OK, ladies: It’s T minus 36 hours and counting until the ball drops, and you’ve just decided to rally because you’ve received an invitation you simply can’t refuse. (Or you’ve suddenly decided that Champagne enjoyed alone is just ... drinking alone. Suit yourself.) But at first glance, your closet seemingly has other plans. What the hell are you going to wear?

First of all, take a deep breath, because you’re likely just having a brain freeze. Like Halloween, New Year’s Eve is a holiday tailor-made for making something magical out of nothing—plus, it’s a great metaphor for starting a new year. Truth is, there’s a very good chance that the perfect outfit is right in front of you; you just don’t know it yet. And if by chance it’s not, there are ways to swiftly solve that problem, too. We may be in an active countdown to the end of 2017, but let’s start at the beginning:

Know Your Audience

What’s the dress code? Are we talking a night spent dancing to club bangers, or a formal Champagne toast (hint: If there’s no actual invite, you’re likely closer to the former)? While conventional wisdom dictates that it’s better to be overdressed than under, no one really enjoys being the ball gown in a sea of boyfriend jeans. Conversely, we’re all too old to keep showing up to events in “dressy casual” when cocktail or formal attire has been requested.


Do the Math

Once you know what you’re dressing for, it’s time to play the numbers: When it comes to putting together the perfect outfit, sometimes it’s as simple as adding up your assets. Here’s my suggestion: Clear your bed (first make it) and search your closet for the following:

  • A little black (seasonally appropriate) dress. If you don’t have one yet, you’re not adulting right—it’s a cliché for a reason.
  • Dressy heels or heeled boots/booties.
  • Your most flattering jeans—extra points if you own a pair with embellishments (it’s a fine line, but fashion-forward versions are out there—and they’re back in style).
  • Something sparkly or shiny—it could be a blouse or dress, or statement jewelry.
  • Something luxe—reach for satins, sequins, silk or velvets; just keep in mind that none of the above takes dance-floor sweat well.

Got an array? OK, lay it all out and let’s pair and play. I’ll start:

Black body-con dress + heels + sparkly gold clutch and hoops = cocktail party
Sleeveless turtleneck + sparkly track pants + animal-print flats and clutch = festive
Satin skirt + off-the shoulder top + beaded booties = cocktail party
Silver pajama top + embellished jeans + silver heels = festive/dressy casual
Bronze sequinned jacket + ivory jeans and tank + snakeskin clutch = dressy casual

That’s just what was in my closet—and most of these items can be mixed and matched! I bet you’re also in possession of a few separates that are screaming to be combined in new ways. Believe it or not, I’ve never worn any of these combinations—but I will in 2018!

Call on Customer Service

OK, so maybe you really are at a loss for the perfect dress, shoes or other items you need to ring in the new year in style. If so, it’s time to take advantage of the pick-up-in-store options now available from many of your favorite major retailers. Nordstrom, Macy’s, Gap and even DSW allow you not only to see what’s in stock but also to reserve it for yourself for same- or next-day pickup—you can even filter using that option.


So, yes, you can score a last-minute pair of the perfect shoes, or even a full-length ball gown—Nordstrom even allows you to try before you buy! You might not be so late to the party after all.


If 2017 leaves you with nothing else, remember this: If you exercise your options, your New Year’s look will come together beautifully this and every year. So put those worries aside and focus on something really important: Who are you going to kiss at midnight?

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.

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