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If you’re anything like me, this is the time of year when your calendar is jam-packed. Drinks with friends, open houses, gift exchanges, family get-togethers, and other fun events often require back-to-back stops. My office is about 30 minutes from my house, meaning I don’t always get time to go home and freshen up after a long day of work. Here are some of my top tips for transitioning your work-day outfit to party appropriate—or even if you aren’t working, just for going from one event to the next and looking fresh.
How to Look Great at Every Event, No Matter How Packed Your Schedule Is
Plan your makeup in the morning and pack a touch up bag.
Often times, when I know I’m going out after work, I actually go a little simpler on my makeup in the morning. This isn’t the day when I try a funky eye shadow shade or go crazy with eye liner. I do make sure to wear a solid primer (this Yves Saint Laurent Forever Light Creator CC Primer in Apricot is my current favorite) to keep as much of my face makeup in intact as possible all day. Then, I choose a natural shadow shade that I can build on later. Into my makeup bag goes my Stila black eyeliner, my Dior mascara, and my Lorac contour palette so I can build on my base later and create a smokier eye for evening. I also always have my Chanel Ultrawear compact (a purse standard) for touching up any makeup that wore off during the day. After work, I make sure to plan a few minutes to either run into the bathroom at my office or sit in my car, collect myself, and touch up before running to my next stop.
Choose an outfit that can go from day to night with a few tweaks.
This is easier than it sounds. Again, you may need to bring an item or two with you, but with a little planning, it’s easy. Shoes and jewelry are the easiest swaps here.
Invest in a pair of sparkly heels.
Adding them takes a basic outfit from classic to party-worthy with one swap. The pair I’m wearing below was a serious sale splurge as they’re Manolo Blahniks I scored on sale from Saks Fifth Avenue.
Here are a few additional sparkle shoe picks:
Imagine Vince Camuto Pavi has a sexy, high heel and peep toe. Get these for 44% off retail price for $89 from 6pm.com.
These Michael Kors MK Flex Kitten Heel Pumps have a nice sparkle, but the low kitten heel means you’ll be standing strong even if the party lasts late into the night. $99 from Macy’s.
Solid sparkle, nice heel, and solidly positive reviews even from people with foot issues? Sign me up. $100 from Zappos.
Teeny tiny rhinestones all over take these INC International Concepts shoes up a notch from some of their fabric counterparts. And at $89.50 they aren’t too pricey for a high-quality look investment from Macy’s.
Consider a convertible shirt
One of the other keys to my outfit in the image above is a shirt that can be worn two ways. One style is more blousy and conservative for work, the other is more fun and flirty for an evening out. This way I didn’t even have to change! My exact piece is no longer available for purchase, but here are some other options:
This slouchy Go With the Snow Sweater can be worn as a classic cowl to work then refashioned as an off-the-shoulder sweater for evening. $55 from Modcloth.
This Chantel Slit Sleeve Off the Shoulder Top is available in five different colors/patterns and is designed to be worn on the shoulder with a small slit, which would be appropriate alone for some offices or under a blazer for others, and also off-the-shoulder, which is perfect for evening. $89 from Nordstrom.
This Michael Stars L/S Convertible Funnel w/Thumbholes is a bit more of an investment at $126.50, but with styling that’s meant to be worn as pictured or as an off-the-shoulder sweater and the quality knit fabric that Michael Stars is known for, I have a feeling you’ll wear it enough to make the money worth it. From Amazon.
Snag a statement necklace
The last key to my first evening outfit, a statement necklace quickly takes an outfit from plain to party. The one I’m wearing in the picture comes from one of my three spots I’d recommend you visit for affordable and fun options: The Pink Palm. This shop has more than Lily Pulitzer, including a stellar selection of costumer jewelry. My other two suggested stops include Frillseekers within The Shops at 5807 and Lou Lou in Carytown.
Try top layering
Of course, the easiest way to do this is with a blazer or traditional cardigan, but with so many more creative sweater options on the market, why not have some fun with fresh shapes? The base for this look is this Ann Taylor Strapless Flare Top, which happens to be insanely discounted right now. At $22, please hold while I purchase the black one as the red has become one of my go-to tops with its fun length and easy, flattering shape.
The black sweater in the daytime look came from a small boutique, but here are some similar looks to try over a similar top.
Want to try the style without a major investment? This lightweight knit criss-cross cardigan is available in sizes small to 3X and costs $14.99 to $18.99 from Shop.com.
I love the fringe detail on this Elan option and the button closure that means it can be worn open or as pictured. $59 from Dillard’s.
This Brigitte Bailey sweater is available in three colors and features an open weave knit so a glimpse of the shirt below shows through. $49.99 from 6pm.com.
Don’t dis flats as an evening option
You might think party immediately means you need to wear dressy heels, but when I wore my Kate Spade leopard flats to a party recently, people complimented them all night long and I was way more comfortable than friends in sky-high heels. They key to rocking flats is you need to look for pairs with the right embellishments to stand out. Some current favorites
These BHLDN flats may look like they’d be uncomfortable at first glance, but the areas that appear to but cut out are filled with mesh, keeping your precious tootsies protected. $185 from Anthropologie.
These loafers are available in five sparkly shades so pick your pleasure. $69.95 from Sole Society.
The delicate ankle strap on these Shoes of Prey x Megan Hess Fleur-de-lis Collection Sparkle Flats makes them a pretty choice with pants or a dress. $179.95 from Nordstrom.
The teal shade and blingy center on these Badgley Mischka ‘Davis’ Crystal Embellished Pointy Toe Flats are certain to draw eyes. $121.90 from Nordstrom.