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Dress Like a Star for Your Class Reunion

10 tips to take you to the head of the class

spinner image Various ways to dress for a reunion
Getty Images (3), John Lamparski; Daniele Venturelli; John Wolfsohn

If we've learned anything from celebrities, it's how to steal the show. Popping up 30, 40 or 50 years after graduation looking better than ever is an ego boost. It can reignite old friendships, forge new ones and avenge the girl who stole your boyfriend or the guy who dumped you for a cheerleader. But you're not the person you were at 17 or 21 and these events are loaded with a mix of nostalgia and anxiety. How you dress and look tells your story. Make it a tale to remember with 10 sneaky tips gleaned from red carpet divas.

spinner image Jamie Lee Curtis, Karin Gist and Bevy Smith dressed up.
Jamie Lee Curtis in white knee-length sheath with elbow sleeves; Karin Gist in red boatneck dress; Bevy Smith in pink print sheath with scoop neck and sparkly statement necklace

1. Make a color-friendly entrance

If you have to choose between "black makes me look thin" and "red" makes me look warm, approachable and upbeat" do you even have to ask? For some women though, wearing black is like having a security dog by your side and if that's you, go with it. Otherwise, white or a vibrant color is flattering, makes you stand out in the crowd and is easily identifiable as in "you can't miss her, she's wearing a white pantsuit." Generally, any bright — especially white, red, pink, yellow or orange — energizes your skin and overall look when you're stressed out or tired.

spinner image Laura Dern and Vanessa Bell Calloway with rosy cheeks
Laura Dern: rosy cheeks, lined eyes, rosy natural lips, wavy hair, white dress; Vanessa Bell Calloway: dewy skin, rosy cheeks, short reddish natural hair, hoops, natural makeup, defined eyes, liner, brows

2. Give your skin a healthy bloom

Check out celebs and note how their faces and any exposed skin (including neck, chest, arms, legs and hands) gleam with baby-like freshness. They prep before a party at a fancy day spa, cosmetic dermatologist or facialist. But you can pop into any drugstore and DIY. Even if the reunion's tomorrow, 20 minutes with a bunch of gentle exfoliating or brightening masks (use them on your chest too if your neckline is low) and a line-plumping hyaluronic acid cream or botanical oil restores a satiny pre-makeup glow. Make your last out-the-door touch a cream blush in a vibrant pink to keep it going all night.

spinner image Martha Stewart, Rita Wilson and Helen Mirren with various hair styles
Martha Stewart: layered bob, highlighted gray-blonde; Rita Wilson: highlighted blonde on brown wavy long hair, defined eyes, sequin top with high crew neck; Helen Mirren: shorter gray chic hair, orange sweater, green statement earrings

3. Tweak your hair

No big spontaneous changes, just a little boost. You might add bangs or some long layers for movement and the illusion of thicker hair, touch up your roots, get highlights (or refresh old ones) around the face. FYI: "lights" illuminate your skin and work for any shade of hair, including brown and gray. A little self-indulgence makes us feel invincible. Go to a blow-dry "bar" or your favorite stylist — your hair will last three days before needing a shampoo, and it'll provide an extra shot of adrenaline.

spinner image Yvette Nicole Brown and Kathy Bates with beaming smiles
Yvette Nicole Brown: pearly white teeth and tawny rose lipstick; Kathy Bates: beaming smile and rosy red lipstick

4. Heat up your smile with cool lipstick

Most celebs over 50 have veneers or do professional whitening treatments that involve high-concentration peroxide gels and laser or light at the dentist. While a regimen of at-home teeth-whitening strips, gels, rinses, kits and pastes may subtly improve stains — especially if you're a big coffee, tea or red wine fan — results are mild for mature teeth and require weeks, even months, of diligence. For an immediate fix simply swap any warm lipstick for a blue-based shade since cool tones counteract yellow champers. Choose from rosy or pink neutrals to rich berries, plums and chilly reds.

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spinner image Oprah Winfrey and Barbra Streisand looking stunning
Oprah Winfrey enjoys every curve in a draped and ruched green gown; Barbra Streisand looks stunning in a black two-piece outfit.

5. Own your size and the way you have aged

Don't explain or apologize for your weight, gray hair, hearing aids or any other signs of change. You're way cooler and smarter — and self-confident about your looks. Skip the extreme diet. You don't have the same body you had in high school or college (and neither does anyone else there). You'll just end up cranky and irritable and feeling deprived instead of peppy and up. But do lay off the alcohol and sodium in advance since the resulting bloating of tummy or breasts, puffy face and under-eye bags will not enhance your selfies. Eat healthy and skip the extra snacks — your clothes and social media photos (there will be plenty posted!) will thank you.

spinner image Mira Sorvino, Kylie Minogue and Gloria Gaynor in various looks
Mira Sorvino wears a romantic ruffled little black dress, Kylie Minogue goes LBD glam, and Gloria Gaynor looks effusive with her signature long curly hair and a red sparkly tunic over black pants.

6. Know the dress code, but be yourself

Let the venue, time, place and general theme lead the way but don’t buy something new unless it fits your real lifestyle. Besides, most likely no one has seen your wardrobe so it's all new! Being comfortable will boost your confidence. For a dressier night, you can't go wrong with a little black dress like Mira Sorvino or Kylie Minogue, or black dress pants with a tux jacket or a sparkly top like Gloria Gaynor.

spinner image Tamron Hall, Michelle Byrd and Angela Bassett wearing flashy tops
Tamron Hall in black and white zebra stripes; Michelle Byrd in beaded statement necklace; Angela Bassett in bright yellow with giant disc earrings

7. Wear a conversation starter

You don't need a tattooed vine running down your arm or blue streaks in your hair — but if that's the real you, go for it!  Add something that provides an opportunity for introverts to comment and a "friend me on Facebook” opener for everyone else. How about a zebra print dress, an oversize statement necklace, or "wow" earrings?  Wear a scent that upgrades your mood and initiates a "you smell delicious, what is that perfume?" comment. Scent is a powerful people connector. Try an uplifting fragrance with summery notes like grapefruit, vanilla or coconut that transmit a feel-good vacation vibe throughout the festivities.

spinner image Jane Fonda, Iman Abdelhamid and Sandra Lee dressed up
Jane Fonda in slim black pants, relaxed black boatneck poncho, full tousled bob, long gold chain necklace; Iman Abdelhamid in black jeans, purple ruched blouse, raspberry velvet blazer; Sandra Lee in sapphire blue velvet blazer, leggings, black ballet flats and white statement glasses

8. Make ordinary extraordinary

More informal “dress casual” reunions call for day looks upgraded with accessories. Being overdressed comes across as trying too hard, especially if the get-together is at a cool bar or seaside bistro. Start with jeans (black, white, gray or blue) or everyday black pants and add a trendy transformational top. You can even sport faux leather jeans or leggings and just add a special jacket or blouse.

spinner image Thelma Houston, Suzanne Somers and Cicely Tyson shows off unique styles
Thelma Houston shows off her fearless edgy style in blonde spiky short hair with dark roots, glowing cheeks; Suzanne Somers wears elbow sleeves and pale pink heels; Cicely Tyson shows off trim legs with jewel-buckle pumps and sheer black hose.

9. Flaunt it

Your brain and people skills are the catalyst, but do yourself a favor and show off something visible — still amazing legs and trim ankles, toned arms, great shoulders, shiny lustrous hair, mesmerizing eyes rimmed with liner, beautiful hands and elegant wrists stacked with rings and bracelets or fearless edgy style — whatever is your personal best.

spinner image Christie Brinkley and Cindy Crawford dressed up and cheerful.
Christie Brinkley in black leather jeans, gold booties, plaid blazer and T-shirt; Cindy Crawford in black leather jeans, leopard blouse and strappy heels.

10. Body language is major

While ex-supermodels, dancers and actresses with a fitness obsession have this down cold, many real women don't know how to "work it!" Don't spend the party hunched over your mobile or slouched in a chair. In group shots, do the model cling — stand sideways and hug the person next to you, bend your near leg in (like you're trying not to pee) and laugh. Stand up straight, make eye contact, and smile (with eyes and lips). Look like you're having the time of your life and if you're not ... fake it until you make it.

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