Party Dress Code
From an 80s-themed rager to an elegant New Year’s Eve ball, the key to dressing for a party is to wear what you’ll have the most fun for the night.
For the ladies
Study the invitation, ask the host or hostess, and match your outfit to the occasion. For a casual birthday party at a friend’s house, a cute top and jeans could be fine. (But there are few parties, it seems to us, where a dress isn’t just a little more fun.) For an elegant occasion at a fancypants spot, you’ll want to opt for formal attire. Unless the party is very late and very, very formal, keep the cleavage modest. But have fun with your jewelry and accessories, and don’t forget a cute bag.
For the guys
Same deal for you, guys: do your best detective work regarding the tone of the party, and don’t show up to a fancy soirée in jeans and a baseball cap. If you’re wearing a button-down shirt, this is the time to bust out the more adventurous colors (like purple, if you can pull it off) and patterns (within reason). That way you’ll be dressed up without looking like you just came from the office. If it’s a dressy party, this is a great time to bring the jacket-with-no-tie moves.
Rules of Thumb
- If the party is at someone’s home, be prepared to be asked to take off your shoes when you come in. Plan ahead for this by avoiding fishnet stockings or those socks from junior high that are mostly holes by now.
- Don’t forget a little perfume or cologne to complete your outfit. Just don’t go crazy with it. It should be pleasant but not overwhelming.
- Whatever kind of party you’re going to, think about what you might need and plan ahead. Bring a swimsuit and clean underpants to a pool party, a sweater for a barbeque that starts in the afternoon and goes till evening.
- Wear shoes that are festive but comfortable. You want to party it up with your friends, not keep thinking about your feet.
- You can’t predict other people’s thermostats, so dress in layers. Then you’ll be prepared for any idiosyncratic-climate-control eventuality.