New York Joe Costa, the national makeup artist for Yves Saint Laurent, says women gravitate toward one extreme or the other when they're getting all dressed up: They put on either too much makeup or not enough.
A happy medium can be achieved by adding some brighter colors and a little shimmer to your everyday "face," he advises.
"Deciding how much makeup you wear to a party should depend on how much makeup you wear in your normal life," says Costa.
He says the overall look should be simple because you don't want to worry about keeping up complicated shading and extreme lines all night. Play up eye makeup since it is more likely to stay in place over the course of several hours.
According to Costa, the first step toward dramatic eyes is to define the eyebrows by filling in behind the hair with a pencil.
Next, use some dark, smoky eye shadow colors, such as gray and black on the eyelids. Eyeliner, preferably a midnight blue or forest green, on the outer corners of the eyes creates a slightly exotic touch, and a few coats of mascara adds the punctuation.
Many black-tie events are complemented with soft lighting, and a little shimmer on the lid (under the shadow for an understated glow or on top of shadow for more of a highlight) helps a woman take full advantage of her special surroundings, Costa says.
Moving on to the mouth, he uses a lip liner to cover the entire lip area. Using it as a filler instead of just a liner will help create an even look and keep your lipstick on.
To infuse a little brightness, choose a lip liner with a "little more punch" than you wear to work but then keep your lipstick within the normal palette, he says.
On the cheeks, play it safe with a pink or apricot blush. In fact, Costa adds, once you find a blush color that works with your skin tone, stick pretty close to it. "You don't need to change your blush as often as your shadow or lipstick."
This black-tie-worthy makeup routine should work for just about anyone " no matter the age or skin tone " but Costa still recommends a dry run the day before a big event.
Before heading out to the big party, a woman should fill her typically small evening purse with a lip liner, which can do double duty as lipstick, an eye-cheek illuminator and a compact with pressed powder, Costa says. When space is really tight, don't bother packing a full container of eye shadow, just take a sponge applicator from an eye shadow kit, dab it in the color and then wrap it in a tissue.