Year-end fetes call for fashion fancy and fun

Thanksgiving has come and gone, Black Friday is a memory and, with only 17 days until Christmas and 23 days until New Year’s Eve, ready or not, the holiday season is upon us. It’s a time of endless stress, rushing to and fro and a steady flow of invites clogging your inbox for office gatherings, cocktail parties, impromptu drinks with friends and an exasperating number of guilt-inducing family commitments.

If you’re worth your sartorial salt, you know that looking your best is of the utmost importance. But the true conundrum is how to dress for any occasion without breaking the bank and stressing out completely. The solution? Simplify, prioritize, add a few key trend pieces and make one item work for many occasions.

For this party season, think beyond the little black dress. Embrace pastels, such as petal pink and mint mixed with black and white. Go forth with patterns paired with textured neutrals (Banana Republic Look One). Reinterpret Yves Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking by going white, as in a winter-white, tuxedo-inspired suit. Branch fashionably forward with sequins and knits (Banana Republic Look Three), mixing in splashes of metallic and vibrant hues of oxblood, emerald and/or sapphire.

Appropriately stylish at the office party and beyond:

Layering is your best friend for an office occasion or one that will take you from work to drinks with friends. Invest in a white shirt with embellished collar or an off-white turtleneck, nude-colored heels and a thin animal-print belt. The shirt/turtleneck works well and says office chic under a sleeveless black sheath or jumpsuit (White House | Black Market Look One). Pair your ensemble with an elongated clutch, statement ring and nude croc-embossed stilettos. If you must dash to a second event, ditch the shirt/turtleneck, add a statement necklace and switch out neutral heels for metallic ones, topping it all off with crimson lipstick.

Fashionably fabulous for a cocktail party:

If you’re styling trendily for your next cocktail party, think separates put together with a French flair — subtle color, form-fitting pieces, a chic hat or scarf and the essential neutral or black accessories. A knee-length, sequined dress worn under an oversized button-front sweater, paired with black tights and black stilettos (Banana Republic Look Two), signals easy elegance, chapeau optional. If French flair is not your thing, select a sleeveless, drape-front little black dress worn underneath a long, black, tuxedo-inspired jacket paired with an oversized wristwatch, knuckle ring and strappy red sandals.

Tres chic for a black-tie affair:

There are few occasions in these modern times that require the formal dress of a black-tie soiree, unless you run a country, are a CEO or belong to Hollywood’s red carpet brigade. That, however, does not mean that an invite may not cross your desk and that you should not be prepared. Strike a polished pose in a subtle, yet sexy, suit (Tuxedo-Inspired Suit Look One). Black is the dress standard, but reach for a winter-white version with a fitted jacket, skinny pants and black high-heel booties with metallic hardware. If you feel less Yves Saint Laurent Le Smoking and more modern Hollywood, choose a floor-length, deep-V-back dress paired with an edgy cropped-leather moto jacket, a stack of thin bangles and teardrop earrings. Bring the drama with jewel-toned smoky eyes and nude lips.

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