Editor Jordan Dechambre hosting RunUp 2012: The Roaring ’20s
in a beaded drop-waist cocktail dress and custom repurposed
Late fall and
early winter in Wisconsin usher in more than chilly temps and holiday
cheer. This time of year also marks the beginning of gala season, with
charity events and holiday affairs filling up our social calendars
from October through March.
For many women,
the thought of donning our most stunning looks is exciting. But it can
also cause party-dressing anxiety. With all of us vying to be the
belle of the ball, how can you step outside the box with confidence
Show a little leg. The right cocktail dress can make a chic statement
in lieu of the traditional gown. Here are 10 ways to put your best
stiletto-clad foot forward at your next event.
1. Look for a
high, draped neckline. Elegance is a balancing act. If you are showing
a whole lotta leg, staying covered on top with a simple yet luxurious
neckline is essential. Sleeves are also back with a vengeance for
winter 2013, so don’t shy away from the classically chic arm
coverings, even in just a sheer or lace fabric. Ladylike is luxe this
2. Go red (or
pale gray). There’s a hue of red for every skin tone — the key is
finding yours. In general, orange-based reds add warmth to alabaster
skin, while cooler reds and burgundies are striking on darker tones.
Not ready to rock bold red? Try the other "it" tone, pale
gray. Flattering to all, pale gray is elegant and sophisticated, and a
great neutral color choice as a base to frocks with bells and
3. Try black and
white. Winter white dresses with skinny black belts were a runway
mainstay this season, and have already found their way into many local
boutiques. Black and white prints are also strong, and a great way to
make an artistic statement without looking too bohemian for evening.
Looking to skip a dress all together? Try a Tilda Swinton-esque black
or white tuxedo, slim fit for just the right amount of sex appeal.
4. Pick peplum.
There’s no denying peplum is THE look of the season, in skirts,
blouses, jackets and blouses alike. To find the perfect peplum for a
formal affair, hit an opulent note with a posh brocade or metallic
is key. To take your cocktail dress to the next level, look for
embellishments that give it that extra "oomph." Hottest for
this season? Feathered skirts, all-over beading, intricate lace and
neutral sequins. Add rear interest with an open or illusion back or
Tom Ford-inspired cape back. One-shoulder silhouettes, strategic waist
bows and draping, and fabric or embellished overlays also add that
6. Choose a new
era. The remake of "The Great Gatsby" has fashion designers
thinking Jazz Age this season, with drop-waist dresses, all-over
beadwork, pearls a plenty and fur accents. Or, go ’60s with
"Mad Men" inspired full skirts, printed silks, lace dresses
(with or without sleeves), jacquard, and fit and flare shapes.
7. Show your
curves. Confidence is the key to true style, so why not flaunt your
enviable curves of any shape or size in a body-hugging sheath dress?
Keep it sophisticated in a neutral color with little embellishment
(let your accessories do the talking), and make sure it at least
touches just above the knee — so you leave something to the
No matter your
style, if you love your body, your confidence will shine brighter than
host of top designers, from Valentino to Oscar de la Renta,
turned to a hair retro-redo for their fall/winter 2012
collections. Bouffants in all shapes and sizes made their mark,
but the "it" look featured hair jewelry, headbands and
voluminous faux bobs. Try this simple look for your next holiday
part: tease your hair from the roots at the crown, toss and
finger comb back, tuck longer pieces under and pin into a bob.
Secure the look with a ribbon or headband for ’60s holiday
of your high heels slipping and sliding on the snowy sidewalks?
(I know I am!) Take a nod from style-makers Gwen Stefani and
Gwyneth Paltrow, who turn to classic oxfords with a twist. Go
bold with menswear fabrics, such as houndstooth or plaid, or
tough chic with grommet or stud adornments.
can’t throw a nickel in a department store and miss a fur this
season. I prefer the faux variety and, luckily, many designers
are creating cruelty-free synthetic furs that are nearly
impossible to differentiate from the real thing. For a simple
and soft wardrobe addition, go for a versatile fur infinity
scarf — perfect for day and night.
to our annual Charity Register, inserted after page 50, to see
my take on the posh trend of cocktail dresses replacing gowns at
the year’s hottest black-tie affairs. Lace, feathers, sparkly
embellishments and brocade all add opulence to these ultra-glam
but cropped versions of their classically elegant counterparts.