Attending a Graduation Party

Dressing for a graduation party is pretty simple since most of the time the dress code is casual. This also depends on the venue, so if it’s at someone’s house or in their backyard, you can wear whatever you want. If the graduation party is at a hall, golf club, etc., you may want to dress up a little bit. A safe bet is to wear white pants and a nicer top. If you have a dress that’s not too formal then that would work well for either situation. Keep in mind the weather and shoes if you’re attending a backyard graduation party where there’s a chance you can be sitting in the sun for awhile.

If the graduation party you’re attending is for a bachelors, masters, doctorates, etc., you will definitely want to dress a little more professional since these are higher degrees. The goal is to look “put together” rather than wearing whatever you had on that day. Steer away from jeans, or wear dark denim and keep the rest of the outfit polished.

Here are two outfits I put together for a casual graduation party:

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Guest at a Bridal Shower

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Bridal showers are about giving the bride gifts for her new life with her husband, and it’s fitting to dress more on the feminine side for such an event. Depending on the person, venue, or any guidelines the invitation may set, there are a variety of outfits you can choose from. Most bridal showers are either in the morning or early afternoon, so lighter colors are a better choice over dark (especially black). One rule to keep in mind – let the bride wear white. If you have a cream or white top to go with a different color skirt/pants, then you are safe. Please save the white dresses for a different occasion.

A safe choice is always a skirt and blouse and/or sweater – it’s lady-like without trying to outshine the bride. Other options include a dress that’s not too formal, or nice pants and a pretty top. Keep in mind, if the shower is outside, to bring sunglasses, and if it’s inside to wear layers. Sometimes it can be really hot outside, but the air conditioning makes it freezing indoors. I like to own a few light cardigans in pretty colors specifically for spring and summer for occasions where I find myself in an overly air conditioned building.

This goes without saying for most women, but please keep your outfit conservative. Bridal showers are an event full of women of all ages including the bride’s family members, and outfits that push the line of modesty are considered distasteful. When in doubt, keep it simple and feminine.

Check out my outfit from a recent bridal shower I attended for a friend where I kept my outfit color scheme light and the details simple:

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Wedding Guest Outfit Tips

It’s easy to overlook a few details when you’re planning an outfit. Please keep in mind these few tips when attending a wedding:

-1Never wear white. Most rules are subjective, but this one is across the board consistent with the exception if the bride instructs everyone to wear white (which I’m convinced only happens on TV and never in real life). It does not matter if you add a colorful accessory or belt, or if it’s off-white, or even if it doesn’t look bridal. This is the bride’s day to wear white and you can find a dress in a different color. Exceptions: white sweater/shoes/accessories as long as they don’t look bridal and the rest of the outfit isn’t white.

Find out the color scheme and/or the bridesmaids dresses. A growing trend is just choosing a color for the bridesmaids and they may chose their own dress as long as it’s that color. This is great for bridesmaids, however, if you are a guest and wear that color you can look like you’re a part of the bridal party. If it’s easy enough to check then consider doing so when planning an outfit. Remember you can look for clues on the invitation as to what the colors are. If you end up wearing the same color and look like one of the bridesmaids, it’s not  the end of the world – just grab a bouquet and stand on the outside of every photo.

Know your shoes. The day of the wedding is not the day to break in shoes so plan ahead what you’ll be wearing and make sure they are comfortable. If your shoes happen to be uncomfortable, bring flats to change into at the reception. You can throw them in the car and run out and grab them, or buy packable flats and slip them in your clutch. Please don’t go barefoot on the dance floor. You may not be grossed out, but who knows what other people have trekked in on their shoes.

Purse/clutch. You won’t need your everyday purse at the wedding, so bring either a small purse or a clutch.  Pack just what you’ll need for the night – mint, make up (oil blotting sheets), kleenex, extra bobby-pins, and a tide to-go pen. You may not use the tide pen, but you could save someone else. This will also keep your date from using your purse as a catch-all for their “accessories”.

Basic Decoding

You got the Save the Date, the invitation, sent in your RSVP, and now you’re left to decide what to wear. Before you plan any outfit, consider these big four clues that will help you decide what to wear to any wedding.

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Location / Venue:  In terms of what to wear, there’s a big difference between a wedding set in a cathedral than in a barn. Pay close attention to the type of venue the wedding is set in to set the tone on how formal or informal you want to dress. If the venue is outdoors, it may be less informal than in a huge hall.

Time: Day wedding vs. evening wedding. If the wedding is before six o’clock pm, you aren’t going to dress as fancy as you would for an evening wedding. Many weddings have the ceremony take place in the daytime and the reception in the evening, so you may want to focus on an outfit that will transition well. I’ve seen people wear different dresses to the day ceremony and then change for the evening reception – I wouldn’t go that far (the day isn’t about you), however there are accessories you can change or add to make your outfit more evening appropriate. Personally I’d rather look appropriate for a day ceremony than be in evening wear to a day ceremony.

Language & Style of the Invitation: Some invitations will give you a dress code (i.e., black tie, semi-formal, casual), and others you can look for clues. After considering the location and time of the event, take a look at the invitation itself. Is it over-the-top fancy? Is it more casual? Most likely it is in-between, and that is how you should expect to dress.

Weather: I believe style and practicality should go hand and hand, and since I live in Michigan, I have learned this lesson the hard way. The weather changes here a lot, so any given day of the year can have unpredictable weather. If the wedding is in July, wear a summer fabric like cotton, linen, seersucker, etc., so you can fight any heat and humidity. Other times of the year, keep an umbrella in your car and consider layers in case the location of the reception is colder than you except. It may seem like common sense, but sometimes we might try to plan an outfit out months in advanced with no consideration of the weather.

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