Friday, September 16, 2005

How to Dress for a Party

If you ever watch Everybody Loves Raymond, you may have seen the episode where his daughter Allie was invited to a party and all the attendees were asked to purchase similar looking dresses from a particularly expensive store. After much ballyhoo, she arrives at the party with the dress on, but everyone else opted for normal party wear because the dress was too expensive. We've all been in the situation where we weren't exactly sure what to wear to an event and were paranoid we'd look ridiculous if we over- or under-dressed. Don't let that happen to you! There are a few things you can keep in mind.

The first order of business is to ask a friend what she is wearing. At the very least you'll have one similarly dressed ally. Then ask your friend who else is going, because let's face it - if your sworn enemy is going, you want to look better than her. The key, though, is looking fabulous without looking like you're trying to look fabulous. My trick is to wear a pair of really nice jeans. You know, the clean ones that make your butt look great and are the perfect length. Match this with a camisole and fitted jacket and you have a pretty outfit that doesn't look like you tried too hard. Keep Sharon Stone in mind for this task. Channel her. Remember when she went to the Oscars wearing a black turtleneck and slacks? Remember how nuts everyone went over how good she looked? That's what you want to happen. Sharon did a couple of things that need a second look, because they will perk your outfit up from casual to chic in a matter of $10.

Go to Claire's, or the Icing, or one of those other cheap, fun jewelry stores and find a set of earrings and necklace that suit your outfit well. Pick some gorgeous, large earrings and a dynamic necklace to go with the low-cut camisole. The ones at left are a great pair of earrings, but pick jewelry that expresses you perfectly and matches you well. The accessories really make the outfit, as do the shoes. The other day my boyfriend asked me, "What is it with girls and shoes?" What I tried to explain to him (in vain, I might add) is that the perfect shoe is what takes an outfit from unfinished to unbeatable.

The shoe can change the entire dynamic of the outfit, and it also changes how you feel and carry yourself. In sneakers, we tend to feel casual and walk like buffalo. In heels we feel sexier and walk more womanly as well. Of course, this can also be true for a great pair of flats, so if you're not the stiletto sort, feel free to find a pair of flats or kitten heels (at right) that make you feel like a movie star. Pick an interesting color, too. You don't want to wear boring black all the time, do you? So now you've got everything under control. Pick a cute clutch handbag and put in only the essentials. You'll show up to that party looking cosmopolitan chic but ready to dance the night away.