Invest In A Great Evening Bag. You'll Have It Forever.
Choose one in a standout color—it will add pop to neutral outfits and brights alike.
Handbags, Nina, $52 each; Zappos.com
Yes, You Can Wear Flats After Dark—And They Can Be Just As Special As Heels
Choose embellished styles or jewel tones for a dressy look that lets you stay on the dance floor longer.
Flats (from top): $325, LKBennett.com; $295, ToryBurch.com; $395, NicholasKirkwood.com; $150, SamEdelman.com; $239, PrettyBallerinas.com.
Make Your Daytime Jewelry Sparkle
Spice up everyday pieces with diamonds (real or not). The combination of simple and ornate makes the look fresh.
Enamel bangles, $65 each; RJGraziano.com. Crystal bangles, $55 each; Swarovski.com.
Photo: Creatas Images/Thinkstock
For A Three-Minute Facelift, Groom Your Brows
Filling them in will add polish to your holiday face, says L.A. Makeup Artist Molly R. Stern.
Before You Leave The Office, Perk Yourself Up With Wake-Up Makeup
First, apply concealer under your eyes. "It works like an eraser to clean up any smudges," says Stern. Add a fresh coat of mascara, followed by a bright cream blush dabbed on the apples of your cheeks and a dusting of glowy powder to diffuse it. Finally, "dip your pinkie in iridescent shadow and pop that on the center of your lids to brighten your eyes," says Stern.
From top: Marc Jacobs Beauty Lash Lifter in Blacquer, $26; MarcJacobsBeauty.com. L'Oréal Paris Visible Lift Blur Blush in Soft Berry, $13; drugstores. Charlotte Tilbury The Retoucher in Fair, $32; Nordstrom.com.
Collect Pieces That Do Double Duty
Look for accessories that go from day to night, like a purse upgraded with a sparkly pin.
Bag, $185, and brooches, $70 each; SarahOliverHandbags.com.
Try some multitasking makeup, too. A creamy formula that can be used for eyes, lips and cheeks, such as Nars The Multiple, saves money and space in your cosmetics bag.
From top: Nars The Multiple in Puerto Vallarta, Undress Me, Na Pali Coast, Orgasm, and G-Spot, $39 each; NarsCosmetics.com
Your Evening Watch Can Be As Pretty As Jewelry
Whether you layer it with bracelets or wear it solo, a hidden watch face guarantees you won't be tardy for the party.
Watch, Isaac Mizrahi Live! for QVC, $45; QVC.com.
Faux Fur Adds Luxury to Any Outfit
While we never condone wearing real fur, we'll happily go faux. Try a glamorous muffler, like the super-plush one here, or a vest or a jacket for full-on glitz.
Muffler, $88; Cache.com. Brooch, $680; MiriamHaskell.com.
A Little Sparkle Goes A Long Way...
In lieu of a tacky holiday sweater, try a cocktail tee. It's comfortable yet sleek, with a glittery neckline that draws attention to your face.
Tops, Rafaella, $58 each; Belk.com
...and that goes for makeup, too. Emphasize just one feature with an iridescent shadow, lip gloss or nail polish.
From left: Laura Geller Beauty 20 Shades of Baked, $49; Ulta.com. Tom Ford Beauty Eye Color Quad in Golden Mink, $79; NeimanMarcus.com. Stila Cosmetics Magnificent Metals Lip Gloss in Rose Quartz, $23; StilaCosmetics.com. Orly Nail Lacquer in Brush It On, $8.50; OrlyBeauty.com.
Don't Underestimate The Power of A Statement Skirt
Even a black turtleneck is ready for merrymaking when paired with one of these festive skirts.
Skirts (clockwise from top left): $178; USA.FrenchConnection.com. Worthington, $40; JCPenney.com. $298; JCrew.com. $198; EllaMoss.com.
Make A Day-to-Night Jacket Your Wardrobe MVP
Whether you choose a metallic tweed, a jewel-tone velvet or a boldly embellished leather moto style, a versatile jacket can take you just about anywhere—including that holiday gathering with the unhelpful "festive chic" dress code.
Jackets (from left to right, top to bottom): Sam Edelman, $159; Nordstrom.com. $250; MassimoDutti.com. Michael Michael Kors, $695; MichaelKors.com.
Keep A Special Occasion Stash At Your Office, And You'll Always Be Prepared to Celebrate
Your stash should include:
All-in-one makeup palette
Long sequined scarf
Sexy bustier or
Yves Saint Laurent Wildly Gold Limited Edition Palette, $95; YSLBeautyUS.com. Scarf, $60; AdrienneLandau.com.
You Can Never Go Wrong With Metallic Shoes
Silver or gold heels are your go-to party shoes: They are to evening what black or nude are to day, so don't be afraid to kick them up.
Gold pump, Diane von Furstenberg, $375; Nordstrom.com. Silver sandal, Badgley Mischka, $185; Nordstrom.com.
Adopt A Bold Red Lip
There's a flattering shade for everyone, from cool pinky blue to warm tomato-orange. After you apply it, "blot the heck out of it," says Stern. "A harsh line around the edge of the mouth tends to age you, so you want to soften it."
From top: Maybelline New York Color Sensational LipColor in On Fire Red, Neon Red, Red Revolution, and Red Revival, $8 each; drugstores
Mist Some Glossing Spray to Give Your Hair a Silky Sheen
But use a light hand—you're going for illuminated, not greasy-looking, results.
If The Invite Doesn't Have A Dress Code, It's Better to Overdress
You can always lose your tiara and sequined bolero if everyone else at the party is in jeans. But if you're in cutoffs and the other guests are in black tie, you'll feel more ragamuffin than Rihanna.
A Glam Accessory Gives You Instant Party Hair
Don't have time for a blow-out? Slip on a bejeweled headband or barrette.
Teal headband, $68; MarieHayden.com. Barrette, Chamak by Priya Kakkar, $120; Warren Tricomi Salon, 212-262-8899. Red headband, $30; Emi-Jay.com.
Consider Fancy Pants
Pants can be just as elegant and dressy as skirts. The key is to pair them with the right shoes. Try patterned pants and jeweled flats. Or choose dark blue jeans (without contrasting seams, for a more formal vibe) and pair them with snazzy heels.
Jeans, $118; CWonder.com. Pump, $895; SarahFlint.com. Pants, $119; Talbots.com. Flat, $975; PaulAndrew.com.
Photo: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Thinkstock
Master The Effortless Smoky Eye
Grab a shadow pencil and run it along your top and bottom lashlines. "Then use your finger or a Q-Tip to smudge the line slightly outward, keeping the intensity and darkness at the roots," says Stern.
Invest in an Evening Coat That Makes an Entrance
First impressions count, so choose your outerwear well. With an embellished coat like this, your look will be memorable even if you're wearing the most basic outfit underneath.
Coat, $368; USA.FrenchConnection.com.
Jewelry Gives You The Most Bang For Your Buck
There are plenty of statement jewelry options under $100, including this dramatic cocktail ring, an instant conversation starter.
Ring, Artisan Gems, $48; ArtisanGemsBoutique.com.
Yes, You Can Wear Strapless
Hiking up a wayward dress is so undignified. Avoid that with the proper undergarments, like this half corset that has more boning, length and support than a regular strapless bra.
Wacoal, $85; Wacoal-America.com.
Give exposed skin a chance to gleam. Use a shimmery body oil to highlight arms, shoulders, décolletage and legs.
Lucy B. Bronzing Shimmer Oil, $30; LucyBCosmetics.com.
Match Your Nails To Your Evening Bag
Color coordination equals sophistication.
Clutch, Bougainvillea, $296; BougainvilleaBoutique.com. Chanel Le Vernis in Holiday, $27; Chanel.com.
Switch to Navy, The New Black
We know you'll never give up your Little Black Dresses, but navy is a fresh alternative and complements a wider range of skin tones. Choose fabrics with a bit of shine to keep the look more ballroom than business.
Jumpsuit, Donna Morgan, $240; Donna-Morgan.com. Dress, $268; JuicyCouture.com. Skirt, $110; BananaRepublic.com.
Trade your ebony liner and mascara for dark blue. "It's softer and livelier than black," says New York City makeup artist Kristofer Buckle. "Navy also makes the whites of your eyes look whiter."
When In Doubt, Go For Colored Gems
They add a swanky touch to any outfit and are more playful than diamonds.
Bracelets, M. Haskell, $52 each; Macys.com.
Upgrade Your Ponytail
Lightly tease the crown "like a mohawk," suggests Harry Josh, John Frieda International Creative Consultant. Then brush all your hair back and secure it in a high ponytail. Mist it with hairspray and use a curling iron to curl one-inch sections. Brush out the ringlets to create loose waves and finish with another touch of hairspray.
Spritz On An Intense Floral Fragrance
The best party-worthy scent is an undeniably sexy, big, gorgeous bouquet, such as the warm and inviting Lancôme La Vie Est Belle L'Absolu de Parfum, which blends strong iris notes with elements of pear, black currant and tonka bean.