Here's how to make a smooth transition from work to party mode and make a memorable impact.
- Lois Joy Johnson, BettyConfidential.comThe holidays are here, and this means that it's the serious party season for working women. This year it's all about networking, securing your job or getting a new one. Don't be surprised to find last-minute evites in your inbox. And just in case you do, it's good to be prepared. Read on for some handy style tips for going from the computer to cocktails:
1. Anticipate bad lighting at corporate cocktail parties. These big bashes are held in places where there are almost always overly bright lights that make everyone look shorter, fatter and shinier in post-party photos. Prepare with a matte powder foundation or pat a matte primer over your daytime makeup (paying special attention to the T-zone) before heading out. Trade your usual lip gloss and highlighter creams for lipstick in a luscious color and pinky powder blush. Slip on a body shaper and heels too.
Jennie Garth has the P.M. look down pat.
2. Go overboard for small dinner parties and fancy restaurants. Softer lighting in these situations is flattering, but can make your makeup look washed out. Add extra definition with eyeliner, two coats of thickening mascara, shimmery shadows to catch the light and play down your lips with a natural or nude color. Pull your hair back in a ponytail or twist it up for a quick change and throw on a sequined tank or cardigan for a fun and flirty look. All the emphasis should be from the waist up… because it's all tabletop.
Natalie Portman shines at night.
3. Opt for the opposite. It's all about contrast when you want to be fashionable without looking like a fashion victim. Try pairing a decorative skirt with a simple fitted top or vice versa. The result is simple yet glamorous.
Eva Mendes pairs a tailored blouse with a ruffled skirt.
4. Let color be your dress code. Give black the cold shoulder and opt for a sleek dress in a dramatic color. Wear deep inky blue or violet if you have pale skin and light hair, neon or winter-white if your skin tone and hair are dark. The idea is to stand out in a crowd of predictable black cocktail dresses and suits. Color is festive without looking overdone or vampy.
Cate Blanchett wears purple to make an entrance.
5. Skip the tricky layering or sunglasses (unless you're Anna Wintour). Lots of layers can easily crossover into a messy, disheveled look even before you walk in the door. Keep it simple. A dress and clutch, attention-getting necklace and you're done. Eye contact is crucial, so keep your Ray Bans in your bag.January Jones wears a conversation-started necklace.
6. A dark eye is sexy, but combining it with very dark lips is not. You don't want to look like a vampire. Wear dark eye shadow with a neutral lip color for a balanced look.
Ashley Olsen never overdoes the smoky routine.
7. Wear something edgy not bare. Toss a leather biker jacket over your suit skirt or dress, swap booties for pumps or flats, or add a studded belt to your sheath dress. It's a good idea to stay away from anything sheer, supershort dresses, backless tops or deep cleavage at work-related events.
Kristin Cavallari tops her dress with a moto jacket.
8. Stash an emergency kit in your desk drawer. Include elastics that match your hair color, a fresh smelling fragrance, a tailored evening clutch, breath mints, a big fabulous necklace, an eyeliner pen, opaque concealer for blemishes, and an umbrella in your party pack.
Eva Longoria Parker's simple black clutch offsets her festive dress.
9. Be informed. Aside from your great packaging, have something to say. You become more interesting and attractive to others when you can keep up with topics in the news or relevant to your business. But don't push the wrong buttons - sex, religion and politics are always touchy topics at company gatherings. If you're not sure what topics to talk about, ask your dinner partner questions instead. People love to talk about their background and experiences.
Lois Joy Johnson is the former beauty and fashion director of More magazine and Ladies' Home Journal and author of a new beauty book coming out in 2011.
Do you have an office to party trick that you use?
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