What Does The Perfect Party Dress Look Like?

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UNITED STATES – MAY 03: Paris Hilton, New York Socialite Paris Hilton Celebrated Her New Movie And Her 21st Birthday With Dinner At Drones Then Party At The Stork Rooms In Wallow St, Where She Managed To Dance The Night Away Even After Tripping Over Her 6 Inch Heels, She Then Consoled Herself By Changing In Another Dress This One Was More Comfortable. (Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES – MAY 03: Paris Hilton, New York Socialite Paris Hilton Celebrated Her New Movie And Her 21st Birthday With Dinner At Drones Then Party At The Stork Rooms In Wallow St, Where She Managed To Dance The Night Away Even After Tripping Over Her 6 Inch Heels, She Then Consoled Herself By Changing In Another Dress This One Was More Comfortable. (Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images)

After a year away from parties and celebrations, our return to social events is imminent, which means that it’s time to start thinking about what we’re going to wear this summer. Welcome to party dress season.

Shoppers have already begun to move away from loungewear and toward a more festive wardrobe. In the last two months, fashion search engine ShopStyle has seen a 12% and 24% spike in search for “party dresses” and “evening dresses,” respectively. “We’re all tired of our joggers and sweats,” Kristen Gall, the president of Rakuten Rewards, a platform that gives you cash back when you shop, tells Refinery29. “We’re going to see fashion shift from comfy-casual to less practical attire like mini-dresses, sky-high heels, and sparkles.”

But, following a year of Friday nights spent on the sofa, wrapped up in a layer of jersey, what makes for a top-notch going-out look?

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According to Mirror Palais designer Marcelo Gaia — whose Fairy Dress is TikTok’s unofficial party dress of the season — the perfect style is one the wearer feels comfortable in: “Something that is loose on the hips so that you can move effortlessly, sit comfortably, and dance the night away.” In other words, no bandage dresses. Doyeon Yoni Yu, the founder of C’est D, agrees: “A great party dress should be comfortable enough to actually enjoy the party,” she says. According to her, that means soft, stretchy, and breathable fabrics that allow for movement and hopping from one party to the next. Think: ribbed, jersey dresses with short hemlines, or silky slip mini dresses.

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“Whenever I get dressed for a party, I always think about two things: (1) Can I match this outfit with sneakers post-party? and (2) do I feel comfortable enough in this outfit to fully focus on my surroundings?” says Yu. With that in mind, the designer created the Jewel Ruched Dress, a rhinestone strap mini featuring a pink-and-orange tie-dye print.

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Though Francesca Capper and Natasha Somerville, the founders of party-forward brand Poster Girl, agree that comfort is a major factor in the making of a party dress, their definition of comfort has little to do with how soft or stretchy a frock’s fabric is. According to the design duo, whose dresses have adorned the likes of Dua Lipa, Kylie Jenner, and Selena Gomez, the look should make the wearer feel comfortable in their own skin. “It really is down to the wearer to embody the party mood with their own vivacious energy,” Capper tells Refinery29. “Ultimately, the must-have detail is the wearer’s confidence,” Somerville adds.

That said, they still recognize that there are certain silhouettes and fabrics that scream “good time!” “A shorter hemline is the most party-appropriate,” says Capper. She and Somerville also like unusual cut-outs, a top trend for 2021, as well as embellished styles with crystal adornments, tassel edging, and variations in texture.

Don’t have a Paris Hilton-esque chainmail dress in your closet? Ahead, find a few dance-ready dresses that will make you look like the life of the party.

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