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How to Dress for Any Occasion

Updated on August 3, 2010

A Piece of Signature Jewelry can Make a True Statement

Parties crop up all over the place and you probably get invited to at least a few every year.  You may have never thought about it before, but not at least putting some effort into your look will come across as careless or even rude to your host/hostess.  Let them see that their invitation was special enough to make the effort for without looking like you tried too hard, which will leave you looking less self-confident, or worse, an attention monger.

One thing to always remember is your accessories.  The way you dress a look up is what makes it a unique fashion look for you.  Your purse, jewelry, and shoes can create completely different looks to a variety of outfits.  Or, you can use a constant jewelry piece or unusual purse to create a signature look that can go from formal to casual and everything in between.

Here are some of the most popular parties you'll be invited to and ideas of what to wear:

Graduation parties:

The time and place of the grad party should dictate your best look.  Some of these parties are indoor, more formal parties, and some are outdoor bashes.  For the more formal parties at a party center, hotel, or other similar facility, pretty but casual party dresses will rock your look!

Summer dresses, dressy capri's, or dress pants are going to be the most appropriate for indoor grad parties.  Don't forget a sweater for later in the evening or to help compensate for over aggressive air conditioning.  Keep makeup fun, but on the natural side.  You aren't going clubbing or to a rave.

Outdoor grad parties tend to be a bit more casual.  Summer dresses with flats, dressy jeans or capris and a nice top should be the most appropriate.  Again keep your makeup fun, but subtle and remember a light weight jacket for when the evening cools down.  If the bugs are all ready out in your climate, bring a couple sheets of Downy.  It will help repel bugs without leaving you smelling like bug repellent.

Bridal and Baby Showers:

Again the place and time of the wedding shower will dictate what sort of dress is appropriate.  But it's a party, so even if it's at someone's home in the middle of the day, put some effort into your look.  Save the holy jeans for another time.  Keep your makeup fun, yet not too overdone.


If it's a daytime wedding, a pretty summer dress, or a skirt and jacket set is going to be the most appropriate.  Avoid a white dress, as that color is reserved for the bride.  Keep your makeup on the down low, and maybe have a bit brighter lipstick for the reception if you want to jazz your look up a bit.


Cook-outs are casual, but don't go overly casual.  You can get away with stressed jeans for a cook out, but wear a nice t-shirt or pretty summer top to go with them and save the old boyfriend t-shirt for doing yard work in.  Keep your makeup natural looking, and don't forget the Downy in case it gets buggy outside.  A lightweight jacket is also a good idea to bring with you if you stay later into the evening.  Paint your nails in some fun bright colors, and maybe even bring a hat!

Holiday Parties

Any type of holiday party is a fun time to dress up a bit.  Pick items that are festive to the occasion, for example, a patriotic shirt for the Fourth of July, or heart earrings on Valentine’s Day.  Even if it’s just your closest friends and family, they like to see you looking your best too, so take the extra time.

Five Tips for Being a Beautiful Guest at any Occasion:

  • Always bring a gift.  Even if it's just a cook out, at least bring a salad or dessert.
  • Make sure and thank who ever invited you.
  • Be helpful if you find the opportunity to, especially if the party is at someone's house.
  • Show up on time without being early, especially for weddings.
  • Remember accessories to really bring out your own fashion style.  The right purse and jewelry can really set a look off to perfection.

For occasions where you aren't quite sure, ask your host or hostess what they think would be appropriate.  If other friends are attending, ask them what they are wearing to give you an idea of how to dress.  If you can't talk to anyone about it, opt for a conservative "in the middle look".   That's a no fail way to show up looking great without being too undone, or too overdone.

One of the biggest tips I'll leave you with is to always try on an outfit in plenty of time to see if it really works or not.  There have been several occasions where I've waited until the last minute and found out the look just doesn't work like I thought it would.  That left me rushing around to find the next best thing and that left me feeling a bit stressed and rushed.  So, even if you are quite sure it will look, try it on anyway.


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