We've all been there — there's an evening function on a weekday, and going home to change after work isn't a possibility... so whatever you wear to the office is basically what you'll be wearing all night. Luckily, there are a ton of ways to change your look from day to evening super fast.
I personally used to spend way too much time trying to figure out what I would wear to work that could satisfy the needs of a nicer evening function, and honestly often ended up packing an entire second outfit so that I could literally change in the bathroom at the end of the day. It was annoying, inconvenient, and looking back, totally unnecessary. While I knew that technically there was this thing called "wardrobe versatility" and "day-to-evening looks" I never seemed to own anything that realistically allowed me to do that and not feel either horribly overdressed during the day or underdressed at night.
However, day-to-evening looks actually aren't all that complicated — you just need to have a few of the right items, and more importantly, know how to pair the items you already have. So if you're struggling with wardrobe transitions like I used to, here are eight tips that should help.
1. Don't Change Clothes, Change Accessories
In an article on her website, personal stylist and style author Bridgette Raes stressed the key to transitioning from day to evening looks is all about the accessories. "This is by far the most efficient way to change up your outfits," she said. "By taking some good daytime pieces and a few blingy accessories, you may just realize that your “night out” outfit is already in your closet."
If you normally carry a larger purse, she recommended swapping it our for a chic clutch. If you're wearing a blazer over a dress during the day, switch it up with a sheer shoulder wrap and some more refined earrings, or a statement piece necklace. Basically anything glitzy or shiny will instantly dress up your outfit.
2. Think About The Shoe
Potion-122 Cobalt Blue, $19, Qupid
OK, while this technically may also be considered an accessory, I thought I'd include it in its own category since the right shoe can so often be such the style conundrum. Rae noted that shoes are a huge piece of dressing an outfit up or down. For example, you could opt to wear boots or flats during the day and change over to a dressy heel for the evening, or change from a low-key colored shoe to a bold blue heel that matches a chic blue clutch. By changing over to heels — and especially a bold heel that matches another accessory — you instantly have a dressier, pulled together ensemble.
3. Think About Materials
On days when you know you have a more formal evening engagement, Rae recommended thinking about the material of your clothes. For example, the right leather skirt can look completely appropriate during the day, and with the right added accessories and minor adjustments, can look totally perfect and even sexy for evening wear. Also, opt for the sheerer, or even sparkly top under your blazer instead of a plain old button up.
4. Invest In Versatile Dresses
"I think it is important to have dresses in your closet that can go from day to evening," said Raes. "I have so many dresses that I dress up and down with simple accessory changes." A little black dress with a blazer and flats looks completely different than with a shawl, belted waist, and heels. The right base dress can take you from corporate to cocktail party ready in literally a matter of minutes. Plus, you don't need to invest in dozens of different dresses for every specific occasion.
5. Remember That It's All About The Juxtaposition
According to a fashion journalist Anamaria Wilson in a piece on day-to-evening wear for Harper's Bazaar, the key to looks that work in the daytime as well as in the evening is juxtaposition. "It's simply a matter of transposing the glitz factor up or down," she said. When wearing a super glitzy shirt or dress, just "shrug on your utilitarian complement of choice — a boyfriend blazer, a sporty anorak, a slouchy sweater, a classic cardigan, or a flat — and that opulence takes on a whole new cast."
In the same article, London-based style consultant Yasmin Sewell said she'll wear, "slouchy velvet pants and an oversize tee and blazer but go over the top with shoes and jewelry." This look doesn't feel over-the-top during the day, but also totally works in the context of an evening function.
6. Change Up Your Makeup
In an article on easy day-to-night makeup tips on POPSUGAR, makeup expert and YouTuber Jackie Aina recommended amping up your eye and lip makeup before going out for a super quick and easy way to look more evening-ready.
"There’s something decidedly glamorous about winged eyeliner, but if a heavy eye is not something you’d wear to the office, just use a brown pencil to create a thin and angled line at the corner of your eye," she said. "Come event time, trace over the pencil line with a black liquid or gel liner for an instant cat eye. Having the pencil liner there to act as a stencil will save you major time."
She also recommended applying a dramatic lip shade in red or pink, as bolder lips instantly feels more formal.
7. Start With An Updo
For most of us, keeping our hair looking perfect all day for an evening event is kind of impossible. It's just never going to look exactly like it did when you blew it out before work. That's why legendary hairstylist Oribe just recommended throwing your hair up into a casual bun or knot in the morning in an article for Cosmopolitan. When you take down your hair at the end of the day, it will have great waves and natural volume for an evening out.
8. Don't Forget The Perfume
This one's a personal tip. Nothing makes me feel more ready for a night out than a spritz or roll of that favorite "going out" scent. And you don't have to lug a bottle of perfume around either. I always used to keep a rollerball from Sephora of my favorite scent in my desk drawer, and it came in handy on countless occasions.
See? Day to evening transitions don't have to entail a full on wardrobe change in a public bathroom stall. They can be simple and easy with the right tricks up your (versatile and accessorized) sleeve.