Tip #1: Try a simple shape in a vivid print.
While a simple shift dress will always be staple cocktail attire, upgrading that understated piece with an eye-catching print is a must-try for summer. The perennially polished Chanel Iman showed us how to wear the paired-down silhouette when she chose Mulberry's Margaret Dress ($1195, 888.418.8400) in Loopy Leopard Print Purple Red to attend a book launch party hosted by Mulberry in May. Luckily, if you fancy Iman's of-the-moment frock, there are many equally posh picks on the market! We like Sonia by Sonia Rykiel's Oversized Leopard Print Dress ($395) for a looser fit or Twenty8Twelve's Corbusier Dress ($429) and Diane von Furstenberg's Bec Dress ($365) if you're looking for a more form-fitted version.
Tip #2: Mix a sheer top with a modest skirt.
While micro minis and knee-length frocks will always have a place in our wardrobes, one of the biggest trends on the F/W 10 runways was the dramatic descent in hemlines. Seen at influential houses like Prada, Fendi, and Marc Jacobs, amongst others, the new skirt shape has a belled silhouette and skims the mid-calf. While such excess fabric can be just as intimidating as a mini to pull offÂ--particularly if you're of diminutive statureÂ--British beauty Alexa Chung showed us an A-plus way to wear this A-line silhouette at a party to celebrate the opening of the new Louis Vuitton store in London. She contrasted her cashmere Bell Skirt ($1719, 866.Vuitton) with a sequin Front Bow Blouse ($3295, 866.Vuitton) and then balanced out the dark palette with a pale leather Doctor Bag ($4340, 866.Vuitton) in Rose, all from Louis Vuitton's F/W 10 collection. To recreate this intriguing textural mix try starting with a sheer blouse like Equipment's Sisley Blouse ($178), or Sparkle & Fade's Sheer Chiffon Tunic ($58) and then adding Maurizio Pecoraro's Wool Crepe Skirt ($548) for a chic Chung-influenced look.
Tip #3: Show off clogs with skinny jeans.
If, despite all our endorsements, you've missed the buzz, we'll just say it outright: clogs are clearly the must-have shoe for spring and summer! That being said, we're always looking for new ways to showcase this fashionable footwear, so we were thrilled when we noticed New York tastemaker Jen Brill rocking a lust-worthy Chanel pair with Alexander Wang F/W 08 skinny jeans, a vintage Wrangler jacket, and vintage tee. Not only do we like how she drew focus to her lust-worthy clogs with her streamlined bottoms, but we also admire how she seamlessly mixed her denim hues for a very of-the-moment look. To snag Brill's brand of insouciant-meets-high-end style, start with a pair of skinnies in a dark hue; we're fans of Juicy Couture's Carmella Penelope Skinny Jeans ($158), J. Brand's Motorcross Skinny Antique Jeans ($199) and, of course, Topshop's Baxter Skinny Jeans ($80). Then add a cutting-edge contrast with a light-wash denim top like ASOS's Bleach Denim Shirt ($51). Finally, pull on your hero pieceÂ--those oh-so-hot heelsÂ--like Steve Madden's Ceceila Clogs ($130) or Schutz's Wooden Platform Clogs ($200).
Tip #4: Contrast girly accents with boyish basics.
You know the story. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl. When the two meet, it's always a case for romance, so it's no surprise we were smitten when we saw Irina Lazareau's masterful mix of feminine pieces with boyish basics at a Mulberry party in May. We adore how she grounded her androgynous look with vintage menswear staples, like a navy blazer, tie, and Mulberry's Paper Bag Shorts ($395, 888.418.8400), and then showed off her feminine wiles with Mulberry's Margaret Mini Clutch ($795, 888.418.8400) in Grape and turquoise open-toe shoes. Try Lazareau's gender-bending look for your next cocktail soiree by busting out your schoolboy blazer and opting for a longer walking short like Topshop's Grey Suede Pleat Shorts ($135) or ASOS's Tailored City Shorts ($38). Add the ying to your yang with some well-placed pops of color in the form of Tory Burch's Relaxed Frame Clutch ($395) and Butter's Claudia Peep-toe Pumps ($243), and you'll have perfected this merry mix.
Tip #5: Add a belt to a draped kimono or top.
We first spotted the rise of the kimono top back in March, when mistresses of boho-chic dressing like Nicole Richie and Ashley Olsen opted for this drapey piece to add an eclectic air to their ensembles. While both ladies chose to wear it loose, we appreciate how Mary-Kate Olsen recently updated the trend and made it appropriate for cocktail wear by smartly cinching it at the waist. The oversized belt both adds structure to her ensemble, offering a bit of polish and works to accentuate her cute and tiny shape. While Olsen's Far-East inspired dress is vintage, there are plenty of stellar options currently available like Winter Kate's Kimono Top ($216) and MinkPink's Last Resort Caftan Dress ($86). Once you've snatched up one of those flowy tops, grab Cecilia de Bucourt's Coin Stud & Chain Wrap Belt ($106) or Raina's Billy Corset Belt ($185) to embellish your outfit with Olsen-worthy flair!
Tip #6: Break up a suit with a glittery top.
One of the style situations we get asked about most frequently is how to add intrigue to corporate wear, so when we stumbled upon Kristen Bell looking seriously polished in a broken-up suit to the Los Angeles premiere of Get Him To the Greek, we knew we had to include her in today's story! Bell masterfully mixed separates, opting for a black Aryn K Blazer ($92), Paul & Joe Sister Tonight Pants ($240, 310.270.4620) in Ivory, and then pumping up the glam factor with a Jasmine de Milo sequin top. To get Bell's brilliant look, which easily translates from the red-carpet to the boardroomÂ--or, conversely, from day to nightÂ--start with a modestly-cut glittery top. We like Malene Birger's Gold All Over Sequined Tank ($235), Alice & Olivia's Veronica Sequin Top ($242) or Vila's Sequin Mesh ($34) version for more wallet-friendly alternative. If you haven't already invested in a black blazerÂ--a wardrobe essential you will wear again and againÂ--we'd suggest picking up a really sharp one like Rag & Bone's Crimean Jacket ($495), which will instantly refine everything from jeans and tee to an LBD. Finally, rejoice that warm weather is here and trade out your black pants for a crisp white pair like Charlotte Russe's Clean Front Skinny Minny Ankle Pants ($25), a great option to wear all summer long!Â--Liza Kaplan