When the time comes to go from work to wining and dining, all you’ll need are a few key pieces to take your look from corporate to completely chic.
A Standout Top
“Be it a sparkly cardigan or a well-fitting velvet blazer, an extra layer is often all it takes to give your office outfit that 'ready to party' look,” says bicoastal fashion stylist Aretha Busby. You’ll be amazed how much attention you get with a little shine and touchable texture. Just make sure what you’re wearing underneath is simple, like a black or ivory camisole rather than a busy print that will compete for attention.
One oversized piece of costume jewelry will have everyone eyeing your ensemble. “Large studs or jaw-dropping dangling earrings, like chandeliers or drops, are perfect switch-it-up pieces to have on hand when you have to dash to a party,” Busby says. “They quickly dress up any look -- even jeans.”
A chunky cocktail ring; a long, layered necklace; or an armful of bangles are also good options. (Choose one to avoid accessory overkill.) Best of all, you can find stunning pieces -- especially more trendy looks -- for less than $10 at shops like H&M, Claire's and Kohl’s.
Just ask Cinderella -- the chunkier the shoes, the less appropriate they are for a night on the town, especially when they’re navy or corporate brown. Trade in your trusty square toes for something more fun. “An irresistibly sexy shoe, like an animal-print slingback, metallic ballet flats or satin pumps can easily be stashed in a desk drawer for a quick change,” says Busby. “A kitten heel is also enough to give you a flirty presence.” No dangerous heights are needed!
A Dressy Scarf
“A rich-looking, textured scarf is a perfect last-minute add-on to your outfit,” says Busby. Wrapping a scarf around your neck is not only seasonably appropriate, it draws attention to one of the prettiest places on a woman -- the collarbone -- and it can cover a multitude of sins, including a double chin or a less-than-taut jawline.
Experiment with different ways of wearing a favorite scarf: loose and knotted, tied in a bow or wrapped around your neck with the loose ends hanging freely down your chest. “Stick to tones that are flattering on you yet still festive,” says Busby. Try cranberry or emerald during fall and winter. In spring and summer, go for a lightweight “summer” scarf in coral or turquoise prints. Classic black works year-round, especially in a glam light-velvet, crinkled silk or chiffon.
A Cute (Well-stocked) Clutch
Nothing says you made a mad dash out of the office like lugging your overstuffed workbag to cocktails. “Free your shoulder of all that weight and your mind of all the work worries by stowing a petite purse or evening clutch in your desk,” recommends Busby. Something black, metallic or embellished is always a good option, she adds.
Stocking your evening bag is just as important. The hair essentials? Hair-matching bobby pins and a travel-size hair spray, says Houston hairstylist James Phillips. “People don’t realize the power of a bobby pin,” he says. “You can hold your bangs back or move random pieces, go sideswept, or wrap a piece of hair around the holder of a low pony.” For the perfect party purse, add a stronger, nighttime fragrance like musk or tuberose, a soft kohl liner to intensify your eyes, a shimmering lip gloss and mints.