Summer is on its way, bringing with it a whole host of new party invitations. Whether it's a Uni summer ball or drinks of a roof terrace, you're going to need a dress that will see you through to next season. However, buying a party dress can seem like a minefield; should you stick with black? What will suit your figure? Our handy guide to cocktail dresses will tell you everything you need to know.
Black cocktail dresses never go out of style. Made infamous by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany's, the LBD looks fresh and modern throughout the year. With summer coming up you can put a new spin on a classic by adding jewelled mid-heeled pumps, a tuxedo jacket and a bright clutch. Neutral colours are also hot at the moment; following the minimalist looks seen on the catwalk. If you want to inject more colour into your party outfit, then you could try a dress in one of this season's bold colours; tomato red, cobalt blue and canary yellow will all ensure you get noticed! Metallic mini dresses were seen at Burberry and look great with a summer tan. As for patterns, try spring's bold florals, or monochrome stripes. The key is to go for graphic prints and striking colours, and to have some fun with them.
Some cocktail dress styles flatter all body shapes, such as a classic shift or a 1950's prom dress; they skim over curves and flatter tummies. Boyish figures can go for an A-line 60's style dress, and more daring types can choose this season's hip skimming shape with a plunging V-neck.
Cocktail dresses are traditionally knee-length or above, but for spring/summer almost any hemline will look current. Full midi skirts were seen on the catwalks, but as this can be a tricky length to wear, it looks best when paired with some towering leg-lengthening heels. And now maxi dresses don't need to be saved for formal occasions; the new, more relaxed looks are perfect for a cocktail party.
Designer or high street?
The amount you spend on a cocktail dress should be a representation of how often you will wear it. For a big night out or a trip to the races, Topshop and Zara are prefect. They stock lots of directional and fashion-forward choices, and it won't matter if they have gone out of style in a few months' time. For something a little more expensive, try French Connection or Coast; French Connection's sequinned and embellished dresses look like they should be three times the price. And if you really want to push the boat out, why not buy yourself a designer LBD- Calvin Klein's simple strap dresses will never look dated.
So now you know how to pick the perfect dress, it's time to go shopping and choose something that will ensure all eyes are on you at that summer cocktail party.