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Ask Belle: Party Outfits from Staple Attire

As I said this morning, most of my events are business attire functions, so I don’t need as many party clothes as some of my friends.  But that doesn’t mean I want to be wearing the same thing all the time.  Here are a few looks that can work in most seasons and for several occasions.

Two Ways to Wear Pants and a Sequin Top:

I just…well, I just get weak in the knees for this sequin top.  With a sleek pair of black trousers, it’s a great choice for work events that aren’t business attire, but also aren’t cocktail.  You could wear it to a nice dinner or to have drinks with friends.

On the left, I mixed the white and pewter earrings with the colors in the top for a lighter look.  And while I would probably do a simple, pointed toe pump for a work event, the sandals are cute for cocktails.  The look on the right is more for a dinner or the cocktails reception at a convention.  I like the way the colors in the earrings mesh with the blush trim on the blouse, such a great buy for $28.  You could even add the matching ring if you wanted.

If you don’t want wear to wear trousers out on the town, you could sub-in some skinny black jeans or leather leggings

Outfits for Party Dresses:

Perhaps, it is easiest to explain these looks in wedding invite terms: cocktail in April thru September, cocktail all year (also black tie for when it says that and you know everyone will be in a short dress), and casual.

The outfit on the left is breezy and bright.  I love the drops with it and the nude sandals.  You could swap in a gold clutch and a statement ring, if you want.  I would wear my hair down in waves, or up in a low, messy chignon.  I’d paint my nails a sheer pale pink and my toes a deeper shade of pink.  I’d also wear pink gloss and gold shadow.

The looks in the middle are a relaxed cocktail(left) and a slightly more done up cocktail (right).  But truly, you can wear almost anything with a black lace dress.  I do, however, caution against the wearing of pearls.  This is because lace and pearls can look a little matronly if not done with extra style, which is tough to do. 

The final look mixes the drape jersey dress with an embellished belt and all black accessories.  If you’re not feeling the jewels on the belt, you can swap it out for leather

When purchasing attire for evening, the most important thing is fit.  So it is better to buy a less expensive dress and pay a bit to have it tailored than splurge on something with a dodgy fit.  I have purchased a number of evening and cocktail pieces at Nordstrom Rack and Neiman Marcus Last Call and then taken them to the brick and mortar stores for tailoring. 

Have a great weekend!!!



  1. M says:

    Thanks for the great posts this week! I especially like Wednesday's casual outfit pieces. Looking forward to spring…

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  2. MB says:

    I love these outfts. Coud you post buying information or links?

    January 25, 2013/Reply
  3. Belle says:

    MB: They're in the prev. post. https://capitolhillstyle.squarespace.com/capitol/2013/1/25/ask-belle-going-out-staples.html

    January 25, 2013/Reply
  4. s-p-c says:

    Love this week's posts! In contrast to most of the suggested outfits in fashion magazines, which often seem to me like they have too much going on, your suggestions are sleek, elegant, and stylish. Thanks for the outfit inspirations!

    January 26, 2013/Reply
  5. Rebecca says:

    I meant to chime in last week, too–I really enjoyed the Building a Wardrobe set, too, and passed it on to many friends. Hope to see this feature revisited when the season changes again. Thanks!

    January 28, 2013/Reply
  6. Mary says:

    Agreeing with the others – this feature is fantastic. I know it's not something we'll get to see all the time, but once a season would be fantastic and much appreciated. The outfits are practical and easily adaptable.

    January 28, 2013/Reply