The holidays are full of traditions: Eggnog, the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, the weird cousins you only see twice a year. Some we look forward to, and some we can't wait to end. The one social convention we can rely on as we grow older is the holiday party. For many, it's a time to dress well and celebrate the past year with good company. For others, it's yet another occasion to worry about what to wear. Generally, parties this time of year are stipulated with "cocktail attire." That's great, since it's such a flexible spectrum. Some sort of blazer and trouser combination is preferred over a full suit, and the formality of a tie can be left behind for an open collar, unless of course, you're a bow tie kind of guy. Herewith, a few tips to settle into a sartorial comfort zone, so you can focus on more important things like said eggnog. Or whether you should sing Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas" on the karaoke machine. (Word to the wise: You shouldn't.)
For those that want to play it safe, sporting a classic shoe—a black or brown penny loafer or lace-up oxford—gives you room to flash some seasonal patterns with a pair of Fair Isle socks. They also give you the foundation to experiment above the waist.
Simple, stylish and most importantly, warm. These also serve as the counterbalance to your more colorful socks, sweater or sports coat.
Velvet blazers come in a variety of colors, from deep navy and burgundy to emerald green, and their luxe texture makes them a perfect holiday staple. Speaking of texture, velvet isn't the only option; a wool sport coat or cashmere sweater under a topcoat will suit just fine. And while a white shirt always works, a plaid or dark microprint shirt sets a sharp tone.