I don’t want to jinx it, but it looks like the season for office parties, festive drinks, Christmas dinners and New Year’s celebrations is back on, and so there’s finally a reason to invest in party dresses that you’ll actually be able to wear.
Yes, they are frivolous, but so be it. Not only will they spread some much needed cheer after a depressing couple of years, but they’ll slot nicely into your forever wardrobe. Because while it’s easy to think you’ll only wear a party dress once, but buy right and you’ll have a timeless piece to see you through many an event to come, including weddings, christenings and birthdays.
As seen on the (virtual) catwalks, feel-good dressing is one of the hottest autumn trends for 2021. Designers such as Ashish, Stella McCartney and Paco Rabanne had a field day with sequins and metallic details galore, making us excited to hit the dance floor again.
Keep scrolling to find out which party dresses to invest in this season, from your favourite designers and high-street stores.
I understand sequins aren’t for everyone, but there really is an option to suit all personalities out there. If you’re feeling OTT, go for full-on 80s sequins. But for something more muted, choose a matte or dark sequin accent.
White party dresses
Forget any preconceptions you might have about wearing white in winter, there really is very little as chic as a creamy satin gown or minimal white suit.
When in doubt, an LBD will see you through any occasion. This season, opt for a paired-back 90s silhouette. Cut out details were everywhere on the catwalk, but if that’s a little too daring, opt for a plunging neckline or back keyhole.
Dresses with sleeves
The emphasis on statement sleeves this season means there are plenty of stylish options about if you’re not keen on showing your arms.
Designer party dresses
While they may seem pricey, designer dresses can be worth the extra money, thanks to more durable materials and impeccable craftsmanship. You can shop my favourite designer party dresses below, including Stella McCartney, The Vampire’s Wife and Lee Mathews.
Designed in silk velvet, this long midi dress in sage green is a pretty button-through style. Featuring pleats at the padded shoulders, seaming at the waist for a glamorous silhouette and a wrap tie to complete the elegant look – wear yours with stylish heels for a cocktail party or dinner date.
This sequin dress by sustainable label ALIGNE is perfect if you're looking to go all out glam.
This full sleeved waterfall effect backless gown is as glamorous as it is dramatic. It is crafted from luxurious swathes of silk habotai which can be worn cinched in at the waist with the detachable tie or left free flowing.
Aje’s black linen-blend Vanades dress features short, puffed sleeves and a cutout centre linked with a gold ring.
The picture doesn't do this dress justice. Simply imagine a floor-length pink gown Jackie Kennedy would wear for a ball at the White House and you're there.
Wear this mini dress on its own or over some fluid black trousers.
Sometimes a classic dress works best. You can dress this organic cotton midi up with metallic sandals or down with chunky slip-ons.
The ultimate retro mini party dress: a pink and red Harlequin diamond print mini dress on viscose satin.
This ditzy floral dress is perfect for wedding season.
This 'Doss' gown is cut from green lamé that catches the light from every angle and has a flattering pleated bodice and daring front slit.
Drenched in tiny star sequins, clusters of dangling teardrop shape paillettes and strings of tiny silver beads, this dress shimmers as you move.
Sometimes a simple black dress is all you need. The Stella Collared Bias Maxi Dress in Black from the Resort 22 collection is made from 100% silk satin. This full-length dress features a Chelsea collar, short sleeves with tie detail, and a fluted skirt that's been cut on the bias for a flattering fit.
This pure silk maxi dress from Jaeger is inspired by Hollywood glamour, and is cut in a regular fit, with long blouson sleeves and a flattering tie waist.
This mini dress is perfect if you're averse to sequins but still want to make a shimmering statement.
De La Vali's 'Clara' dress is one of the label's best-sellers. Cut on the bias and printed all-over with polka dots, it has romantic blouson sleeves, a fitted bodice and swishy asymmetric hemline evocative of bohemian '70s styles.
Embrace The Vampire's Wife's off-kilter glamour with this shimmering silver The Falconetti dress, which is shaped from silk-blend lamé with defined shoulders and fluted cuffs.
This isn't technically a dress, but it's too fabulous not to include. This sparkling black and white jumpsuit captures Michael Halpern’s disco-infused glamour, for which the label is known.
An embroidered lattice of sequins brings a light-catching finish to Self Portrait’s black midi dress. Cut from airy chiffon with flounced cap sleeves, it’s pintucked through the bodice, then cascades in tiers from the satin waistband.
This long-sleeved sequin dress looks way more expensive than it is, a true keeper.
Throw an oversized blazer over this satin beauty and you're good to go.