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Work Parties: Fake Conservative or Let Your Freak Flag Fly

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Love, Frank has returned as a weekly style advice column tackling your hard-hitting fashion issues and addressing a different fashion glitch each week. Submit a query here.


It's fair to say that whatever happens at this holiday party is more than should happen at yours; image via Under 30 CEO.

Dear Frank,

I have a job where I wear a uniform, and none of my coworkers have ever seen my personal fashion style, which some might think is a little wild. Should I use our upcoming work holiday party an opportunity to let my freak flag fly, or pretend to be more conservative as to not ruffle any feathers?

Sincerely,
Workin' for the Weekend (Wardrobe)

Dear Workin'

I appreciate your inclination towards self-expression and I think you should, like, half-go for it.

Any after hours work event is a delicate balance—especially when booze is involved. You certainly need to show your face and hobnob with the suits who matter most. And you absolutely want to let loose—a little. Show that you can have a little responsible fun. A few drinks; maybe a dance or two; the willingness to put on a sombrero and pose in the holiday photobooth.

But you also need to leave (or at least stop ordering martinis at the open bar) while you're still on top—lucid, charming, human (at the very least) … You know, the way Seinfeld and Golden Girls bowed when people still wanted much, much more (rather than, say Facts of Life or Roseanne which, frankly, squandered audience goodwill with Cloris Leachman and lottery tickets, respectively).

I can attest to this because maybe, once or twice, a younger, more naive version of myself maybe, possibly got a little too drunk at a work event or two. And even though I never made out with someone in the restroom or knocked over a chocolate fountain or brazenly asked for a completely outlandish raise (as least I'm pretty sure I didn't, but who can really say?); you're better off waking up without wondering or regretting.

I think this applies to your scenario as well: I think you should absolutely dress up and have some fun and show your colleagues that there's a lot more to you beyond that uniform. That said, this is not the event for your most capital-F Fashion outfit. Settle on something that falls safely in between conservative office wear and wackadoo.

You want compliments not looks. You want to be remembered as classy, stylish, smart or, maybe, quirky. You don't want to be referred to as a weirdo or a fashion victim; or worse, Lady Gaga.


Don't exasperate Coco, via Curiosity Saved the Catwalk.

If this advice is too general you can always dress yourself up, check yourself out, and remove or swap out the items that really push you over the edge. That eternal Coco Chanel quote comes to mind: "Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory."

You won't be diluting yourself too much, I promise. I mean, even when I go out of my way to dress "normal"—a trip to Home Depot in suburban New Jersey—no-one is confusing me for someone who doesn't care a lot about some fairly wacky clothing.

I hope this all helps—I'm sure you'll do us proud. As long as you don't knock over the chocolate fountain.

Got a style question for Frank? Leave it in the comments or email one in here. Then buckle your two-toned leather Moschino belts, folks, because it's going to be ? Something.
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