By Tayler Bartman

We are always searching for the perfect beauty look to compliment our outfit. And while we experiment freely (Mercedes Benz Fashion Week certainly has us inspired!), it is the classic makeup looks that we really wish we could master. For evening affairs, there really is nothing better, or more elegant, than a simple smoky eye. It’s the beauty equivalent of the little black dress and we’re here to help you make sure that the smoky eye is as securely in your beauty-bank as that little black dress is in your closet.

Learn how to get the perfect red lip too!

The most important step in achieving the look: your products. Eye shadow quads are especially useful (and a good investment) because all the colors you need are in one simple palette – both preventing the annoying rummage through your beauty bag to find the right shadows and ensuring that all the shades work well together.  At The Beauty Bean, we’re loving Estee Lauder’s eye shadow quad in Black Smoke ($35).  With a slightly iridescent white, a silver shade with a satin finish, a matte grey and a black with a hint of shimmer, this quad helps simplify our already pretty simple guide.

Step 1: Start by applying primer over your entire eyelids in order to ensure both that the pigment in the shadow can be fully realized and that your makeup lasts all night. Our pick is NYX’s Jumbo Eye Pencil in Pots & Pans ($3.50), although we also like Urban Decay’s Primer Potion ($18). If you don’t own primer, don’t worry. You can apply foundation or concealer over your eyelid for a similar effect.

Step 2: Using a flat all-over eye shadow brush, apply the silver shadow over your lids before using an angled blending brush to blend the shadow into your primer.

Step 3: Take a slightly tapered blending brush, like MAC Cosmetics’ brush #222 ($28), and dip it into the matte grey shade, tapping off the excess.  The key to a successful smoky eye is to perfect that outer corner.  Imagine you are making a sideways “V.”  The eye shadow should be concentrated on the outer corner of your eye, making this shape: <. Wherever you lay your brush first is where the majority of the product will stick; so, starting from that outer corner, blend both from the outer corner into your crease (working your way in towards your nose) and from the outer corner downward (towards your upper lash line).

Step 4: Tap a fluffier blending brush into the black shadow and enhance the darkness of the outer corner (near the point of the “V”) by lightly going over that area with the black.

Step 5: Take a flat brush and, with the white shadow, highlight your brow bone. Concentrate more under the arch and less towards the bridge of your nose. If needed, blend the silver and grey from your lid up into the white so it blends naturally.

Step 6: Using the all-over eye shadow brush, reinforce the color on your lid by tapping a bit more grey shadow on the inner most third of your eyelid, closest to your nose.

Step 7: Take an angled eyeliner brush and dip it into the black shadow, tapping off the excess. Gently push the brush into your upper lash line, making sure that it is thinner towards the inner corner of your eye and thicker towards the outer corner.  For a more intense look, use gel eyeliner or a cream eye shadow like Make Up For Ever’s Aqua Black Waterproof Cream Eye Shadow ($22). You can also line your inner waterlines with a black eyeliner pencil, like NARS’s eyeliner pencil in Black Moon ($20).

Step 8: Finally, curl your lashes before applying two coats of mascara.  Our pick: Estee Lauder’s TurboLash Mascara ($32).

The Beauty Bean Tip: if you’re going for dramatic eyes, don’t also try for a bold lip (it’s just too much drama for one face).  Instead, try paring nude lips with your smoky eye – we think it’s the perfect combination.