The time is now to channel your inner James Bond! From turning up underdressed to getting too turnt up, it’s not always plain sailing through the festive circuit. So to help, in the wardrobe department at least, we compiled a handy guide to dress your best in the festive season ahead.

Start with a list, gentleman

Spend some time going through your eveningwear a few weeks ahead, making sure you have everything and that it has been dry-cleaned or, in the case of tailoring, steamed, so that it’s ready to go at a moment’s notice. The aim is to be the best-dressed guy in the room! Arm yourself with a dinner suit (if in doubt of the specifics, make yours an all-black number with a satin shawl lapel), a white shirt, bow tie and patent Oxford shoe, and you’re ready to cut a rug.

Shake things up

In addition to a dinner suit, consider investing in one killer jacket and trouser combination. You can mix this up with a fine knit, open-neck shirt or dress shirt and bow tie so that each event you feel a little bit different and appropriate for the dress code. By having a few solid separates at hand, you’ll have plenty of outfit options for less stuffy cocktail attire engagements. For a fail-safe pairing that can be dressed up or down to suit the occasion, try a navy blazer with a pair of grey trousers.

Don’t try too hard

There’s nothing worse than feeling underdressed at a party, especially if there is a work connection to the invitation – you won’t impress a prospective client or future boss by turning up unprepared.

Try to look like you haven’t tried too hard. A great way to pull this off is a velvet evening jacket. You can stand out from the crowd while still adhering to the party dress code. Add to that less common double-breasted cuts and shades of blue, and your options have just been blown wide open.

Bow tie it like you mean it

If the party is black tie, make sure you tie your bow tie yourself. It’s much smarter and should never appear perfect in the way that pre-tied bow ties do. If you don’t know how to tie a bow tie one around your neck, try tying one around your knee for practice. The box-fresh perfection of a ready-tied bow tie might seem like the ideal finishing touch, but what it actually says is you’re struggling to find your sartorial feet. Which is the last thing you want, whether it’s a blue-chip client or potential mate you’re wooing.

Put a pocket square on it

Unlike female partygoers, men don’t have the same breadth of formal options, so standing out depends on those little nuances that make a big difference when everyone else is attempting to channel their inner James Bond. Pocket squares complete a look. Whether it’s a suit, separate jacket or a tie or no tie occasion, a silk pocket square can make the outfit.