This year's top accents

Sparking up any basic black is easy to do with color and/or accessories.

"You can wear your basic black and then add a great metallic shawl with black running though it or metallics like copper, gold or silver," notes Feldon. "It's good to add a little bit of glitter. I think a little bit of shine and pizzazz is what makes it special. Add gold or silver jewelry, or diamonds, or any sort of colored accessory, such as something with red in it."

(See our new feature,  "Party accessories that will make you shine!")

Feldon also advises choosing colorful shoes. Again, she says, red is perfect. She loves names like Donald Pliner, Manolo Blahnik or Jimmy Choo. Or see what the expensive brands are showing and buy similar styles that cost less.

Closed-toe shoes take the "after-five" effect away from your look. Open toe or strappy shoes are best, Kumar suggests.

When prepping for any casual cocktail party, it's great if you can be a little bit edgy and sexy, Feldon maintains. "Show a little skin," she says. "That's always a little more festive."

 

Whether you pull out your basic black and jazz it up this season, or buy a new velvet dress, a chic suit, or Victorian Granny high heel boots, make sure you feel comfortable in it. Don't wear anything that makes you feel awkward, because feeling fabulous will make you look amazing.