Dressing for any occasion can be challenging, especially because there are so many different dressing options. From job interviews to parties, dressing rules have changed. The variety of choices make it easy to be dressed the wrong way.
So, what do you do, especially when you are invited to a party?
If the invitation does not specify what you should wear, then you should wear clothing and accessories that will fit in anywhere. Whether the party is completely casual or an event where business formal attire is a better choice, there are a few different items that can be worn that will keep you looking respectable and appropriate.
Before you get dressed for the event, consider where the party is taking place. If it is outside, you should dress for the weather and the location. If it is inside, then it’s not as easy to decide, unless the party is at a country club, a church, or someplace with a dress code that is easy to predict.
What can you wear to any party?
When the host of the party does not tell you what the dress code for the party is, you have to figure it out on your own. No one wants to be under-dressed or overdressed, so finding a happy medium is the best choice. There are some clothing items that will fit into nearly any situation.
Usually, hosts will tell their guests if the party is formal or semi-formal. Hosts tend not to say anything about the other types of parties. But, if you are unsure what to wear, these are a few choices that will fit in anywhere.
1. Clothing that fits in everywhere
One item that will work in nearly any party is a tailored pair of dress pants. These can go from a fancy business party to a child’s birthday party without any trouble at all.
And, what you wear on top will also make a big difference. For a woman, an attractive silk blouse can blend in anywhere and for men, a nice dress shirt will work, too.
The beauty of a nice pair of tailored pants and a professional-quality shirt is that they can be dressed up and down very quickly. Ties and scarves, dressy shoes and casual shoes, formal jewelry or casual jewelry can all be quickly changed in your car or in a bathroom to make this type of outfit fit into any style of party.
2. Accessories that can make an outfit
If you want to make your outfit look dressy or casual, the accessories you wear with your dress pants and the top can make the biggest difference. For example, if you want pretty jewelry that is somewhat casual, try charm chokers. These will make a silk blouse look more casual, especially if the first few buttons are open and you roll up the sleeves.
For a man, the best accessory to dress down a business-formal outfit is a watch. Along with unbuttoning the first few buttons and rolling up the sleeves, wearing a casual watch with a relaxed leather band will make a dressy outfit fit into a laid-back atmosphere. A tie can take an outfit from casual to professional and removing it will do the opposite.
Know Styles so You Can Dress Your Best
If you are lucky, the host will tell you what type of clothes to wear to your party. For some parties, there are themes – like a color, decade, or holiday – and you should do what you can to abide by the planned theme. These are some of the most common dressing styles for parties:
1. Casual Chic
This can be a confusing decision because casual and chic juxtapose each other. Women can consider juxtaposing fabrics, like dark denim with a silk pussy-bow blouse or dramatic tops. They could also pair animal prints with a classic top or bottom. The idea is to throw in something elegant or chic with something relaxed. It is better to go more to the chic side, than the casual side.
This is a bit more difficult for men. They should not wear suits and ties. Instead, they should wear dark denim jeans or sleek chinos with a tailored shirt. If they must wear a jacket, it should fit well, but be of a relaxed style rather than a board-room style.
Both men and women should wear stylish shoes that can be both attractive and comfortable. Men could wear casual sneakers, but not athletic shoes. No one should wear flip flops.
2. Smart Casual/Casual Friday
Casual does not mean that you wear your favorite joggers and hoodie. Men and women should wear something that is appropriate for work. Women can wear dark jeans (no holes) with an attractive top, cardigan, and flats. A cute casual jersey dress will do, too.
Men should wear dark jeans or classic chinos with a comfortable top. Casual sneakers will work, but not athletic shoes. Men could also wear canvas boat shoes, comfortable loafers, or some other stylish shoes. Clothes should be clean and fit well.
3. Resort/Garden Party
For women and men, the clothing for this type of party is akin to cruisewear. Women should wear a lovely sundress, maxi, or flowy jumpsuit in a tropical or garden-inspired pattern. Women can also wear a shift dress of a sheath dress with a cute cardigan and brightly colored jewelry. It is wise to wear sandals, wedges, or flats because heels will fall into the grass. A white lace dress with classy black pumps would love super chic.
Men should wear lightweight suits made of linen paired with loafers or canvas boat shoes. They can also wear comfortable guayabera with linen pants. No socks are needed at a garden party.
No matter what, neither men or women should wear flip-flops, even if the party is at the beach.
4. Festive/Holiday Party
A festive or holiday party is one where you can go a bit overboard. If you are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, wear your brightest green dress. If you are celebrating Christmas, wear a silver boa with a bright red dress and snowflake earrings. Depending on the location, you could even pair a sophisticated dress with fun accessories. The key is to dress in a playful, yet respectful way.
Men should do the same, have fun, but have some self-respect, too. For a Christmas party, a velvet blazer might do the trick. You could even dress like Andy from The Office, with a preppy tie and a v-neck sweater in your favorite Christmas colors.
5. Formal Business
This not the time to wear a tuxedo or a gown. Instead, it’s a good time for women to wear an attractive suit that is a bit dressier than what they wear to work. Women could also wear their favorite suits, but pair them with a dressy top and elegant jewelry. They should also wear shoes that have some sparkle and formality to them. Women can wear a lace dress which is elegant, chic and classy and can accessorize it with a pretty neck piece and carry a decent handbag.
Men should wear a well-fitting suit in a dark color or conservative pattern. They should wear an elegant tie and polished shoes. Think of the board room, rather than a funeral.
This style can also be called “cocktail” and dresses are usually shorter than gowns and a bit more fun to wear. The little black dress is a great choice for any semi-formal event, but pair it with beautiful shoes. It is not appropriate for women to wear dresses that are too short or too tight. Cocktail dresses are still classic styles that can be made of exquisite fabrics.
Men should not wear tuxedos. Instead, they can wear dark suits that are cut well. Think of a suit that would look fantastic in the office.
This one should be easy, but sadly, it isn’t. Women should wear floor-length gowns, like those worn to the Oscars or other award ceremonies. Gowns should be made of exquisite fabrics and accessories should be high-end, too. If the formal events are outside, women can wear tea-length gowns to keep the hems off of the ground. Tea-length dresses can be extremely elegant, especially if they are made of silk, taffeta, or other high-end fabrics. Formal dresses should not be overly revealing or too tight. Instead, they should fit flawlessly.
Men should wear tuxedos with black bow ties. White bow ties are reserved for white-tie events. In some circles, men can get away with wearing dark colors, like navy blue, as long as the cut is classic.
Weddings can be the toughest parties to dress for because there are so many rules. The clothes you wear should reflect the invitation and location. If you have any questions, the best thing to do is to ask the bride or groom or someone in the wedding party. You should not outdress the bride or groom or the wedding party.
When you assess the invitation, look at the typography. If it is printed, then the wedding will be more relaxed, but if it is engraved, you might have to wear something semi-formal. A daytime wedding is more likely to be casual, while an evening wedding is not.
Image credits: alexie, promgirl, tata cliq
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