Brenda popped this one into the suggestion box:
I’d like some thoughts on day versus going out to dinner clothes. I wear dresses and jackets/blazers to work, and they seem dressy enough to wear out to dinner. I’d like to pick up some ideas for adding a little “wow” so that my dinner outfits still feel like me, but they also feel a little special. P.S. In the Portland, Oregon area, so many people wear jeans to everything and tank tops are common in the summer, even at fancier places. I need to blend in a little!
Here in Minneapolis, things skew pretty casual, too. But that doesn’t stop me from putting on the glitz when I’m feeling the urge! Since Brenda is working with a base of outfits that feel dressy enough for dinner and evening events, but hoping to perk up her looks a bit so they feel more special, let’s start there:
Try statement jewelry
Seriously, friends, what did we do before giant, flashy, fun pieces of jewelry became the norm? In my opinion, the quickest and easiest way to take an office-friendly outfit and make it seem more fun and evening-ready is to add some sparkly jewels. A big, eye-catching necklace would be my weapon of choice, but a stack of bracelets or gorgeous chandelier earrings would work, too. Slapping such items onto an actual suit might seem odd, but sweaters with slacks/skirts, or jackets with dresses? Ideal. And statement jewelry works beautifully with jeans, too.
Swap your accessories
If you’ve been wearing solid opaque tights at work during the day, switch in a pretty patterned pair. Add a bright patent belt to your dress, or throw on a printed scarf. Do a stack of bright, funky bangles. Items that might feel cumbersome or annoying during the work day may be easier to tolerate during the evening hours, so consider adding new touches or switching out a few key accessories before heading out for the night.
Want more help with accessorization?
Accessorization and Figure Flattery 101
How to Wear Tights
Finding Quality Accessories
Building Accessory Collections
Working Those Colorful Tights
What Belting Can Do for You
Flattering Hats for Every Head
Accessory Scale and Personal Style
Other Already Pretty posts on accessories
Slip on amazing shoes
Most shoes that work for work are at least slightly practical and comfortable. More spectacular and less pragmatic footwear can be saved for nights perched at a flashy bar or chatting with friends over cocktails. Shoes can truly transform the feel of an outfit, so just swapping in a more glamourous pair can change how you look and feel.
In terms of general guidelines for day versus evening clothes, that is SO subjective. Especially in environments where super casual dress is the norm. My thought is that – in most non-dress-code-contingent cases – evening dress is down to personal choice and preference. Picking items and embellishments that make YOU feel special and dressed up will help you create evening-appropriate looks. Because, naturally, you can wear statement jewelry, patterned tights, and great shoes to work or at home or just about anywhere. They are not the sole domain of nighttime gallavantery! But if you deploy them with the idea of feeling and looking fancy in mind, you’ll feel and look fancy. In fact, just dressing differently might be the key. If you do glitter and bright colors for day, try a sleek, minimalist look for evening. If you wear your fanciest shoes wherever you go, focus on a different part of your outfit or look for dinner: An intricate updo, patterned blouse, or artful set of layers.
Image courtesy Dana LeBlanc.
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