What to wear to a summer party

a young couple enjoying a summer garden party.

A recent YouGov poll suggested that summer is by far Britain's favourite season. This shouldn’t really come as a surprise. After all, the days are longer, the weather is warmer, and we can all get excited about the prospect of spending a bit more time outdoors with friends and family. From neighbourhood barbeques and community street soirées to office summer shindigs and family garden parties, there is so much to look forward to this time of year. The only challenge comes when trying to figure out what you should wear!

To give you a helping hand when it comes to building your summer wardrobe, this guide will give you some style inspiration for your next big summer do.

How to dress for a summer party

When you think of a summer party, visions of glorious sunshine and hot weather may well be the first thing that springs to mind. However, the reality is there are different types of summer parties, all of which require different dress codes. Below we look at two common types of summer get-togethers - daytime parties and evening events - and explore what clothes and footwear may suit the occasion best for both men and women.

How to dress for a garden party

Men: 

Most garden parties will typically take place during the day in warmer months. Although it’s always sensible to check the weather forecast in case inclement conditions are expected, as a rule, men should opt for items of summer leisurewear made from light and breezy materials such as cotton, silk and linen. It is also a good idea to stick to lighter colours and/or bold tropical/floral prints.

Depending on how formal the occasion is, boat shorts and a polo shirt are ideal garden party attire. For classier events, why not go for chinos and an open collar shirt? If it’s particularly sunny, you may even want to complete your garden party look with a baseball cap or a stylish straw fedora.

Women: 

First things first - although garden parties can range from fairly formal occasions to much more casual get-togethers, unless instructed differently, it’s always safe to opt for a semi-formal dress code. Just as with our men’s guidance, it’s important to remember that an outdoor event held on a summer’s afternoon is likely to be hot, so items made from breathable, lightweight fabrics should be selected. Opt for cotton or linen ahead of synthetic fabrics like polyester, and try to avoid dark colours that will absorb more heat. Pastel and/or neutral colour schemes, as well as floral prints should be encouraged.

When it comes to the items themselves, stay clear of full-length trousers and long-sleeve blouses, and instead consider choosing a breezy summer dress or light skirt and short-sleeve top combo. The last thing you want to worry about is feeling too hot and sweating through your clothing. If you are concerned you may feel chilly as the garden party progresses into evening, you can always bring along a removable lightweight layering piece, such as a denim jacket or cardigan.

What to wear to a summer party at night

Men: 

Summer parties that take place at night can raise a whole host of issues when it comes to what to wear. With so many different variables to consider - time, weather, inside or outside location, and how you’re getting home, to name just a few - it’s better to cover as many bases as possible and to dress accordingly.

For this reason, shorts and t-shirts should be avoided. After all, you don’t know what time you may be leaving and what the weather may look like when you do. The safest bet is to go for an outfit made up of a light-coloured button-down shirt and jeans/chinos. You could also think about taking a light summer jacket or blazer to prepare you for an evening temperature drop.

Women:

While it can be tempting to wear the same floaty summer dresses or skirts that you would wear to a garden party or barbecue to a summer evening event, it’s important to think about outfits that can keep you feeling comfortable even when the temperature drops.

With this in mind, a nice blouse and wide-leg trouser combo could be the perfect compromise. Providing your legs with protection from the evening chill while also still giving out a relaxed summer vibe, outfits of this nature can also be made to look more formal with the addition of minimalist jewellery, monochrome shoes, and a textured bag.

Alternatively, why not opt for a jumpsuit? These fashionable items perfectly combine the relaxed look of a summer dress with the after-hours coverage and insulation of a pair of jeans. And remember, whatever you choose to wear, always take a lightweight jacket to both style up your summer outfit and keep you warm when the sun goes down.

What shoes to wear this summer

Depending on the event, there are a range of different shoes for both men and women that are ideal for summer parties. These include:

Men:

● Leather sandals - perfect for casual events such as barbecues, sandals strike the balance between comfort and style. Wear them with boat shorts and an open-neck shirt for maximum effect 

 ● Espadrilles - as casual as sandals while also having the added advantage of providing more coverage and being easy to slip on and off. These classics can be worn with casual shorts or formal trousers. 

 ● Desert Boots - far more lightweight and breathable than winter boots, while still complimenting chinos or dress trousers to perfection, desert boots are ultra-versatile and can be worn for almost any summer occasion.

Women:

● Strappy sandals - from ornate gladiator sandals to minimalist wedge sandals, this type of footwear is a versatile and timeless staple that can be worn with casual and formal summer outfits alike. 

 ● Mules - designed to be worn with shorts, breezy dresses, wide-legged trousers and skirts, mules have made a fashion comeback in recent years, becoming a summer wardrobe staple. 

 ● Flat ballet pumps - as comfortable as they are versatile, ballet flats can be worn with just about any summer outfit and are easy on your feet. This makes them ideal for summer events like garden parties where you know you’ll be on your feet for a few hours.

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