By Joi Louviere

Holiday office parties can be more difficult than expected. Debating what to bring, how to act around your boss and how much liquor you can consume can take the fun out of what is supposed to be a relaxed affair. Searching for a festive yet appropriate outfit is the biggest struggle for many. To make this unsuspectingly stressful event easier, follow these few tips when dressing for the occasion.

Don’t Aim For Sexy.

Photo Credit: Michael Buckner/Getty Images

This might be one of few times anyone specifically makes this request, unless in relation to a funeral, kid’s party or retirement home visit. Please, please avoid high hems, low cleavage and skin tight fits. I promise you the guy drooling at you from legal won’t make this shindig any less awkward. If a shirt cuts a little low, try adding a tank top underneath to hide the girls. Want to be flirty without bringing the hot and steamy? Trade in the super short skirt or dress for a fitted one that shows your curves but not to the point where we see the outline of your thong.

This Isn’t The Oscars.

(Photo credit:ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

In life, it’s usually better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. Not at an office party. Walking in dressed like you’re about to meet the Queen only says that this intimate office party of sugar cookies and 90s Christmas music is the highlight of your week, which obviously wreaks of lame. Avoid super high heels and floor length dresses. Try modest sized heals (3 inches and under) and dresses that hit just above the knee. Skirts are a nice medium between formal dresses and over casual pants, although a pleated trouser or colorful harem pant would work just as well.

Festive Sweaters Are A Must-Not!

Unless the invitation specifically says “ugly sweater party” there’s no need to wear one of those hideous Christmas tops covered in dust collecting felt balls and jingle bells. I know a lot of formerly gaudy fashion pieces have resurfaced, way hipper than before but a nasty old Santa sweater isn’t and won’t ever become cool. There are much more subtle ways to show your holiday spirit. Add a little sparkle in some element of your outfit or maybe a bold addition of red or any other color that represents the holiday season for you. I’ll even except a candy cane patterned manicure if you just can’t help yourself.

Festive Casual

Photo Credit: Victoria’s Secret

This is a great example of all the guidelines working together. This is a fun and flirty look from Victoria’s Secret but is not over sexed and inappropriate for work. The tank top gives it a relaxed feel, enabling it from being overly dressy and the sparkly skirt gives the look a festive feel (although, it could be a hair longer). The deconstructed blazer rounds it out with a funky take on the classic work blazer, saying “Hey, we’re still coworkers, but maybe just one drink.”

Workday Transitional

Photo Credit: Shoes, Steve Madden; Necklace, Neiman Marcus; Full Image on Right, Gap

Many won’t have time to go home after work and plan out an outfit for the bash. This outfit is a smart option for work the day of the party. Take this look, add a couple of eye catching pieces and you’ve turned this winter white work number into evening wear, perfect for a glass of champagne and budget talks.

The Dress With Less Sex

Photo Credit: Macy’s

If your office party is a bit of a bigger deal, this is a dress that’s got it all. This Devil Wears Prada-esk fitted black cocktail is just the hot little number for a late night dinner party with your professional pals. The lace detail is feminine, beautiful and totally holiday and the hem is just long enough so to not distract anyone from all the brilliance coming out of your mouth.

Have fun with your outfit but be smart. You’re not hanging with your friends, you’re at work. And no matter what the façade, act like it’s Monday morning . . . with cocktails. 

Joi is a recent college graduate and has written for various newspapers and news wire services. She currently works as a newspaper copy editor by day and a scrapbooking reality TV enthusiast by night.