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PUT A LITTLE SPARKLE IN NEW YEAR'S EVE

Forget making any ambitious resolutions about organizing your closet or upgrading your wardrobe in 1998. If you're like a lot of women, you're probably just trying to pull together a last-minute outfit to get you through New Year's Eve.

The quickest solution is to feign illness and reserve the best seat in the house -- your couch.

Next year you'll do beads and eyeliner. This year, it's a robe and fuzzy slippers.

Well, maybe not.

You're committed to going out. Probably even looking forward to it, right?

Even if you do need some 11th-hour fashion advice.

For starters, keep in mind that New Year's Eve is the night to shine. While other revelers may settle for party hats and horns, let your stylish side motivate you to dash to the nearest costume jewelry counter to pick out some sparkling baubles.

There's also a good chance you will find some interesting pieces at a local vintage clothing store as well as deep inside your mother's or grandmother's jewelry box.

Either way, think sparkle.

"What I do is take a black outfit, pull up my hair, put on some crystal costume jewelry and away I go," said Mary S. McGuire, a local free-lance fashion event coordinator and training specialist for Estee Lauder.

Or, try dressing up your shoes with some decorative clips. These can be found in shoe or accessory departments and will transform your basic black evening pumps into dazzling dancing shoes.

Three other quick tips:

Dig out that black, midnight blue or ivory pant suit and put it in the party mood by pairing it with silver-or gold-hued socks, a shimmering Lurex tank or turtleneck, a metallic belt or whatever else you can find that shines.

Just don't overdo it.

If you can fit in some shopping time, be sure to check out the intimate apparel department for a body suit or camisole that can be worn as a layering piece under a jacket.

Take a basic black dress and spruce it up at the neckline with a metallic or beaded scarf in a soft fabric. Match your earrings to the scarf, add black sheers and heels, grab a small evening bag and you're out the door.

Unless your favorite black jacket has tons of buttons on it, consider replacing its plain buttons with some fancier models.

If it has a single-button closure and a small button on each sleeve,
you can go all out and sew on rhinestone ones just for the evening without investing too much time or money in the project. After the soiree, return to the old buttons and set aside the rhinestones for the next big bash.

Just make sure the new buttons fit the old buttonholes.

Another strategy: Put extra time and energy into hair and makeup rather than getting all worked up about what you are going to wear.

"Try a different hairstyle than you wear everyday -- put it up or give it a little tease in back to give it some lift," Ms. McGuire said.

As for makeup, "if you wear red lipstick everyday, try wearing light lipstick and dark eyes instead," she added.

The idea is to focus on either the eyes or the lips.

If you go for dramatic lipstick, downplay your eyes. If you want to go glamorous with dark, smoky eyes, keep your lips light so they don't compete.

Plenty of glimmer, glitz and shine can be found at makeup counters everywhere this year as well. Nail polishes in all price ranges -- both department store and drug store varieties -- come in an assortment of metallic shades, such as silver and gold.

There's even silvery and golden lip colors as well as products designed for creating instant temporary streaks of shiny color in your hair. Revlon, for example, introduced Streetlights "hair mascara" in its Streetwear line.

Some specially concocted face and body powders add shimmer to cheekbones, shoulders, decolletage, anywhere. The most daring party-goers may even dip into body glitter products . . .

Naturally, you don't want to scare away people by wearing all of the above. A little goes a long way.

As New York makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin points out in his book "The Art of Makeup," metallics can be stunning for a nighttime party -- if used carefully.

"Often, if I use a metallic on one feature, I'll keep the rest of the face matte or semi-matte," he wrote.

Also remember if you play up hair and makeup, keep your outfit simple -- or run the risk of resembling a walking Christmas tree.

Finally, vintage -- and vintage-style -- accessories will add plenty of party pizzazz to your New Year's Eve ensemble.

Make an entrance wearing an oversized scarf or shawl wrapped around your shoulders. Dig that feather boa out of the attic, fling it around your neck and give them your best, "Hello, dahhhhling." Or wear a great hat -- either a cocktail hat or a velvety number you can dress up with silk roses or jewelry.

It sure beats wearing a paper party hat.

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