A Guide to What to Wear at Different Occasions

by Susan Paige
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Attending special events is an activity that most people look forward to, as they can dress up, meet new people, and have fun. However, these events can sometimes require you to adhere to a dress code that is specified by the host or considered appropriate for the occasion. While you’ll want to express yourself with your attire, you also want to respect the host and observe proper etiquette. Aside from abiding by the dress code, wearing the appropriate clothes for any event will help you fit in with other attendees. If you feel a sense of belonging with everyone else, you’ll feel more confident and be able to enjoy yourself more. 

However, without a specified dress code, choosing what to wear for an event can sometimes be difficult. Factors such as the weather, the location, and the formality of the event are just some of the things you need to consider. To help you pick out something from your closet, read on for outfit ideas you can wear to the different events you may be invited to. 

What to Wear for Casual Events

Casual events are parties or celebrations hosted by your friends and family. These events are commonly held at home or in an informal environment so there’s usually no dress code. To help you plan your outfit, consider the weather and venue of the event instead. 

If the party is being held outdoors, you can wear jeans, a linen dress shirt, and sneakers. You may even wear shorts, a sleeveless top, and sandals to help you stay cool on warm days. If you’re wondering when to wear ripped leggings, you can wear them for these kinds of occasions. Light-colored ripped leggings are also more comfortable to wear compared to jeans since the fabric is more lightweight and flexible. 

For winter holiday celebrations at home, you can bust out some festive sweaters to match the seasonal cheer. Pair such sweaters with any warm and comfortable bottoms to keep you cozy. If your sweater is on the longer side, you can wear it with leggings then complete your ensemble with fleece-lined boots. 

What to Wear for Semi-Formal Events

Semi-formal events are parties or occasions where the dress code may not be as strict, but you’ll still be required to look your best. Leave the denim at home and opt for finer fabrics like silk and linen to exude effortless elegance. 

Showers and Holiday Celebrations

Bridal showers, baby showers, and holiday celebrations usually involve close family and friends that you can be casual with. However, your host might want you to appear a bit more dressed up to take nice photos or make the event feel a bit more special. 

Wear a casual dress or smart-casual attire if the event is during the warm season. If the shower is during the fall or winter, you can wear a sweater and pair it with a long skirt. You can also wear a sweater dress and leggings combination. Since you’ll be mingling with friends, opt for comfortable shoes that allow you to move around freely. Fancy flats are a good choice for summer and spring showers while low-heeled booties can help you make your sweater combinations look more dressed up. You can also enhance your outfit with accessories to help you look more polished. Elegant pieces like a gold chain necklace or pearl earrings will do the trick. 

Outdoor Weddings and Graduations

Outdoor weddings and graduations allow you to celebrate with the people gaining these milestones, so looking extra dressed up shows your appreciation for being invited to their special day Apart from making the effort to look your best, consider that these events are usually held in the spring and summer months, so choose an outfit that is appropriate for the weather. 

Wear breathable clothes like a cocktail dress with a flowy skirt. You can also wear a blouse tucked into long, loose trousers, so your legs can stay comfortable and cool. You may want to avoid tight or dark-colored clothing so you don’t overheat in the warm temperatures. 

For shoes, you can choose to wear strappy sandals or high-heeled wedges. However, make sure you’re wearing shoes you can comfortably walk and stand in to avoid accidents such as tripping. 

Religious Gatherings and Functions

Religious events can include baptisms, bar and bat mitzvahs, or any occasion being held at a temple or church. If you don’t share the faith and aren’t sure about their traditions, ask your friend for dressing guidelines or have them approve your outfit beforehand. In general, you should avoid showing too much skin, so wear sleeves or cover your arms with a cardigan or a jacket. If you’re feeling warm, cover up with a bolero jacket instead. Wear a long, loose skirt or trousers to cover up your legs. 

What to Wear for Work Functions

When attending job interviews, work conferences, or client meetings, you can’t go wrong with an outfit consisting of slacks, a blouse, and a blazer. This ensemble will help you look smart, dignified, and professional. Make sure to also check that your outfit abides by the company dress code. 

As a rule of thumb, you should opt for conservative clothing designs to maintain a professional image. Avoid wearing plunging necklines, short skirts, and tight clothing to work and related events. Wear closed-toe shoes with heels to keep your look polished.

What to Wear for Formal Events

Formal events are usually announced by printed invitations to an exclusive guest list. Apart from the date and time, the invitations usually indicate the strict dress code, including preferred colors or motifs to match the event’s theme. Though no invitations are issued, solemn events such as wakes and funerals are also considered formal events that require attendants to come in their best attire. 

Weddings and Black-Tie Dinner Parties

Weddings, galas, and black-tie parties often require floor-length gowns for women and tuxedos for men. If the dress code isn’t too strict, short cocktail dresses may be considered as well. 

If you’re attending a wedding, you can wear any kind of gown you’re comfortable with, but avoid wearing white as the color is traditionally reserved for the bride. High-heeled shoes such as pumps or stilettos should be used as flat footwear is considered too casual for such an event. To help complete your ensemble, use accessories that complement your dress. Wear your best jewelry and bring an elegant evening bag to hold your essentials. Ideally, you would have your makeup and hair done for the event as well. 

Wakes and Funerals 

Since funerals are melancholy occasions, the clothes you wear should mirror their solemn nature. Wearing strictly formal attire also shows your respect for the deceased. Most people wear black as a sign of mourning, but you can also wear darker neutrals like dark brown or navy blue. Avoid wearing anything flashy or revealing, as this attire calls attention to yourself and is considered disrespectful to the bereaved family. Instead, consider donning a black pantsuit with heels. If you want to wear a dress, make sure it covers your shoulders and knees.

The formality of the occasion you’re attending will dictate how you should dress, especially if there is no indicated dress code. Once you’ve determined how casual or formal an event is, you can use the ensembles mentioned above to help you find something suitable. Strive to wear clothes that you’re comfortable in so you can focus on engaging with other guests rather than fussing with your outfit. If you want to personalize your style a bit more, you can be creative with your color choices, accessories, make-up, or hairstyle, as long as it will be appropriate for the event. 


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