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We survey great new party dresses and accessories for women this season

With the clocks springing forward and taking us into the season of longer evenings and lovely, lazy weekends, it’s time to start thining about summer celebration wear.

We always go on about Christmas and New Year being the party season, but taking a look at stores such as Next this spring demonstrates that party dresses for women are tailor-made for the sunnier, flirtier months. And we’re very pleased that’s the case!

One of our favourite spring/summer trends is fashion’s continued love for lace – which now takes a really gentle, easy-to-wear form  You could still get away with wearing autumn/winter’s black sheer panels and lace sleeves for another month or so, but when it comes to BBQs, garden parties and big outdoor celebrations, you’ve got to think brighter and lighter.

Next are leading the way with some lovely shift dresses and light party dresses that bring in white lace, lace collars and delicate detailing for a more feminine, less gothic take on spring/summer partywear.


Lipsy lace 60s shift dress from Next, £45


Accessories-wise, the spring has bloomed into full colour, with most fashion magazines and websites highlighting eye-popping brights for your feet, wrists, hands and heads.

We really love the boxy-shaped clutches and handbags that are coming out this season – and we think the perfect way to light up that on-trend white shift or mini dress is a pair of towering cork wedges (the tan strappy ones from the Next own-brand collection spring to mind as we’ve just been ogling them) and a bright pink or green leather-look clutch.

Thankfully summer party accessories are not so delicate and dainty as their dress counterparts, so you can easily pack away all the items you need in one of the season’s envelope-sized clutches or box and bowling-inspired handbags.

Think big when it comes to jewellery too. With a simple colour palette as your wardrobe base, you can have a lot of fun with partying it up elsewhere – big chunky bangles have become a byword for summer fun in 2012, in eye-popping colour and enamel finishes. Think hot candy pinks, blues and yellows for a tasty boost to your whiter-than-white centrepiece.

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