How to dress for a garden party

Written by jules halliday | 13/05/2017
How to dress for a garden party
The Queen hosts an annual garden party at Buckingham Palace. (WPA Pool/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

Unlike a barbecue, garden parties tend to be more sophisticated and formal. Knowing what to wear to a garden party can be confusing, particularly with the unpredictable weather in the UK. If you are hosting a garden party, eliminate the guesswork of your guests by including a dress code on the invitation. If you are trying to decide on what to wear, there are a few simple steps to help you look stylish.

Read the invitation. Check if there is a dress code included. If it says formal, men should wear a suit and tie. Ladies will be expected to wear smart clothing similar to what you would choose to wear to a wedding reception or to the races. A tea dress is often a popular choice. If it says informal or smart/casual, choose a more relaxed look such as a maxi-dress or trousers and a smart top.

Call your host if there is no dress code on the invitation. Ask what they would deem appropriate attire.

Choose footwear suitable for outside. It is likely that you will be walking or standing on grass or uneven surfaces. Ladies should choose flat shoes or wedges. Avoid a stiletto or kitten heel.

Consider the weather. It may be sunny during the day but temperatures will drop in the evening. Take a cardigan, light jacket or pashmina to avoid feeling cold.

Remember that you are in the UK. Take an umbrella with you just in case there's a downpour.


Ensure your outfit is comfortable and you can move easily in it.

Tips and warnings

  • Ensure your outfit is comfortable and you can move easily in it.

Things you need

  • Garden party invitation
  • Formal or informal clothing
  • Shoes suitable for grass and uneven surfaces
  • Light cardigan, jacket or pashmina
  • Umbrella

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