JUST BECAUSE A PARTY IS ABOUT HAVING FUN DOESN’T MEAN YOU SHOULDN’T DRESS WITH STYLE AND FASHION.
In the summertime, parties abound – from garden weddings to backyard barbecues to company picnics. With these helpful fashion tips, you’ll look stylish and chic, no matter what the occasion. The first step in picking the right attire is understanding some definitions about the formality of the event.
How formal is the summer party?
Black Tie – If the invitation states the party is “black tie” that means you should wear very formal attire. For men, tuxedos and for women, long evening gowns. “White tie” is ultra formal with men being expected to wear white ties with their tuxedos; women can wear white evening dresses.
Formal – Formal parties are close to the same thing as black tie. However, men can wear a black suit with a black shirt, instead of a tux. And women can wear formal cocktail-length dresses.
Black Tie Optional – You can wear a tuxedo or a formal dress, but you also have the option of a dark suit for men and a cocktail dress or evening separates for women.
Semi-Formal – Also called “After Five,” a semi-formal event in the evening calls for dark suits for men and cocktail dresses for women. If you are invited to a semi-formal event in the daytime, men should still wear suits and women should wear a dressy suit or short dress.
Cocktail Attire – Short yet elegant dresses for women and dark suits for men are perfect for cocktail parties. Men can often skip the tie. If you hear the term “festive,” it’s relatively the same as cocktail attire but with a little more color and glitz.
Informal – Informal doesn’t mean casual. If you see “informal” on a party or wedding invitation, you should actually wear semi-formal/cocktail attire.
Casual – For casual parties, you could wear just about anything you want. If the invitation says dressy casual, consider a sports coat and pants for men or perhaps a polo shirt and khakis. Blouses/sweaters with skirts or pants are dressy casual for women. Jeans, shorts and cotton t-shirts are appropriate for casual events but not dressy casual.
Summer Fashion for Men
Dark suits work well for evening, particular in gray. If the party isn’t black tie or formal, you can dress up the suit with a light colored shirt for a bit of summer flavor. Finish off your look with a fedora. Fedoras are very trendy right now and can worn by men of all ages. Cock the hat slightly to one side and a bit forward. You might associate the fedora with old school gangsters, Humphrey Bogart or Indiana Jones. In recent years, they have been popular amongst many celebrities including Brad Pitt, Justin Timberlake and Johnny Depp. Leather oxfords or other dress shoes are appropriate with a suit.
If the party is in the daytime, you have a little more flexibility in terms of what to wear. A light colored linen suit is a hot choice. Men who are balding and want to cover-up have an array of summer hats to choose from, particularly for outdoor parties. In addition to the fedora, panama hats are ideal. These straw hats work well with suits and more casual wear. Driving shoes or penny loafers in light colors are nice for daytime events.
For less formal parties in the summer, men can wear flat-front khaki pants and a polo style shirt. If you are heading to a friendly barbecue or another casual event, remember casual doesn’t mean sloppy. Even if you wear shorts, make sure they are clean and fit well. With casual attire, you can wear a baseball cap, flat cap or bucket hat to protect your head and face from the sun’s harmful rays. Avoid wearing sneakers unless you are going to be playing sports. Casual loafers or deck shoes are great for day-wear. Flip-flops are normally not appropriate for a party unless it’s extremely casual.
Summer Fashion for Women
Consider the location and occasion when choosing your dress. For more casual events, sundresses are perfect. Look for pretty prints and vibrant colors. Pair your sundress with a pair of strappy sandals. If the party is outdoors, don’t wear stilettos. Stick to flats or low-heeled shoes. If you insist on high heels, make them wedges, which are much more comfortable and easier to wear on grass.
If the event is associated with your job, keep your attire conservative. Don’t wear anything too skimpy or short. Dresses shouldn’t be more than an inch or two above the knee. In the summer, experiment with colorful accessories. At a beach or poolside party, wear a wide-brimmed sun hat with a pair of over sized shades for a dramatic look.
Bright handbags in shades of yellow, pink and purple are hot for the summer of 2009. After dusk, carry a croc-embossed patent clutch. For daytime, a larger bag such as a straw tote or a slouchy hobo are fantastic alternatives.
Party attire: Unsure What to Wear?
If you have inspected the invitation, consider the location, looked in your closet and still can’t figure out what the wear, ask the hostess. It’s better to ask beforehand than to be embarrassed when arriving at the party. The hostess will be happy that you asked. If the party starts in the daytime and goes into the evening, it’s appropriate to bring a sweater or wrap to cover up when the weather cools down.