After a long year of working from home, the idea of throwing on a party dress can be a little daunting. Whether you’re looking for slick suiting or all-out glamour, this season’s trends are all about celebrating with bold looks that leave your tired sweatpants in the dust.

To get a sense of the season, we asked stylist Karinda Mutabazi how to stand out this party season.

Bold Prints
If you’re cautious about wearing loud prints, now is the time to cast your doubts aside and go for broke, because this season is all about being bold. You could try Gorman for their range of fun, colourful options, or Camilla for their sophisticated and intricate detailing, Mutabazi recommends starting at Marimekko.

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“Marimekko is a one stop shop for bold prints,” says Mutabazi. “This pink-on-pink print is vivid and fun, and perfect for a celebratory dinner, or a myriad of Christmas party activities. I’d pair it with a fun Camper sandal or loafer, to ease you back into wearing a heel.”

If it’s a boozy lunch you’re booked for, don’t forget your best accessory this summer: a pair of statement sunnies to complete the look. “Sunglasses are an accessory that is often overlooked, but can make the outfit,” Mutabazi tells me. “A pair of Tom Fords are an investment worth the pennies. The oversized square frame is what really makes them.”

Marimekko - Lansi Pieni Unikko 2 (pink dress) $350
Camper - Meda $210 or Diana $230
1001 Optical - Tom ford Sabrina 0764 $570

Suiting
As suits become a rarity in the office post-Covid, they’ve started to come strongly into play for occasion wear. It’s an excellent party alternative for those who baulk at the idea of a fussy dress, replete with all those uncomfortable cut-outs we’re seeing everywhere this summer.

“Camilla and Marc are synonymous with suiting,” Mutabazi says, “and their latest styles are a twist on the traditional. A fresh off-white is perfect for the festive season, and a longline vest instead of a jacket will keep you cool on hot summer nights.”

“Less is more with this look, it’s all about minimal style. A statement earring or a necklace can elevate this look and bring some sparkle, and the ultimate shoe here is a leather slide - look for a neutral or light colour so the suit can speak for itself.”

Searching for something a little different? Mutabazi suggests popping into Viktoria & Woods for softer tones, Saba for this season’s best copper number, or Alice McCall for a fun 70s twist on the classic suit.

Camilla and Marc - Alina white vest $650, Alina white wide pant $450 & Pearl octopussy necklace $475

All About Colour
Green is the colour of the season this year, and you’ll find iterations everywhere – from bright jewel tones at Scanlan & Theodore, to a full palette from pastel to vivid at búl, and earthy greens in knit and linen at Viktoria & Woods. However, Mutabazi suggests trying a different approach if you’re looking to stand out from the crowd.

“Green is everywhere and the true colour for the season,” she says, “but I like to choose something a little different. This violet Dion Lee is subtle, structural, and a real show stopper - whilst still being super stretchy and comfortable. A knit dress is also a great option for this patchy weather we have right now.”

“Pair with a fresh white boot to complete the look. This dress speaks for itself, so jewellery-wise I would keep it very simple. George Jensen is a great go-to for a classic structural piece that stands out from the crowd.”

Dion Lee - Lung Twist Dress Knit - $890
124 Shoes - (Ink) White Boots $789

Sweet Picnic Dresses
Many of us are keeping our celebrations outdoors this year for a Covid-safe alternative to the classic Christmas party. So what do you wear to a picnic, when you want to dress to impress? Mutabazi makes a beeline for laid-back Melbourne brand búl.

“This dress is a two for one deal - the sheer, check, outer dress is soft and feminine, and perfect for a whimsical picnic or garden party,” she says. “It’s layered over a simple green slip dress, which could also be worn as a stand-alone piece. Pair with a chunky loafer or sneaker for comfort and versatility.”

“Oroton have made the must-have practical accessory for the season: a water bottle carrier. This one has a beautiful leather casing and comes in a range of different colours – perfect for a picnic. Also, a signature scent is an important factor often overlooked, but can really make a lasting impression. My summer go-to is Mecca’s Amazing Green - this scent is summer to me.”

Mutabazi also notes that this season’s Oroton’s Matchbox stamp print, evocative of a suitcase covered in travel stamps, is another great option for summer celebrations. Or, try Bec + Bridge for their range of pretty dresses if you’re game enough to give the cut-out trend a go.

búl - Tacoron green check dress $380
124 shoes - Lamare Loafer - $499
Oroton - Zoey Water Bottle Holder $149 + Zoey Water Bottle $40
Mecca Cosmetica - Amazing Green (Comme Des Gascons) $180 100ml

Serious Party Dresses
When it comes to fun party numbers you can dance the night away and your choices are excellent at the moment – particularly with many labels delivering intricate additions and decorative details in spades.

“Nothing says the festive season like sequins and feathers,” says Mutabazi. “Considering we’ve been hidden away for so long, it’s ok to go bold this year. Look for something that has a fun detailing.”

“Alice McCall and Rachel Gilbert both feature feather details in store right now, whilst sass & bide and DIIDA offer the ultimate sequin dresses that are just begging to be worn to a NYE party.”

When it comes to accessories, Mutabazi suggests a celebratory touch in a subtle sparkle. “A classic tennis bracelet and necklace, or a crystal drop earring is a timeless jewellery addition that brings just the right amount of sparkle to any outfit.”

sass & bide - Cest chic (moss colour) dress $550
Alice McCall - Swan lake feather mini dress $849
Swarovski - Tennis Deluxe Bracelet $245, Tennis Deluxe Necklace $330 & Constella Earrings $215

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