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9 Ways to Dress Up or Down for Special Events

grayscale photo of woman walking near tree

It’s not as easy to dress up now than it was in the past. You can pair tailored blazers and sporty leggings with fancy blouses with vintage denim, or romantic dresses with leather jackets. Cleavage-baring tops have been replaced by exposed shoulders. Midis can be substituted for minis. Sandals and nude pantsyhose have replaced pumps and pantyhose. Tossing, donating, and cleaning out closets is done with a que sera, sera attitude. Then we look at our closets and panic: What should we wear to the next big RSVP? Relax.

1. Reunions from high school and college

This is your chance to meet up with old classmates. No one will care if your dress comes from Saks or Target. If you are wearing a designer label, or a bargain at the mall, it doesn’t matter. You should choose a “feel-good” outfit that you love in a fun color or print that will stand out from the crowd. If someone asks Stella where she is, the answer is “She’s the one wearing leopard” or “Look out for a striped gown.” Comfortable pull-on styles or wrap styles. You can dress up or down, or dress in if you want to add star power. Add fancy flats to your look. A small bag will keep your cell phone, lipstick, and breath mints close by.

2. For six, a cocktail party, rehearsal dinner, or alfresco lunch

These middle-of the-road celebrations are an opportunity to show off your style and try something new. A bare-shoulder midi may be appropriate depending on your location. You can also pair a statement top or a dazzling duster white ankle pants. You can wear your most bold costume jewelry, as well as a pair of fashionable slides or mules and get a pedicure.

3. Interview for a job

For a more confident outlook, even if you are interviewing online, try to put on a head-toe look. Your face and body language will reflect this confidence. To project power and confidence, you can’t go wrong with a neutral pants/blazer combination. For extra shine, frame your face with a white blouse or shirt underneath the blazer. If you are being called back for a second interview, or if the job is in fashion, retail, or public relations, a bright blazer, or a fitted-and-flare dress will make your face stand out. Keep the focus on your abilities and skills. Closed-toe shoes are best for desk-side interviews. A structured workbag is a must.

4. Summer weddings or elegant outdoor parties

It can be as fancy as you like, but the main issues are sweat, sunburn, and humidity. So forget about wearing anything constricting, even major shapewear, and don’t wear it. A graceful midi dress, with voluminous sleeves will let air circulate, camouflage a few extra pounds and make sitting crossed-leg perspiration proof. For grassy walks, add wedge sandals and keep sun protection in your bag.

5. Funeral, memorial, or celebration of life

You don’t have the time to wear your favourite zebra print blouse, or pastel dress, no matter how elegant. You can’t wear statement earrings, bangles and sneakers. The idea is to be quiet and low-key. A black skirt or pants outfit, or dark gray or navy if your wardrobe doesn’t include black, is the best choice. For funeral attendees, you may want to wear grass-proof closed-toe shoes. However, be aware that some ceremonies require attendees to wear joyful or white colors.

6. For a first date

This is an insta-date world, so it’s not necessary to say “He’ll need to call me by Tuesday for Saturday.” It takes just a casual coffee or a glass of wine to tell someone you like or dislike them online or to fix up with friends. White jeans always look great in summer. But it’s your top that will make you stand out. You will feel modern with a polished T-shirt or a striking blouse, or a classic tunic in a flattering color. Simply style your hair and add some blush or lipstick to your face.

7. A concert

It all depends on where, when, and what it is. Bluegrass or rock concerts in the park may be interpreted as jeans. But, an orchestrated evening with Brahms, opera at a theater, or a string quartet at your local center requires more polish. There is an easy solution – a stylish white blouse. For a sophisticated finish, slip on black ballet flats.

8. A pool or beach party

Many women are hesitant to accept this invitation because it implies a swimsuit. It really is? Not necessarily! You can wear a cover-up. You can also wear a grey Signaturesoft Tank Midi Dress in Balsam Green (or Black) with any black one-piece. You will look stylish and you won’t feel obligated to show any more than what you choose, unless you wish.

9. A sports event

Many outdoor days involve a mix of clothes that are not very stylish or are too uncomfortable to wear for long hours on the sidelines, in the bleachers or on a boat. Do yourself a favor, and put together a look that you can wear to any event, such as a ballgame, a sailing party, or a match on the golf course. Lightweight slip-on sneakers are a good choice. Next, add capris for full coverage. Or pull-on Bermuda-length denim shorts. For chill prevention, add a tee or a lightweight sweatshirt.

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