Get Red Carpet Ready In An Instant … Or Just A Little Longer 

Sometimes we get that last-minute invitation. Granted it might not be to the Oscars, or even to a very fancy restaurant, but you can guarantee that, if we do get an unexpected invite somewhere nice, it'll be when you're having a 'slobby' day. We'll be bundled up, hair scraped back and with chipped nail polish. Even if we're reasonably presentable, or have plenty of notice, a 'posh' invitation can still strike fear into our hearts. What will I wear? How can I possibly 'compete' with all those women who wake up looking perfect?  But there's no need to decline the offer. With just a few simple 'modifications' you can go out looking polished, pretty and confident. And, by the way, no-one wakes up looking perfect …

There really are a few simple things that can easily transform you into a red carpet goddess. Okay, goddess may be a bit of an exaggeration but, believe me, you can get at least half way there. And for most of us, this will more than do.

Assuming your outfit isn't going to encase you from head to toe in fabric, you might want to pay a bit of attention to your skin You don't need to fake a tan. Unless you're a real expert at this, the only way a speedily-applied faux tan experience is going to end is in orange-hued disaster. You do not want to look like a tangerine. Or a fairy, so steer of anything but the subtlest shimmer.

If you're getting ready on a schedule, you really don't need anything more than a simple body scrub and some lotion. I prefer salt scrubs because, rather than scratching your skin as those with bits of nuts and seeds and, heaven forbid, plastic in them do, they don't cause redness, rather they buff gently. Using a decent body lotion like those by Philosophy or L'Occitane, is my next step, but any lotion or cream with a good broad base of moisturisers will make the world of difference to the look, and feel, of your skin.

If you have time to do your nails then a classic red goes with almost everything. Or you can do what a lot of stars did at the Oscars this year and just go ultra-nude on the nail. As long as you get rid of any trace of old polish, and make sure your nails are filed neatly and you have no nasty bits of skin sticking out, you should be okay.

If you haven't got time for a full-on makeup makeover, and for those occasions when you really want to impress, it's best to stick to something you know, a few easy steps are the way to go. Hopefully, your eyebrows are already well groomed. For the last few years, I've been getting mine threaded and, not only does this keep them in shape a lot longer than simple tweezing or waxing, it also gives them a beautiful clean, neat and ultra-defined edge. It barely pulls - certainly a lot less than self-inflicted tweezing, or salon waxing. It's not that expensive, either, and costs only £10 where I live. However, if your brows are less than pretty when the invite comes, and you don't have time to get professional help (ideally, you should leave a day's grace between any kind of eyebrow grooming and applying makeup), don't worry. You don't want ugly red blotches all over your eye area, or infected hair follicles where makeup has been rubbed in to a just-plucked hair root. So just take away the odd stray hair with some sharp tweezers and define the rest with makeup.  In my experience brow pencils tend to be a bit harsh, and look rather artificial, so I use either powder and a fine, stiff brush or Smashbox's great Bro Tech To Go which comprises a wax-based stick to enhance and a brush-on gel to groom. Decide whether you want the focus to be on your eyes or your lips (we all know doing both strongly is a hard look to pull off unless you really are a catwalk model or movie star), and then moisturise lightly, or apply a makeup base, before concealing carefully, using a light, preferably semi-matte foundation, blushing lightly and, using simple and flattering colours, define your eyes and lips and you're done.

Before you get dressed, spritz on just a little of your favourite fragrance. You don't need to leave a trail in your wake, just a trace as someone leans a little closer.

As for what to wear? Well, if the occasion/location/time of day don't provide any clue, I always pick something I've worn before. Something I'm confident and comfortable in. If in doubt, I wear black or blue (both of which suit almost everyone) because they are a good background to whatever nail colour I have on, or jewellery I choose to pop on. Just make sure what you wear fits well. Nothing drains the confidence from you (and the fun out of the occasion) more than an ill-fitting outfit. As for shoes, well if you're likely to be on your feet most of the time, choose carefully. The reason we take our shoes off as we come in the door, after a night out, is that our feet hurt. They say 'happy feet, happy person' and it's true. That's not to say you can't do high heels. Some people (not, I have to say, me) are perfectly comfortable in sky-high spikes. If you're not, stick to something more sensible. You don't have to go for granny shoes just because you don't want to totter. But you don't have to be in pain either.

Don't overdo the jewellery. Nothing says 'cheap' more than mountains of bling.  Less, in jewellery terms, is more. Get dressed, slowly build the jewellery up and stop when it looks just right. Don't be tempted to keep adding bits and bobs. You will look over-cooked. We're trying for glamourous here, not gaudy!

Choose a bag that is the right size for your essentials. You do not need to take half your makeup bag. Just lippie and powder (if you must). But don't take such a micro bag that you can't keep vital things with you (my days of tiny clutch bags died with the onset of my asthma), or pack it so tightly that everything falls out on the floor as soon as you open it.

Finally, and most importantly, before you leave the house, you need to put on one more thing. A smile! After all, it's supposed to be enjoyable, not an ordeal!