I don’t want to alarm any of you, but the holidays are right around the corner. It doesn’t seem possible, but I have my first holiday party at the end of this month. I’ll admit that the season is kicking off a couple of weeks earlier than usual, but I hope to use that to my advantage. This year I’m going to be prepared for it all — fashionably speaking, of course. No running to the mall at the last minute in quest of the perfect black dress, no evenings spent full of outfit regret. Whether it’s a casual open house or formal event, I will be at the top of my game … I hope.
There’s no doubt that the holidays are hectic. With so much to do, it’s easy to put off planning your look for the various events that you are likely to attend. We are quickly closing in on the time of the year when I get frantic, last minute “what I am going to wear to this event” calls. To get your party season off to a good start, I have a few suggestions on how to look your best at any gathering you attend.
You receive an invitation to a party, and it doesn’t specify what the dress code is. What do you do? You don’t want to show up in jeans to find that everyone else is in evening wear. When in doubt, ask the host or hostess. This can be handled with a quick phone call or e-mail to the effect of “I’m so excited to attend your party — thanks for inviting me. What is the dress code for the evening?” Simple and to the point. I assure you that you won’t be the only guest to inquire about proper attire. Your host will appreciate your consideration — after all, they want each of their guests to feel comfortable and enjoy the affair.
What do you wear to an event that is black tie optional? This means that you can choose between black tie and cocktail attire. Black tie attire for ladies would include long or short evening dresses, fancy cocktail dresses or evening trousers paired with a dressy top. At the most formal evening black tie events, wearing a ball gown would be appropriate. Cocktail attire includes cocktail dresses (not floor length) or dressy evening separates. For a “black tie optional” event, I would recommend steering clear of a ball gown unless your goal is to be the center of attention.
Let’s say you’re attending an event as a guest of an invited guest, and you’re not sure what the appropriate attire is. In this situation, I recommend going in between with the use of layers. A sleeveless black shift dress worn with a modern cardigan, fashionable belt and chunky accessories is a great “go-to” outfit. If you show up to find the atmosphere is a little dressier, you can slip off the cardigan for the perfect little-black-dress look. If the atmosphere is a bit more subdued, leave the cardigan on and slip off a few of the accessories if you’d like. You can accomplish the same thing with trousers and a sleeveless top worn under a jacket or cardigan. Remember, it’s always better to be a bit overdressed than underdressed.
Don’t feel like you have to go out and buy all brand new pieces for this year’s parties — it’s hip to be thrifty these days. Some of my best finds have been at consignment shops. You can find beaded shirts and evening dresses for a fraction of what you’d pay for them brand new (one local shop even has a fur room, for those of you that are interested). Just make sure to look over your garments carefully before you buy them, since most consignment stores have an “all sales final” policy. Remember to shop your closet, too. You can mix and match the evening separates you already own to create a brand new look. If you’re lucky enough to have friends or family members that wear the same size as you, don’t hesitate to swap clothes with them. They just may have the perfect top to go with your favorite pair of evening trousers.
No matter what you wear, remember this: choosing the right accessories will take your look from simple to spectacular. Do you remember Angelina Jolie’s look at the Oscars? She donned a simple black dress, carried a black clutch and knocked her look out of the park with an amazing pair of jade earrings. You can accomplish the same thing with a pair of statement earrings or a necklace. Not into jewelry? A pair of show-stopping shoes makes the most basic outfits fabulous. Just think how wearing a pair of killer red shoes with a black dress will show off your personality and attention to detail. Wherever you go this season, I hope you look fabulous, relax and have fun!