Dressing for the holiday office party can be a mixed bag. Do you embrace the festive aspects of the holiday with a snowman-themed tie, Santa Claus socks, and a nutcracker pin… do you treat it like any other day of work and not worry about your grays and blues discouraging Christmas revelry… or do you meet somewhere in the middle, maybe wearing a tie with some holiday color but not looking much different than you would any other Monday?
As a satirical look at American work life, NBC’s The Office fully leaned into some of the most absurd aspects of corporate culture from ridiculous jargon and petty office politics to the time-honored tradition of the office holiday party. Over its nine seasons, The Office dedicated seven episodes to corporate Christmas celebrations (seasons one and four were the exception), all showcasing the unadvisable drinking, flirtations, and holiday outfits that cogs of the real-life corporate machine can identify with all too well.
This week is probably kicking off a bulk of your workplace holiday parties, so—in the spirit of Christmas—enjoy this ranking of the male characters’ outfits during the third season’s “A Benihana Christmas”, one of my favorite Christmas episodes and something that gets just as much airplay for me during the holiday season as classic films like Christmas Vacation, Elf, and White Christmas do.
Series: The Office
Episode: “A Benihana Christmas” (Episode 3.10-3.11)
Air Date: December 14, 2006
Director: Harold Ramis
Creator: Greg Daniels
Costume Designer: Carey Bennett
Keeping in mind both the quality of each outfit and their appropriateness for a workplace holiday party, I ranked the 11 male characters from the Dunder-Mifflin office who show up for one or both of the office’s respective Christmas parties, whether it be Angela’s Nutcracker Christmas or Pam and Karen’s Margarita Karaoke Christmas. (However, I did not include Roy, as I deemed his simple shirt and pants as too pedestrian to be of any sartorial interest, even for the sake of comparison.)
11. Andy Bernard (Ed Helms)
So she looks at me, right, and she goes, “I’m sorry, don’t I even know you?” After a year—a year—of buying lattes from her, do you believe that?
As the male character who arguably cares most about his wardrobe and appearance, the office sycophant Andy Bernard is the biggest sartorial disappointment for his first Christmas party at the Scranton branch.
Andy’s navy houndstooth suit and checked shirt are actually quite nice, but the cheap-looking satin-finished tie with its wide stripes alternating in bright red and retina-burning green ruins an otherwise decent outfit. Even if an argument could be made for the tie, Andy still makes no effort to actually coordinate the rest of his outfit.
It’s the wasted potential—as well as his boorish behavior in this episode—that truly pushes poor Andy to the bottom of this list, below the snowman-printed ties and the short-sleeved shirts (though anyone sporting a combination of both would surely be on the bottom spot.) No wonder Dwight shoved a door closed in his face.
Better luck next year, Bernard.
Update! In November 2021, The Art of Costume released an entertaining podcast episode featuring The Office costume designer Carey Bennett, where she mentioned that “this tie, for me, is actually so cringey… because Andy’s ties were always these really bright, obnoxious preppy ties, but I could not find one that was Christmassy! We literally made [his tie] at the last minute, and—if you really look carefully at it—it’s a red tie with green ribbons sewn to it.”
10. Kevin Malone (Brian Baumgartner)
I hear Angela’s party will have double-fudge brownies. It will also have Angela.
You have to respect Kevin for ditching his suit jacket early to wear a robe around the office. It’s far from stylish but comfortable enough that Kevin wouldn’t mind his place toward the bottom of this list. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with a snowman tie, a corpulent fella like Kevin should probably avoid any sort of neckwear that draws attention to his not-unsubstantial belly area… especially when it’s a rotund snowman painted on the blade of his tie.
9. Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson)
I accidentally ran over it. It’s a Christmas miracle!
Ah, Dwight, of all people… you almost pulled it off! Dunder-Mifflin Scranton’s assistant to the regional manager actually looks rather inspired in his variations of green, an under-utilized holiday color, with an olive suit and a low-contrast outfit that avoids excess flash. The tie’s a bit frantic, but even Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond wore some excessively patterned neckwear, an appropriate comparison as the CIA has been, uh, courting Dwight for a secret holiday mission.
The muted green metallic shirt takes the outfit into something appropriate for evening revelry that can be worn with a suit and tie without looking like you came straight from a staff meeting… if only that shirt had long sleeves. The short-sleeved shirt with a suit and tie downgrades Dwight’s look from a dark horse candidate for the top spot to something you’d expect from your high school principal.
8. Ryan Howard (B.J. Novak)
I miss the days when there was only one party I didn’t want to go to.
As you’d expect from his talking head moment as well as his general demeanor, erstwhile temp Ryan Howard doesn’t even try to dress for his office’s holiday fun, ignoring the traditional Christmas colors in favor of a blue-centered outfit that would look fine any day of the year. (True, it could be argued that he’s wearing blue and white to reflect Hanukkah, or even winter snow, but it can be reasonably assumed that Ryan was not considering this when he dressed for work.)
Despite the lack of seasonal festivity, the items themselves are fine enough, from the micro-striped navy suit and white point-collar shirt to the striped tie in its shades of navy, periwinkle, and white.
7. Michael Scott (Steve Carell)
I’d like everybody’s attention. Christmas is canceled.
Michael Scott does a fair job coordinating his outfit, consisting of an off-the-rack gray suit with a subtle blue pinstripe that nicely works with his light slate blue-colored shirt. It’s the sort of outfit that would go perfectly with a navy silk tie which, to be fair, at least describes Michael’s tie knot.
Michael’s silk snowmen-and-Santa tie made its first appearance in the second season masterpiece “Christmas Party”. Working up from the tie blade, the scene painted on the tie consists of jolly old St. Nicholas singing from a book of Christmas carols as the musical notes waft up to four snowmen—dressed in red and green, of course—who accompany him. The snowmen are singing next to a fully decorated Christmas tree, and further up the snowbank (and closer to the tie knot) is a brown chalet with smoke blowing from the chimney into the snowy dark blue sky. You can see more of the tie in this Amazon listing, though it appears to be out of stock as of December 2018.
Such an ostentatious tie might have earned Michael a lower spot on the list, but he gets some sympathy points after the devastating and humiliating breakup with Carol… there aren’t enough nog-a-sakes or James Blunt song previews on iTunes in the world to make up for that sort of pain.
Update! Carey Bennett explained in the aforementioned November 2021 episode of The Art of Costume that many of Michael Scott’s ties—including this one, and its multiples—were purchased at the now-defunct California-based department store Meryvn’s.
6. Darryl Philbin (Craig Robinson)
Hey, look, when you get done with your… meeting, you should come to the break room. We’re having a party.
In his blue striped shirt and dark jeans, Darryl bridges the gap between the better and lesser dressed gents of Dunder-Mifflin Scranton. Of them all, he looks the most ready to party, though the untucked shirt tails, jeans, and exposed T-shirt underneath may be a bit too casual for most offices.
5. Jim Halpert (John Krasinski)
It’s a bold move to Photoshop yourself into a picture with your girlfriend and her kids on a ski trip with their real father. But then again, Michael’s a bold guy… is bold the right word?
As Jim pontificates on “bold moves”, he remains characteristically un-bold in his manner of dressing. His pedestrian taupe suit, off-white shirt, and dark tie could have been featured in any other episode, but where Jim should get some credit is adapting his everyday “uniform” to nod to the holiday. For better or worse, the down-to-earth Jim isn’t the type of guy who’s going to wear a Santa tie or a tie obnoxiously striped in the colors of the season just to reflect the holiday.
However, his silk tie, woven in burgundy, tan, and black stripes, appears to be the same one he wore for the previous year’s Christmas party. Evidently, the deep burgundy in the tie is Jim’s way of being festive, and we have to respect that. After all, it’s probably the most exciting tie he owns.
4. Stanley Hudson (Leslie David Baker)
I’m going to the party in the break room, because they have more chairs in there. If I have to stand around a long time, I get real unpleasant to be around.
[from a deleted scene]
And speaking of Stanley… Dunder-Mifflin Scranton’s grumpy senior sales rep dresses rather well for the party in “A Benihana Christmas”, though it’s likely that he was also just dressing for a day at the office. His floral patterned tie adds an air of festivity without relying too hard on holiday or winter imagery, and the bold shade of his suit makes it stand out more than the typical navy suit, while the thin burgundy and blue stripes of his shirt bring it all together.
3. Toby Flenderson (Paul Lieberstein)
Say what you will about Toby Flenderson—and people have said plenty—the guy doesn’t too a half-bad job when dressing for his company Christmas party. Especially in the context of his less-than-ideal home life, Toby pulls it together for a day at the office that often brings out the worst in people with a decent brown houndstooth jacket, brown slacks, and a subtly striped shirt.
Of all the guys wearing obvious holiday ties, Toby does it best. From a distance, you can hardly tell that the orderly, repeating red-and-yellow pattern on the oft-beleaguered Toby’s neckwear is a series of nutcrackers.
2. Oscar Martinez (Oscar Nunez)
Shortly after returning from his Dunder-Mifflin-paid three-month vacation in Europe, Oscar makes his first reappearance on The Office for a single shot at the Christmas party. The site of Dwight holding Angela’s microphone as she sings “The Little Drummer Boy” is too much for the accountant, however, and he leaves with his boyfriend Gil after deeming his return to be too soon.
Oscar’s departure is a sartorial loss for the episode, as the short glimpse we get shows one of the stronger holiday party outfits of the episode. He wears a burgundy crew-neck sweater with a large-scaled indigo cross-check, an indigo striped scarf, a lilac button-down collar shirt, and light brown slacks. With the sweater making a return after he had worn it to Jim’s party in “Email Surveillance” (Episode 2.09), Oscar’s subtle, comfortable outfit is festive without being too loud, and it’s certainly an improvement over the reindeer-scattered red tie he had worn for the previous year’s party… however, Oscar wasn’t coming from a day in the office so—like Darryl—he had the advantage of not being restricted to a jacket and tie.
1. Creed Bratton
I don’t care which party I go to. Once you’ve danced naked at a hash bonfire with the spirits of the dead, all parties seem pretty much the same.
[from a deleted scene]
Okay, Creed, way to bring it. While some fit issues leave a bit to be desired, Creed’s aesthetic of a dark suit, non-white (but not too dark) shirt, and reddish tie is a timeless example of how a man can dress for an office Christmas party without attracting too much attention for going overboard…or for ignoring the holiday altogether.
A simple charcoal wool suit is essential for every man’s closet, as this versatile suit works just as well for a day behind the desk as well as a night on the town. Creed also wears a light gray shirt with a spread collar and a distinctive two-button barrel cuff.
I’m a sucker for incorporating some seasonal color during the holidays, and Creed’s ritzy tie of burgundy and gray gradient stripes—while being one we’ve seen in several other second and third season episodes, beginning with “The Dundies” (Episode 2.01)—nicely nods to Christmas while adhering to the suit and shirt’s gray palette. In fact, the neutral gray of the suit and shirt make the reddish tones of the tie pop even more.
Happy holidays, BAMF Style readers!
I hope all of you, particularly fans of The Office, enjoyed this exploration into one of my favorite holiday episodes.