Prest-o Change-o: Professional to Party

I think one of the biggest wardrobe mistakes women make is to have too many party dresses. Once upon a time, I had more party dresses in my closet than tops. Now I have 2. It’s not that I’ve stopped going to parties (although I’ll admit that my clubbing experiences look more like a scene from “Neighbors”’ these days), but that I’ve learned the value of being able to mix, match, and accessorize pieces in my functioning wardrobe.

Maybe it’s my skill in rationalization coming into play (on some days I believe it’s my superpower), but it doesn’t hurt so badly to invest in quality everyday pieces when I know that with a flick of the wrist, I can remix them into formidable party outfits.

Here are my keys for turning office wear into party all-stars:

  1. Invest in staples with special details. Impeccable cut, intriguing fabrics, extraordinary details-these are what make a piece easy to take to the next level.
  2. Have a few anachronistic, luxe, or just plain weird accessories on hand. The last thing I want to see at a party is someone looking perfectly respectable. I want to see your personality ringing through loud and clear.
  3. Make use of your skin. I don’t want to see your skin at the office, but once the party starts, show me your neck or arms or legs (just remember-pick ONE. The idea is to live on the edge, not to fall off it).

How to do it:


For work, this spade scarf adds drama to a sweater and textured scuba skirt (see #1) combo. Black boots and tights create a long, lean leg in the absence of skin.


In a matter of minutes, I’m ready for the party with a printed shoe (leopard is my favorite), a “maximalist” bow belt (#2), tsujzed-up sleeves, a vintage brooch from my grandmother’s closet, and fishnets (#3).

Now show me yours!


Black Bubble-Textured Scuba Skirt, Bitte Kai Rand.

Mustard Sweater, The Limited.

Black Tights, Spanx Assets, Target.

Black Booties, Calvin Klein.

Dotted Spade Scarf, Kate Spade.

Party Accessories

Fishnet hosiery, Victoria’s Secret (in stores only).

Leopard Calf-Hair Pumps, RALPH Ralph Lauren, via TJ Maxx.

Poufy Bow Belt, Bitte Kai Rand.

Antique Brooch, inherited from Grandmother.




Anyone who observed what I wore in my 20s would certainly have noticed my unapologetic love affair with chains (Freud could’ve had a party with that, I’m sure).

As I’ve matured, I’ve moved from dripping in them to adding a few well-placed doses here and there as a foil to more sophisticated pieces (noticing a theme yet?).


0K2A7490This little ivory day dress has pockets! and the most beautifully draped cowl neckline that provides the perfect stage for a necklace with personality. The chain is one long strand taken from a vintage necklace that I simply tied into a bow.


0K2A7438I tend to shy away from prints, but love neutral pieces with unusual design features (like the cap sleeves and back cutout of this dress) that lend a little something extra to the look.


0K2A7477I like to travel light on the weekends, and a black embossed minaudiere is the perfect size for a license, credit card, phone, and lipstick.  A large military-inspired ring brings a little edge to the ensemble.


0K2A7431The camo and buckles on these booties continue the military vibe, but the calf hair reads more “polished.”

The breakdown:

Dress: Fable, via Hattie’s Branches

Bag: Generic; I can’t, for the life of me, remember where I picked it up.

Camo Calf-hair booties: Nine West, thrifted

Necklace: deconstructed vintage, via Black Swan Bazaar

Ring: Lucky Brand


Photography courtesy of Emily Plank Photography.