Party chic

Party-ChicDecember comes with lots of party demands, be it for work or simply social events with friends and family. And with this comes the inevitable strain on your ‘party closet’. Well, worry not, Image Consultant and Fashion Guru Olive Gachara has the style tips you need to ensure you step out in style for that function, day or night

Corporate function

Dressing for the office is getting more and more structured for most, with many of us investing heavily in our work wardrobe. However, when you have to go out and party with your colleagues and clients, what to wear can become pretty daunting, so allow me to break it down.

Black Tie Dinner or Cocktail Party
For the gentlemen
As the title suggests, you are meant to wear a tie – not necessarily a black one – but a tie nonetheless. Better yet, channel your inner Bond by rocking a classic bow tie and tuxedo. A tuxedo will always be more appropriate than a basic suit. However, if you do not own a tuxedo – and have no intention of buying one – wear the darkest suit you have, paired with a dark shirt and dark tie to ensure you are stylishly dressed up to code. But remember: “Every dapper gentleman must have at least one tuxedo in their closet; and we are not talking about the one you got married in.”

For the ladies
Dressing for a black tie function can be so simple, yet so complicated, so here are the basics: if it is a black tie dinner party, then you MUST wear a gown. No exceptions. You could however get away with a classic cocktail dress if it is a black tie cocktail event. Feel free to play with colour. A gown in this season’s colours, including shades of red, yellow, purple, blue and even pastels, will be a definite head-turner.

Casual Evening Parties
For the gentlemen
This is your opportunity to dress down, but not so much so that you look like you are going to the local pub. Your best bet will be dark wash denim, or khaki trousers, a nice crisp shirt and jacket to boot. Simple, right. If jackets are not your thing, a sweater will also work well here.

For the ladies
This may be the chance to pull out your six-inch stilettoes and mini dresses, but remember, we are not dressing for the club, but for a corporate party. This does not mean that you have to look demure and timid. Let your inner vixen shine through, all the while minding your hemlines and necklines; you still have to command the respect of your colleagues come 2016.

Corporate Days Out
This could be a golf day, a team-building activity, a corporate retreat or even a charity event.
For the gentlemen
First, you want to avoid denim as much as possible. Yes, avoid denim. Opt instead for classic long-wear fabrics like khaki and pair that up with a crisp casual shirt or polo tee. Remember, at the end of the day, even though you are not in a suit, you want to look as put together as you can be, being the professional gentleman you are.

For the ladies
You, on the other hand, would want to avoid tights, or dress shirts. Specifically tights with dress shirts and ballet flats – in that exact combination. While they may be a comfortable look for a weekend out with the kids, they do not quite fly for a weekend with your colleagues and clients. Khaki trousers and dark wash jeans will work well, paired with a great pair of casual shoes. You want to be comfortable through the afternoon, but also not appear too dressed down. If it is not an activity-based event, a pretty sundress will also work well.

Remember ladies and gentlemen, most of these informal afternoon dos will go into the early evening. Therefore, ensure you are appropriately dressed for day and night, and that you have something equally stylish to keep you warm once the early evening breeze comes in.

The Social, Social

Once the holidays begin, many of us will spend time hanging out with the friends we have not had time to be with since the year began because of our increasingly hectic lifestyles! This is your chance to show how much you have grown into yourself – fashionably speaking. And while there may not be definitive rules on how to dress for these occasions, below are a few guidelines.

For him
Stylish comfort should be your goal, and here are five easy things to consider when trying to achieve just that.
1 Add some colour: Colour is your friend, do not shy away from it. Remember that orange shirt she bought you? That is because she loves you in colour, and so should you.
2 Keep it chic: Yes, men can also be chic. Dapper Chic is what I like to call it. A well-co-ordinated outfit is defined best by its simplicity.
3 Under-accessorise: Men, like women, have now learnt to bring out the bling when out of their work environment, but let us leave that for the younger generation. Less accessories are always more appropriate for a man, irrespective of the situation.
4 Look to your feet: I believe that women unanimously agree that a man can be defined by the shoes he wears. With all the options of casual shoes there are for men today, there is absolutely no reason to step out in your office oxfords to a dress-down social event.
5 Stay groomed: You may have two weeks off work, but that does not mean you have to say goodbye to your barber until the first week of January – try and keep to your grooming regime, despite the holidays.

For her
There is no better time to experiment with fashion than during the holidays. However, as you build up on your holiday fashion, here are five things you still must keep in mind:
1 Dress your body: What looks great on your daughter may not necessarily look good on you. Refrain from wearing clothes that look fantastic on others, and focus on what works for you.
2 Colour coordinate: Colour-blocking has had its moment in the spotlight; it is now time to coordinate your colours. Monochromatic looks are the future of fashion, and will make you look effortlessly chic whether you choose to go with loud primaries like red, yellow and blue, or want to keep it neutral in greys, whites and camels.
3 Look to your feet: Ballet flats are not the only type of footwear available. Opt for different, exciting options such as sandals and loafers, and if you like your heels, this is the time to bring out that sparkly pair you never seem to have an opportunity to wear during the year.
4 Dress for the occasion: I believe a woman’s greatest fear is appearing at a party under- (or over-) dressed (or finding someone in the same dress as her). If you must, ask the host if they have any specific dress code in mind, and think about the planned activities before deciding what to wear.
5 Accessorise, Accessorise, Accessorise: Now is the time to raid Maasai Market for all their great chunky pieces and statement bags. Remember, the easiest way for a woman to bring out her personality is through the accessories she chooses. So whether it is through a cashmere scarf, midi rings, chunky bracelets or classic water pearl earrings, let your accessories speak for you this holiday.

For the kids
During my time in fashion, I have come to learn that children, if given the space, actually have great taste in clothing. Did you know, for example, that children have a natural tendency to gravitate towards colours that complement their skin tones? So, as you fight to get your little ones dressed for that kids’ party this December, here are five things to consider that will make life slightly less frustrating.
1 Let them choose: I believe if a child can walk, they can have a say in what they wear. Letting them choose gives them more ownership of the look in general, and creates fewer fights when trying to dress them. You can guide their options by providing a limited number of pieces to choose from.
2 Match them up: Yep! That ’90s trend of having siblings dress the same is back! And it even goes one fabulous step further where you can have little girls dress like mummy, and little boys like daddy. Just look at how the blogosphere is going crazy about our matching baby-and-celebrity mums!
3 Carry extra outfits: Want to stay calm when your little one is running around and making a mess of his or her clothes? Then carry an extra outfit or just a spare top or T-shirt, if only for that peace of mind.
4 Keep them trendy: Just because they are young does not mean they should not look stylish. Remember, your children are an extension of your personal style, so try and keep them as trendy as possible, all the while allowing them to still be kids.
5 Give your teen space: If he wants to pull a ‘Lil’Wayne’ in a hoodie, denim and boots at a beach party, by all means, let him do it. He will eventually feel silly and change – unlike if you argued about it and he suffers in silence if only to prove you wrong. If she wants to wear hot pants and a tank to your family Christmas party, negotiate her down until you arrive at a compromise that you can both work with. It is important to treat your teens as adults when discussing their clothing decisions, if you want to have any kind of say.