I was a guest at a cocktail party a few weekends ago and noticed that almost every woman there was wearing white jeans (of various lengths) topped by a tunic/chemise/kaftan. I felt like I was attending a themed costume party or a middle school dance.
My lack of uniform made me feel conspicuous, until one woman mentioned to me that she found it so hard to get dressed for a party that didn’t have a defined dress code…which tends to be the norm at summer get-togethers. How DO you dress so that you are festive but not over done, casual enough to not upstage the vibe but still look like you made an effort? The beauty of white jeans and a “top” for summer cocktails is that you can’t go wrong. The jeans take everything down a notch and the top can be flirty and festive and out there without making you feel like you’re wearing a reindeer sweater to the office holiday party. It’s a safe outfit, and if you happen to be hitting up an outdoor restaurant for dinner afterwards, you know you’re covered (so to speak) when the sun dips down and the cool night breezes blow.
But if you are bored by the “same outfit different party” sartorial drudgery, it is possible to take things up a notch while still ascribing to the “island formal/summer swanky” vibe that prevails at most events between Memorial and Labor Days.
How about a metallic or beaded skirt with a T-shirt or men’s button-down… The shimmer of the fabric says party while the routine and comfort of a T-shirt or oxford keeps things casual in an “I woke up like this” way. Or vice-versa: try a fancier or shinier shirt paired with something day-to-day like a cotton or canvas skirt.
If skirts aren’t your thing, trade your white jeans for a floaty, silk(y) wide leg or palazzo pant paired with a casual shirt or tube top (yes, you read that correctly, T U B E top…just make sure it covers your midriff and your girls are adequately supported with a strapless bra) and a cardigan or daring necklace that everyone will notice. Sleeveless tends to be more casual than covered up, and a drape-y fabric makes you feel relaxed – exactly what you want to do for summer cocktails.
Maxi dresses are another good choice for the evening get-together. Trendy, comfortable, capable of hiding a multitude of sins, they are the ultimate go-to item when you need to look pulled together but just don’t have the energy or where-with-all to get dressed and out the door. Best of all, even the most casual of jersey cotton maxi dresses can look just right at an after sunset gathering, so theoretically you can go from beach to nap to party without changing your clothes.