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Not dressed up and somewhere to go?

By Autumn D. F. Hopkins

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Every holiday season, a party invitation inevitably crops up at the last minute. Or I've committed to a party and the date slips my mind until the night before.

These moments always send me screaming to my closet. I proceed to pile up clothes with abandon all over the bed and floor.

The other option is running out to shop at the last minute. I don't hate shopping. In fact, if I have a little extra money and the luxury of time, I enjoy spending the day perusing the stores and scoping out new fashion.

What I hate is the pressure of trying to find the perfect look on a limited budget and even more limited time. Inevitably I end up frustrated and buy something just to get by, which means I eventually resent the purchase and banish it into the murky depth of closet purgatory.

So how can you avoid these two scenarios? Let the WV Style Team help you. Chances are you have perfectly acceptable party-wear options in your own wardrobe; you just need a little time and creativity to select the right look.

Tip 1: Do it now! When you have a few minutes this evening, go to your closet and take inventory of what you have and how it can work together.

Tip 2: Give yourself a small budget to dress up or modernize something you already own. For the accompanying articles, the Style Team set the limit at $25. This amount can score you a new pair of shoes, a clutch or some blingy costume jewelry to give your look the punch it needs.

Tip 3: Think outside the box -- or in this case, think outside the hanger. Just because you bought that jacket to go with that skirt doesn't leave them married to each other for all style eternity. Mix and match. Try it on. Do you like it? Wear it!

It is easy to get stuck in a fashion rut or to let time and society pigeonhole your sense of style. Be bold! You only live once. If you think a look is edgy, or maybe too risqué for a certain environment, don't chuck it altogether. Consider carefully whether you can tone it down.

Here are some examples:

  • Are you afraid the skirt is too short? First, hold your arms down at your sides. Do the tips of your fingers touch the hem? You're good; proceed to party. Is the hem around a finger-length above the tips of your fingers? It's your call, but you could try adding opaque tights in the same color as your skirt. You'll probably find it works fine.
  • Is the skirt a palm-length or more above your fingertips? Proceed with caution! Think about who else will attend the party. If it's your work colleagues, you may want to skip it. If it is your peers, use your own discretion and trust your instinct. If you're going to be uncomfortable all night and tugging on your hem, skip it. You want to be able to enjoy the party.
  • Is your dress sleeveless and you're afraid of being chilly? Or have you been wearing the same little black dress for years? Try adding a bright pop of color with a pashmina shawl or a satin jacket or wrap. You can also use this trick to make an old look appear brand-new. Don't be afraid of color. An easy test is to step into a dressing room with a piece you're considering and hold it up against your face: If it doesn't wash you out and doesn't clash with your outfit, it will work.
  • Finally, if your budget is extra tight, or you just absolutely cannot make anything in your closet work, don't forget the consignment and secondhand stores. They offer affordable fashion on a budget. Tammy Krepshaw, of The Consignment Company, says they're always willing to work with their customers to help them get just the right look for any event.

    Story: Satin and sequins

    Story: Simple dresses, bold accessories

    Story: Statement shoes stand out

    Story: Classic dress easily adaptable

    Reach Autumn D.F. Hopkins at autumn.hopkins@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.


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