Face Time: Kelley Lilien

On her popular fashion/entertaining/decor blog — Mrs. Lilien Styling House (Blog.mrslilien.com) — LA style diva Kelley Lilien runs photo-filled “recipes” for everything from a well-stocked medicine cabinet to a fab dinner-party outfit. The proponent of ladylike, cheeky chic also mixes a mean highball, a talent celebrated in her clever new “Cocktail Swatchbook” ($15, Potter Style).

What’s the secret to mixing a good cocktail?
It’s nice to give people a surprise, something that’ll open their minds. And using the best quality liquor you can afford helps.

Why are cocktails back in style?
Cocktails represent such an amazing, classy, old-school culture that I’d hate to see disappear. Cocktails never go out of fashion.

The book features both recipes and photos of what to serve them in. Why is that necessary?
Anyone can go to the BevMo and get mojito in a can. But I think that if you go through the ceremony of concocting, mixing and blending a cocktail, you have to dress it up. Every drink you do should be a celebration, so stick a fruit kebab in it or throw in a cocktail olive.

How can I outfit a home bar?
Invest in some fine vintage glasses. I like the ones by Dorothy Thorpe, which are metallic and go from dark to light. Every drink tastes better out of them. And don’t use those horrifying wine charms — they’re tacky-town USA.

Why throw a cocktail party?
Parties massage the human spirit — and they’re such a great excuse to be fancy and put on gaudy earrings. And cocktail parties tend to be about mixing, mingling and shimmying a little.

Any advice on how to dress for a fancy bash?
Wear something that you’re physically comfortable in — if you can’t breathe, you’ll get indigestion. I say walk on the bolder side, and wear something you’d love to see someone else in. Just walk into the party like you own it, and you can get away with anything, even a hot-pink wig.

What’s your favorite soiree get-up?
I love a long vintage gown, something that brushes the floor and shows off my neck and shoulders. And I like to take it a step further with the biggest jewelry I can find.

What can spoil a party?
Perhaps a gauche guest? Or inappropriate religious or political conversation? But one thing that can make a party is a guest who has a little too much to drink and is open and free with the gossip.

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