Appropriate Attire For Holiday Gatherings

Well, it's that time of year again. You've endured Christmas music ad nauseam ever since it started way too early at the end of October, you still haven't done any of your shopping, and your neighbors—homeowners associations notwithstanding—have erected a giant blow-up Santa on their roof that uses enough electricity to power the entire Tri-state area. But all annoyances and inconveniences aside, it is at least much easier to stay stylish in the winter months given that you'll usually need more layers out of your wardrobe to stay warm. The same can be said for custom suits in spite of the general idea that the holidays tend to bring out the worst fashion sense in all of us, especially if you've ever been gifted with an attendance to a dreaded ugly sweater party.

While it is increasingly common for holiday gatherings and office Christmas parties to be on the casual side, there might be some occasions that require you to dress up a little bit more than normal. And barring extremes that require you to follow strict black-tie attire or force you to dig out that sweater with the light-up reindeer on the front, you can still be stylish without being outrageous, gaudy, or boring. It just takes a little nuance. Keeping your suits, trousers, and jackets subtle is always a good idea, but you can definitely take more liberties with your ties, vests, and lapel pins, for example. A little style accents to your ensemble can go a long way, and you'll have even more options to play around with when you consider scarves and overcoats if the temperature outside calls for them.

In this piece, we'll give you some quick pointers to keep you looking stylish during the holidays while everyone else is concerned with overused red and green sweaters.


If you plan on going to any dressier holiday gatherings this year that require more than just a pair of jeans and a sweater, you'll want to make sure that you stay warm enough throughout the evening. When it comes to suit fabrics, stick to materials like wool, flannel, or tweed rather than wool/cotton blends or linen. Doing so might allow you to get away with not wearing heavier overcoats, layers, or scarves if you prefer to keep your outfit subtle and minimal. A good rule to follow is that if you would wear it during any other part of fall and winter, it's a good fit for a holiday gathering. With suits especially, you'll want something that you can wear for more than just one occasion; if you feel the need to be more festive on specific days like Christmas or New Year's Eve, your ties and other accessories will do the rest for you.

As far as colors go, you'll never go wrong with charcoal grey, black, or crosshatch patterns, as these are universally accepted during any part of the year. For the winter holidays, you might want to avoid bright pastel colors as you will more than likely stand out, but this is completely up to you. Some people enjoy being the center of attention amidst a sea of red, green, brown, and other more standard autumn and winter colors. But considering that you wouldn't wear a fur coat to a garden party on the beach in July, people will be more receptive to your outfits around the holidays if they don't stray too far from what is considered normal. Softer and subtle olive green plaids tend to be very easy on the eyes, and they can give you a bit of a festive edge without being over-the-top or too ostentatious.


As we said previously, your accessories can allow you a great deal of freedom in style, as most dress codes—even formal ones—around the holidays are more relaxed than they are when it comes to more stringent office attire. This is especially true for things like socks, ties, scarves, and lapel pins. You can also take more style liberties with your vests than you normally would for other parts of the year, so even if you only have one or two black suits in your wardrobe, a vest that goes well with your outfit can really extend the mileage on everything else you end up fishing out of your closet.

Ties are by far the easiest accessories to allow you more creativity around the holidays. Even if you're not comfortable wearing anything too crazy or off-the-wall, a solid red tie can allow you to be festive without taking away from the rest of your outfit. A solid red or green tie is an especially safe choice if an event or office party you have to attend requires or suggests cocktail attire, which is generally understood to be less formal than the black-tie dress code but more formal than your standard office wear. If you feel like getting a little wilder than just red or green, pretty much anything short of a tie with lights on it will do just fine. Stripes, checkerboard patterns, or squares interspersed with Christmas trees or Santa hats are fair game, so long as it all stays on the tie. Just because some department stores might start selling Christmas decorations on Halloween, doesn't mean that they are the same holiday just yet. Subtlety goes a long way, but definitely don't be afraid to take more liberties with the designs on your ties.

Scarves pretty much follow the same rules that ties do during the holidays, as well. Anything that falls between the neutral and the outrageous is perfectly acceptable. And if you do have scarves scattered about in your closet, this is the perfect time to bring them out. Even though they are less popular now than they have been in the past, their ability to add another layer of style to your holiday ensemble is unmatched by anything else. Whether they are red or green, brown or grey, designer brand or knit at home, you will for sure stand out in a positive way at your next holiday gathering. Just keep in mind that if you're wearing a suit, the scarf should at least somewhat match your color scheme. Avoid sharp or out-of-place color contrasts, and be mindful of patterns that normally wouldn't go together. If you're wearing a plaid suit, for example, you may not want to sport that plaid scarf, especially if the plaids are different. While we have seen people pull this look off without too much trouble, this only works if the patterns are very subtle. In most cases, we would recommend against attempting such a feat. But it is the holidays, after all, so you can get away with bending unspoken fashion and style rules a little more than you normally would.

In addition to ties and scarves, lapel pins are a way to acknowledge the spirit of the holidays without getting too carried away. As they are generally very small and only noticeable at close range, lapel pins can be a viable option when dress codes are more stringent than your typical casual holiday party. The other added benefit of the small size of lapel pins is that you can get away with more in terms of what they depict. While a reindeer drinking a bottle of wine might look out of place on a shirt or a vest, a lapel pin with such a design will get you a few laughs without detracting from your outfit overall.


During the holidays, people often have a tendency to get a little too crazy with their shirts, and depending on the context, this is perfectly fine. But when you need to be somewhere that requires a suit, we still recommend that you stick to solid colors. A crisp clean button-down white shirt has the ability to complement virtually any tie you might wear, and it will keep you firmly in the center of what is considered formal if that is a requirement for your holiday event. If you have to be somewhere that doesn't warrant a full suit or even a sport coat, feel free to get more creative with your shirt styles, colors, and patterns.

Plaid or pinstripe shirts can work out quite nicely for more casual events such as family gatherings or informal holiday gatherings. Also keep in mind that flannel shirts are an excellent choice, as they will keep you warm and comfortable throughout the evening. One of the biggest rookie mistakes people tend to make during the holidays in terms of attire is settling on bright, saturated solid colors such as red, green, or blue. While there is nothing inherently wrong with these colors in and of themselves, they can sometimes come across as too bold and detract from the rest of your outfit, especially if you're wearing a suit or jacket. But if you are feeling a little extra bold, feel free to experiment with brighter colors so long as the occasion is on the casual side. Everything does, after all, come down to personal style preference.

As the holidays approach fast, all of us here at Enzo Custom can ensure that you're well prepared for everything that ranges from the casual to the rigidly formal. While custom suits have always been our specialty, we do offer a broad range of shirts, vests, jackets, ties, and other accessories to keep you up to date with all of the latest trends, and this holiday season is no different. Whether you need another custom suit to start off the New Year or are looking to add a few more accessories to your wardrobe, don't hesitate to browse around on our website, or stop into one of our physical showrooms where one of our expert clothiers will be more than thrilled to assist you.

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