Interpreting Dress Codes

Questions about what to wear to holiday parties have come up quite a bit in these past few weeks so I decided to share the Ginger-Bred Pyramid of Dress Codes for a second time.  Click here for the details on each category.


Test Triangle 3

  • Regardless of what you are told the dress code is, ask yourself this: “What is the message I want to send with my outfit?”   Is it ‘party animal’ or ‘classy lady’?  Your choice. Cocktail Attire (or any category) can be interpreted in different ways.  You might wear something revealing or provocative for a friends party, but that would not be the best choice for a work party.
  • For men who abhor the sport jacket: you are no longer in high school.  Wearing a sport jacket and taking the time to be sure it fits properly sends a clear message about who you are. It shows you care about yourself,  you respect the people you are with, and you respect the seriousness of the event.
  • Holiday gear need not be red and green. It need not have you sparkling head to toe. It need not show every ‘asset’.  Remember, less is more.

Here are a few outfits from last year’s events:

Work party, 2016
Cashmere sweater with velvet trimmed skirt; Peter in Ralph Lauren wool blend suit















You can still look festive – and even sexy – with luxurious fabrics such as silk, cashmere, satin, and velvet.  It is elegant without going overboard or showing too much skin.

Work party 2016
At home family party; festive casual

































What about parties at home? Sure, you need to be comfortable if you are the hostess, but dressing up shows respect for the occasion and each other. It also makes for better family pictures!
Dressing up at home for the holidays started with Ginger, and the tradition lives on.   I like to think that Peter and I are in some ways contributing to teaching dress code to the little ones!

Hope this was helpful!  Happy holidays!

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  • This is a wonderful and timely post. Through the years, I have seen so many inappropriately dressed people (men and women) that it really makes you wonder if any thought is given to the clothing chosen. As you have said, the question to ask is what image do you want to present – how do you want to be perceived by others. I think dress at a business holiday party can result in a reputation that was not intended so a lot of thought and planning is necessary.

  • Candy,
    I loved this timely advice. (I also remember your first post on the Ginger-bred pyramid.) I try to always take your advice and think about what message I want to send with my clothing. Loved the photos!


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