Even at the emotionally mature and ripe age of 50+, it can still feel like you’re in middle school when it’s party time. The absence of inclusion aside, there’s nothing worse than showing up at at party wearing entirely the wrong thing. The invite said black tie in small print and you’re wearing jeans and a reindeer sweater. Rot row. How can you quickly and expeditiously fix your fashion flub? Let’s assume for the sake of argument that you in fact are not at the extremes of black tie and reindeer sweaters, but somewhere in the middle of being over or under dressed. What’s a girl to do to avoid that awkward 8th grade lunchroom feeling?
Believe it or not, adapting your outfit to the occasion lies entirely within your purse and most of the time has very little to do with what you are wearing. There are 5 basic essentials to keep in your purse at all times – I repeat – AT ALL TIMES – that will repair any fashion disaster in short order:
1. A tube of bright red lipstick. A bold red lip goes with everything and is universally flattering. Underdressed? Slick on a layer of Chanel Rouge Coco and you are instantly elevated to Goddess status, regardless of your attire.
2. A tube of hair gel and a few bobby pins or hair tie. A slicked back look is the hairstyling equivalent of red lipstick If your hair is short, rub some gel in your hands and run it through your hair for a sleek, stylized look. If it’s long, same thing, but tie your hair back in a low bun and secure with a few pins, and voila – all the attention is on your face and nobody will notice that you are in fact wearing jeans when everyone else is in satin skirts. And if they do, they may think that they are the ones who are inappropriately dressed!
3. A pair of faux diamond studs. The bigger the better. A bold, sparky something will go a long way to sass up an outfit. But keep it simple, along the lines of a large stud. You want some ambiguity on whether or not they are real, so stop sort of the ostrich egg size stud. Overly fancy earrings with excessive ornamentation will look like you’re trying too hard and may draw unwanted attention to the notion that you distracting the hostess from the fact that you were too lazy to really read the invitation and dress accordingly.
4. A light or semi-sheer silk scarf in a neutral color that is on the larger side. Use this to muffle around your neck to draw the eye upward (to your bold lip, great hair and fabulous studs) or causally drape it around your shoulders to soften or mask what’s underneath. Or tie it around your waist as a low slung pareo or saucy skirt to add a touch of bohemian to your look. Regardless of how you use it, a scarf can be your best friend in the fashion fix department.
5. A package of makeup remover wipes. Universally handy. Even if you’re not at a party. Great for getting lunch dribbles and red wine stains out of clothing, as well as mascara clumps out of your under-eye bags.
Suppose you’re in the opposite situation and entirely overdressed for a casual get-together? Start unwinding. Enter the makeup remover wipes and exit the bright red lip. Loosen your locks and let your hair run wild. Nothing says casual like wild hair. Take out the studs and de-ornament yourself. Then survey your surroundings and think strategically with your sheer neutral silk scarf. Where does it go? Neck? Shoulders? Waist? Or, if you really need to take a dress down a few notches, tie it around your head a la Bianca Jagger in the mid ’70s and you suddenly have an entirely vintage look that can be interpreted in a myriad of ways.
So the next time you walk into a holiday party – or any situation for that matter – and feel like you stand out for the wrong reasons, slip into the ladies room before greeting your hostess and re-do or un-do, depending on the direction you want to take. Then work the room like it’s your job!