En español | We won't be prancing and posing for the paparazzi or carrying home a swag bag, but our real-life “red carpet” moments still create a combination of buzz and butterflies. My advice: Throw out the rule book and think of that 50th birthday party, class reunion or wedding as a chance to learn some new tricks and raise your style game.
This time around, don't worry about your wrinkles, weight or wimpy hair. Instead, take a look at some celebrity peers who make every festive occasion an easy lesson in star quality.
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PHOTO BY: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures; Steve Granitz/WireImage (2)
1. Show your shape not your skin
If you're shy, modest, always cold or just annoyed by your brown spots, leg veins or arm wiggle, don't apologize or feel uncomfortable. Cover up fashionably with a form-fitting or draped high-neck dress, and leave the spotlight to womanly curves or your hair and makeup. High necklines are super-chic right now — and always. Resist the urge to stick with black and choose a bold color, such as marigold, green or red, that gets you compliments and makes a style statement. You'll be easy to spot in the crowd and make a grand entrance.
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2. Or … just show shoulders for foolproof glamour
Every woman age 50-plus has fabulous shoulders that are worth highlighting. A strapless, bare-shoulder or one-shoulder gown, or even an asymmetric jumpsuit, is a favorite go-to for mature celebrities for that very reason. This style lets you feel sexy without worrying about showing too much cleavage or dribbling crumbs down your chest all evening. Provocative but prudent, shoulder baring is a proven look that functions as a “revenge” dress (as Princess Diana knew all along), since it displays a daring glimpse while still leaving lots to the imagination.
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3. A special little black dress will always save you
While major dress-up events (the kind you RSVP to months in advance) leave ample time to shop, try on, reject and search again, last-minute invites (and those you changed your mind about) do not. A plain day/work dress won't cut it for a day-into-evening celebration like a high school reunion or a bar or bat mitzvah, but a fancy LBD will. Look for one with a little something extra, such as tiers, illusion sleeves or an embellished neckline. It's dress-code perfect for day or night and even for black-tie.
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4. Black dress pants and a festive top may be enough
Not every “occasion” requires a drop-dead gown or a dressy dress. For many low-key bashes, including elegant dinners, cocktail parties and restaurant events, all you need is a more decorative tailored jacket in brocade or velvet or a showstopping black sweater with beading, sequins or feathers. Pair it with your “good” black pants and then add heels, polished hair, makeup and a manicure to send a pizzazz message without looking overdone.
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5. Let statement earrings or a wow necklace power up your look
This is no time for discretion. Pick one major target zone — ears or neck — and then don't hold back on size or sparkle. A multistrand necklace of jumbo pearls or even a paired “set” of dazzlers at neck and lobes can work, but dangly earrings are truly your best bet to light up your face, especially if you're wearing a high-neck dress. And for those who do love a low-neckline dress but worry about showing a sun-damaged chest, know that a bold bib necklace covers all perfectly.
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6. Add lashes, liner and lipstick
The days of dramatic makeup, layers of powder and exaggerated smoky eyes are over. Just line your upper lids and add lashes. This combo makes all the difference in opening, defining, enlarging and emphasizing your eyes without having to mess around with eye shadows. False eyelashes are available at drugstores (the cheapie kinds are fine — you don't need to spend more), and they make mature eyes pop for day, night or the camera. Pair them with your “signature” lip shade of red or a neutral “nude,” or try a soft blue-based pink, rose or berry shade to make teeth appear whiter and your smile brighter.
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PHOTO BY: Amanda Edwards/WireImage; Frazer Harrison/Getty Images; Steve Granitz/WireImage
7. Stick to your typical hairdo
Be realistic here. First, book whatever salon services you need to look polished and feel confidant, like a root touch-up, highlights, a trim or a blowout. Wearing your hair — whether straight, wavy, textured — loose and casually styled pairs well with dressier clothes. It also helps soften facial lines and under-eye shadows and looks contemporary. If you do opt for an updo, keep that loose and casual, too, with some undone pieces around the face. This isn't the time to debut a brand-new look, so skip the curls if your usual look is straight, and avoid extreme extensions.
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8. Give body skin a glow
Remember when a self-tan, spray tan, sheer hosiery or body makeup were the thing to do? Not anymore. Any visible body skin (along with cheeks) needs a healthy, hydrated luminous finish. Be sure to use a nongreasy moisturizer or dry body oil, followed by a touch of bronzer or highlighter to all. A sheer golden or pearly eyeshadow or a shimmery eye corrector makes a good last-minute stand-in for liquid or cream glow. Blend it on anywhere there is a “ledge,” like cheekbones, collarbones, shins and shoulders, as a highlight.
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PHOTO BY: Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images; Raymond Hall/GC Images
9. Stretch and pose with heels and Spanx
This is not the moment for flats, jiggles or checking your texts. You're on! Heels, even a kitten-heel shoe, will stretch your legs and firm your calves. This is why many vertically challenged celebs always wear platform pumps (whether they're in or out of style — but FYI they are in!) under their gowns. They really elongate the body and help balance proportions.
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Let shapewear do the smoothing of the belly, thighs, hips and booty, for a firm shape so you can relax for photos. And for an alternative to the three-quarter pose with hand on hand on hip and elbow out, try standing head-on but cross your legs at the ankle to look taller and slimmer. Remember the afterlife of social media, where your party image will last and replay forever.
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PHOTO BY: H&M (2); ASOS (2)
10. Know the tricks to finding a fabulous dress for under $100
Celebs have an inside track to designers and stylists, and often receive loaners or get gifted for the red carpet PR. We don't. If you're watching your wallet, don't let the ooh and ahh factor of a pricey dress woo you away from your budget. Even fast-fashion sites are good sources for women 50-plus if you stick to simple silhouettes (ones that don't scream “prom” or millennial) in a grownup knee or midi length. Choose a style with up-to-date details (like statement sleeves, pleats and lace), like the H&M Fitted Sequined Dress ($80, hm.com/us), Asos Design Curve Kimono Pleated Maxi Dress ($64, asos.com/us), H&M Draped Dress in Black ($50, hm.com/us) and Asos Design Curve Lace and Pleat Long Sleeve Midi Dress ($87, asos.com/us). Opt for black since this rich-looking neutral keeps low-cost fabrics and iffy workmanship your secret.