Style File: Summer Soiree Style


There is a certain magic to the summer season that makes us want to throw (and attend) lots of parties! I’m breaking down all the fun summer soirees and what to wear to each – everything from barbecues and weddings, to cocktail parties and brunches.


Summer weddings can be a tricky style situation but not if you understand a few simple tips. Typically, the earlier the wedding, the more casual the attire. Also, traditionally, if the wedding is outdoors you can usually get away with a more casual and comfortable style. Thankfully, most wedding invitations convey the dress code to help the guests figure it out. Let’s be honest, brides want to make sure their guests look good, too.

  • White Tie: This is the most formal of dress codes. For men, a tuxedo is appropriate and for women, a formal ball gown. Think Oscars and think glamor!
  • Black Tie: The wedding is usually an evening affair when Black Tie is noted. Men should wear a tuxedo and women should consider a cocktail dress that is either floor length or tea length. When in doubt: ask the bride or bridesmaids! Whatever length dress the bridesmaids wear, women guests should consider using that length as a model.
  • Beach Formal: This is a fun wedding to attend. You can be more casual but be ready to get sand in your shoes. Men can wear a summer-weight linen suit or nice khakis and dress shirt. Women can wear flat sandals or espadrilles with a summer dress.
  • Semiformal: This dress code can be the trickiest, but when in doubt, dress up more. It’s always better to be dressed too nice instead of looking like you don’t care. Men should wear a suit and tie, and women should wear a cocktail dress or nice skirt and dressy top.
  • Casual: Most of the time casual means “anything goes.” However, jean shorts and tank tops are never appropriate, in my opinion, for a wedding. Consider wearing khakis and a polo or button-down for men and a summer dress for women.

Barbecues and Brunches

What’s a hot summer season in the South without attending at least one barbecue? Barbecues are my favorite summer party to attend because everyone seems more relaxed and basically anything you wear is great. Of course, there are certain style parameters to follow. For example, if the barbecue or brunch happens to be at a country club, you may want to be a little more dressy than if you’re going to your neighbor’s barbecue party. When in doubt, summer dress it out! Generally, a polo shirt and pants (or shorts) works for men. I also enjoy wearing white pants with a fun top and wedges to add some pizzazz. Barbecues are fun and what you wear should be fun, too!

A Summer Cocktail

Who doesn’t love a fun summer cocktail party? Whether it’s a birthday party, office celebration or engagement party, summer cocktails are sure to be a blast. Similar to weddings, usually you can tell the dress code by the invitation. The more formal the invitation and the later in the day the party starts, the dressier you should be. For an evening summer cocktail party, I typically wear a cocktail dress with fun jewelry and heels. For a lunch office celebration, you can get away with a lightweight dress and wedges.

Always remember this: when you doubt what to wear to a summer soiree, just ask the hostess. Trust me, the hostess wants to have her guests appropriately dressed and comfortable! Get dressed in a way that makes you feel confident and is appropriate to the time of day, and you’re good to go!