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Dress & Be Merry

Casual Cocktails/Open House
Anything goes, but a dress trouser paired with a dramatic sweater or cardigan is a surefire winner. I love the long, drapey cardigans this season. One of my favorites is the “yana” cardigan in raisin, electric blue or black from Calypso. Use my “rule of three” to complete the look: Match or coordinate two of the colors and the third hue becomes your accent piece. This style trick gives you a long, lean look, even if you are petite. Add a killer pair of heels and your favorite jewelry.

Business Social
Presenting a professional, elegant image is critical, and you can’t go wrong with a tailored dress or a cocktail suit. Opt for a great-fitting David Meister frock (at Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Tootsies and Saks; shown at left) or a modern-and-sophisticated Yoana Baraschi pantsuit (at Melanie Gayle; shown above). If you fall in love with something sleeveless, drape a pashmina or shawl over your shoulders — and take a basic outfit from good to great. You can even have some fun with color and print, transforming the wrap into “textile jewelry.”

Dinner Party with Friends
A printed silk dress is always festive and fun — you are guaranteed to make an entrance with a stunner from Trina Turk (at LFT and Talula). Express your st yle on the bottom with anything from bare legs or bright tights to flats, heels or boots. Skirts are another feminine and sassy option. And, what better look to snag than the “It’s my Party Skirt” at Anthropoligie. Reminiscent of a ’50s silhouette, it sits on the waist, fits thru the hips and then poufs out. Or, slip into something bouffant from DKNY (at Macy’s and Nordstrom). But keep your top fitted to balance out the fullness on the bottom; try a sleeveless shell topped with a fabulous wrap.

Clutch and Go
Don’t let small details drag down your look. An appropriate handbag can make or break an outfit. Leave your everyday bag at home. A small clutch in a color that coordinates with your outfit is easy to do. You don’t have to break the bank. Check out Steve Madden for steals under $50 or R&Y Agousti (available at Elements; shown at left) if you want to splurge.

Regardless of the occasion, you cannot go wrong with a “little black dress.” Every woman should have at least one “go-to” dress in her closet and it doesn’t even have to be black. You can change it up with your shoes, jewelry and handbag. Two easy options are chemises from Karta (at Melanie Gayle) and sweater dresses from Calypso and Ralph by Ralph Lauren (at Macy’s).