The clock ticks closer to 5 p.m. and the official end of your workday. Maybe you've made reservations at a five-star steakhouse frequented by well-dressed movers and shakers and you want to be the most stylish of the bunch. Perhaps you've got last-minute plans with some buddies who want to introduce you to a certain someone. Wherever you're headed, you need to freshen up before you leave the office -- and you need to do it fast.
Effectively transitioning from the office to going out starts with preparation. Manhattan-based image consultant Julie Rath, suggests keeping a ''rescue kit'' in a desk drawer. The kit should contain all the basic grooming and hygiene necessities: deodorant with antiperspirant, baby wipes to clean and remove excess oil from your face, and a travel-size toothbrush and toothpaste. If five o'clock shadow is a concern, keep an electric razor handy (and fully charged). If you have access to a shower, either at work or a nearby gym, you might want to clean more thoroughly.
It's also wise to stash a few alternative wardrobe choices at your workplace. Select items that can easily play off your office attire. ''You can use at least one element of what you wear to the office as part of your dress-down, going-out look,'' says Rath. You could, for example, opt for a leather jacket with a vest underneath in lieu of a sport coat. Keep a selection of ties in your desk drawer and switch into something flashier than the tie you wore in the boardroom. Then again, you could ditch the tie and wear a pocket square instead. If your office dress code calls for khakis and a button-down shirt, make a quick change into a polo shirt. Below the waist, straight-leg, dark-wash jeans can be a good choice for a low-key venue.