A light, gauzy scarf in a bold pattern, like this Printed Scarf ($12.50, oldnavy.com), adds flare to office basics.
Pick tops in colors and cuts that will work all day -- like jewel tones instead of pastels, and sleeveless blouses or V-necks that show just the right amount of skin. The Silk Grosgrain Neckline Top ($75, anntaylor.com), has subtle details that won’t compete with accessories.
Luckily, oversize bags are trendy now: Avon’s Wool Tote of the Town ($35, avon.com), can easily fit everything you’ll need to transition from day to night, including a sleek clutch. At work, use one with organizing pockets, like the Black Flap Double Frame Clutch Bag ($15, target.com), as your wallet. At night, remove it and use as your evening bag.
Wear comfortable flats for walking the office or running errands. You can keep them on at night if you play up other accessories like jewelry. Pair ones in bright colors, patent leather or metallics, like BC Footwear Good Cause Flat shoes ($60, endless.com), with a neutral bag.
Trade your scarf for a long set of beads, like this Exotic Long Necklace ($10, payless.com), to amp after-hours elegance. Keep one or two accessories -- silver or gold dangly earrings are another good bet -- in the pocket of your purse for a quick hint of sparkle.
Take advantage of flattering plaids and stripes: At night, throw on a patterned jacket to give personality to office neutrals. Apt. 9 Raglan Sleeve Double-Breasted Jacket ($72, kohls.com) has a formfitting wraparound tie.
Black boot-cut slacks, like these Everywhere Trousers ($29.50, oldnavy.com), belong in everyone’s wardrobe: Their straight lines create the illusion of slimmer thighs, and they flare slightly at the ankle to complement all shoes.
Keep a pair of strappy heels in your desk drawer or bag, then change into them before heading out for the night. The T-strap on Kenneth Cole Reaction Know Lace T-Strap shoes ($89, endless.com) stabilizes your ankle.
Lift hair off your face for instant glamour. If you have two bobby pins, you’re in business.
1. Pull a 2- to 3-inch section (use your eyebrow arches as markers) to the top of your head, leaving a little bump so it’s not taut.
2. Place the bobby pins in an “X” shape to secure. Finish with a shot of hairspray.
*Prices and other information were accurate when we published this article in September 2009.