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What to Wear to Damn Near Every Social Event Part II

In Part I of What to Wear to Damn Near Every Social Event, I covered everything to do with going out and having fun.

And it made me think.

We all have to grow up some time, so what better way to segue into Part II than by covering the next stage of life⸺getting married and having a family.

This isn’t so much about YOU growing up but the people around you.

Your friends and family are bound to throw some grown-up shindigs sooner or later, so you may as well get dressed up for the occasion!

Let’s get into what to wear to damn near every social event part II.

What to Wear to an Engagement Party

Congratulations, you or someone you know just got engaged!

As much as the occasion of getting married is a joy, it’s also a lot of stress. First there’s the engagement party, then the bachelorette party, maybe a bridal shower and a rehearsal dinner in between. That’s three different events before you even get to the ceremony!

You get the picture though, it’s a lot of stress. And a lot of outfits for both the bride and her guests.

Planning what to wear to each requires ninja-like planning and execution.   

What’s the Engagement Party Dress Code?

The Trend Spotter says an engagement party can mean a lot of different things, which makes it that much more tricky to pick an appropriate outfit.

It could mean a cocktail party, a formal dinner, afternoon drinks or even a backyard BBQ.

For the most part though, engagement parties have a cocktail dress code. Which means you need a tea-length dress and some high heels.

red satin dress

As always though, look out for the dress code on the invitation and dress up or down accordingly. And if in doubt, it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.

Remember to use the venue as a clue as well. Some general rules of thumb are:

  • Outdoor parties: this usually means it’s a casual dress code. Wear flats or wedges.
  • Indoor parties: this is usually more formal but use your judgment and dress accordingly.
  • Formal restaurant or venue: wear a polished dress and heels. 
  • Casual restaurant or someone’s house: Dress relaxed but chic. 

What to Wear to an Engagement Party if You’re the Bride

Being the bride, deciding what to wear to your own engagement party makes things a little bit easier because you get to choose the venue and the dress code.

On the other hand, there’s a little added pressure on you to be the best dressed. Everyone will be expecting your outfit to stand out on the evening.

What better way to stand out than with a traditional white dress? You are about to be a bride after all.

white crochet dress

My recommendation though, as with most things, is to pick an outfit that makes you feel confident and comfortable. Whether that’s a traditional white dress or something more colorful that reflects your personality.

What to Wear to an Engagement Party if You’re a Guest?

Consider the engagement party as a teaser for what’s to come. You want to save your best outfit for the wedding.

Even though it’s not the wedding, just make it a point to avoid wearing white⸺everything else is fair game.

That doesn’t mean you can’t stand out though. And a print will help you do just that, especially at a summer engagement party.

floral print dress

Source: @victoria_fox0001

Bright block colors like magenta, cobalt and tangerine can really make for a standout dress as well. Just make sure to keep everything else understated.

fuschia dress

Even if you choose to go with a more neutral color outfit, Martha Stewart Weddings says a splash accessory will always add flair to your outfit.

I mentioned before that outdoor engagement parties are more casual, so a simple maxi dress or sundress will look just perfect against a garden or beach backdrop.

 maxi dress

Source: @katken85

Look, I know not everyone is a dress person, so don’t think that I’ve forgotten about you. A jumpsuit can look just as beautiful and will actually stand out among a sea of dresses. As long as you look dressed up for the occasion, that’s all that really matters.

pink jumpsuit

What to Wear to a Bridal Shower

Let’s get one thing straight here, a bridal shower is not the same as a bachelorette party.

According to Easy Weddings, bachelorette parties are the wild, X-rated affairs that you promise yourself will never happen again even though that guy was super cute⸺oh crap, I’m thinking aloud.

Whereas bridal showers are a more sophisticated event where the bride and her bridesmaids basically show their appreciation for one another.

They’re kind of like Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll when you think about it.

The point is, as Cosmo puts it, bridal shower attire is more conservative but also less formal than wedding ceremony attire.

Just like I mentioned about the engagement party, if you’re the bride, choosing what to wear to your bridal shower is a little bit easier because you’re hosting the party. So, you can basically follow my advice from before really.

If you’re a guest, Martha Stewart Weddings has a few outfit suggestions for you depending on the occasion.

Choose a Pastel Color For a Garden Party

It’s time to get girly. Choose a sundress, a skirt and top or a sleek pantsuit in feminine colors. And accessorize with pearls.

pastel blue dress

Think 1950s, Pleasantville. But don’t go all out though, this is still the bride’s party!

Wear a Cocktail Dress For a Formal Event

If the bridal shower’s being hosted in a restaurant, hotel or banquet hall, dress up for the occasion.

cocktail dress

Even though indoor events aren’t subject to the elements, you should still dress for the season as well. If it’s fall or winter for example, stick to dark and warm tones.

In spring, brighter, lighter tones are more appropriate.

Take the time of day into account as well. A daytime luncheon is often more casual than an evening event.

Don’t Wear Black

First I can’t wear white, now I can’t wear black! What’s the deal?

The explanation for this one is actually pretty reasonable⸺A bridal shower is supposed to feel celebratory and lively, so don’t rain on the parade.

Sometimes the invitation might specify a color palette anyway, so stick to it and you’ll be fine.

If you want a few more concrete examples, 40+Style has some ideas:

Floral Dress

floral dress 

Source: @katken85

Embrace the romance of the occasion in a feminine floral print.

Ruffle or Flounce Dress

ruffle dress

A dress with a trendy ruffle detail will add some drama to your look.

Gingham Dress

 ginghm dress

Source: @laricearaujo

Gingham and summer just go together. An A-line gingham dress with black accessories is all kinds of sophisticated. 

Polka Dots

polka dot dress

I said don’t wear black or white but I never said anything about wearing them together. Polka dots are such a classic, feminine look, especially in summer. Navy and white can work here, too.

What to Wear to Rehearsal Dinner

By this point, you’ve probably been invited to at least three different wedding related events. And now your outfit choices are starting to dry up.

You should still have that ace up your sleeve for the ceremony, so don’t reach for that just yet!

What Happens at a Rehearsal Dinner?

According to Brides, a rehearsal dinner is simply the dinner that follows a wedding rehearsal.

It’s basically a time for the two families of the bride and groom to enjoy an evening together before all the ceremonial mayhem, er, I mean bliss, kicks off.

How to Dress For a Rehearsal Dinner

As with every other event, the location and climate should be determining factors in your outfit choice.

Who What Wear shared a few tips to help you out:

  • Avoid looking too bridal (Duh!). But in addition to not wearing white, avoid soft shades of beige, pink or anything remotely close to white.
  • Scout out the venue ahead of time to get a read on the place.
  • Dress comfortably. This is always the most important thing no matter the occasion.

Insider shared a few of their own tips too, saying that the time of the event can be a big clue. If it’s at 5 p.m. for example, that generally implies a less formal dress code than a 7.p.m. dinner.

What if you received a verbal invitation that’s short on details? Odds are that the rehearsal dinner is an afterthought or super casual anyway.   

I know I keep saying it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed, but in this instance you still don’t want to outdo yourself when it comes to the actual wedding day.

If you know what the dress code for the wedding is and you’ve already picked out what to wear, then that should be a huge clue as to how to dress for the rehearsal dinner as well.

Check out a few of these ideas:

champagne dress

This satin midi dress is simple yet classic. And just the right color when the Champagne bottles start popping.

polka dot dress

Try this off-the-shoulder look for a semi-formal occasion. Nail the look with statement earrings and black heels.

emerald midi dress

Opt for a shade of emerald in this stunning midi dress.

slip dress

Source: @myritzyaffair

You can't beat a good slip dress.

one shoulder dress

Source: @shanaleepatterson

This one shoulder dress is elegance defined.

What to Wear to a Wedding

There are few occasions more panic-inducing than a wedding when it comes to deciding what to wear.

Sure, the bride has it easy. Something old, something new… yadda, yadda, yadda.

But what about the guests?!

There are just so many unknowns when it comes to weddings, especially if you haven’t been to many. But on the flipside, if you’ve been to a lot of weddings, the dress code can vary wildly.

The problem is that the traditional wedding is slowly becoming a thing of the past. As Cosmo noted, that means there is a lot of free reign when it comes to choosing an outfit.

If you want my full breakdown of what to wear to a wedding, read my article: 76 Stunning Dresses For a Wedding Guest

Otherwise, let’s get down to business.

What to Wear to a Fall Wedding

Fall weather can make it hard to dress for a wedding since the weather can be a little unpredictable at times. Be prepared to layer up.

little black dress

This is the perfect time to break out your favorite LBD with some suede heels. And since fall tones are quite muted, I would add a subtle pop of color to your look. Maybe some bright red lipstick or a statement necklace.

 maroon dress

Choose a dress that will keep you comfortable in any unexpected heat. You can always throw on a sweater when things start to cool down again. 

What to Wear to a Winter Wedding

If you’ve been looking for an excuse to break out that festive sequin dress, this is it!

sequin dress

Sequins and jewel-toned fabrics like emerald green and royal blue work great with any skin tone. And you’re bound to wear them again during the holidays.

gold sequin dress

Consider a heavy fabric like tweed or velvet that will keep you warm on those chilly winter evenings.

Boots might be too casual for a wedding but if it’s snowing, by all means, wear some boots. You can always change into your heels at the venue. 

What to Wear to a Spring Wedding

Springtime is the peak wedding season. And it’s not hard to see why. The flowers are blooming, the grass is growing, birds are singing⸺Ah, mother nature in all her beauty.

Having said all that, keep your fingers crossed that you’re not invited to an outdoor wedding. Spring rain showers and wet grass are a recipe for disaster.

Sundress

If you are, think ahead and avoid wearing long dresses that could drag in the mud. As well as heels that might sink into the ground.

maxi dress

Wear closed-toe flats instead. An umbrella never hurt either.

What to Wear to a Summer Wedding

If you’re invited to a summer wedding, odds are that it’s going to be outdoors.

Your mission is to look elegant while keeping it cool. I know, easier said than done.

Wear breathable fabrics that won’t overheat you like silk, chiffon, cotton or linen.

floral maxi dress

Summer is also a great time to dress in vibrant colors and unexpected textures.

slip dress

It’s an indoor event? Great. Just remember that the A/C will probably be working overtime, so bring a light shawl to stay comfortable.

What to Wear to a Baby Shower

You might get invited to dozens of weddings throughout your lifetime (and maybe even married at one of them) but there’s something extra special about bringing a baby into the world that I think is worth celebrating.

As with every other event, The Wife Choice says you need to ask a few questions before deciding what to wear:

  • Where will the event take place? Is it indoors or outdoors?
  • Is it a daytime or evening event?
  • Is there a theme, color or dress code?

If you’re the mama-to-be, wondering what to wear to your baby shower, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered with a few suggestions from Motherly.

What to Wear to a Casual Baby Shower

For mama:

If there was ever an occasion where jeans and a t-shirt was acceptable, this is the one, mama!

Wear your favorite pair of maternity skinny jeans with an oversize cardigan and some flats.

t shirt and jeans

Source: @emilyanngemma

For the guest:

Dress comfortably in a pair of ‘fancy joggers’ and dress it up with either a structured blazer or jacket and colorful heels.

fancy joggers

Source: @stylepantry

What to Wear to a Dressy Baby Shower

For mama:

You’re here to celebrate the life growing inside of you, so show it off in a fitted sheath dress and a pair of matching heels.

sheath dress

Source: @leannebarlow

For the guest:

Take the opposite approach with a flowy, floral maxi dress with simple, understated accessories.

floral maxi dress

What to Wear to an Outdoor Baby Shower

If the baby shower is being hosted outdoors, you can pretty safely assume that it’s going to be a casual affair. So, opt for flats or wedges instead of stilettos.

Also keep in mind:

  • Wear layers, in case of sudden changes in weather, especially in spring.
  • Add pops of color and feminine silhouettes or fun prints.
  • If the event is late afternoon or evening, wear jeans or pants with a long-sleeve blouse or sweater in case it gets cold. 

For mama:

In spring or summer, an off-the-shoulder chiffon dress will keep you cool, while a pair of wedges help nurse your swollen feet.

off the shoulder dress

Source: @polishedclosets

For the guest:

Go bold with a slightly cropped top and matching skirt co-ord.

matching co-ord

Source: @laurenkaysims

Key Takeaways

  • An engagement party usually means cocktail attire (but use your judgment), so wear a tea-length dress and some heels. If you’re the bride, this is your opportunity to stand out, so go for something bold and fun. If you’re the guest, save your best for the wedding and try a fun print or block color dress.
  • Bridal showers are usually conservative but also less formal than the wedding day. If you’re the bride, you can basically follow the same advice as before. If you’re the guest, avoid black and dress in pastel colors for a garden party or a cocktail dress for a formal dinner.
  • At rehearsal dinner, use the time of day and the venue as a clue for what to wear or even the wedding dress code itself. But save your best look for the wedding. 
  • For a fall wedding, wear your favorite LBD or a muted color with bright accessories. 
  • At a winter wedding, dress in festive sequins and jewel-toned fabrics like emerald.
  • In spring, if you’re invited to an outdoor wedding, think ahead and dress for the elements.
  • At a summer wedding, wear breathable fabrics and vibrant colors.
  • At a baby shower, dress appropriately for the occasion and the season. And if you’re the mom-to-be, don’t be afraid to wear form-fitting clothes to celebrate your future newborn!

Got a different occasion you need to dress for? Become an Arona XO Insider below and we'll show you how to dress for it!

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