How to Look Great on New Year’s Eve

At Styleforum’s global headquarters, we’re exposed to a great deal of really bad advice on how to look great on New Year’s Eve. It’s understandable – we’re constantly exposed to a great deal of really bad menswear advice in general. However, when we see suggestions as egregious as, for example, “Dress up your business casual by wearing a dinner jacket with chinos,” we do feel compelled to intervene.

Now, there’s no foolproof way to look great on New Year’s Eve, just as there’s no longer any foolproof way to look great all the time, period. After all, we don’t know what your plans are. You could be attending one of the ubiquitous 1920’s balls that pop up year after year. You may plan to arrive at a costume party festooned in peacock feathers (in which case, please invite us). You may be headed to a frat party (in which case, you have our pity). You may plan to spend the evening at home with loved ones. Our point is that there are no hard-and-fast rules for New Year’s Eve, aside from what you find written inside your party invitation. Frankly, that’s what makes it kind of fun.

Nevertheless, for those of us without glamorous balls to attend or kegs to stand upon, there may be a happy medium. New Year’s Eve is a chance for revelry and – dare we say it – hedonism, and at Styleforum we recommend you embrace that spirit in whichever form you see fit. Here are a few tips on how to look great when the lights go dim and the champagne starts to flow.

Outfit Tips

Avoid Office-Wear

Maybe this isn’t the time to wear a charcoal notch-lapel jacket and your well-worn chinos. It’s New Year’s Eve! Live a little! We’re not saying you have to wear a purple velvet suit (although you certainly could), but at least a pair of black jeans will look more festive than khaki trousers.

If you’re looking for a simple way to elevate your existing wardrobe but you don’t want to wear a tuxedo, consider sporting a trim black turtleneck under your sport coat. These look great with both solid colors and subtle patterns, and it’s an easy and inexpensive way to gussy up what you’ve got already.

Ditch your beat-up selvage denim

Bet you never thought we’d say that, but unless you’re taking cues for our most recent holiday outfit suggestion, consider hanging up your well-worn denim in favor of something a bit more polished. The aforementioned black jeans are one option, as are, y’know, trousers – black or navy are a good bet.  And on that note…

Embrace Dark Colors

Eveningwear tends to be dark, and for good reason – deep, lustrous colors pick up on the limited light sources that accompany a festive atmosphere without looking washed out or gaudy, have a more formal appearance, and are generally more forgiving under harsh light. That doesn’t mean you have to wear black, though – in fact, we recommend against it unless you’re wearing a tuxedo. Navy is a far more appropriate color for evening than grey, and midnight blue is a true classic for a dinner jacket or tuxedo. If you’re after something a bit more spirited, deep purples, navies or burgundies are rich and eye-catching without being gaudy. Options for your consideration include velvet and sharkskin, both of which look fantastic after dark.

Pay Attention to Your Shoes

We have read, on websites that shall not be named, that shoes don’t matter because nobody is going to look at your feet. Wrong, wrong, and wrong. Shoes are one of the few areas in which we regularly encourage our readers to engage in what could be construed as irresponsible spending, and one of the reasons is that people absolutely do notice what’s on your feet – including you. New Year’s Eve is an occasion that asks a bit more from us than our beat-up Converse sneakers.

Forego the chukkas, forego the pristine Common Projects, and try a pair of sleek black boots or even evening slippers for a more celebratory tone (or pumps, if you’re in a tuxedo). If you’re wearing a suit or tux, black wholecuts are always an elegant option, although oxfords – without a toe-cap – are also a solid choice for a formal occasion, and are much more versatile than a patent shoe.

Try Not To Overdo It

Seriously. Go ahead and wear that snakeskin-print dinner jacket if you want to. We can’t think of a more fitting occasion. However, we do feel compelled to warn you of the perils of over-accessorizing. The horrible truth is that you’re probably not as cool as Captain Jack Sparrow, and that few of us look nice when dripping in sparkly things.

Further Advice

Know Your Audience

Remember when we said we didn’t know what your plans are? You’re going to have to make your own judgement calls on what is or isn’t appropriate for your NYE plans. f you’re having people over for a night of board games, maybe don’t wear a tuxedo. Likewise, if you’re going out to a nice dinner with evening plans, don’t go in PJ’s. See what we’re saying here?

Wear Something You’re Comfortable In

Every year, we see photos of revelers in ridiculous themed outfits, star-shaped stunna shades, and intentionally absurd get-ups. In many of these images, tucked away in a shameful back corner, you can spot a party-goer who wasn’t quite feeling it. Maybe they didn’t really think they looked all that good in a fishnet bodystocking. Maybe they weren’t sold on the “Warning: May Contain Alcohol” t-shirt their friend insisted they wear under their jacket. Feeling uncomfortable in your own skin doesn’t lend itself to great style, and more importantly, it doesn’t lend itself to having a great time. If you really want to look great on New Year’s Eve, make sure that your outfit, even if it’s a party outfit, feels like you.

If that means ignoring everyone one of these pieces of advice, you have our blessing. We’d rather you have a great time in untied sneakers and a pair of gym shorts than feel like a schmuck in the finest tux.


Last, But Not Least

If you’re going to a black tie event…wear black tie.

From all of us at Styleforum, have a happy, stylish – and SAFE – New Year’s Eve!