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Dazzling Style - Dress and Decorum For Holiday Fun!

'Tis the season! Are you ready for after-work holiday cocktail parties, the company's Christmas gala and Josie's annual holiday dinner? Receiving an invitation makes you feel special but once you start thinking about what to wear and how charming you'll have to , your initial excitement may turn into growing anxiety.

We have dreams of being the charismatic guest, introducing ourselves and others with ease and holding intelligent and witty conversations with the boss's wife. But suddenly our visions of sugarplums turn into hallucinations of being just plain awkward and all-thumbs!

After listening to so many clients recount their experiences and reliving some of mine, I offer the following tips which may help you get through this jolly time of the year with poise and grace.

1. DRESS

From The Office To The Holiday 5-7 Cocktail Reception:

The secret to this one is to wear one of your best suits and just before leaving the office, replace your cotton shirt with a glitzy top and sparkly accessories. Toss the large handbag and throw your lipstick and business cards in a cute little clutch.

The Semi-Formal Holiday Party:

This is an expensive time of the year. Having to buy a new outfit is an added expense we can all go without. I have come to the realization that a stunning memorable dress, as wonderful as it is to wear, is not always the smart thing to buy. The sensible thing to do is to buy separates. Basic good quality evening pants or a cocktail skirt can be paired this year with a satin blouse, a sequin top or a plain camisole and glitzy accessories. The following year you can use the same bottom and pair it with a different top and a new hairstyle.

The chances that anyone will remember your basic bottom is next to none. The psychologists Thomas Gilovich, Ph.D., Victoria Husted Medvec, Ph.D., and Kenneth Savitsky, Ph.D., have coined the term "spotlight effect" and they assure us that most of us assume we're getting about twice as much attention as we actually imagine we receive. That is not to say that the very low décolleté at an office party will not be remembered and talked about no matter how simple it was. But you don't want this kind of fame.

The Formal Season's Greeting Gala: Depending on the budget, use a non-memorable bottom with a stunning top or go for broke and treat yourself to a sumptuous elegant sophisticated evening gown. You are worth it as long as your credit card bill in January doesn't make you faint.

2. DECORUM

o First things your host know whether you will attend or not. The sooner the host knows how many guests will attend, the easier it is to plan for the event. o If no dress code was stipulated, call your host and ask. o Prepare a self-introduction and make it relevant. Something like: "My name is Karen and you have been a client of XYZ company for over five years." o Have something to talk about. Going to a popular movie is always fodder for "spontaneous" small talk. o Eat before you go, remember that you were not invited because you were thirsty or hungry. You were invited for your good company (and movie reviews). o Act as if this was your party. Mingle and meet many. o Rescue the wallflowers. o Keep your right hand free to be ready for handshake. o Don't be the last one to leave. o Send a thank you note. o If you are attending a home party, think of sending the hostess a gift before the soiree. In this way, she won't have to search for a vase in which to put the beautiful flowers, or a candy dish for the yummy champagne truffles.

Season's greetings!