Reviewed & updated: October 19, 2022 by Jamie Wilson BA
Choosing what to wear to a party can be a lot trickier than it first appears. Knowing the type of event you’re attending is extremely important. Here’s how to dress for a party.
What To Wear To a Formal Party
Black tie is at the high end of men’s formal party clothes. The good news is that the tuxedo, though sometimes expensive, is actually an effortlessly stylish dress code to nail, encompassing a single-breasted dinner jacket, tailored black trousers, crisp white dress shirt, hi shine leather shoes (a court shoe or oxfords) and, of course, a black dickie bow. And, on the note of expense, even if you wear it only a couple of times a year, a well-made dinner suit is timeless and could last you a decade or more, so think of it as an investment.
As with white tie, the key here is to keep it classic: stick with traditional colours – black or midnight navy only – and go for a self-tie bow tie if you can. It may take some time to master the actual tying, but you will feel oh-so-suave when you can hang it loosely round your neck at the end of the night: much more James Bond than school prom.
What To Wear To a Casual Party: Men’s Party Wear
Party Outfits for Guys
The key to cracking a casual dress code is deciphering what kind of ‘casual’ your host means. A party in a smarter setting – a fancy family home, a wine bar – will require a classier kind of casual than a party at the pub or on the beach, for example.
The good news is that men’s casual party clothes do not include a tuxedo or tie, so leave your formal finery at home. The bad news – depending on how you look at it – is that party clothes for men is the perfect opportunity to express yourself and demonstrate what a well-groomed guy you are. No pressure!
Just because the function might be relaxed, doesn’t mean you should let your style slide. Sure, a casual dress code generally means anything goes, but – since you’re attending a party – you still need to put in some effort with your outfit and appearance. Here are the top men’s casual party clothes looks.
In most cases, a garden party or BBQ is an informal gathering of friends, so you shouldn’t need to sweat too much about your outfit choice. This said, an outdoor occasion is obviously at the mercy of the elements, so be sure to check the forecast for the day of the party as the weather can have an impact on your attire.
For a daytime event, chino shorts or coloured khakis are a winner when the weather plays ball. On top, wear a well-fitted polo or stylish shirt – we dig lightweight denim for a sharp but laidback vibe. Smart sneakers or fashionable sandals will finish off the outfit with aplomb, and do remember a jacket in case it gets cold.
If the garden party takes place in the evening, a t-shirt, thin woollen sweater, plus a pair of dark jeans is ideal. A pair of loafers or boat shoes will keep the outfit summery but slick. Accessorise with a belt, watch and/or bracelet if you fancy, though all are optional: in our opinion, less is more.
For all the fun in the sun, you can’t beat a beach party. And, best of all, style rules are relaxed at the seaside. Which isn’t to say you should rock up in your most radical Hawaiian shirt – this is still a party, and ‘ironic’ is not an excuse – but you can be more carefree than you might be in town.
For a sun-soaked daytime affair, prints, patterns and bold colours are de rigour. Just don’t go overboard. Match a plain tee with vibrant shorts, or vice versa. And don’t forget the accessories: sunglasses and hats are as practical as they are stylish.
What To Wear To a Dinner Party
Dinner parties are amongst our favourite sort of social occasion: good food (at least when we’re not cooking, ahem), lively conversation, and free-flowing booze. But what are appropriate dinner party outfits for guys?
Smart Dinner Party
If your host has requested that you dress smartly – often known as cocktail attire – then they will be expecting you to wear a suit of sorts. Mid grey and darker dyed suits are most appropriate for the evening, although you could opt for a khaki coloured suit if the event takes place during the day. Wear with a slim fit shirt in a plain, light colour, leather dress shoes and a matching belt if you want to stick with the classics (just don’t wear your work clothes: invest in a party suit that is slicker and sharper).
Unlike the more formal white tie and black tie, however, a dinner party dress code does leave some room for interpretation. Whilst you should stick with a suit as the foundation for your outfit, you don’t necessarily need to be traditionally turned out. How about replacing a shirt with a turtleneck sweater, for example? Choose a roll neck in a dark, neutral colour – black works, though darker blues and maroons are less severe – and layer a blazer over it for a not-too-dressy, not-too-casual take on cocktail wear. Or why not replace suit trousers with smart jeans (dark, not light) for a meticulous medium? Ideal if you’re unsure about the dress code.
Casual Dinner Party
Many dinner party invitations arrive without a dress code, which means you’re free to wear whatever you want. This gives you the opportunity to choose an outfit that reflects your personality – however, a word of warning: if you’re being treated to dinner and drinks, no matter how relaxed and informal the setting, you should not turn up looking as if you’ve just rolled out of bed. A party is still a party, and a certain level of grooming is expected.
In our opinion, the very best men’s casual party clothes start and end with a stylish top. For a laidback affair, a slim fit tee – V-neck or crew neck as you prefer – is perfect. There ain’t no shame in keeping things simple! Throw on your favourite pair of dark denim jeans or some wide-legged chinos for a comfortable but classic finish. Just be sure they’re not tatty or distressed: no dress code calls for beer-stained slacks that you ripped accidentally. Finish with a jacket – leather or bomber – and you’re good to go.
What To Wear To a Dance Party
When the weekend rolls around, you probably mean business. Party business. But it can be pretty tricky knowing what to wear to a dance party when you want to dress to impress without looking like you made an effort.
There’s nothing quite like getting blotto at your pal’s pad, but you don’t want to spend your weekend worrying about what to wear. That said, you want to be a high-impact player who other party goers make a beeline for, rather than the spare part in the corner. The key here is not to step out of your comfort zone: a relaxed rig maketh a relaxed man.
Go for something that is slightly more fitted, and slightly more special, than your ordinary everyday wear: a well-cut polo or tee, plus skinnies and sneakers, should do the trick. Layer it up with a denim shirt or biker jacket in case of any illicit outdoor liaisons.
As we all know a rave can get messy. However, this is no excuse to drop all pretence of style and dive straight into raving attire. Keep it casual but sleek. Put on a pair of kicks (preferably not white as they don’t withstand moshpits) and opt for dark jeans or chinos. A slim fit tee on top works well, but avoid anything that will show up obvious sweat patches. Add a statement jacket to tie the outfit together, just please remember to put it in the cloakroom; shoe prints on jackets aren’t a nice surprise come morning.
Pre-drinks, Pubs and Anything That Follows…
If your Saturday night starts (and ends) at a club, you need to make sure you feel comfortable and confident. Good fitting jeans with a statement t-shirt and trendy shoes (we love a Chelsea boot) looks cool, as does a casual shirt with sleeves rolled up and 2-3 buttons left undone. Just be sure you’ve chosen material that breathes: nothing ruins a look like sweat patches. Seriously.
How to Dress for a Party
- First and foremost, understand the occasion
- Go through your wardrobe and buy the essentials
- Co-ordinate your outfit
- Lastly, be comfortable! There is nothing worse than not feeling like yourself at a party
On That Note
Being invited to a party is a privilege and should not be spoiled by the headache of deciphering a dress code. With a little bit of know how (and this cut-out-and-keep crib sheet), your next social soiree should be less panic at the disco, more dapper at the disco. Party on.
Feature image from Pinterest