What Do You Wear to a Cookout at the Park?

Whether you’re hosting or attending, a cookout at the park calls for comfortable summer apparel. We’ve put together a guide to help you decide the right outfit to wear for your next outdoor summer barbecue.

Dress for the Weather

The first thing to consider when choosing an outfit for a park cookout is the weather. While it’s likely to be pleasant, there may be a breeze or a chance of showers. Prepare for any possibility by packing a lightweight sweater or rain jacket in your bag. Packable jackets are compact enough to fit in a large handbag or tote, or even in the glove compartment or center console of your vehicle. Layering your clothing is another way to ensure comfort—for example, you could layer a lightweight button-down over a fitted cotton tank top. If it gets too hot, tie the button-down around your waist or fold it and tuck it into your bag.

Choose Sun-Protection Fabrics

Even if the forecast calls for cooler temperatures, sun protection clothing is a good idea for a cookout at the park. UV rays can still penetrate cloud cover, and the sun protection apparel at Lands’ End delivers UPF 50+ for covered areas. There’s even a wide selection of sun protection swimwear for the whole family, along with beach cover-ups for added protection. While not every cookout includes swimming, there are some parks that do have a swimming pool. You could swim in the morning before the cookout or take a dip afterwards.

Look for Stain-Resistant Finishes

The last thing you want to worry about at a cookout is staining your clothes. Spills happen, which is why it’s a good idea to choose women’s summer tops with stain-resistant finishes. There are cotton and polyester shirts that have these finishes, and some of them are also wrinkle-resistant with antimicrobial properties. All of these features are a plus when choosing what to wear to a cookout.

When shopping for cotton or cotton-blend apparel, you can’t go wrong with Supima cotton, which is grown in the USA. There are Supima cotton T-shirts, sweaters, and even bedding—all of which are soft, sturdy, and colorfast. This cotton species’ long-staple fiber is twice as durable as regular cotton, so items hold shape longer even after plenty of wear and laundering.

Should You Wear Shorts, a Skirt, or a Dress?

There are multiple outfit ideas to consider when dressing for a cookout. Shorts, a skirt, or a dress are all appropriate park-cookout wear, depending on your personal style preferences. There are different ways to style each piece for a casual day at the park; for example, you could pair women’s Bermuda shorts or even capri pants with a sleeveless mock neck or another blouse style. A jersey-knit midi skirt with a T-shirt is another outfit possibility, or you could wear a floaty maxi dress if boho-inspired looks are your summer go-to. Sleeveless maxi dresses come in summery colors and lightweight fabrics, and they’re a summer classic that’s also right on-trend.

The Best Shoes for Cookouts

Casual, comfortable footwear is a must when it comes to cookout attire. If you’re the sneaker type, lace up some white canvas low-tops with lightweight ankle socks. Or slip into boat shoes or loafers for comfort and business-casual style that’s also cookout-worthy. Women’s sandals are another always-stylish summer shoe. There are plenty of sandal styles to choose from, including flat-soled walking sandals and heeled wedge sandals. Either style complements midi and maxi dresses, skirts, shorts, and capri pants with any summer top you choose.

Accessorize Your Outfit

For a cookout at the park, keep accessories minimal and light. Functional pieces—such as a sun hat and sunglasses—can tie your outfit together and protect against UV rays. Your bag can also be a useful accessory; choose a handbag in a summer color or natural fiber for a breezy look. Or opt for a cotton canvas tote, which is versatile enough for almost any casual summer event and large enough for all your warm-weather essentials—such as beach towels, sunblock, and even a change of clothes.

What to Pack in Your Tote

Show up prepared to the cookout with a tote or oversized handbag filled with essentials. Cards, cash, and keys are a must, along with sunscreen and a compact mirror. Even if there are drinks provided at the cookout, it can’t hurt to tuck a filled water bottle in your bag, either. If you’re attending a cookout, it’s good etiquette to bring the host a small gift. You might also want to bring a side dish or dessert to contribute to the cookout spread.

There aren’t any fashion rules to follow when it comes to dressing for a cookout at the park, so choose what makes you feel best. Try on different outfits to find your favorite casual summer outfits.


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