The Bottom Line on Party Dressing Finishing touches should be added with fun in mind

December 24, 1992|By Vida Roberts | Vida Roberts,Staff Writer

In the flurry of final preparations we sometimes forget that holidays are meant to be fun. Children understand -- they don't get bogged down with politically correct wrapping paper or office party politics. They like to keep things cheerful and a bit gaudy. Keep that in mind when putting together a party look for New Year's Eve.

The buzz from the top of the fashion pyramid this season is the new elegance, the understated and spare evening look. That less-is-more philosophy is fine for the fashion watchers who now believe an invisible four-figure price tag is all the accessorizing an elegant black dress needs. An evergreen in its natural state is elegant, too, but the child in us won't ever be convinced it's a holiday tree unless it wears some trim. Subtlety is fine for day, but it tends to get lost in the whirl of a party.

That doesn't mean today's evening looks have to pack the wallop of an old Joan Collins "Dynasty" ensemble, but they do need glow. Here, then, are some ways to add life to a party dress.

* Many of the new evening dresses have built-in jewels -- a glittery catch at the neckline or sparkling clips at the shoulders. Let the dress stand on its own. Keep all other glitter as far away as possible. If the neckline is ornamented, keep earrings minimal and introduce sparkle at the wrist or near the ankle.

* If the dress is intricately beaded or embroidered, any other gems you wear should be proportionately larger. Avoid busy jewelry designs and go with one huge faux jewel at the ears or fingers.

* Black lace has a power all its own and needs very little help. It gets its glow from the fabric that isn't there. Stick to pearls and watch sparks happen.

* If the dress is jewel-toned -- emerald, a ruby red or sapphire blue -- consider only gold accessories. Think how beautiful a ruby looks in a heavy, gold setting. If you have inherited the real thing from grandmother, by all means pile it on.

* At more intimate gatherings where ease and comfort are just as important as prettiness, a soft blouse and pants can look more important if they are finished with a rich, bold belt. If an ornate belt seems like a limited investment, consider wrapping the waist with a ribbon or silk scarf and catching it with a large pin.

* One of the strongest turn-arounds in fashion this season is the shoe. The little suede pump with a skinny heel will date even the newest long column sheath or tuxedo spinoff. The most festive shoes have a stronger, set-back heel and a touch of platform between the foot and the dance floor.

Some of the most interesting set off the platform in gold, silver or rhinestones. The extra advantage to wearing a platform shoe is that the heel can rise to greater heights without putting extra stress on the arch.

A velvet or brocade slipper will hit the right note for small gatherings. The prettiest are beaded, buckled or embroidered in gold and have the look of jewelry when they're seen tucked up on the sofa.

* One of the first things that goes on in dressing for a gala event is often the last thing considered. Hosiery can make or break an outfit. With so many new textures, colors and trims so widely available, there is no excuse for a tired-looking leg.

However, it's important to remember that with a short dress, stockings should carry color down from the hem or up from the shoe. A stocking that contrasts with both shoe and dress will cut the length of the leg.

A long dress that is slit to reveal lots of leg can take stockings to any degree of whimsy -- glitter, flocking, lace, stripes or sprinkles of jewels.

* Feeling shopped out? Can't face the idea of trying on party clothes? You can sweep the stores for something to carry -- a jewel-encrusted evening bag in a boxier new shape or gloves with some --.

* As a last resort, shop your own closet. Add sparkle buttons to that reliable old dress. Buy some glitzy shoe clips for the shoes that dance well.

Remember, a party is meant to lighten your spirit and not your wallet.

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