Ask The Experts: Work Perfect Holiday Dressing with Of Mercer (+ A Rad Discount)
Work + Life Balance

Ask The Experts: Work Perfect Holiday Dressing with Of Mercer (+ A Rad Discount)

by Career Contessa
December 08, 2015

WITH HELP FROM OF MERCER, WE POLLED OUR READERS VIA SOCIAL MEDIA TO ASK ABOUT FASHION CONCERNS FOR THE HOLIDAYS. HERE'S WHAT'S ON EVERYONE'S MIND...

If you're not familiar with the women of Of Mercer, you're in for a treat. And no, we're not talking about the holiday cookies in your break room.

Cofounders Dorie and Emelyn met during their first week of business school, where they bonded over how empowering a great professional outfit can feel—and how infuriatingly difficult it was to find affordable ones on the market. Together, they found a way to cut out the middle man, bringing women stylish, high-quality garments without the inflated prices of big box stores.

Today, they're answering some of our readers questions about how to dress during the holiday season. Because we all want to enjoy the festivities—just without becoming the subject of water cooler gossip.

And newsflash: through the end of the year, you can use our exclusive discount code CONTESSA15 to get 15% off all purchases. Go ahead, treat yourself to that office party dress. 

READER QUESTION: WHEN I IMAGINE HOLIDAY DRESSING, I THINK METALLICS, GLITZ, AND OTHER FESTIVE DETAILS—BUT I WORRY ABOUT BEING TOO GAUDY. IS THAT ALLOWED FOR AN OFFICE PARTY? 

Dorie and Emelyn: Absolutely! The key to anything that blings is to use it in moderation. {click to tweet} We don’t recommend whipping out your Vegas club dress, but you can incorporate some of the seasonal spirit for your office party. If you opt for beading or sequins, make sure they’re only a small component of the outfit, and be sure to wear them in a more conservative cut. 

Look for tweeds and other specialty fabrics that have some sparkle in the threads—it's subtle and has the added benefit that it’s office appropriate outside the holiday season. After all, anything you buy should be classic enough to wear more than once. Our neoprene Carnegie Dress includes a center panel with metallic jacquard—so you can show off your festive side in a boss-approved manner.

READER QUESTION: I'M GOING TO AN OUTDOOR HOLIDAY PARTY, AND IT'S ALWAYS FREEZING! HOW CAN I DRESS FESTIVELY AND STAY WARM? 

D + E: Layers are the name of the game. Start with any party dress, ideally with sleeves, but if you wear a sleeveless piece, try it with a silk button-down underneath for added warmth. Add tights with a subtle pattern or a hint of sparkle—they are a great way to add some holiday flare. We love the look of a blazer or even leather jacket over a cardigan. A cape is also a great layer that is both fancy and functional.

We always suggest sticking to colors that feel mature—think Bordeaux red, spruce green, and plum.

READER QUESTION: IT SEEMS LIKE SO MANY WORK-APPROPRIATE DRESSES ARE BLACK OR GREY, BUT I LOVE COLOR. ANY TIPS ON HOW I CAN INCORPORATE IT IN A TASTEFUL WAY?

D + E: The key to playing with color at a work function is taking advantage of accent pieces. {click to tweet} Try rocking a pair of tights in a bold color like cherry red with your favorite black booties. Or if it's really cold (like the outdoor party in question #2), throw on a statement coat in a color or pattern to keep you warm and festive.

READER QUESTION: I'M GOING TO A NEW YEAR'S EVE WEDDING AND THE COUPLE IS TYING THE KNOT AT MIDNIGHT. I'M WORRIED ABOUT TREADING IN THE FINE LINE BETWEEN NYE GLITZ AND NOT WEARING ANYTHING THAT CLASHES OR BEGS FOR ATTENTION. HOW DO I DRESS WITHOUT BEING TOO FLASHY? 

D + E: You’re a very thoughtful guest for asking this! The only thing that is absolutely out of the question is anything in the white family so steer clear of ivories, pastels, and even lighter silvers. Any bride who is throwing a NYE wedding knows that guests will want to break out the sparkle, so we say go for it. Of course, if you’re wearing a full dress of sequins, make sure that it’s a more conservative cut (i.e. not a cleavage bearing mini dress). If sparkle is not your thing, look for specialty fabrics like laces and silks. And if you want to err on the conservative side, throw on your favorite LBD but dress it up with a big sparkly statement necklace or earrings.

READER QUESTION: WHAT COLORS ARE CONSIDERED "INAPPROPRIATE" FOR AN INTERVIEW? SHOULD I STICK TO BLACK, GREY, AND NAVY OR CAN I TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SOME HOLIDAY COLOR TO MAKE MYSELF STAND OUT? 

D + E: While black, grey, and navy are always safe bets, you can absolutely branch out to show off your personal style! Color is a great way to show you are confident, as long as you wear it in a muted, classic way (e.g. no short skirts, no low necklines, and nothing too tight). We always suggest sticking to colors that feel mature—think Bordeaux red, spruce green, and plum. Avoid colors like pink, yellow, and anything that verges on neon. If you’re still nervous about colors, an alternative way to introduce personality is with textures. Our Waverly Dress stays in the navy and black family but features a beautiful boucle tweed making it anything but boring. 

Look for tweeds and other specialty fabrics that have some sparkle in the threads—it's subtle and has the added benefit that it’s office appropriate outside the holiday season. 

READER QUESTION: MY COMPANY HOLIDAY PARTY IS OFF-SITE ON A SATURDAY NIGHT. SHOULD I STILL WEAR BUSINESS ATTIRE? 

D + E: Whenever you’re at an event with work colleagues, you should stick with basic office-dress rules. Think: simple silhouettes that don’t show off any cleavage and hemlines within 2 inches of your knee. Beyond that, feel free to dress to the holiday nines! Color is a great way to feel festive but also dress-code-appropriate. Our new Red Greenwich Dress makes us feel bold, powerful, and festive all at the same time.

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What are your tried-and-true fashion tips for the holiday season? Weigh in below. 

For round Ask an Expert, we partnered with Of Mercer, a brand we love. If you need a dress for your holiday events (or any time of year, really), use our exclusive Career Contessa discount code CONTESSA15 from now until the end of the year, December 31, 2015.