Whether worn to a friend's house party, a corporate affair or a New Year's bash, this season's holiday looks are all about laid back elegance.

"Men are definitely prepared to spend money on holiday looks this season," asserts Jade Howe, designer and president of Huntington Beach, CA-based Hause of Howe. The rock-and-roll premium sportswear firm has several holiday looks this season, including a three-piece cotton velvet suit and sport coat. "We received re-orders in the first week we shipped them, and the weather was quite warm."

Besides velvet, this holiday's dressy styles include plush corduroy sport coats, tuxedo shirts and even a denim tux.

H&M's advice: "The hot look for holiday is a clean, tailored slim fit look. Men should try a velvet blazer to update [their] style or a striped sweater," says Jennifer Uglialoro, spokesperson. The evening wear portion of the retailer's uber-hot Viktor and Rolf collection includes tuxedo shirts and a denim blazer. At press time, V&R products were 85% sold out.

Overall, 20% of H&M's holiday season is focused on the luxe/dressy category. "Important items we focused on include velvet blazers, satin shirts, bowties, skinny ties and thin knit sweaters, which are more holiday and festive," Uglialoro says.

DKNY Jeans' Janice Sullivan, president, agrees with the style, saying men will look best this season in, "Dark straight jeans and a velvet blazer with a tuxedo shirt or printed knit." With this combination, she says, "You never look too dressy or too casual for almost any occasion."

This just-right synthesis of casual elegance is welcome this time of year. Cotton Incorporated's Lifestyle Monitor™ finds that when dressing for a party, 50% of men prefer to be slightly overdressed, while 44% lean toward being slightly underdressed.

The ultimate in dresseddown elegance has to be the denim tuxedo, offered by New York-based Plan B. Designer Stephen Hardy credits his design partner Tony Falwell for a thoroughly modern take on the 007 mainstay.

Dressing for Parties
Slightly Overdressed50%
Slightly Underdressed44%

"We thought it would be an amazing thing to do denim evening wear, and Tony said, 'Let's do a tux," Hardy recalls. The pair used a 9-ounce denim that goes through a "jelly wash" treatment, which lends the fabric a satiny drape and sheen.

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