How to MacGyver a Party Look When You've Got Next to Nothing to Work With

The beauty equivalent of making a weapon out of an onion ring and a paperclip.

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(Image credit: Getty, design by Betsy Farrell)

Due to unforeseen circumstances or your own negligence—they say gifted children procrastinate, so no planning at all must denote Pythagoras-level cleverness—you've got a party to attend but none of the beauty accoutrements. No glitter, fleck size XXL, so it makes a mosaic effect around your eyes. No fluoro-yellow mascara like they did at Molly Goddard. Nothing but a few orphan bobby pins, a banged-up tube of Topshop Persuasion from the bottom of your bag, and your wits. You can't *not* go, so what do you do? 1) The opposite of panicking, which is probably a quick Headspace session or sitting on the floor until the spin-y feeling passes. Then 2), the following ideas, brought to you by celebrity makeup artist Mai Quynh and our own brains, which might be bad at packing/too good at getting last-minute invitations, but excellent at creative problem-solving.


The beauty of do-or-die is that you either do it, or, you know, perish. Limited options can sometimes lead us to the most elegant solutions, as they do in this case, when you can't even attempt an elaborate up-do because all you've got is one stretched-out elastic and a bottle of hotel-room conditioner. Here is what you can do:


Depending on how successful you are at pulling a suitable outfit together, this part will be either more or less important—more so if, for the first time in your life, you literally have nothing to wear. (Get thee some heels, then, and think Garance Doré.) If you've got a lipstick, put it on, by Jove, as neatly as you can. From there, Quynh suggests, pat some highlighter or the pearly shade from an eyeshadow palette onto the center of the bottom lip. Or rim your waterlines with pencil, on top of what you've already got on. On top of *that,* you could also smear some cream blush (or powder, mixed with some balm or moisturizer) for a striking Kristen Stewart homage.

Our best advice, though: After a few coupes of Champagne, who cares? And maybe, from now on, never leave home without a pair of emergency big earrings.

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Chelsea Peng
Assistant Editor

Chelsea Peng is a writer and editor who was formerly the assistant editor at She's also worked for The Strategist and Refinery29, and is a graduate of Northwestern University. On her tombstone, she would like a GIF of herself that's better than the one that already exists on the Internet and a free fro-yo machine. Besides frozen dairy products, she's into pirates, carbs, Balzac, and snacking so hard she has to go lie down.