Engagement party outfits are among the trickiest to put together for a wedding-guest-to-be. Of course, finding the perfect outfit for the big day can take some trawling, but there’s comfort in the fact that the general rules are well established. Be careful with white, don’t upstage the bride, keep things classy—and so on. The hen party is pretty self-explanatory, too.
But the engagement party is where things tend to get hazy. Dress codes can be wholly dependent on the venue or nature of the shindig—is it a garden party? A sit-down dinner in a nice restaurant? You probably wouldn’t wear the same outfit to both. So to help you out, and because by the time the festive period is over we’ll all likely have a few friends with rings on their fingers, we’ve pulled together a few of our own “rules” when it comes to planning the perfect engagement party outfit.
Keep scrolling for your complete guide on what to wear to an engagement party—every single time.
#1. Check the Dress Code
If there’s a theme or a set dress code for the party, it’ll usually say so on the invitation. Be sure to check, as there’s little worse than turning up to an elegant black-and-white ball in a hot pink mini. If there’s nothing to suggest a dress code, it’s best to take the venue as your cue. But if in doubt, it’s worth asking the bride-to-be—or opting for the classic LBD.
#2. Cocktail Attire Rarely Fails
Whether the invite states “cocktail party” or is just plain vague, we’d suggest deferring to traditional cocktail attire rules. We’ve got a whole guide prepared on what to wear to a cocktail party, but to summarise: Go for an elegant mini or midi dress, smart trousers are fine too, and remember that chic accessories are make-or-break.
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#3. Remember That It’s the Pre-Party
Don’t treat this like the main event and go all out, because when it comes to the actual wedding, you’ll be even more stuck for outfit ideas. Remember that is the gentle warm-up—the “pre-party,” if you will. A midi dress is always a safe bet—look for elegant fabrics like silk and velvet, or a classic print.
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#4. Don’t Upstage the Bride
As with all wedding-related events, this rule certainly applies. Following on from the point above, you don’t want to go OTT and become the centre of attention. So if you’re good friends with the bride-to-be, find out what she’s wearing and bear than in mind. If in doubt, steer clear of anything that looks too “bridal,” as it’s considered traditional to wear white to your own engagement party.
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#5. “Informal” Doesn’t Mean “Totally Casual”
More relaxed weddings are on the increase, but if your invitation to the engagement party describes the dress code as “informal,” still err on the smarter side of caution. Don’t wear jeans, opt for chic flats if you’re not wearing heels, and use statement accessories to keep things feeling “put together.” It’s still a special occasion after all, so look like you’ve put some effort in.
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If it's your own engagement party...
Though it's traditional for a bride-to-be to wear white to the engagement party, don't feel tied to that—it's a fairly loose 'rule'. This is your chance to set the tone for the big day, so if you've already got ideas about the theme or feel, take your cue from that and let it inspire your look.
The most important thing to remember, however, is that this your party and you can what you like! That said, remember that there'll likely be lots of family in attendance, and also that Beckham-inspired matching outfits often end in regret.