9 Key Pieces All Stylish Men Need For Party Season

Image Credit: Thom Sweeney

Love it or hate it, party season is upon us once again. Whether it’s a festive family get-together, reuniting with hometown friends or the dreaded work Christmas do, chances are you’ll be summoned to at least one or two booze-fuelled gatherings this winter. And when those dates start stacking up in the calendar, it pays to know you have something suitable lined up to wear.

Nailing party-season style is notoriously tricky. Smart-casual doesn’t quite hit the festive brief, but equally, rocking up to the office meal in full Jay Gatsby regalia could come across as a bit, well, weird. The key to dressing well for the festive fun is all about aiming somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.

You want to wear pieces that are dressy without being overly formal or stuffy, and playful without being tacky or childish. With that in mind, allow us to walk you through some of the key pieces that can help make party season style simple. So even if you do end up waking up the morning after the night before hungover and wracked with embarrassment, at least it won’t be because of your outfit.

Velvet Blazer

Perhaps the ultimate party season piece is the velvet blazer. It’s one of the rare garments that ticks every box a festive garment should. Smart? Check. Quirky? Check. Fun? Check. Suave and sophisticated? Check and check.

In a rich, dark colour like burgundy, navy blue or emerald green, this piece of textured tailoring can transform ordinary outfits into party-worthy looks. Take a simple combo of grey tailored pants, black rollneck and black loafers, for example. Nothing particularly noteworthy about that, but throw a green velvet blazer into the mix and you’ve got a jazzy cocktail ensemble that can handle anything from work drinks to December date nights.

Fine-Gauge Rollneck

The star of the aforementioned outfit is without doubt the blazer, but it would be nothing without that fine-gauge rollneck to lay the foundation. Much like a plain white tee to a summer outfit, this simple piece of knitwear is one of the cornerstones of party season style, creating a solid base upon which to play with statement pieces and accessories.

Go for a versatile, seasonally appropriate colour and you’ll be able to wear it with anything and everything. Think black, grey, beige or off-white. For bonus points, go for merino or a nice cashmere blend.

Tasseled Loafers

Tassels on your shoes: what could be more festive than that? We’re big fans of the loafer as a smart-casual shoe as it is, but adding a couple of tassels for decoration just makes them that little bit different and gives them an extra touch of character.

These are a great alternative to a boring old Derby shoe or a pair of sneakers, because they sit between the two in terms of formality and pair well with clothes from either end of the smart-casual spectrum. For us, they’re the go-to party season footwear of choice.

Patterned Silk Scarf

A silk scarf with an eye-catching pattern is a party season cheat code. It’s a quick way to give any outfit a quick pop of colour to draw the eye in, and it’ll work with most looks as long as there’s not any extreme clashing going on.

Check out Drake’s for some of the best options in the business.

Statement Shirt

If scarves aren’t your thing, a statement shirt is another great way to get some colour and pattern into your party season outfits. We’d suggest wearing one in place of a plain poplin shirt or knitted sweater to help make the distinction between business-casual and party-ready.

This is actually a great opportunity to cycle in some of your summer shirts, because a short-sleeve camp-collar shirt in a patterned fabric can work perfectly here. Team it up with a tailored jacket, dress pants and loafers for best results.

Tailored Wool Pants

Legwear options can feel a bit limited when it comes to festive dressing. Jeans tend to feel a bit too sloppy and casual, while chinos are just a bit boring. This is where a good pair of tailored pants comes in handy. They’re sharp, flattering and surprisingly versatile.

Seriously, don’t fall into the trap of thinking pants like these can only ever be worn with tailoring. Think outside of the box a little and you can use them to dress up casual pieces like T-shirts and trainers too.

In terms of party season, why not team a pair up with a knitted polo, an overshirt and a pair of smart leather sneakers, using a wool overcoat to tie it all together?

Double-Breasted Jacket

The single-breasted blazer is undoubtedly an essential, but it can feel a little uninspired, particularly when it comes to dressing for parties. Instead, switch it out for a double-breasted alternative.

Wrapping around the body, this style of jacket has a certain rakish charm to it that allows it to pair perfectly with other playful party favourites like loafers, rollnecks and the like. It instantly lends an outfit an air of sophistication and it’s a great way to stand out without making too bold of a statement.

Dress Watch

Take off the daily driver and slap something a bit more special on your wrist for your next party. A dress watch is more elegant, refined and low profile in comparison to an everyday ‘tool’ timepiece like a diver or a field watch.

It should be simple and stripped back, with a nice thin bezel and a leather or bracelet strap – perfect for adding a finishing flourish to your party season looks.

Fancy Fragrance

It’s great to have a couple of signature scents (one for summer, one for winter) that you can use to sign your outfits off with an olfactory flourish, but it’s also a good idea to have a fancy one you can bring out for special occasions.

Spend the extra money to get something special that you’ll look forward to wearing and it’ll give you an extra boost of confidence when you need it most. For winter, we’re big fans of oud-based fragrances like Tom Ford’s Oud Wood and Acqua di Parma’s Oud if you like classic, or Comme des Garcons Wonderoud for something a little more offbeat.

Paddy Maddison

Paddy Maddison is Ape's Style Editor. His work has been published in Esquire, Men’s Health, ShortList, The Independent and more. An outerwear and sneaker fanatic, his finger is firmly on the pulse for the latest trends, while always maintaining an interest in classic style.