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What to wear to summer events



Ruching Tulle Princess A-line One Shoulder Sleeveless Long Prom Dress


As the weather warms up, so can our social calendars — with invites to weddings, school reunions, maybe a company picnic or pool party. And while the style stakes can be pretty high when you’re dressing for once-in-a-lifetime events or get-to-know-you time with the boss, chances are, you won’t get much in the way of fashion guidance.

“It’s becoming much less common to put any kind of dress code on an invitation,” says Nancy Rankin, CEO of Essential Details wedding and event planners in LaGrange, Ky. “A few years ago, it used to be standard to give some sort of guidelines. Now, it’s almost unheard of.”

Then there are adorable dictums like “rustic chic,” “festive casual” or “relaxed black tie,” all designed to be flexible and fun for the guests, but not especially helpful when it comes to making wardrobe decisions.

“Most people figure it out,” says Jessica Leisl, a wedding and event planner with Essential Details. “But you do see the young girl in flip-flops or the woman in a black cocktail dress when everyone else is in sundresses. It’s almost worse when they overdress.”

Then, there are the barn weddings, the late afternoon weddings, the over-the-top backyard party complete with quartets and trees strung with chandeliers.

To avoid being the most memorable fashion disaster at your next social outing, we compiled a few pointers to help you assess an unwritten (or unclear) dress code:

READ BETWEEN THE LINES

“There are always unwritten clues about the dress code,” says Chris Fulkerson, local image consultant with VIP studios. “Even the invitation itself is a hint. If it’s a beautiful, printed, formal invitation with formal language, it probably requires more formal attire.”

Other clues are time of day (earlier can signal more casual); type of food service (sit-down can be another nod to more formal clothing); the word “business” (which always implies a level of professionalism, no matter what the location); and yes, setting (barn or beach are likely to be less stuffy than a ballroom).




Satin A-line Sweetheart Short/Mini Dress


THINK LIKE A CELEB (OR DRESS FOR THE PHOTO OP)

Many of these events — whether it’s a wedding or the annual corporate outing — tend to be highly photographed. “Ask yourself if you’d feel comfortable seeing these photos of yourself in your outfit tomorrow ... or years from now,” says Fulkerson. If the answer is no, rethink it.

WATCH YOUR STEP

“Shoes are becoming a big issue with all of these new locations,” says Varga. “The worst thing is when you see women in stilettos at outdoor parties and their heels are sinking into the dirt. Or when they’re stuck in the sand at the beach wedding.”A wedge, chunky heel or flat is a smarter choice on uneven terrain.

DON'T WEAR WHITE TO A WEDDING ... BUT YOU CAN WEAR BLACK

White is still the bride’s color.

Meanwhile black, once taboo at weddings, is now commonplace. “I’d say almost 50 percent of our bridesmaids are wearing black,” says Rankin. “And even some mothers are wearing it.” Although family members in black still raise a few eyebrows: “I tend to steer women away from it,” says Varga. “But if they want to wear it, they need to add some color in the accessories. You want to look like you’re celebrating.” The same goes for guests: Black is fine, but amp it up with the extras.

“I think one of the worst things I’ve seen is the sexy mother of the bride who forgets that it’s her daughter’s day,” says Fulkerson. “Some mothers are spending so much time and money getting ready for their daughter’s wedding. They’re getting in shape, they’re getting surgeries, face-lifts, breast jobs, and they show up in something too revealing and form fitting.”

Slightly lower on the fashion faux pas spectrum are too-sexy wedding guests. “You don’t want to wear anything that is going to be so attention-getting that it distracts from the couple or that it becomes the talk of the evening or the next day,” says Varga. That’s more than a fashion misstep; it’s a meltdown of manners and common sense.

Almost as awkward is the too-sexy co-worker: “Business events can be a little bit tricky to navigate, but in general, you want to be careful about how much skin you’re showing,” says Varga. “Whenever I see the word ‘business,’ I think of an extra layer — a blazer or cardigan, something that gives you a little credibility. Now, if you’re the spouse, you have a little more freedom, but cleavage is never a good idea.”

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