties invite you to connect with colleagues in a more fun and personable way than business as usual. However, this festive atmosphere does not excuse you from making a positive impression. Remember — in addition to those seeing you live over video — people often take screenshots to post on LinkedIn and other social media later. How you present yourself may have wider visibility than you anticipate, so make sure it aligns with the professional message you want to send.