Reviewed & updated: March 28, 2023 by Jamie Wilson BA
Engagement parties are a wonderful celebration and a great place to show off your style, but what to wear to an engagement party can feel like a bit of a minefield.
Weddings place a lot of stress on the outfits, both for the happy couple and for guests, and the pre-wedding events are no different. With dress codes ranging from cocktail to beach to white to casual, it can be a challenge to fit the dress code and look stylish at the same time.
Depending on the engagement party, you could go for a dressed-up cardigan, a classic grey suit or jeans and a blazer. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to engagement party style, as long as you feel comfortable and confident, and respect the wishes of the happy couple. However cryptic the dress code might seem, we’ve got you covered.
1. What should a guy war to his engagement party?
Engagement ceremonies can be stressful, but you can have an eye-catching outfit for the party, while still looking as sharp as ever for your actual wedding day. A lot of guys tend to wear pastels, such as a funky tie paired with a pale blue oxford shirt. If you’re having your engagement in the summer opt for boat shoes and some cool khakis dress pants. Navy color is also always bulletproof, doesn’t matter if you’re having your engagement party during daytime or for a formal dinner.
2. Is it rude to wear white to an engagement party?
Although engagement outfits can vary, you should still pay close attention to universal engagement party dress codes: never wear white, and don’t look better than the groom or bride. Always tone it down and have respect towards these two if you’re a guest. But if you’re the one getting married go crazy with your cocktail attire!
3. What should you not wear to an engagement party?
This all comes down to your personal preference and going for something that you will feel comfortable in. Aside from not wearing white, make sure that you also avoid pale pink and champagne colors, even if they are pastel colours. Try to stay away from wool fabric since it will feel tight and uncomfortable, but do bring a jacket in case it gets too cold, especially if it is a backyard type of event. In the end, think about traditional cocktail parties and simple engagement party outfit ideas to pull off the perfect look.
Top 5 Best Cocktail Engagement Party Ideas
1. Casual Engagement Party Outfits
Casual for an engagement party definitely doesn’t mean a hoodie and a baggy t-shirt. You can wear jeans or chinos, but dress it up with a button-up shirt or a t-shirt and blazer combo. Accessorising well is key to any casual outfit, but particularly for an event like an engagement party. If you feel like you’re too casual, don’t be afraid to dress it up with a casual waistcoat, a necklace, or even a hat if it’s outdoors (think wide-brimmed pork pie hat, not a baseball cap).
Similarly, shoes are an easy way to dress an outfit up or down. If you’re wearing a more tailored look, wear a sleek pair of white trainers to balance it out. Alternatively, if you’ve chosen more casual jeans and a t-shirt, think about a pair of deck shoes or brogues to dress it up.
2. Mastering Smart Casual
Smart casual is a notoriously unclear dress code with wild variations on what is expected of you. Engagement party smart casual is no different. If you want to wear a suit, keep it on the casual side. Avoid wearing a tie or bow-tie, as this will look too formal. Choose a cool cotton shirt you might not wear to the office – something in a fun print or colour, or something short-sleeved are always great options.
We suggest you take pieces from a suit and pair it with more casual pieces for the perfect smart-casual balance. For example, if it’s hot, wear your suit trousers with a button up shirt but no blazer or jumper. Keep the neck open and consider wearing a necklace as a stylish extra detail. If it’s cooler, opt for a shirt and tie with a jumper over the top. This can be styled either with smart jeans or tailored trousers, and a trusty pair of chelsea boots or desert boots.
3. The Cocktail Party
Cocktail parties are probably the most common format of an engagement party. It will often be hosted at a venue, such as a restaurant, country house or hall. If there is a dress code on the invitation, it will likely be ‘smart’, ‘semi-formal’ or (unhelpfully) just have ‘cocktail party’ as the dress code. While it’s simpler for women to get in some high heels and a formal cocktail dress code, for men it’s a little less clear.
If it’s an autumn or winter wedding, you can wear a darker coloured suit. But remember, above all an engagement party is a celebration, so keep your look fun and add a pop of colour.
4. A Party With A Theme
It’s becoming more and more common for couples to have a themed engagement party. People tend to get creative and save the formal dress for the wedding and make the night really memorable. If there’s a theme, it will definitely be mentioned on the invite, so make sure you have a close read of what the couple want. While themed dress can get more complicated it’s also a great opportunity to get creative and wear something you wouldn’t usually go for. This can be in form of bright colors such as neon, tangerine, or all-black looks, while some parties will demand that you show up in smooth silk combinations.
There is only one rule for themed engagement parties: respect the theme. Some men aren’t fancy dress fans, which is absolutely fine, but if it’s what the couple wants you have to respect that. So give it a go – who knows, you might even have fun with it!
5. Dress Code: Unspecified
Many couples now choose not to set a specific dress code for their engagement party. Or, they’ll say something like ‘Be Yourself!’. While it’s admirable that couples want their guests to feel comfortable and not be constrained in their choice of outfit, this can also make it difficult to know where to start. Many women will simply wear their favorite party silhouette dress, while guys will struggle to find the balance between too casual and too formal. As we’ve said, there are a few contextual cues you can use to make sure you’re in the right ballpark.
The Perfect Engagement Party Outfit
The key to the perfect outfit for any engagement party is context. Think about the venue, the season and what the couple are generally like. If it’s a smarter venue, dress smarter to match. Engagement parties hosted at home, at a pub or in a garden are likely to be more casual. The heat of summer calls for suits in lighter colours and fabrics, so think about finding one in linen. Whereas winter engagement parties allow for dressed up jumpers and cardigans.
No matter the dress code, think about colours and accessories wisely. It’s a celebration after all, so try to add a pop of colour to your engagement party outfit. Above all else, make sure you feel confident and comfortable, and you’ll look great while having a ton of fun.