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How to Make this Top Wardrobe Worry Disappear

As a fashion and wardrobe coach, I hear from my clients about the things that stress them out when it comes to getting dressed and the list is often very long. With spring wedding and graduation season upon us I thought this particular wardrobe stressor was appropriate to talk about right now. The good news is that the solution will serve you any time of the year.

Unaddressed the issue of what to wear to an event can make you feel ill at ease with yourself or worse, cause you to skip an event altogether. That’s something I never want you to experience. I want you to feel at ease with yourself and stress-free. Here are some ways to help you do that!

Question: “I’m worried about how I’ll look for an upcoming event, but I don’t even know where to begin!”

Events can be a bit tricky, as you are not only dressing for the event, you are dressing for the venue, the people, and the weather. Before you think about the specifics of an outfit, you have some homework to do.

Decipher Those Pesky Dress Codes

The first thing to do when starting to plan your look for an event is to study the invitation. Does it have a dress code on it alerting you to the type of outfit you should be wearing? Is the invitation design formal or informal? Every invitation holds clues for you. Do not stick the invitation in a drawer and forget about it until the day before. Last minute panic is never fun or helpful.

Of course, if you are now rolling your eyes at the ‘clues’ a recent invitation has given you I completely understand. While traditional, black tie, cocktail attire or semi-formal are still in use, it is not unusual for hosts to create their own dress codes. Some current popular dress codes are ‘farmhouse chic,’ ‘summertime soiree’ or the latest leader of the pack, ‘hipster chic.’ Yikes, when that’s all they give you to go on it can make you want to put on your pajamas and stay home!

The name of the game is research. If the event is a wedding, many brides and grooms have wedding websites and sometimes they give us all a break and decipher the dress codes for us. These people are your friends! For all the other dress codes, you can google them—you would be surprised at how detailed the descriptions for ‘Brooklyn Chic’ can be. Better yet, ask the host or hostess to give you more details. They will be delighted you are putting extra thought into their event and will be happy to offer suggestions.

Location, Location, Location

Be sure to learn all you can about the location of the event. Will the event be outdoors? If so, will you have to walk on grass or a beach? Time of day is important as well and can affect the dressiness of your outfit. Knowing what the weather will be like during the days you’ll be there or how the weather normally behaves during that time of year is crucial. Will you be cold or hot or both? Look at the venue’s website for photos of previous events held at this location. Even though you may be attending an event in a barn, you may see by the photos that elegant barn parties are the norm.

By researching these different factors you can more confidently figure out an outfit that you will feel comfortable wearing and one that would be appropriate for the setting as well. One rule of thumb: No matter what the event, it is always better, both out of respect for the hosts as well as how you will feel, to be slightly overdressed than under-dressed.

Three more important things:

  1. Plan ahead. This bears repeating…do not wait until the last minute to figure out what you are going to wear. Procrastination will only make the experience excruciating not to mention that if you shop out of desperation chances are good you will spend money on something you do not actually enjoy wearing.
  2. Pull it together. Of course, once you have all these details it means you have to create an outfit. Remember to consider all aspects of the outfit including shoes, handbag, jewelry and a wrap or sweater if needed. If this is for a dressy event it can be super helpful to have two or three dressy outfits in your closet complete and ready to be worn. Dressy clothes do not go out of style as quickly as more day-to-day clothing can so you can be prepared in advance and keep those outfits handy to wear over and over.
  3. Do a dress rehearsal. This especially important if you are planning to wear an outfit you haven’t worn before or one you’ve had in your closet but haven’t worn in a while. You don’t want any last minute surprises…for example, it has a stain from last time and you don’t have time to take it to the dry cleaner, you’ve gained or lost a few pounds and it no longer fits properly or the sweater you were going to wear with it looks dowdy when you actually have it on…just to name a few.

There are too many event possibilities (including weddings, office picnics, Bar Mitzvahs, evening parties by the pool, even movie premiers (as you’ll hear about below) not to mention location variations, weather concerns as well as time of day…phew!) for me to make any specific outfit suggestions here. This very quick ‘how to dress for a summer wedding’ video can start the process for you if you have an upcoming wedding to attend:

And, if you missed my‘30 Fashion Secrets to Inspire Your Imagination, Ignite your Inner Beauty and Revitalize Your Personal style’that I shared back in February this is the perfect time to use it to inspire you.

You can download it HERE.

If you are thoroughly diligent about your research and still come up blank, I would be happy to help tweak your look or build outfits for you so you never have to worry about feeling out of place at any event. I can help you decipher invitations to events so you could eliminate the stress of getting dressed for them. Or, help you build a wardrobe of outfits within your personal style formula that would be appropriate for different levels of events, like casual, formal, day or night. If you worry about how you come across to others, we can address that together so it’s no longer an issue for you. This is what I do for my clients to bring you ease and make the experience of attending an event more joyful rather than stressful.

Here is what Lisa had to say about dressing for a movie premier to which she was invited:

“Thank you for helping me plan what to wear to the movie premier. Before getting advice from you, I felt uncomfortable about going. Never having been to one, I had no idea what people wore. Thanks to your help, I felt amazing. I could just focus on enjoying the event and not waste time looking around, comparing myself to others and regretting that I hadn’t worn something different. I just wanted you to have an idea of how much your help is appreciated!”

And with proper planning you can have the experience Bobbi did:

“Last night I attended a going away party in downtown Boston. During the course of the evening, I was called upon to make an impromptu speech. The fact that I was able to casually walk to the front of the room, get up on the platform, take the microphone, and comfortably talk and get people laughing and clapping is due in no small part to the work I’ve done with you. Thank you!”

Whether you feel comfortable doing it for yourself or you need help, the important thing is to be prepared. If doing it yourself makes you feel exhausted before you even start, I’m here to help! If eliminating these worries for you feels like a dream come true, I invite you to set up an ‘I Need Styling Help’ call with me: and we will see what kind of support will make getting dressed for these events (or any time) easier for you.


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Ginger Burr is a fashion stylist and personal shopper serving clients worldwide from metro Boston.