There once was an epoch when a woman would wear a dress and pearls while vacuuming her home and then dress even more formally for dinner. Today’s woman might occasionally have the leisure and desire to pull that off; however, most are running from one thing to the next with the rapidity of a machine gun. It has become important to assemble outfits that transition easily from day to night, from work to dinner, and from errands to a party. Christina Peri at Enzee in Elmhurst and Rebecca Margarites at Jolie Boutique in Downers Grove both have keen insight into this necessity and have the boutiques to back it up.
Margarites has been in the dress business for 23 years. Her first local store opened in Downers Grove 13 years ago.
In consideration of a transitional, day-to-night dress, she offers that basic, comfort and color are key. “Basic, basic, basic, “ she advises. “And then I would add black. I would look for a jersey lycra material. You should also look for fit. Something that’s a little bit more figure flattering. A tighter silhouette - something that hugs closer to the body... to be fitted somewhere. If you’re older, then an A-Line [silhouette] will be better, especially someone who has more generous hips. Otherwise maybe tighter on the body with a draped neckline.”
When thinking about a transitional dress, Peri explained that this is an instance where a woman can embrace the fashion trends.
“Fashion rules are constantly changing and nowadays many dresses can be worn during the day or at night,” she says. “Many of today’s designers are creating pieces that give women freedom and flexibility in their clothing choices.
“Length doesn’t really matter,” she adds. “The maxi dress (which is longer and hits at about the ankle) can be worn during the day or in the evening. This holds true to shorter dresses as well.”
Although the dress might not be that important for transitioning from day to night, Peri provided some direction, in the form of bling.
“It’s all about the add-ons,” she advises. “For the daytime, a sleeveless dress can be paired with a cardigan or blazer for a more conservative look or a scarf and denim jacket for a laid back casual look. Keep your accessories casual with a stack of bracelets, simple pendant necklace and hoop earrings. Look for textured metals, semi-precious beads and leather accents. For evening, add a sparkly clutch or wristlet and a pashmina or shawl for a chilly night then glam it up with crystal jewelry.”
Margarites adds that what you carry can have as much of an impact as what you wear.
“You definitely would want to ditch any kind of backpack or oversized leather bag and downsize to a clutch or something that’s more sophisticated. I would go from a closed toe pump to an open toed strappy sandal. I would take off the jacket and add a wrap. I would change the jewelry to something with sparkle. Then voilà! Presto chango! ”
Throw a few change agents into that sparkly bag as well, in the form of cosmetics.
“[Evening] would be a time to add a little more drama to your make up - darken up your make up and add more eye liner,” Margarites says. “It’s an opportunity to put your hair up. Add a little lip gloss - a little shine to the lip.”
If you have the time, you might even add a shiny top coat to those nails.
“When in doubt, keep the dress simple and conservative and use your accessories to transform your look,” Peri says.
In short, choose a base dress that you like and then dress it up or down with appropriate jewelry, shawls or jackets, and footwear. Check yourself in a full-length mirror before heading out. Maybe give yourself a sassy wink or pat on the back for being a busy woman who is able to look appropriate and good regardless of the situation. After all – it’s all about the attitude!