How to Dress for a Night Out

It’s fascinating that dressy evening events — cocktail receptions, charity galas, premieres — elicit such excitement of anticipation, yet so frequently disappoint from a fashion perspective. Why is it that so many people choose evening wear that is lackluster? The lamentable fact is that all of those humdrummers out there are really satisfied with their look. In most cases, people are simply in a fashion rut. Here’s how to get out of it:


Why, oh, why do people persist in dragging around luggage-size handbags to evening events? What are people thinking? Do they line these behemoths with plastic in order to escape with leftovers? There is an easy prescription for getting this right: The dressier the affair, the smaller the handbag. We want to sing the praises of the clutch style, which comes in dozens of iterations. The clutch is precisely that — a handbag that one clutches. Our advocacy for the clutch has caused some women to balk: “But what do I do during a cocktail reception?” You place the clutch under your upper left arm with a cocktail in your left hand. This leaves your right hand free for greetings.


There is no simpler way to be on-trend this season than to don a pair of fashion hosiery. They are loaded with glam and pizzazz, and maybe we can think of nothing easier — and more affordable — to lift the spirits of a basic black cocktail dress than these shimmering, sparkling, or iridescent newcomers. Furthermore, believe that when one is wearing stockings, one should look like she’s wearing stockings (few things offer more dowdiness than sheer hosiery). We rarely state that a particular item provides something for everyone, but in this case it’s true!


Forget about global warming; just plain ol’ air-conditioning and heating are enough for me to salute the benefits of layering. But let’s banish the pashmina, please, and consider some alternatives. You can play it safe with a dress or skirt with a matching jacket, but we want you to consider the evening cover-up an opportunity to have some fun with a novelty item, like a metallic gauze stole or an embellished cardigan, or a plain cardigan in metallic wool, cotton, or silk.


It goes without saying that the basic black dress is the core of evening attire. It provides a neutral platform for accessories. But we want to suggest separates as well. Think about the impact and fashion counterpoint of a pencil skirt paired with an exuberant white top. Or how about a fitted bustier with a voluminous skirt? There are limitless options. Just take a chance!

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