From garden parties to galas, we've got you covered.
Getting dressed up to go out is a big chunk of what makes parties so much fun. Putting together party outfits is a chance to put your most extra foot forward, get mileage out of your fave statement pieces, and turn the volume on your current aesthetic obsession all the way up. Because party outfit ideas are (usually) only limited by your imagination and event venue or dress code, there’s a near-endless supply of fashion inspiration to add to your personal look book. With so many options to choose from, it’s a good idea to have a few outfits at the ready, and we’ve got the rundown on the pieces you should keep on hand in your wardrobe.
While types of parties are just as varied as the outfits you can wear to them, there are a few hard and fast party outfit fashion rules to keep front of mind. Time of day is a major factor to consider since a late-night party vibe is a world away from that of a daytime garden party or brunch affair. Likewise, the guest list should inform your look. Sultry ensembles with low-cut necklines and sky-high thigh-slits might slay at an adult birthday bash or cocktail lounge, while a family get-together or kid-friendly event likely calls for a more casual and conservative look.
You don't need totally separate party outfit wardrobes for day and night. In fact, you can make a single party piece work for day or night events by keeping color, layers, and accessories in mind. A sequined or metallic skirt, for example, can work for a daytime party if paired with neutral or pastel colors. The addition of an extra layer like a blazer or jacket is another way to tone down a party outfit staple. For nighttime, simply shed your top layers in favor of a cut-out top or bodysuit.
Whatever your social calendar calls for, we’ve got you covered with these 23 party outfit ideas.
A Sequin Set
Showpo founder and CEO Jane Lu swears by sequin two-piece sets. "If you’re a regular on the dance floor like myself, a matching sequin set is a must-have for a trendy nightclub or an evening fashion event," she shares. This party outfit idea is also a clever and versatile investment because, as Lu points out, "you can mix and match the top or bottom with other pieces in your wardrobe."
A Little Black Dress
"The versatility of a little black dress or LBD is unmatched," Awet Woldegebriel, founder and Creative Director of Áwet New York, tells InStyle. "Its understated yet elegant aesthetic exudes sophistication while still maintaining a sense of comfort and ease," he adds.
A Corset Top
"Lately I've been pairing masculine and feminine pieces together. for a party look that stands out," shares Rema Sweis of AKIRA, whose current contrasting pieces include a feminine corset top worn with with low-rise boyfriend jeans. "As they say," she adds, "opposites attract."
A Shift Dress
While getting ready for a party can be a fun and pampering experience, sometimes you need a look that's easy to throw together. For when you're in a rush, Diana LoMonaco, founder of Classic Six, has the perfect party outfit for you. "My easy-to-wear go-to for a party is a mini-shift dress," she tells InStyle. "Depending on the season, add knee-high snake boots or platform sandals, bold earrings, a clutch, and you're golden."
A Leather Shirt
If you're a lover of monochromatic looks, Woldegebriel suggests playing with tone and texture when party outfit planning. "Choose one color and create an outfit with different shades and textures of that color," he advises citing black pants and a contrasting leather top as the blueprint for a stylish and party-ready monochromatic look.
A Sparkly Statement Top
"A sparkly top is always a good idea," shares Sweis, who recommends adding simple pumps and straight-leg jeans for a daytime event or casual night out. "With some matching eyeshadow, you'll be good to go for girl's night or a first date," she adds.
A Glitzy Mini Bag
According to Lu, a mini-bag is the perfect party outfit accessory "for more intimate and sophisticated events." Look for a mini-bag with a metallic finish that's large enough to hold your essentials, like a lip gloss and even your phone, but small enough to stay out of the way at a cocktail soireé or dinner party.
Our experts agree that metallics are the way to go when looking for a pair of party outfit bottoms. Both pants and skirts can be dressed up or down depending on venue, so focus on footwear when putting a metallic ensemble together. Heels are great for a dinner party or night out, while flats work best for daytime events.
"I absolutely love a pair of earrings that are the final touch to any party night look," says Lu, who personally prefers statement earrings with a bit of movement, especially if you're headed to the dance floor. "My top tip is to always opt for earrings that swing or sparkle to steal the spotlight," she adds.
A Dramatic Maxidress
A floor-length maxidress might not strike you as a top choice daytime party outfit idea, but a fun print gives this party outfit a bit of lightness. Add a blazer on top for an added casual air and look for abstract prints and draped details that, according to Lu, let you "channel your inner red carpet star," without leaving you feeling overdressed.
A Statement Necklace
When accessorizing a party outfit, Woldegebriel recommends you "always incorporate a statement necklace," even if you're wearing a more casual 'fit. "These bold and eye-catching accessories have the power to transform an ordinary look into a show-stopping masterpiece," he says, while also suggesting you not shy away from experimenting with dramatic, vintage, or unconventional pieces.
A Showstopping Jumpsuit
A well-fitted jumpsuit in a sequin fabric is a party-outfit game-changer, according to Lu. "It's a one-piece wonder that exudes sophistication without the hassle of coordinating separates," she says.
When it comes to party outfits that are daytime-appropriate, but elegant — think morning events or fancy lunch occasions — silhouette is everything. Woldegebriel recommends a wide-leg pant: "Pairing them with a cozy sweater or crisp button-up shirt creates a casual vibe," he says.
A Blazer Dress
For a touch of sophistication, a blazer dress is an excellent choice, says Lu, who prefers to style this party outfit with "ankle boots or strappy heels for an edgy yet polished vibe." Lu also suggests this party outfit for post-work events. "I wear this straight from the office to dinner with my friends," says the expert.
If you're hoping to dress up casual separates or add a bit of edge to a formal look, Sweis recommends working a pair of rhinestone-studded boots into your party outfit. "You'll look trendy and fashion-forward, whether you're headed to a work event or dinner party," she adds.
A Fringe-Forward Set
If you're headed to a glamorous nighttime event that calls for dancing, you'll definitely want to consider picking a fringe skirt set for your party outfit, especially one with a bit of sparkle. Since this look features two pieces rather than one, you'll be able to dance the night away in comfort and style.
A Fringe Jacket
Similarly, you can't go wrong with a single layer of fringe. "Incorporating fringe through a dress, skirt, or jacket can create a playful and dynamic effect," says Lu.
What's one thing that Sweis firmly believes every party outfit could benefit from? "Rhinestones. Always, every time." An elegant embellished top or dress works best for formal affairs, but if you're headed for a night out on the town, she suggests rhinestone-studded jeans as a more casual and unexpected alternative.
A Statement Clutch
For an elegant night out, Lu recommends adding a mid-sized statement shoulder bag or clutch with eye-catching embellishments or a unique shape to your party outfit. When adorned to the nines, a bag of this size "strikes the ideal balance between style and practicality."
Full-Length Sequin Gown
If you're headed to a formal or late-night event, LoMonaco says floor-length sequins are fail-safe. "You can dress this party outfit idea down with a tailored blazer or a button-down shirt tied at the waist, or amp up the sparkle with glittering accessories."
A Tailored Varsity Jacket
You don't have to glitter or sparkle to slay a party look, especially if dresses or skirts aren't in your repertoire. In fact, "when considering your outfit, remember that simplicity and quality often make a louder statement than going over the top," says Woldegebriel.
A Crisp Button-Down
"A crisp white or black dress shirt is a timeless and versatile option that can be dressed up with a scarf around the neck and blazer or dressed down with rolled-up sleeves," says Woldegebriel of this understated party outfit essential. A button-down works exceptionally well with sequined statement pieces as well as full-length dresses that need a casual finishing touch.
A Tulle Skirt
When it comes to creating a unique party outfit, Sweis is a fan of creating contrast as much as possible. "Take pieces that are complete opposites and pair them together," she suggests. A flouncy tulle skirt certainly contrasts with many other items that run the gamut from casual to formal. Pair it with a graphic tee and combat boots for a night out on the town or a blazer for an intimate dinner party.
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Read the original article on InStyle.