What To Wear To A New Year’s Eve Party (With NO Dress Code)

Do you know what you’re supposed to wear to a New Year’s party when there’s no dress code? We’ve got a few ideas for you. Obviously, if there is a dress code, follow that dress code. If you don’t know what it means, check out our in-depth guide on dress codes, where we explain what you’re supposed to wear. But when it doesn’t, it’s up to you to decide what to wear, which can be a challenge, too!

Today’s post is sponsored by the German modern luxury watch brand NOMOS Glashütte. They’ve great watches, but I’ll talk more about them later.

Quick Tips

First tip: If you’re ever unsure what a degree of formality is for your New Year’s Eve event, don’t hesitate to just reach out to the host and ask. Let’s say you don’t know the host very well, or you don’t know how to inquire, just ask yourself: What type of person is that? Obviously, if it’s a New Year’s Eve party at your grandma’s, the dress code is likely going to be different than if you’re invited to your skater college roommate’s New Year’s Eve party. Knowing what people expect can really help you be, at least, in the same realm. There’s nothing worse than showing up in your tracksuit when everyone else is wearing Black Tie.

Also, keep in mind that New Year’s Eve is usually a fun time. You welcome the new year, you’re excited, you can be playful, and this is not a business dinner. So, for you, that means feel empowered to be creative, to express your style the way you want to. Also, generally, it’s typically better to be overdressed than underdressed, so when in doubt, always dial it up a little bit. Frankly, if you can’t dress up for New Year’s Eve, well, when can you? Personally, I think you should avoid overly kitschy or novelty attire, like ugly Christmas sweaters, unless it goes with the theme of the party.

Should Men Wear Ugly Christmas Sweaters? Holiday Style Tips

Typical Dress Codes:

So, with all that said, what are typical New Year’s Eve party dress codes? You likely notice that many of our suggestions are more on the formal end of things, but after all, this is a channel about classic men’s style, for people who are really into that. Honestly, we love opportunities to dress up; the more formal, the better, and that’s especially true when celebrating.

Celebrations are a good opportunity to dress up
Celebrations are a good opportunity to dress up.

1. Traditional Black Tie

So, starting with the most formal outfit, it’s probably Traditional Black Tie. Man, I’d love to be invited to a New Year’s Eve White Tie party, but I doubt that will ever happen. So, maybe we’ll just have to have our own?

Photo of Preston in Black Tie standing near a microphone


NYE Party Dress Code

Nutshell, you start with a black or midnight blue tuxedo, which typically has a peak lapel or shawl collar; you wear a cummerbund or a vest; you’ll have studs; you have cufflinks; you have a pocket square; you have patent leather shoes; and you have a galon strip on the side of your pants.

Black Tie is governed by a very particular set of rules, and we have the world’s most comprehensive Black Tie guide. If you don’t want to read through all of that, we also have a pocket guide that helps someone who’s maybe not familiar with this dress code at all.

2. Contemporary Black Tie

If you want a bit more panache in your outfit, you could go with Contemporary Black Tie, sometimes also known as “Black Tie Alternative.” What do I mean by that? Well, it’s Black Tie, but it’s a little more creative. It’s a little more hip. It’s a little more personalized. While still formal, it’s usually a bit more casual.

It's formal, but a little bit casual
A formal but a little bit casual look, typical for Contemporary Black Tie.

You can also add more colors, pastel tones, red, green, patterns, whatever floats your boat really. Personally, I like velvet in more unusual colors because they’re different and fun. Also, it’s a great way to introduce different footwear. It’s not just the classic capless Oxford in box calf or patent leather, but you can have different slippers or just different looks that work for you and express your individual style.

3. Holiday Black Tie

Another way to express your sense of fun and whimsy is to go with holiday attire, sometimes they’re also known as “formal festive wear” or “formal festive attire.” These ensembles are typically still relatively formal outfits with a distinct holiday-ish bent. That means you typically see lots of plaids and checks, and that could be something classic like a Black Watch Tartan or kind of a fantasy check with tones of green and red. It could be in your jacket, it could be your pants, maybe your cummerbund, your pocket square. Some people even do their bow tie.

Tartan can be a good pattern for your NYE outfit
Tartan can be a good pattern for your NYE outfit!

They’re certainly really appealing to New Year’s Eve parties, which are about being funny, unusual, and welcoming the new year with a joyful mood. Best of all, you can get double duty out of those outfits for the holidays.

If you don’t have these specialty jackets, you can even take your regular plain jacket and accessorize it in a way so it looks rather different. Think about just using a pocket square. It elevates your look, but the fold can make a difference. White pocket square with a TV Fold, white pocket square with a relaxed Crown Fold, which is quite different. Also, instead of white linen, you could go with silk or wool or a blend thereof.

With prints, interesting colors, you immediately create a different vibe, or you can play with your socks. You can get some fun socks in different colors and materials. Maybe in silk if it’s a cool evening event or you go with a bold stripe. To learn more about how you combine shoes with socks and pants, check out our other guide.

Combining Socks, Shoes & Pants

If you’re in a budget and you still want to look different, maybe just exchange your shoelaces. Even if you have a regular dark brown or black pair of shoes, having a popping color in yellow, pink, green, or whatever floats your boat is one of the easiest way to make your outfit pop, make it fun, make it whimsical without breaking the bank; and best of all, it’s reversible. Or you can choose different accessories, such as fun cufflinks or a fun watch with a really cool, sparkly sunburst style for example, such as the one from our sponsor, NOMOS Glashütte.

4. Black Tie Optional

Let’s say you don’t have a tuxedo, maybe you can go with something that’s called Black Tie Optional. Basically, you’re wearing a dark suit with a dark tie. It could be a bow tie, could be a long necktie. It doesn’t matter. People will not be offended. Wear a white shirt and you fit right in.

Black Tie Optional
Preston in a Black Tie Optional optional.

Even if the dress code says “Black Tie” and you show up that way, no one is going to carry you away or is going to be upset with you because you show up underdressed. Basically, you recreate the Black Tie scheme with your existing wardrobe, thus not having to spend any extra money.

5. Cocktail Attire

Moving outside of formal evening attire, what dress code could be better associated with partying than cocktail attire? So, what on earth is that?

Cocktail Black Tie


Cocktail Attire

Basically, it’s the evening equivalent of business attire, and yes, you guess that we have an entire guide on just that dress code. If you had an interest in classic men’s style, chances are you already have all of these elements in your wardrobe. It could be a blazer outfit with gray pants; it could be a gray suit; it could be a fun, striped, three-piece suit; or a non-stripe, two-piece suit. It’s fun to accessorize. Nice cufflinks,  a boutonniere, a pocket square, socks, shoelaces, you name it. The sky’s the limit here.

Ideally, you want to create a memorable look that’s fun for the welcoming of the new year. You also want to look at local norms. My dad’s from Brazil, and when we celebrate New Year’s in Brazil, everyone wears white. So, I’m not the one who stands out and doesn’t wear white. I’ll just go with the flow.

6. Business Casual

If what we’ve shown you so far seems too stiff for you and too formal, worry not. There’s lots of other options. Basically, the next step down is what we call “business casual.” The idea behind is to stretch the difference between formal and informal, adding maybe things like a sweater or sweater vest. Maybe skipping the tie, but still wearing a jacket.

Business Casual
Business Casual can be a good option for NYE, too.

For this type of dress code, you don’t want to wear a suit, meaning your pants should not match the fabric of your jacket. Personally, I think it’s a very approachable dress code that makes you still look sharp and like you put some effort into what you’re wearing. Really, any jacket will do. If you have an heavy blazer, that’s great. If you are in a warmer climate, you know, wear a summer jacket, could be something like a seersucker. If I’m in a colder climate, maybe something flannelly or tweed is more appropriate.

Business Casual Men’s Attire & Dress Code Explained

7. Smart Casual Looks

If you associate wearing a jacket with stiffness and discomfort, just go with maybe a cardigan or a sweater. I’m a huge fan of tennis sweaters, especially ones with deep V-necks, so I can dress them up wearing a tie, and they have a very Ralph Lauren-esque look.

If that’s too much for you and you want to go more in the quiet luxury style, maybe get a neutral colored cardigan or sweater, and that’s fine, too. Again, you can also add fun accessories here. If you wear a dress shirt and you want to wear a tie, maybe add a collar clip.

For your pants, you can go with things like chinos, you can wear jeans, or you can wear corduroys, especially during the winter months. Just keep in mind that it’s a special night, and how many days out of the year do you wear denim? If the answer is 100 times, maybe you want to wear something else that’s a bit more special. That makes me think, when did I wear denim for the last time? It definitely has been a few years. So, for me, that means denim is really, really special.

Chinos or corduroy are great for smart casual It could be. Denim, too, if you wear it rarely.
Chinos or corduroy are great for smart casual It could be. Denim, too, if you wear it rarely.

When it comes to your shirt, maybe skip the plain white ones. Maybe you have more of a sports shirt with a button-down collar. Some patterns or an interesting collar style. Something that’s a bit more casual and doesn’t scream “business formal.”

If all you have is a white or a light blue shirt, wear it, and just combine it with more colorful accessories.

Outfits by Occasions

Now that we discussed the dress codes, sometimes, what you’re supposed to wear and what you’re not supposed to wear can also be heavily influenced by the occasion or the place you’re actually going to.

For example, it’s a civic event, or you’re invited to a New Year’s Eve party at an embassy, right? Chances are things are going to be a bit more formal. I would expect them to have a dress code, but if for some reason you’re unsure, just dress up a notch. So, you know, Black Tie, Black Tie Optional, Contemporary Black Tie will probably be what you want to wear on New Year’s Eve.

Dress up for events

Dressing up Is typical IN

Institutional or Charity Events

If you go to a private institutional event because you may be donating to the local orchestra or opera or whatever it is, again, chances are they’ll want to make it special, they want to make it memorable, and that usually goes hand-in-hand with dressing up. After all, most women will probably wear traditional evening gowns, so you don’t want to be like the slob next to them who looks like they don’t care how they appear. If you want to be different, maybe think about holiday.

Let’s say you’re invited to a formal New Year’s Eve party at a private residence. You’ll probably know the people and know how they dress, and so you can try to adapt to that. Just because they’re hosting the party doesn’t mean you have to adapt to a tee. You can still be yourself and express yourself through your style.

The importance is: No matter what you wear, just wear it with confidence and pride, and it will make you look good. If you wear a nice ensemble, but you’re really insecure about it, and you just don’t know if it’s the right thing, it will show.

Wear your style with confidence
Wear your style with confidence.

Keep in mind if you’re at a private residence and they want you to take off your shoes, maybe bring a pair of Albert slippers that you can wear with your outfit so you can still look stylish, and you can respect their wishes of not having street shoes indoors.

In recent years, more and more organizations, such as museums, galleries, and other art venues have started hosting New Year’s Eve parties. Sometimes with nice dinners, sometimes more cocktail-centered, but in general, typically, people like to dress up for those. Black Tie, Black Tie Optional, Contemporary Black Tie, holiday attire, that’s all probably in the right ballpark.

Cocktail Attire for office parties

A Slightly elevated office look

Cocktail is a Safe Option

If there’s an office-hosted New Year’s Eve party, you may wear something like cocktail attire. Of course, it all depends on your office and how people usually show up, but I would say, for an event like this, dress up a notch or two from what people typically wear at the office.

Maybe you reserved some pricey seats at a restaurant for a New Year’s Eve party and, again, when in doubt, always dress up. Try to understand: is it a white tablecloth destination, or do they serve barbecue? You don’t want to eat your ribs in your tuxedo.

By the way, if you want to hone in on your table manners for New Year’s Eve parties, we have guides for you.

Table Manners – The Ultimate Guide to Dining Etiquette

What about if you go to a nightclub? Honestly, then it really depends on what type of club it is and what people there typically wear. I can’t give you a blanket recommendation.

For a more informal New Year’s Eve party that’s more laidback, you can go with more like smart casual things or things you typically like to wear. Chances are, if you’re invited to something like this, you’ll know the people, you know what they typically wear, and I suggest you just call them to understand what they’re expecting. If they have a certain theme, it should be easier, but again, if you feel strongly about how you show up, it’s your New Year; wear what you want.

Casual or what you typical like to wear can be great, too.
Casual or what you typical like to wear can be great, too.

Keep in mind that you don’t want to make others feel uncomfortable all the time, and like they’re not worthy of your presence, so that’s just a kind of gamut you have to walk. So, for me, for example, people know me as the guy who’s always dressed up, so they’re never offended if I show up with a jacket when they just wear their general sweater and slacks. They just know it’s part of me, and the way I dress is about me and not about making them feel a certain way. We’re not power-dressing here or trying to show the world that we are better than others. So, for me, that means a pair of cords and a dress shirt, and a cardigan is probably as casual as it would get for a New Year’s Eve party.


Even if you have a very small New Year’s Eve party, maybe with just your partner or your immediate family, you can still put in a shirt and a nice pair of slacks. It’s much more fun popping a champagne that way than sitting there in your underwear.

Bring an overcoat for the cold

Keep Warm Outside

Have an overcoat ready

If it’s cold outside and you know you’re going to be outside to see the fireworks and celebrate, make sure you have a really good heavy overcoat that keeps you warm; likewise, have a good pair of gloves that keep you warm. Maybe a hat and definitely a scarf. Maybe it’s even time to get out that fur coat.

What are you going to wear for New Year’s Eve? Please send us pictures on Instagram or Facebook and leave a comment in the section below.

NOMOS Glashütte

Recently, they introduced their Club Sport Neomatik in 36, 39, and 42 mm. Their 39 mm model is their new size, and I really like it with their smoke sunburst style. I chose the jacket I’m wearing today because it really works well with this watch style, and it’s just a cool look that is not in your face. This new watch has been missing from their lineup and is now completing the Club Sport Neomatik collection.

NOMOS, in general, is known for a modern, clean, luxurious design, and this watch family doesn’t stray from the herd. In the past, NOMOS watches all had leather bracelets. This one has a steel bracelet that radiates maturity. With an overall watch height of just 8.4 mm, this is not in your face. It’s much more subtle and elegant. Perfectly suited, of course, to a New Year’s outfit if it’s not too formal. I wouldn’t wear a steel watch with a Black Tie ensemble, but with something more casual, like this sport coat ensemble, it makes perfect sense.

One of my favorite features about this watch is the sunburst dial. The smoke color looks a bit grayish, sometimes brownish, depending on the angle of the light. Best of all, when you’re outside watching your fireworks, and it’s dark in between, you can still reliably tell time because all the numerals markers and hands have been thickly coated in Super-LumiNova, which makes them illuminate in the dark.

In-house movement


In-House Movement

For today’s outfit, I’m wearing the Club Sport Neomatik 39 with the DUW (Deutsche Uhrenwerke) movement, which is DUW 3001 Movement. It’s an in-house movement, so it’s manufactured by NOMOS Glashütte in Germany, and it has a power reserve of up to 43 hours. With a height of just 3.2 mm, it is extremely thin, precise, and equipped with a proprietary escapement called the NOMOS Swing System.

If you want to learn more about it, head over to the NOMOS Glashütte website and check it out.

Outfit Rundown

So, this year, my New Year’s outfit is a bit more casual for my style. I’ll be spending it in Munich with my sister and my parents and my family, and so I’m wearing this silk-linen-wool blend jacket with a small herringbone in brown and oatmeal from Isaia. To see if it’s worth it, we got a guide for you. It has an interesting high buttoning point and peak lapels, which makes it more festive. 

I’m pairing it with a pale lavender shirt from Eton, a madder silk tie in red and blue from Fort Belvedere, as well as a pocket square that has tones of brown, blue, and red, which pick up the color of my brown Ford Belvedere corduroys and the brown-blue, shadow-stripe socks also from Ford Belvedere.

My shoes are from Warren Bespoke, which is a Germany-based, remote bespoke shoe company that’s really interesting. It’s this cool, like caviar leather with twists. You’ll learn more about it in future posts. Also, German is my NOMOS Glashütte Club Sport Neomatik watch brand in 39 mm. Again, it has this smoke sunburst style, and it goes really well with the color of my jacket.

Last but not least, I have a color-matching ring in white gold. It is a star sapphire with some baguette diamonds and picks up the colors of the watchband. To be in line with the fun and festive event, I’m wearing a boutonniere in light pink.

All the Fort Belvedere accessories are available in our shop. The NOMOS watch is available at various outlets, including on their website.

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.