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It’s that time of year again. Invitations are flooding in and with them an array of dress codes, settings and eventualities to navigate. Take the hassle out of finding an outfit and be the best-dressed guest while you’re at it with our guide to the pieces that will work for every occasion – black-tie optional. 

dressing for success

womenswear edit

Free of complications, the right dress will take you everywhere – from race day to the wedding of the year. Summer offers a prime opportunity to play with print – embrace new iterations of the polka dot or bold stripes cast in crisp cotton. Dresses aren’t your thing? Alternatives like a well-cut jumpsuit or midi skirt offer unexpected flair.

Next, you’ll need accessories to go with that. Event footwear is a tricky step to navigate, but practicality is key; a block or wedge heel will see you through grass and gravel, while a point-toe flat will prove to look equally polished and ensure you’re the last one standing. Likewise, a bag that can be dressed up or down will carry you through your social calendar; worn on the shoulder or cross-body, a chain-strap performs for galas and garden parties alike.

Top it all off with tailoring – ever a trusty companion for your entrance through to the evening chill. Far from stuffy, this season’s pastel blazers offer a fresh elegance when shrugged off the shoulder. Finally, don’t forget the transformative power of the finer details. Adopt statement earrings accessorised with swept-back hair and no one would ever know it’s that dress’ second outing.

one suit, so many ways

menswear edit

While a tuxedo at a black-tie event is non-negotiable, other occasions allow you to exercise more discretion – particularly in the heat of the season. A formal affair calls for a grey or navy suit paired with a proper dress shirt. While the choice of a brogue, loafer or Derby is yours, a round toe never goes out of fashion.

If your invitation reads ‘casual’, act accordingly. It's summer, after all, so eschew inky hues for a palatable powder blue or experiment with lighter textures like breezy linens – a smart choice when dealing with balmy temperatures. Alternatively, introduce some laidback additions to your tailoring, like a white t-shirt and pristine trainers to match. A return to darker suiting is your best bet here – classic black teamed with casual touches strikes the ideal balance.

Still stumped by the dress code? Choose a shirt with a collar that works with and without a tie, accompanied by a jacket. This gives you the option to remove one or both elements should you find yourself too overdressed, allowing you to focus your attention on having a great time.

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