Once a year, you and your adopted family go to a party the office holiday party.
Getting dressed for the event isn't always as simple as the summer picnic, where shorts and T-shirts bring equality to all steps on the office ladder.
Holiday office parties reflect the personality of your industry better than the annual report. Real people in real jobs wearing real-life clothing populate the party, whether it's a fancy black-tie affair at a local hotel or a simple potluck around the filing cabinet.
Fortunately, fashions this holiday season offer a broad range of looks that work for casual gatherings or the most stately formal affairs.
As recessionary times linger, clothing designers have responded with garments that look appropriate at dressy holiday functions, but are subdued enough to wear well beyond the last New Year's bash.
This holiday season, like the fall before it, offers a more toned-down approach to dressing, said Denise Cohen-Scher, fashion director of the CaliforniaMart.
"It's not so glaringly evening wear," she said. "The decoration is done to make things look less glitzy. It may be the difference of great buttons that go with rhinestone earrings at night, but simpler pearls during the day."
Instead of an all-over sparkly look, sequins, rhinestones or beading are used more sparingly. Cohen-Scher noted a Donna Karan skirt that had small sequins sprinkled over a pale gray skirt with netting.
Even some formal dresses tend to feature the heaviest decoration on the bodice or waistline, instead of all over, she said.
Overall holiday trends are few, but simple, said Debra Gunn-Downing, fashion director for Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills.
"We are seeing a lot of color, as opposed to black," she said. "We are also seeing short, as opposed to long. Silhouettes are more classic, too. We aren't seeing the big fan shoulders and bustle skirts."
Menswear shares in the quest for brighter colors. Contemporary women's and menswear stores such as Cignal offer men's jackets in bright colors, such as a melon blazer for $100 by Etc.
A bright tie and a simple black trouser, white shirt and perhaps a patchwork vest, such as one from Dunnington, make the outfit perfect for a holiday party at offices that attract contemporary dressers.