Day-to-night Chic in a Flash

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.

Statement Jewelry
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.

Flirty Shoes
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.


Get Gorgeous for a Cause

Every woman knows there’s nothing frivolous about looking her most beautiful. And that’s even truer when you choose a new hairstyle, shoes, jewelry or even a perfume in ways that help others. Here’s how to look good while doing good:

1. Donate Your Ponytail
Do you admire the short, chic ’dos of stars like Carey Mulligan, Michelle Williams and Halle Berry and wish you had the nerve to chop off your own flowing tresses? Here’s a way to get your courage up. If your ponytail is 8 inches or longer, donate it to the Beautiful Lengths program and it will be turned into a real-hair wig for a woman battling cancer. A partnership between Pantene and the American Cancer Society, the program has collected over 270,000 ponytails and turned them into 18,000 free wigs. (It takes at least six ponies to make a wig.) Got a few long-haired friends who can also use a new look? Host a Beautiful Lengths party and go get your locks cut together.

2. Clean out Your Closet
Refurbishing your wardrobe by getting together with your girlfriends for clothing swaps is a good idea. An even better idea: While you’re trading favorite togs with your BFFs, make a pile of party dresses and accessories to donate to an organization that provides prom dresses for girls who can’t otherwise afford them. (Google “donate my prom dress” and you’ll find organizations like The Princess Project, Donate My Dress and the Fairy Glam Project.) Make a second pile of suits, interview-appropriate separates, shoes, handbags and unopened cosmetics for Dress for Success, the national nonprofit organization that distributes outfits to disadvantaged women who are trying to enter the workforce.

3. Buy One, Give One
There’s no need to shop with a guilty conscience. Instead, seek out retailers that follow the “buy one, give one” concept pioneered by TOMS Shoes. With every pair of shoes you purchase, the company donates a pair to a needy child. (We have our eye on their fall corduroy wedges!) Need a new pair of specs? Buy a pair of $95 prescription glasses at the online boutique Warby Parker and they’ll provide a pair to someone in the world who doesn’t have access to good vision care. And as temperatures start to drop, you might be thinking of dressing up your bed with a new comforter. Purchase one through The Company Store and a homeless child will get one too.

4. Bejewel Yourself
You can deck yourself out in accessories and give to a good cause at the same time. The supermodel Iman has designed a chic baby-blue-and-white version of the lariat bracelets we all used to make in summer camp. All proceeds go to Save the Children’s efforts to treat malnourished children in Iman’s home country of Somalia and throughout East Africa. You can find the $35 Modelinia Beautiful Friends Forever bracelets at the Noir Jewelry online boutique. You’ll be hearing a lot about actress Rooney Mara -- star of the upcoming film The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo -- which will make the striking necklace she designed for eco-friendly jewelry line Kora even more of a conversation piece. Made from dyed recycled cow bone and wrapped with recycled brass and aluminum cuttings, the $95 necklace is crafted by local African artisans. One-hundred percent of the proceeds benefit families in Kenya’s impoverished slums. Find the necklace on the Kora Designs website.

5. Spritz on a Little Bieber
Admit it: You think Justin Bieber is kind of adorable. Now you can wear him behind your ears with Someday, his new scent for women. It’s a catchy, fresh everyday fragrance with notes of mandarin, juicy pear, jasmine, musk and vanilla. Better yet, the sweetness lingers even after the scent fades. All profits go to two of Bieber’s favorite charities: the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Pencils of Promise, which build schools in poverty-stricken areas throughout the world.


Layering Made Easy

Do you find yourself struggling to dress appropriately when going from the tropical weather outdoors -- even with the rainy season -- to air-conditioning that greets you the minute you start your morning commute? Fluctuating temperatures can present fashion dilemmas of the layering kind. How much is too much, and how can you pile on clothing stylishly?

“Start simple,” says Anne Bella, former fashion editor at Preview Magazine and in-house fashion stylist for the SM Department Store chain. “Practice with the items you already have: a sweater over a button-down shirt, a vest over a polo, or a cardigan over your favorite sundress.”

Building Your Best Base
Bella advises wearing a thin base layer to minimize bulging and bumps, and to keep a neat look overall. “Layering thin fabrics is a must in hot and humid places, especially if you’re doing it for fashion,” says Bella. “However, make sure your top layer serves its purpose and will keep you warm in air-conditioning.” Try a sheer lace top under a thin knit sweater or cardigan. “Avoid wool, fur or any thick fabric, unless you don’t mind looking like a (sweaty) fool.”

A great top-layer investment is a thinly lined navy blazer, which goes with practically everything. When traveling, it’s also an easy way to look dressed-up and stay warm and comfortable at the terminal, which tends to be colder than expected.

Cute and Classic Combos

Try these stylist-approved buildable wardrobe pairings:

  • For a classic preppy look, layer a lightweight sweater over a pique polo shirt.
  • On a breezy, rainy day, don a turtleneck shirt over or under a sundress.
  • For a no-frills layering option, wear a cardigan over a tank top. This also tempers the skimpy factor of a low-cut tank.
  • Feeling trendy? Try the androgynous look by layering a tuxedo jacket over a cocktail dress.

Make Use of Color
“Color is always key in layering. Make sure the ones you choose complement each other or have meaningful contrast,” says Bella. “Texture also makes things interesting: A sequined top under a knit cardigan creates a unique statement.” Speaking of cardigans, a pop of color can tone down the frump factor. Try one in mustard, tangerine or violet. If you work at a place where a loud-colored cardi isn’t exactly office-appropriate, try a classic hue in a modern boyfriend cut, and accessorize it accordingly with a vibrant cobalt skinny belt, a bejeweled pin or an elegant brooch.

As for accessories, you can go minimalist or all-out statement. “It all depends on your personal style and what type of layering you put together,” says Bella, who suggests wearing a contrasting leather cuff with a ladylike ensemble if you’re daring, or pairing a costume statement necklace with a simple T-shirt, jeans and sweater. “Accessories should anchor or complement a look,” she says.

Wrap It Up

If layering isn’t your thing, a chic and warm alternative is a scarf. Celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker, Camilla Belle and Jessica Alba may be responsible for popularizing scarves for all-year wear. Actress and singer Selena Gomez claims she wears hers even when outside temps reach 100 F!

How to Shop Online Flash Sales

J Brand jeans, Gucci sunglasses, Hanky Panky thongs, Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dresses, Stuart Weitzman stilettos, Botkier handbags and TAG Heuer watches: All at a fraction of their retail price. If you’re the kind of woman who finds fashion bargains to be more irresistible than brownies, chances are you’ve already discovered the world of online flash sales. At leading flash sites, like Rue La La, HauteLook, Gilt Groupe and Ideeli, along with dozens of new ones that pop up weekly, high-end fashion is offered for up to 80 percent off.

Shopping a flash sale takes planning and decisiveness. Each limited-time sale lasts for only 24 to 72 hours with the pick of the online litter going almost instantly. Any woman who regularly shops flash sales can tell wrenching tales of the platform sandals or classic trench coat that ended up “In member’s cart” just as she was about to click “Buy.”

Want a competitive edge? Follow these shopping tips from the pros.

Do advance scouting. Many flash sales sites have an “Upcoming” tab that lists the labels that will be going on sale in the next few days. Familiarize yourself with the possible inventory and select your top picks by checking out the current line on department store sites and the designer’s own website.

Be prompt. Online boutiques open their virtual doors the same time every day, so get to know their schedule. New sales at HauteLook and Rue La La go live at 11 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, Gilt Groupe at noon. Have your mouse posed for action. “Sign in early to check out the lists of sales before they go live, and hit refresh right at 12 p.m. ET to enter the sale as soon as it begins,” suggest Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, a founder and chief merchandising officer of

Use all the tools that are out there, suggests Kerry Bennett, marketing vice president for Some sites have mobile apps that allow you to shop on the go. Becoming a Facebook fan or following a site on Twitter can get you perks, like early previews and friends-only sales.

Shop from the bottom up, suggests Wilson. “Most people begin shopping at the top of the page, and those items get snapped up early,” she says. If you’re even considering an item, drop it in your shopping cart immediately. Sites typically give you 10 or 15 minutes before you have to make the purchase. If the piece you want is sold out, use the “Wait list” option. Items frequently become available as shoppers give them up -- or reach their “Time’s up” limit -- and you’ll be notified as soon as that happens.

Make a shopping list. Know what you need to buy, suggests Kim Turner, an image consultant with “Just like with other sales, if you just buy something because it’s on sale, then you’ll find it sitting in the back of your closet, unworn. An unused item is never a bargain,” she says.

Know your body measurements. The dress that hits the mid-thigh of the tall model featured on a shopping site might land just above the knee on you if you’re 5 feet 3 inches tall. Shopping sites generally include the length of garments, and that can be the most reliable predictor of fit. Turner suggests taking four measurements, using pieces in your wardrobe that fit you perfectly: Inseam (measure a pair of pants from crotch to hem); ideal dress length (measure from shoulder to hem); ideal skirt length (run the tape measure from waist to hem), and sleeve length (measure from shoulder to the end of sleeve).

Summer's Hottest Hats

Hats are this summer’s must-have accessory. They will not only add a dash of chic to any daytime outfit -- making even last year’s wardrobe look fresh -- but also protect your skin and hair from the scorching sun. And, as guests at Kate and William’s royal wedding showed, a well-chosen topper can take a cocktail dress or formal gown to new heights of glamour.

Yes, a fascinator -- those small embellished hats that sit adorably just off the side of the head -- can be overdone and look absurd. (That’s right, princess Beatrice, we’re talking about you!) But done with the right proportion of panache and restraint, a fascinator is head-turning -- without being jaw-dropping -- as Victoria Beckham proved with the navy Philip Treacy fascinator she donned when the duke and duchess of Cambridge exchanged vows in Westminster Abbey.

Whether you’re headed off to a beach holiday or a stylish wedding, or just chillin’ in the city, here’s how to choose the right head-topper for you.

A Weekend in the City

A fedora with a menswear feel is the perfect way to add a touch of chic on that steamy day spent running errands, hanging in the park or enjoying some sightseeing in a new city. What make this season’s styles fresh are updated fabrics and fine-tuned details. The Origami fedora by Michael Stars, for example, offers a black and cream graphic pattern, while Target’s Xhilaration fedora is a summery shade of green with a paisley scarf above the brim. Traditional fedoras look fresh with a lace or striped grosgrain ribbon band; try them as a stylish counterpoint to a flirty short summer dress.

Cowboy Hat
Another daytime option is the cowboy hat, a fetching look when you’re wearing a halter top or T-shirt with straight jeans, cutoffs or more polished shorts. This year, you can find them in ivory decorated with tortoise-shell links, or in crocheted raffia with a thin leather band. For inspiration, check out the collections at large online boutiques, like

Floppy Hat
Less structured floppy hats add a sexy pop to the maxi dress, one of the season’s staples. Kate Spade offers one with an oversized brim and citrus-colored stripes, while Juicy Couture’s woven paper-straw hat features shimmery stripes in combinations like white and gold or orange and natural.

A Day at the Beach
Wide-brimmed Hat

Wide-brimmed hats will always look glamorous on the sand or around a kidney-shaped pool. J. Crew has one with an extra-wide brim and ruby or indigo stripes. Madewell’s version in black straw will take you from floating on a raft at noon to margaritas at sunset.

Tightly Woven Hat
Darker-hued or tightly woven hats offer extra sun protection, but to be sure you’re guarding against damaging UV rays, choose one with a label that says it’s certified UPF 50. UPF stands for ultraviolet protection fabric; it’s the clothing equivalent of the SPF ratings you find on sunscreens.

A Summer Wedding

You don’t need to be attending a royal wedding to show off a fascinator. A hybrid of a hair accessory and cocktail hat, fascinators are made of whimsical materials like feathers, flowers, lace, ribbons, beds or sequins, which are attached to a base and then fastened to a comb, clip or headband. Whether you’re wearing something flouncy and sherbet-hued or a classic black cocktail dress, there is a fascinator that will perfectly complement your look. Find one at websites like and (a British site that ships to the U.S.).

If it’s a daytime wedding, consider flowers and lace. For an evening event, go for the drama of sequins and feathers. Just remember to wear the fascinator askew, and not right in the center of your head; that’s part of its off-center charm.

Photo: Getty Images