When summer comes, we’ll make any excuse to host or attend an outdoor event. A garden party is one such event that is growing in popularity. Garden parties gained popularity among royalty in 1860s England when Queen Victoria wanted a reason to mingle with the upper class. They typically took place in the royal gardens and involved tea, biscuits, and small bites. You don’t need to be upper-class to attend a garden party these days, but you can certainly look the part.
Whether you call it a garden party, barbecue, picnic, or backyard get-together, an outdoor party is a great occasion for slipping into your favorite summer dress. Even better, you can use it as an excuse to buy a new one. Here are some ideas to keep in mind as you choose a dress for your next garden party.
The fabric your dress is made of is just as important as the look of the dress itself. After all, if you’re wearing a dress that doesn’t match the weather conditions, you’ll be uncomfortable and it could show. Outdoor events—especially garden parties—require attention to detail when it comes to the weather forecast. It could be humid, cloudy, or scorching hot. Or you can get all those types of weather within a few hours. The weather could change at the drop of a hat, so be sure to dress light and have layers ready.
An outdoor event, especially in the summer, is ideal. Consider breathable, lightweight fabrics like cotton or linen. Keep in mind that synthetics might be too warm, but synthetic/cotton blends are OK for summer. There are many different styles of cotton summer dresses that will keep you looking and feeling cool, including shirt dresses, A-line dresses, maxi dresses, and more.
You might want to have two dresses in mind in case the weather takes a turn at the last minute. For example, if there’s rain in the forecast, your party may end up indoors. And that flowy light dress won’t look as fabulous as it would have with the sun hitting it and the flowers blooming in the background. If that’s the case, it’s perfectly fine to meet in the middle and wear something that is light and breezy and warm and cozy. Try a cute cardigan or knit top with a lightweight, long, flowy women’s skirt. It can also be cute to wear a pair of leather ankle boots with a long printed dress or skirt, as the contrast between rugged leather and delicate flowers can look quite stylish.
Even on perfect days, there could be a cold breeze or a quick rain shower that comes out of the blue. Or you might end up having so much fun at your outdoor party that you decide to stay past sunset when the temperature dips. Have a women’s cardigan on hand so you can stay warm and continue to look amazing. It’s even more useful if it has pockets, so you don’t have to carry a purse for your keys and cellphone.
Another option, depending on the formality of your garden party, is a solid-colored flannel that wraps nicely around your waist when you don’t need it, but will be at the ready when it gets chilly. Plus, it can add a stylish but casual look to the ensemble if you’re worried that your favorite dress is a little too dressy.
Spring and summer beg for color, especially after a long winter. Match your garden party dress to the weather by dressing in colors that match your surroundings. If you’re going to be in a park surrounded by lots of green, choose a color that complements it, like yellow or any flower-colored outfit. In contrast, if you’re not certain what the environment will be like, choose whatever dress you like best. If it’s made of light materials and marketed as a summer dress, chances are you’ll look great regardless. Florals are safe bets for the most part too.
A shawl or scarf is an even fancier option than a cardigan or a women’s spring jacket when it comes to keeping warm during changing weather. Shawls are typically triangular in shape and are meant to be loosely wrapped around the shoulders. Scarves can be worn similarly, but are even more versatile as they can be styled in different ways using a variety of different knots.
Keeping the weather in mind, you may want to plan for more than just the dress you wear to a garden party. If it is predicted to be very hot and sunny, for example, you might want to consider a wide-brimmed hat and some sunglasses. And if you want to keep some sunscreen on hand or spritz yourself with some cool rose water, a stylish purse will be convenient, providing it is comfortable to carry and not too big.
If a garden party is in your future, you’re bound to look and feel amazing in a summer dress that celebrates the season in style.