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Sparkle and glow

Red and gold Christmas baubles on background of defocused golden lights. Shallow DOF.

November, December and January tend to be busy months for Christmas parties and year-end celebrations, not to mention New Year’s Eve.

If your social calendar is starting to fill up, you’re probably wondering what to wear. Many party dresses are sleeveless – which is great if you live in Arizona. In the frozen north, however, it’s tough to look dressy and keep warm.

Here are some ideas to sparkle-and-glow your way through party season:

  • The Little Black Dress (LBD) is a staple in any wardrobe. If your dress has sequins or other sparkly embellishments, but sure to keep jewelry to a tasteful minimum.fitted red sequin dress
  • Colour is a great way to stand out in a sea of LBDs. Jewel tones work especially well at this time of year.
  • Look for luxurious fabrics. Silk, cashmere, suede or leather lend an upscale feel to any outfit.
  • Make a statement. Choose a focal point for your outfit, such as a statement necklace, chandelier earrings or a sparkly cuff. Choose one only.
  • Classic and elegant are always in style. Avoid very trendy or deconstructed pieces that might appear too casual for the occasion.gold and black wrap
  • Carry a wrap. This is a much more elegant way of keeping bare shoulders warm than a jacket or sweater.
  • Heels are always appropriate for dress-up parties. Choose pumps as they are much more in keeping with our winter climate. Slinky sandals can work if you wear boots to the event and change into your shoes. Carry a drawstring bag into which you can put your boots and check the bag with your coat.
  • Consider slimming shapewear to ensure a smooth silhouette.
  • Mature women should avoid miniskirts. At or just above the knee with a killer pair of heels is very sexy.
  • If you’re not comfortable in a dress or skirt, consider loose, wide-legged trousers paired with a tuxedo jacket. Very of-the-moment and perfectly appropriate if styled with a gorgeous piece of jewelry. When wearing trousers, heels are de rigeur in order to maintain the feel of elegance.

If you’re unsure what the dress code means for your next event, check out my previous post on navigating dress requirements.

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Nothing worse than being underdressed

Recently, I was invited to a party that was supposed to be business casual, but when I got there all the guests were in cocktail dresses. I was in a skirt and top that, while ok, certainly weren’t up to cocktail standards. I’m not sure how the wires got crossed, but there’s nothing more uncomfortable! I swear I heard Sesame Street’s “One of These Things is Not Like the Others” playing in my head all night.

apple and orangesWhat to wear, what to wear…
Normally I err on the side of dressing up, on the general theory that it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. In this case, I specifically asked what the attire was supposed to be, but somehow everyone else got a different memo. To make matters worse, as a fashion blogger, it seems people are already judging what I wear. Talk about awkward! And, since I was stuck there like that, I had to grin and bear it all night.

So what lessons have I learned from this:
• When in doubt, ‘chic-up.’ Wear elegant shoes, and carry a great handbag or clutch to dress up your outfit.
• Bring a wrap, scarf or statement jewelry to throw on at the last minute, if necessary.
• Make sure your hair and makeup are perfect so that you look put together.
• Wear deep coloured lipstick – red, plum, deep pink or coral. Deeper shades tend to look more fashion forward.
• Try to relax! Fretting about it all night just makes the situation worse.

Sigh. Easier said than done sometimes!