“NEW YEAR’S EVE is so fascinating,” said designer Cynthia Rowley, who creates flirt-tastic evening wear for stars like Scarlett Johansson and Julia Roberts. “Everyone’s trying to have this amazing night, as if it’s the last party in the world.”

The pressure to make it “perfect” often leads to goofy clichés. The silly crowns. The plastic “feather” boas and skimpy sequin dresses. And that’s not even counting the tapped-out irony of Prince’s “1999” blaring on the speakers, or the mascara-tinged tears when your Uber driver cancels. But though the night itself is fast, the photos last forever…as do the outfits we wear.

Take it from me. I don’t recall all the names of men I’ve kissed on New Year’s Eve, but I do remember the outfits I sported while smooching them on champagne-sloshed couches.

There was a gallery owner in 2020. His name: Search me. The dress: A 1970s Pucci mini procured at a London street fair. The music producer from 2019 was…Dan, maybe? But I can still ID the gown: a satin violet Marc Jacobs. And a few dance floors ago, I kissed a girl when the ball dropped. And I liked it. But I liked my velvet Saint Laurent miniskirt far more.

As we set goals for our 2024 selves, let’s look past the clichés, invest in pieces that work beyond a nightclub, and leave the tinsel boas where they belong: in the prop bin for a community theater production of “Sweet Charity.”

OLD NEWS: Little Black Dress | NEW YOU: Little White Dress

“When you wear a white dress, you’re going to be seen,” said Kaitlin Prince, the marketing and events director of Authentic Hospitality, who oversees parties at New York haunts like Jac’s on Bond. “You’ll be visible at a crowded bar. You’ll be easy to spot on the dance floor. And because white goes with everything, you can add very cool shoes and accessories.” Prince has been pairing hers (a vintage number) with lipstick-red boots from Celine. Adds Andrea Lieberman, creative director of womenswear brand A.L.C. (and former J.Lo stylist), “White is modern, unexpected and, above all, hopeful.” She’d style this white cocktail dress with opaque black tights and silver jewelry. Bonus: In white, you won’t be mistaken for a cater-waiter.

OLD NEWS: Plastic Crowns | NEW YOU: Velvet Bows

What does a “2024” plastic crown have in common with the resolution to wake up early? They’ll both be in the trash by morning. Instead, go for a more sustainable, luscious velvet bow like this one, or a jewel-encrusted headband from Lele Sadoughi that you can flaunt year-round. Follow the advice of Serge Normant, the legendary hair guru whose recent, bow-topped ponytail for Sarah Jessica Parker went viral online. For red-carpet worthy results, Normant suggests the following regimen: Make your ponytail first and cinch it with a clear elastic. Then “use a good texturizing spray so the bow doesn’t slide” along with hair spray, and then “hide bobby pins under the bow to secure it.”

OLD NEWS: Clingy Sequin Gown | NEW YOU: Slinky, Shimmery Knitwear

At a recent holiday party on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, media relations executive Bryn Poulos eschewed a bedazzled gown for a closefitting knit maxi dress from Altuzarra. “It’s cozy, easy, sophisticated, and it feels special” without being too obvious, she explained. (We also like these Altuzarraseparates in a glittery knit.) Poulos pairs the dress with knee-high Isabel Marant boots, and often brings its matching sweater along for the night. Added Rowley, “If you’re traveling or staying over at someone’s house for the night, a knitwear dress is so useful because you can roll it up and throw it in your suitcase, and it still looks amazing the next time you wear it.”

OLD NEWS: Fuzzy Boas | NEW YOU: Feathered Frocks

There’s nothing festive about a disposable plastic “feather” boa dyed a garish shade of “polluted-ocean purple.” But a hint of playful fuzz is quite cool, especially when paired with an unexpected fabric like jacquard or cashmere. “I think feathers bring out our inner peacock,” said La DoubleJ designer J.J. Martin, whose (real) feather-hemmed dresses are a staple of her eccentric collections. “We all want to fly, don’t we?” New York designer Sally LaPointe also finds feathered frocks, bestsellers on her website, uplifting. “I always say, ‘I don’t sell clothes. I sell a vibe.’” In such a dress, she said, she’d “feel confident knowing I would look good no matter what ended up happening that night.” Even if it ended with a forgettable kiss.

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