Work dress codes: what not to wear to the company Christmas party
For your office Christmas party, don't rummage through your wardrobe and bring out that sexy number that leaves nothing to the imagination, or worse still, allows everything to fall out.
Stylists and human resource consultants warn you may be off site and off duty, but you're still part of the organisation.
Avoid dancing under the work Christmas tree in a "vagina dress" - the perilously high-slit dress donned by A-list celebrities such as Bella Hadid and Chrissy Tiegen.
* Kiwis already well under way with Christmas shopping
* Chrissy Teigen went without underwear at the American Musica Awards
* The office holiday party: more awkward than meeting the parents
* Surviving the office Christmas party
Instead, wear a special outfit that allows your personal attributes to shine, dress in colours that suit you, and don't - ever - wear jandals or casual footwear that should be left to the beach. Avoid black, and for blokes, don't bring out an ill-fitting suit just because you think you should dress up.
While dress codes can be confusing, stylists advise we should overdress slightly for an office festive party.
"For women, if you have great legs show them, if you have a lovely décolletage show it. This is quite different to serving everything up on a platter. There is still a level of decorum and appropriateness required - should you wish to be successful within your organisation," says Auckland-based stylist and image consultant Stacey Beatson.
Also a personal shopper, Beatson heard of a woman at an office Christmas party literally falling out of her dress. In another case, a man's wife turned up to the Christmas party after photographs of her husband frolicking with scantily-clad office workers popped up on social media.
"Remember that everything can go public now. Many a career has been sabotaged by inappropriate behaviour at a work event," she says. "Turn your phone to silent and limit the amount of photos taken – this is not your opportunity to take pictures all evening to make all of your ex boyfriends jealous with inappropriate images with the photocopy technician."
New Zealanders aren't good at restricting their alcohol intake, or questioning "how short is too short".
"Wear what looks stunning on your figure. Don't be a prude and dress like a nun but definitely dress appropriately."
"This is not the time to bring out your mini dress with the plunging neckline and cutout midriff – this is for when you are out with your friends, if then. Guys should not underdress. This is not the weekend."
Beatson advises men to make an effort too. "There is nothing worse than somebody turning up to a party in a suit from the 80s that no longer fits appropriately, because they thought it a good idea to wear a suit."
Chris Till, chief executive of HR Institute New Zealand, says employees and their bosses are technically off duty, but still must represent the organisation. Employees should use good judgement and common sense and if they think an outfit is a bit revealing.
"While nobody in the organisation wants to be the fun police, it is important that employees self regulate and behave in a respectful and legal manner."
When dressing clients for special events or parties, Arrowtown-based stylist Ingrid Vink plays up one key area - legs, shoulders or bust. "For the office Xmas party I would tend to avoid showing off too much skin. If you are wearing a short skirt, I wouldn't opt for having cleavage on show as well. One standout feature has more impact and is far more stylish."
Vink thinks dress code can be confusing. "It is a great time to put in some effort and thought. It can be as simple as a blow-wave, great grooming or an amazing pair of shoes."
Jackie O'Fee, an Auckland stylist, advises employees to dress appropriately. "You're there as an employee of the business no matter how relaxed and fun your workplace is. So, not only do you need to keep your behaviour in check, you also need to think about the 'work you' when choosing what to wear, as you don't want to undermine all of your hard-won credibility in one three hour event."
"Christmas party wear is simply about dressing appropriately for the event, not showing that you are a cosplay fantasist or sexy minx in your spare time. That said, you can still have a lot of fun and choose something outside of your day to day workwear."
Interpreting confusing dress codes - according to Jackie O'Fee:
SMART CASUAL: The hardest to quantify but probably the easiest to do. Women could choose a pair of tailored pants and a stunning top worn with heels or a gorgeous dress, but not a cocktail dress. Guys should opt for smart pants and a great shirt/jacket/shoe combo. The options are endless.
COCKTAIL: Usually means a bit of sparkle or shimmer for women, Cocktail means it's definitely an evening vibe. Go for a heel (strappy sandal or simple stiletto heeled court shoe). Guys need to wear a jacket – preferably a suit but don't need to wear a tie.
FORMAL: Full-on glamour. Formal wear should mean black tie, but in recent years has relaxed to mean a dark suit. A tie is essential. For women, go for full-length or at the very least a cocktail gown. Pants for women aren't really appropriate at a "formal" event unless you own a glamorous jumpsuit.
What's the most inappropriate thing you have seen someone wearing at the office Xmas do? Let us know in the comments