What (not) to wear to the office Christmas party: A millennial guide

What (not) to wear to the office Christmas party: A millennial guide

Dress to impress

Text: Ryan Sng

Image: Pinterest | Michael Fehdrau
Image: Pinterest | Antonella ❤️

The rise of Silicon Valley — whose leaders famously eschew traditional business attire, in addition to paying taxes and respecting other people's data/privacy — has democratised the world of employment. Open-plan offices are all the rage, and many work environments, not necessarily limited to the creative fields, now value individuality and thinking outside the box (or so they claim). As with day-to-day office life, the company Christmas party is a more casual affair than it was in the past. Do not be fooled, however, into thinking that the fashion choices you make are any less significant, especially in these fraught times.

Countless "what not to wear to your workplace Christmas 'do" listicles have been written since the dawn of the Internet, mostly concerning themselves with female 'modesty' — though, as millennials, we find the whole clothes-as-advertisements-of-sexual-availability thing terribly passé —and underdressing. We think there are much bigger fish to fry in 2018 AD, and to that end have compiled a list of fashion don'ts for woke millennials who are authentic and opinionated, but need to stay gainfully employed.

Being political is très à la mode these days (You get a slogan tee! And you get a slogan tee!), and it's crucial that women — as well as their non-female allies — speak truth to power. Our rights are enduring rollbacks, even in relatively developed nations like Argentina and the United States, and the global wage gap remains unacceptably wide. Maaaaaybe, just maaaaaybe though, the yuletide office bash isn't the place to get into the nitty gritty of it. But if you — as Singaporeans say — die-die want to flaunt your silk-screened, feminist credentials while glaring icily at the heads of HR and finance, we can't/won't stop you.

We all know the dress. Victoria Beckham's fashion label turned 10 this year, and her style has loosened up considerably throughout the decade. But the sort of power-betch pencil frock that was her, Roland Mouret and Tom Ford's bread-and-butter during the noughties lives on, habitually summoned from the depths of one's closet for precisely these sorts of work functions. Let's get real, though: your colleagues have heard you make bad d*ck jokes and seen you in tears at your desk all through 2018. That commonsensical sheath is fooling nobody.

In a reversal of the conventional wisdom that "one can never be overdressed", looking fantastic may actually work against the millennial's bests interests. We are "generation rent", the ones less likely to own a car than we are to rely on public transport, and pioneers of the sharing — by necessity, not altruism — economy. While it's tempting to slay the crowd during workplace festivities, you may find your bargaining power compromised in next year's salary negotiations. Our advice? Look fashionably skint and underfed, and prey on the sympathies (if they possess any) of your corporate overlords.

Marc Jacobs is reissuing his notorious grunge collection for resort 2019, which, while over-budget, provides a good reference for the desired look. If you're truly merciless and want to convince the higher-ups that you can't even afford trousers, pull a Yeezy 2015 and wear a moth-eaten jumper that barely conceals your underwear. Be warned though, that in the end it may all be for naught; given 21st century strokes of genius like Christophe Decarnin's four-figure (post-Lehman Brothers!) distressed tee for Balmain, looking authentically broke has never been more challenging.

"But it's the year of Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination!" we hear you protest. Sure, fashion has to some degree secularised the cross, if often tastelessly. And sure, Madonna stacked Maripol crucifixes and rubber bracelets in the '80s, danced in a field of burning crosses in the video for Like a Prayer, and emerged on a disco-ball cross to sing Live to Tell during the blockbuster Confessions tour. But don't expect to pull off what she did without sparking Queen of Pop-levels of controversy. It's easy to forget, amid the commercialisation, that Christmas is foremost a faith-based celebration of Jesus' birth. And while Christ's crucifixion and his sacrifice for mankind remains one of art's most beautiful and moving subjects, remember... nobody likes a spoiler.