The Morning-After Ensemble

You wake up with a splitting headache 45 minutes before your weekly staff meeting wearing a sequined dress. Quick: What do you do? Vanessa Lawrence turns the proverbial walk of shame into a walk of fame.


In his paean to Manhattan’s celebrity- and ­socialite- spackled club world, Notes From the Night: A Life After Dark, writer Taylor Plimpton chronicles a scene that begins with the careful putting-together of eye-­catching outfits. “Never mind that most of these places are so dark no one can see what you’re wearing ­anyway,” he writes, “nor the fact that whatever nice thing you’re wearing that no one can see is bound to get splattered by the muck of the night: This is New York, and we want to look good.”

Of course, the detritus of the next morning can prove far trickier, as many fashionable multitaskers know. Everyone’s done time in office bathrooms primping for the night’s activities, and for designers, the day-to-evening ensemble is a reliable—and bankable—staple. But when they’ve drunk the last drop of champers after last call at the Boom Boom Room and an early work meeting looms, how do style-conscious ladies cope with ­evening-to-day, sartorially speaking?

For those lucky enough to make it home first—which isn’t always a given, of course—a tried-and-true action plan is in order. “Not that I was off the rails dicing lines of coke with my MetroCard, but I would be tired—and I certainly have had a few too many Bellinis at any Cipriani-based event,” recalls Jill Kargman, a former party columnist for and now a mother of three. “The next day, it’s all about neutrals: Who wants to wear fire engine red when they feel like ass?”

The hedge funder–turned–beauty entrepreneur Julie Macklowe learned that the hard way. “Sometimes my judgment is not as ideal first thing in the morning as it should be,” she says. Case in point: the time she went to a company dinner that had food she didn’t care for, which meant she went underfed—but not underserved. The next morning, Macklowe slipped into an electric blue leather Chanel dress with a big white bolero, a white leather jacket, and knee-high cream boots. “I looked like something out of a marching band,” she says. “My husband stopped me and was like, ‘Julie, go back and change your clothes immediately.’ ”

While Macklowe has since avoided attention-seeking ensembles on mornings with a rough landing, Nylon Editor at Large Dani Stahl boldly employs a counterintuitive approach. “If I’m a little worse for the wear, putting on shiny stuff really detracts from that,” she says. Stahl goes for an Yves Saint ­Laurent or ­Gucci blazer, adds sunglasses (she has 12 pairs of big round ­Diors), and piles on the bling—fortunately for her, she designs for the jewelry line Lia Sophia.

But let’s face it: Your favorite accessories and go-to pieces aren’t always within reach. Fabiola Beracasa often encountered this scenario when she found herself waking up to her fiancé’s closet ­instead of her own. “Anybody who’s ever lived in New York learns how to be resourceful,” says the former Dior staffer and creative director at Circa jewelry. “And there’s always some kind of boyfriend trend that’s in.” Beracasa would happily slip into the pants from her man’s slim-cut Tom Ford, Dior Homme, or custom-­tailored suits and throw on her top from the night before; on other occasions, she’d belt one of his bespoke shirts or cardigans over American Apparel leggings she’d stowed in her bag. Designer Elise Overland stashes tights—her own stretch-leather ­variety—to pair with an oversize men’s button-down the next morning. (Overland has even devised a special way of tying men’s shirts so that, she says, they resemble a deconstructed Ann Demeulemeester piece.)

Still, sometimes even the keenest fashionista comes across outfits that are impossible to reconfigure for daytime. On one of her frequent trips to India, Overland slept at a friend’s house after a big party and found that the next morning, just as she was headed out to a ­business meeting, she couldn’t retie her 30-foot-long sari. Her solution? She went in the outfit’s underpinnings: a sequined bra top and green petticoat. “I didn’t care,” she says. “And when you don’t care, people don’t dare to care.”

Plimpton concurs. “If you feel like you’re doing the walk of shame, you’ll look like you’re doing the walk of shame,” he says. “You have to remember that you’re recovering from a good time. Walk with pride.”

Photo: Guy Bourdin/Art + Commerce