1. Wear festive flats instead of high heels.
While it's true that we love our party pumps, there are other viable festive-footwear options that can look just as smashing. As Charlize Theron demonstrated at an AFI screening for The Road earlier this month, sometimes an embellished pair of flats or sandals strikes an equally impressive note. The actress paired her stunning silver Dior frock (from the French fashion house's Spring 10 collection) with bejeweled Giuseppe Zanotti thongs. Though Theron's exact shoes are only available via special order at Giuseppe Zanotti Design boutiques ($750, style I80039), we think the brand's Flat Jeweled T-Strap Sandals ($680) are quite lovely too. If you're looking for some more affordable options, we can recommend a couple of sparkly Steve Madden styles: specifically the Bride Sandals ($80) and the Billion Sandals ($130). Simply wear with your favorite short metallic dress and for a fashionable and foot-friendly special-occasion outfit!
2. Try a drop-waist dress and leggings.
Typically the ensembles worn to music awards shows are neither stylish nor chic, but at last month's Q Awards in London, Lily Allen bucked conventionÂ--with great results. Unlike some of her more scantily clad peers, Allen showed up in a gorgeous vintage drop-waist dress worn over a pair of leather-like leggings. The contrast of the delicate frock against the toughness of her skinny pants is quite modern, plus we think it's a great cold-weather outfit idea. If you do try this look, just make you go for a dress made out of more feminine materials (satin, silk, et cetera) for maximum impact. Topshop's Drop Waist Ruffle Dress ($90) in cream silk or Marc by Marc Jacobs' Floral Lace Dress ($278) would both work well, especially when worn over Alice + Olivia Latex Leggings ($148) or American Apparel's Shiny Leggings ($46) in LamĂ© Matte Black.
3. Invest in a killer party skirt this year.
As you'll truly discover later in the week, we adore cocktail frocks to a tremendous degree. But while there's much to be said for a dress, sometimes it's better to invest in one outrageously awesome skirt instead. We were reminded of this fact when we spotted Cynthia Rowley in an uber-festive skirt at the first annual Art Awards at the Guggenheim Museum in New York late last month. The designer was wearing the Printed Feather Tutu from her eponymous collection, along with her own brooch-embellished top and skinny belt (all Spring 10, naturally), styled with a vintage leather jacket, Nicholas Kirkwood shoes, and a clutch by the artist Tom Sachs. Until we can get our mitts on Rowley's exact skirt, we'll make do with some of the other delightful options on the market, such as Madison Marcus' Swanky Skirt ($309) or Topshop's Ostrich Feather Mini ($135) in nude. However, if you'd prefer something glitzy or glittery, do check out the lamĂ©-like look of Torn by Ronny Kobo's Metallic Mini Skirt ($232) in gold or Alexander Wang's Sequined Draped Skirt ($595) in sapphire blue, as both are sure to work well in any champagne situations!
4. Add an ornate belt to your favorite basics.
Some days it's impossible to think about wearing anything besides a few of your favorite basics. However, just because you're wearing wardrobe essentials doesn't mean you're doomed to look dull. If you doubt us, simply check out the ensemble Rosie Huntington-Whiteley wore to an art exhibition in London last month and you'll see all the lively proof you need. Though her Helmut Lang Suede Leggings ($460) and ivory Vanessa Bruno shirt (the Silk Pintuck Blouse ($410) is similar) are quite simple, by adding a vintage beaded belt RHW really took things to the next level. You can perk up your classic pieces as well, all you need is a similarly ornate additionÂ--such as Antik Batik's Swar Belt ($175) or Melamed's Mesh Waist Belt ($180)Â--and you'll be well on your way to interesting-outfitville.
5. Show your style with a fun accent.
Some people take fashion very seriously, but we always appreciate the women who incorporate a bit of whimsy into their ensembles. For example, when attending the launch of the Stella McCartney Collection for GapKids, model Heidi Mount could have gone for a sedate headband, but she picked something wonderful instead. Specifically, Mount wore a Maison Michel Mickey Mouse Ears Lace Hair Band ($441) that day, a standout accessory that added much spirit to her outfit. While the Chanel-owned atelier produces the finest pieces, there are loads of standout hair accessories at non-couture prices. Right now we're unabashedly smitten with Topshop's Bunny Ears Headband ($36) in basic black (or with a veil) and are quite over the moon about Benoit Missolin's Black Brass Bunny Ears ($132) and Red Wool Mouth Headpiece ($181) too. Or you can DIY, just follow Monoxious.com's step-by-step instructions!
6. Create a faux peplum with a belt.
As far as silhouettes go, the peplum is definitely having a major moment. Dedicated readers know that we've suggested investing in a few of these on-trend pieces, but if you don't want to buy something, you can always create your own! As Olivia Palmero demonstrated at the Cinema Society's screening of Precious, you can achieve the peplum simply by belting a blouse. While she used a vintage top from the twenties, you can easily use a modern piece. Of course, not all blouses work: for this look you need a shirt that's silky, slightly short, and somewhat boxy, like 3.1 Phillip Lim's Ruffled Silk Henley ($325). (Don't forget that this tip works for print tops too; something like ASOS's Floral Printed Blouse ($48) would be grand as well.) Then simply slip on a narrow belt, like J. Crew's Superskinny Satin Belt ($25) or Banana Republic's Screw-Post Skinny Belt ($35), and your favorite slim skirt or pants to complete the look!