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Dec 5, 2016
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The holiday spirit demands to be felt: lights are up all over the city, cheap decorations are lined up at the malls, Landmark security guards are dressed like Santa’s elves, and the stoplights at BGC are star-shaped. These are the signs that you’re about to have survived another year—a grueling one, at that—and that it’s time again to celebrate.

If you’ve been a halfway decent person in 2016, you can expect the Christmas party invites to start popping up on your notifs again, so it’s best you start getting ready. This means at least two things: 1) preparing yourself emotionally for the inevitable weight gain; and 2) stocking up on some decent clothes so you look presentable at all the gatherings and reunions. You’ll be seeing a lot of old friends and (hopefully) making a few new ones, so it’s as good a time as any to dress better than you usually do. Plus, a well-dressed man is bound to get a lot more “Ang gwapo-gwapo ng inaanak ko!” comments from distant titas at family reunions. A little affirmation never hurt. Thanks, tita! So here are a few tips for showing up to all those Christmas parties in style.

Play it safe and clean.

If you have a lot of parties planned throughout the season, it can be difficult to keep track of the dress codes for each of them. Don’t bother being so strict. Instead, stick to what cannot fail on these occasions: a well-pressed, long-sleeve button-down shirt tucked into slim chinos, and smart-casual shoes. Few Christmas parties are all that formal anyway, and this works for even the most relaxed get-togethers. You’ll always either blend in or look like the the sharpest guy in the room. And remember, this is NOT the time for your tattered jeans and angst-ridden graphic tees, so restrain your streetwear sensibilities. Even Kanye knows to put on something appropriate for the holidays.

But feel free to dress festive.

Dressing up this time of the year is an exercise in balance: you want to look appropriate for all the social events, but you you’re also encouraged to look a festive for the holidays. How you choose to negotiate those two style mandates will decide your fate. So while it’s always best to stick to smart clothes, you can try wearing a bright color or something fun and printed. Plaid shirts and attitudinal socks go a long way in this direction, and are also versatile wardrobe additions for any time of the year.

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And know when to clean up extra.

Remember: it’s not all parties and reunions this season. It’s also a time for girlfriends to invite their men over to have dinner with their parents; a time to attend Christmas-themed corporate functions and rub elbows with the boss you need to impress; and also a time for Simbang Gabi (if your faith so inclines you). Keep these situations in mind and know when to put away the bright red necktie with little Santa Claus heads printed on them.

Something new won’t hurt.

Thirteenth month pay should be out by now, so treat yourself to something nice. A decent watch, perhaps? Some wingtips to rotate with your sneakers? Check your wardrobe for anything that’s due for replacement and see if you can’t find something good to take its stead. Just try not to go overboard—remember, sale season starts when all the Christmas shopping hype dies down.

Don’t get carried away with outerwear.

It’s easy to buy into the notion that the Christmas season is a good time to buy something warm, since tag-lamig naman. But keep yourself in-check: if you’re going to get a jacket, get one that you can wear all-year long. It might be cooler this month, but our climate never really gets too cold anyway. So put down that puffy jacket and consider a cardigan or a windbreaker instead.

Go red OR green; not both.

One easy way to inject some holiday spirit into your outfit is to pick from the Christmas colors. If there was ever a time to wear bright red or bright green, it’s now. Just be wary of overdoing it—wearing both colors in one outfit can turn out to be a contrived style move. But if you insist, make sure only one color is bright—keep the other one muted.

If there’s a dress code at your family reunion, follow it.

Don’t bother trying to assert your sense of style against a simple request. If your family reunion has a dress code (and even if it’s one of those really tacky color-coordinating family reunion dress codes), just comply. After all, it’s great to dress well at the reunion, but it isn’t more important than spending time with friends and family. Indulge your folks—it’s Christmas!

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