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    it happens every year around this time. the calendar starts filling up with holiday parties, work events, and other social obligations, and I decide that I have nothing to wear to anything! obviously, that's not true; I'm very lucky to have plenty to wear. but for whatever reason, I always want to wear something new to social functions. yes, I realize that's silly and superficial - but I also know I'm not alone in this. because so many of us face the 'nothing to wear' dilemma this time of year, I've pulled together a list of tips focused on ways to look great while staying on budget throughout the holiday season. (note: the styles linked in each section fall into a variety of price ranges.)
    1. shop sales
    I hardly ever buy anything full-price - and this is especially true during the holiday season. stores practically give things away this time of year (ok, not quite...but close...), and shopping sales can be a great way to find high-quality seasonal clothes and accessories at a fraction of their regular retail prices. keep an eye out for sale announcements at your favorite stores, and check out online retailers like ruelala, gilt, and hautelook for flash sale events.
    2. use accessories
    the power accessories have to transform an outfit is truly astonishing. if you wear the same dress to several different events, simply switch out your accessories. a different clutch, shoes, and / or jewelry can make your dress look like a totally different piece each time you put it on. choose one accessory to be a standout statement-maker (bright red shoes or an oversized necklace, for example), and people's attention will be drawn to that item, rather than to whatever it is that you're wearing on repeat. (a few jewelry suggestions: one  /  two  /  three  /  four).

    3. layering dresses
    this one is new to me - but I plan to try it out this season: layer a cozy, slouchy sweater or a full skirt over a slinky, shimmery dress. this simple little trick can turn your festive cocktail dress into a stylish skirt or a sexy top - thereby expanding its wearability - in seconds. test out your layered look before the day of your party or event though, to ensure that the pieces you plan to layer actually work well together.

    4. invest in separates
    separates are my thing. yes, I love a good cocktail dress - but, unless you layer it (see above...), a memorable dress will remain memorable. meaning, of course, that you probably won't want to wear it to back-to-back parties. but, you can easily wear a fab skirt or some sleek pants with different tops to create a range of looks.

    5. save on trends
    this time of year, it's easy to feel the need to splurge on anything and everything sequined and sparkly. but, if I'm totally honest with myself, I know that the amount of wear I'll get out of that "must-have", $400 sequined party dress is very limited. so, instead of splurging on trends or limited-wear styles, shop for these pieces at lower-cost stores like asos, zara, or j.crew factory.
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    how do you stay on budget while still looking great during the holiday party season? leave a comment below to share your own tips!