Five Evening Wear Trends That Will Make You Want To Dress Up Again This Summer

Get ready to break out the heels (though, hey, sneakers can work too) and dress your very best.

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You don’t need an excuse to celebrate, but the likely lineup of weddings, birthdays and vacations on your summer calendar will give you plenty of reasons to kick off your shoes and pour the champagne. But along with so many fancy occasions also comes the need to update your evening wardrobe. Perhaps that means adding a host of new going-out tops, or maybe you’re looking for that just-right, sophisticated gown for a friend’s nuptials. Either way, you’re ready to break out the heels (though, hey, sneakers can work too) and dress your very best.

 “We have seen such a higher interest in evening wear,” explains Sylvie Millstein, the founder of Hellessy. “Women are going back out and want to get dressed up for events, dinners and meeting friends, as well as traveling again, so they need a new going-out wardrobe for globe trotting.” She adds that while over the course of the pandemic, style may have shifted to a more casual attitude, the pendulum is finally swinging back. She notes, “the trend is moving towards dressed-up denim for the day and full on cocktail for evenings.”

For Patricia Voto, the founder of One/Of, a New York-based label that produces luxe pieces in small batches, one benefit of the newfound interest in dressing up is the level of adaptability that a single formal piece can hold. “Evening wear has really opened up to interpretation, which I think is so exciting that some of the old standards have been done away with,” she says. 

But these days, it’s not enough to simply choose a style that fits the occasion at hand. Sharing an outfit to Instagram or discovering a new designer via TikTok can play a major part in how shoppers are thinking about their purchases. “She wants to dress up and be seen and she definitely gets ideas and inspirations through those channels,” Millstein says.

Ahead, find five key trends to consider as you prepare for a summer in which evening wear will be more important than ever (or at least, more than the last few years).

Lush Fabrics

“One thing that I think stays true is the fabrics,” explains Voto. Even as trends shift, rich silk or velvet will always look great, and feel excellent against your skin. When you’re shopping for something new, be sure to consider the occasion when picking out fabric. Linen and cotton can still be elegant and elevated, especially for daytime occasions. 

Hellessy Amalie Top

$920, Shop Now

Hellessy

Blumarine Pink Silk Mini Dress

$1,445, Shop Now

Blumarine via SSENSE

Toteme Gathered Off-the-Shoulder Silk Top

$600, Shop Now

Toteme via Matches Fashion

Bold Colors

“We are back to wearing colors finally!,” exclaims Millstein. Summer is the season to experiment, so don’t be afraid to add touches of green (a popular hue on the Spring/Summer 2022 runways). Alternately, warm colors like fuchsia or nectarine orange look great on a wide range of complexions and will surely fit the dress code for lighthearted occasions.

Reformation Mylie Two Piece

$278, Shop Now

Reformation

Jacquemus Bahia Draped Knotted Voile Mini Dress

$740, Shop Now

Jacquemus via Net-a-Porter

Ganni Sequined Blouse

$375, Shop Now

Ganni

Elegant Cutouts

Cutouts are a carryover trend from last summer, but they aren’t going anywhere for 2022. If you’re planning on embracing the trend for a gala or wedding, keep the silhouette simple and sleek to balance out the ensemble. For more low-key occasions like a night out with friends, go for something riskier, inspired by the aesthetic of emerging labels like Christopher Esber and Nensi Dojaka.

Staud Dolce Faux-Leather Trim Cutout Jersey Dress

$325, Shop Now

Staud via Matches Fashion

Cinq a Sept Lyle Smocked Dress

$465, Shop Now

Cinq a Sept via Shopbop

Monot One Shoulder Cut Out Gown

$1,495, Shop Now

Monot via FWRD

Mini Silhouettes

Love them or hate them, short hemlines are back in style. If you consider yourself more of a minimalist, try a sleek, slip-like silhouette. Or, for those with a more feminine sensibility, a mini-length hem is a great opportunity to play with volume without looking too fussy or over the top.

One/Of Bo Mini Dress

$2,190, Shop Now

One/Of by Patricia Voto

Aje Dusk Knot Puff Sleeve Mini Dress

$455, Shop Now

Aje via Moda Operandi

Rixo Lolita Printed Minidress

$327, Shop Now

Rixo via Farfetch

Strappy

Similarly to cutouts, sleek straps are a major evening wear trend for the months ahead. But for Voto, straps are also a great way to make a single piece more versatile. “We’ve been suggesting a lot of evening separates or tops with removable straps that can be switched for different looks (a sleeve, a plain strap, embroidered strap),” she explains. “We want you to be able to wear our pieces dressed up or dressed down and with other pieces in your wardrobe.”

Christopher Esber Open-Back Embellished Ruched Crepe Gown

$1,080, Shop Now

Christopher Esber via Net-a-Porter

Rokh Emblem Button Detailed Halter Top

$330, Shop Now

ROKH via Shopbop

Zara Asymmetric satin effect dress

$59.90, Shop Now

Zara

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