As I was thoughtfully frocking up on the weekend for a festive little event, I started to think about what is involved in the rigmarole of the 'black tie regime' - what do we go through to go out on the town? It is never an easy process and often it results in a less than stellar appearance - whether through not knowing what to do, or simply getting it wrong out of inexperience.
So, in the interests of fabulous female solidarity, I am giving my best tips on what to do and wear - and what to most definitively NOT do and wear - for a night of elegant extravagance…
Timing is Everything
There is no point in attempting to reinvent the wheel (or the fake tanning booth) when it comes to big bashes - in order to frock up in spectacular fashion, you need a battle plan. Ever tried applying tanner at 5.30 on the evening of the event? How about an eyebrow wax the same day that goes terribly, terribly wrong? And as for attempting the dreaded Saturday afternoon last minute dress run…nope. It's not on. So be methodical - make plans and (try) to stick to them.
The same advice goes for trying out new make-up at the last minute; if this is an important evening, using new products can results in very sore skin. Trial runs are called that because sometimes your skin (or the fab new buys) gets a trial…and the verdict is guilty. So if you want to experiment, do it early - and end up looking amazing in the right way.
To Frock Up or Not To Frock Up, That is The Question...
Sometimes the dress code for a night out can be vague; 'party dress' and 'glamorous' don't really give you good guidelines when it comes to sartorial standards. As for 'black tie' - well, for the boys it is an easy call; black is back and it comes in the form of a dinner jacket. For us? Black tie means formal or very formal - a full-length frock is fab. It's a great excuse to really dress up - and in terms of less obvious invitations? I would rather be over-dressed than under any day; if I feel fantastic, then it is usually when I am glammed up completely, with a dress I absolutely love wearing. Cocktail frocks seem to be a dying breed, so if a bow tie is being broken out by your bloke - then dress to the nines, or even the tens.
But don't forget that you have to be comfortable; if you don't feel right in a fluffy frock, go for a great tux! A Le Smoking style suit can look absolutely amazing, and you will stand out in the right way if you style carefully. The same goes for a vintage option; firstly you will have a unique frock; and secondly the fabrics are often superior to modern choices, and keep you looking amazing all night.
Be aware with any outfit - don't over-accessorise. If doing earrings, no necklace. A great cuff - chic and easy. Cocktail rings also rock!
Polish it Off
Make sure you finish off your look properly - think carefully about your hair, make-up and accessories. The right shoe can make or break an outfit - who wants to see heavy black pumps with a nude chiffon creation? It doesn't have to be expensive, just elegant. Shoes and bag do not have to match - they just have to complement each other. A gorgeous wrap or fitted cropped jacket only enhances the look for an experienced frockista. And my biggest, best secret for continuing to enjoy the night? Take a pair of fold up flats in your beaded bag - as in other situations, like long haul travel, they can be invaluable for tired toes.
The same goes with make-up, hair and nails - slickness of style can ride on these elements. Hair is fairly easy in terms of great guidelines - short hair, go the great Gatsby-ish look of a side-parted slick back. Longer hair - a rule of thumb is that wearing strapless demands an up-do; with hair down, the dress isn't done justice. The same for an embellished neckline - why not show off the awesome features of your frock? Nails - well, that is truly up to the individual; but if you know you are bad with chipping and chomping, then clear polish for the hands is best - with toes a great avenue to make an impact.
What would I do for a great formal face? Well, there are a couple of options; as with any big outing, concentrate on one feature and forget trying to make every part of your face stand out. If you are going to play femme fatale and be lippy, then a great bold red is fabulous - but it means playing down your peepers. Want to do a Sophia Loren-like heavily lined eye? A nude lip is necessary to make your eyes really sparkle and stand out. Clear mascara is a great way to make your brows look truly defined and distinguished; and if bronzing is your bag, then be judicious in application - nobody needs to see a startlingly orange face walking their way. Primer is your best friend on these occasions - it will make your foundation or finishing powder stay in great shape.
As with your frockery, if you don't like being fussy, then stay with what you know and like - just subtly enhance your everyday look for show-stoppping style.
So as you can see from the photo, I had a great time playing dress-ups - and hopefully stuck to my own reasonable rules. What are your favourite glamming up tricks of the trade? How do you handle a hairdo cry for help - or a quick fix for make-up gone mad? Let us know here in your comments!