Tip #1: Look for mini dresses in vivid colors.
We're crazy about spring's ample offering of ultra-bright colors on everything from tops to accessories. But if you're really looking to make a bold statement this season, try a mini dress in vibrant, gorgeous hues. Just look to Julia Restoin Roitfeld for guidance, as she recently picked an amazing Emilio Pucci Stretch Tulle Dress ($7490) for a dinner at Indochine celebrating the debut of the art exhibition RETNA: The Hallelujah World Tour in New York two weeks ago. The electric blue color is definitely vivid and energetic, but the fact that the dress has a slim, unfussy silhouette balances things out. It's also worth pointing out that JRR kept her accessories simple and opted for an understated beauty look--two key styling choices when embracing such a bold color. To make a standout appearance of your own, try ASOS' Bell Sleeve Shift Dress ($54), which comes in a similar vibrant blue hue, or go for a shocking red like Rare's Chiffon Sleeve Dress ($84). We also approve of Alice by Temperley's Mini Mimi Dress ($225) and its striking neon pink color.
Tip #2: Try a dressy jumpsuit in a subtle print.
You might be tempted to reach for a bold mini romper this spring, but we suggest trying a fancy jumpsuit instead. Ideal for an afternoon soiree or an evening fete, these one-pieces are an unexpected alternative to the typical party dress. Take for example, the Emma Cook Floral-Print Silk Crepe de Chine Jumpsuit ($600) that model Laura Bailey wore to the British Fashion Council and Vogue Designer Fashion Fund cocktail party in London early this month. Paired with a chic Burberry coat and nude Charlotte Olympia pumps, the jumpsuit is an elegant selection, thanks to its subtle floral print and lustrous fabric. In addition to Bailey's gorgeous pick, we're also fans of Rare's Vintage Floral Print Jumpsuit ($70) and Marc by Marc Jacobs' Arielle Printed Jumpsuit ($400); both are excellent evening choices, especially if you're interested in experimenting with this season's '70s vibe.
Tip #3: Pair a dinner jacket with dress shorts.
While fancy frocks and swirly skirts are expected eveningwear options, we like the idea of mixing things up a bit with a pair of dress shorts. These tailored bottoms offer an equally chic look, especially when paired with a crisp white dinner jacket, as Alexa Chung showed us at the Barneys New York dinner for Carven designer Guillaume Henry earlier this month. We definitely approve of Chung's Carven picks--specifically The Cotton Poplin Blouse ($320, 312.587.1000), Ecru Blazer ($910, 212.826.8900), and Black and White Striped Pumps ($595, 323.655.0426)--and her tailored, high-waisted shorts. The result in a wonderfully polished look that doesn't feel overly androgynous, thanks to the leg-revealing silhouette. Also noteworthy: the way Chung added a hint of color to her black and white mix via a blue Miu Miu clutch. Want to assemble a similar look? First you need the perfect pair of dress shorts, like Mango's Minimalist Shorts ($72). Then, tuck Topshop's Contrast Placket Blouse ($70) into the your shorts, layer on a white blazer--try BCBG's Angelina Novelty Blazer ($258) or Halston Heritage's Crepe Blazer ($395)--and you have an equally chic outfit for your next dinner.
Tip #4: Modernize a maxi with tough accents.
This season, we're giving our easy-breezy maxi dresses an updated look by pairing them with a few tough pieces, like Becka Diamond did at House of Lavande's fifth anniversary dinner in Palm Beach late last month. The DJ/front-row fixture showed off her usual brand of edgy chic by pairing a vintage Vivienne Westwood maxi dress with AllSaints' Ceres Jacket ($520) and Anat Clogs ($280). The leather accents modernize the frock's '70s-inspired vibe and take the look from resort-ready to downtown cool. If you don't already have a few floor-grazing dresses hanging in your closet, you'll definitely want to check out Free People's Floral Long Dress ($148), Rory Beca's Print Maxine Halter Gown ($187), and Funktional's Star Print Maxi Dress ($199). Whether you decide to snag just one or all three, be sure to style your pick with either Madewell's Sadie Quilted Leather Biker Jacket ($495) or ASOS' Collarless Quilted Leather Jacket ($215) and Jeffrey Campbell's Madison Fishscale Booties ($128) for an outfit that works for both day or night.
Tip # 5: Add quirky accessories to cute basics.
We're always looking for a fresh way to style our wardrobe staples, so you can imagine out excitement when we came across the look Emily Browning put together recently. Snapped front row at Prabal Gurung's F/W 11 show, the Australian actress gave her casual basics--an A.P.C. striped tee and Isabel Marant shorts--a personal twist by pairing them with heeled Prada loafers (complete with ankle socks) and a two-tone, vintage-inspired Celine bag. The charming accessories give her Parisian-chic look a fun, British schoolgirl quirkiness we absolutely adore. To emulate Browning's savvy styling, start with the basics, like BCBG's Essential Knit Striped Top ($78) and Sparkle & Fade's Sharkskin Paperbag Shorts ($54). Then finish off your essentials with Topshop's Black Triangle Lock Satchel ($65) and MICHAEL Michael Kors' Bayville Loafers ($98)--just be sure to pair them with neutral socks!--and you'll have an excellent daytime outfit.
Tip #6: Mix prints + colors for a chic look.
While the thought of mixing bold prints and vibrant hues may seem challenging at first, we find this playful combo actually translates into a chic cocktail look. Luxury brand consultant Kate Schelter executed this daring outfit idea for an arty party in New York earlier this month by styling a bright pink vintage Ungaro dress with a pair of leopard-print Prada heels and House of Lavande's Floral Necklace ($1398). The frock's energetic color is perfect in keeping with the season's bold color trend, but the look doesn't feel over the top, thanks to the subtle way in which the leopard print and floral necklace are incorporated. If you're ready to try Schelter's eye-catching mix, Tucker has a couple of killer dress options to try, like the V-Neck Dress ($363) and the Pocket Tunic Dress ($312). We're positive either frock would look amazing teamed up with Vince Camuto's Fest Pumps ($83) and Leslie Danzis' Multi-Colored Floral Statement Necklace ($85) for an equally enchanting look.--Jessica Baker
Photos of Becka Diamond, Julia Restoin Roitfeld, Alexa Chung, and Kate Schelter, courtesy of Billy Farrell Agency; Photos of Emily Browning and Laura Bailey, courtesy of Getty