We ask more of our clothes during the holiday season. The rest of the year, an office outfit is an office outfit and an evening ensemble is just that.
But during that brief time when one might be called on to do her day job during the day and then attend a party or charity event at night, dressing becomes a strategic activity. The outfit needs to look crisp and fresh for an extended period of time, be appropriate for all sorts of settings and, most importantly, be comfortable enough so a smile can be mustered at 8 p.m.
Three busy women -- Nancy O'Dell, dress designer Julie Haas and Banana Republic's vice president of women's design, Alessandra Brunialti -- show the AP how to dress for all-day success.
Nancy O'Dell has the luxury of a secondary closet, the wardrobe room at the "Access Hollywood" studio in Los Angeles. When she goes from the set, where she describes her typical outfit as casual yet professional, to either a more formal premiere or a personal event, she reaches for one of three "Access" dresses.
Each one is in a jewel-tone color -- black isn't good for her on-camera gig -- and each has a pencil-skirt bottom. One of them has a zippered front so she can pull it all the way up and look conservative during the day and then send it south for a sexy neckline at night.
She calls her pencil dresses her "quick-change" dresses, even though she never changes her dress at all. O'Dell changes her shoes from flats to strappy sandals or high-heel boots and then adds a chunky piece of jewelry. She'll also swap little stud earrings for larger sparkly ones.
"For me, the biggest change is the accessories and shoes. Shoes give a huge fashion change: You can go from a beach party in flip-flops to strappy high heels and look very eveningish," O'Dell says.
All-day hair and makeup is another challenge. "If I want my hair to last a long time, a long pony for work and turn the pony to a chignon for evening," she says.
She wears minimal eye makeup during the day, so she can pump it up in the evening _ eye makeup can get cakey if you wear it too long. Her lips are colored in a pale-colored lipstick no matter what time of day it is.
Usually O'Dell knows in advance if she's going to have one of those long day-to-night days but, she says, surprises do come up. She's prepared, though.
"I keep in my bag, in my car, my essentials: a silver and gold chunky necklace, hair pins, costume jewelry, platinum strappy heels, an eye-shadow kit," O'Dell explains. "I have my earthquake survival bag, my wardrobe survival bag and my baby survival bag."
Julie Haus, a designer best known for dresses, chose a pantsuit as the ideal day-to-night outfit during the holiday season. She suggests the skinny-leg black satin trousers known as the "rock-star pencil pant" from her line with a cropped conductor's jacket, also in shiny black satin.
"I would wear this to a meeting with a buyer, a cocktail party or a restaurant for dinner," Haus says. "November to January is when you can wear satin charmeuse every day. It's the only time of year you can do that."
She likes these particular satin pants because the fabric also includes Lycra, which helps them keep their shape from morning to night and also keeps them from wrinkling.
Her daytime top is a silver charmeuse blouse with high ruffled-collar neck and a total of 43 covered buttons down the front and up the sleeves. It's also from her own collection.