Tip # 1: Pick a red dress with a demure fit.
In theory, we love a red dress, but in practice it can be a bit tricky, as they can veer into overly fancy, prom territory quite quickly. But when we spotted the beautiful Anne V at The Cinema Society's screening of Brothers last month wearing rouge in a wonderful way, we knew we had to spotlight her in Tips. The reason this outfit works is because her Yigal Azrouel dress is relatively modest and majorly chic (and her Christian Louboutin Leopard-Print Ankle Boots ($1375) really are darling too!). We suggest trying a similarly festive frock right now, like Vivienne Westwood Anglomania's Red Drapped Long Sleeve Dress ($278), T-Bag's Button Down Dress ($203), or Pepe Jeans London's Drapey Asymmetric Shoulder Dress ($85). Just pair with your favorite ankle boots (animal-print or otherwise) and you'll make a sophisticated statement in the spirit of this stylish model!
Tip #2: Embellish an outfit via lace tights.
Our favorite on-air accessories editor, Olivia Palermo, knows the power of a good outfit accent, so it's no surprise that she's been spotted about town in an of-the-moment pair of lace tights. Snapped at the after-party for a Calvin Klein Collection-hosted screening of Broken Embraces, the well-coiffed Palermo used Wolford's Souvenir Tights ($117) to embellish her asymmetrical silk top and organic wool mini┬--both by Susan Woo. While Palermo's exact stockings are super-expensive, you can certainly mimic her lacey leg look for less. Just add a pair of Topshop's Pansy Lace Tights ($24) or Aristoc's Lace Tights ($18) to your favorite black-and-white outfit for a ELLE editor-inspired outfit!
Tip # 3: Pair a body-con dress with booties.
Much like the aforementioned red-dress issue, the recent spate of body-con mini dresses poses a problem for many women. We get loads of questions from readers wondering if there are ways to tone down the inherent sexiness of this it-item. Thankfully, major model Daria Werbowy offers one swell example of how to inject a little downtown cool in such a dress┬--just add a bold pair of ankle boots! That's right, while dainty pumps are fine for many things, we think a clunky bootie is the better choice; it just makes the skin-tight mini look a bit more modern. While Ms. Werbowy wore a Stefanel Laminated Jersey Dress ($212) at a party during Milan Fashion Week, there are many metallic frocks on the market right now; try American Apparel's Foil Print Micro-Mesh Long Sleeve Mini Dress ($48) or BCBGeneration's One Shoulder Mini ($108) for starters. Then just add a pair of no-nonsense ankle boots, like Joseph's Shoe Boots ($135) or ASOS' Phoenix Zip Front Shoes ($60) to offset the semi-skimpy silhouette of your dress.
Tip # 4: Add texture with ornate accessories.
One of the things we love about model/stylist/designer Erin Wasson is the way she invariably makes simplicity interesting. Take the outfit she wore to Phi's F/W 09 show for example: even though she's primarily in black, there's nothing boring about her look, thanks to the addition of two ornate accessories┬--a Prada crackle fringe bag and multi-buckle Phi booties. The next time you want to fancy up your favorite petite noir dress or other understated outfit, just add embellishment via ASOS' Poppy Suede Cage T-Bar Shoes ($85) or Alexander Wang's Abbey High Heel Sandals ($495) and grab a detailed tote like Urban Outfitters' Snakeskin Stud Handbag ($48) or Topshop's Hexagon Studded Bag ($65). The results will be anything but drab┬--we promise!
Tip #5: Experiment with cropped harem pants.
Billowy in the thigh, dropped in the crotch, and eye-catching in every way, harem pants are definitely still au courant. You've probably tried some of the simpler styles by now, so we're guessing you might be ready to take a tip from model Alana Zimmer, seen here at a launch for Louis Vuitton's Cruise 10 collection at Saks Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Zimmer opted for an exaggerated and cropped pair of No.6's AnnTian Warped Pants ($460), which she styled with a simple Alexander Wang tank and a slim Jil Sander jacket for a look that's a deft combination of slouchy and sharp. If you're ready to experiment, simply mix a drapey abbreviated pant, like Helmut Lang's Crop Harem Pants ($275) or Delia's Harem Pant ($30), with your favorite slim tank and blazer. Just be sure to keep the whole thing looking chic by finishing off the look with some statement ankle boots or heels.
Tip #6: Mix a fancy sweater with a t-shirt.
Our final Tip of 2009 comes courtesy of a lady who's had a very stylish year┬--Ms. Byrdie Bell. Photographed at the Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld and RVCA-hosted debut of French artist Nicolas Pol's "The Martus Maw" show, Bell wore an ingenious lace jacket of her own semi-creation (after purchasing it at the Chelsea Flea Market, she cut the lining out of the sleeves!) with a vintage XL tee. The fanciness of the lace elevates the distressed t-shirt, resulting in a high-low look that's perfect for an art opening. We suggest taking Bell's lead and find your own worn-in tee and transformable jacket at your favorite vintage resource, but if you're not interested in searching, Topshop's Premium Lace Bed Jacket ($80) is a good easty-to-find alternative.
Photo of Daria Werbowy, from GettyImages; Photo of Erin Wasson, from firstVIEW.