One of your friends, family members, or co-workers just got engaged, and they've invited you to celebrate the exciting news at their engagement party. Since this event is less formal than a wedding, you may be wondering what you should wear. According to Nicole Russo, stylist and founder of Let's Get You, engagement parties are tricky to dress for because, unlike the big day itself, formality is often unclear and can range anywhere from super casual to black-tie. "The key is to dress more elevated than any regular night out, but not as fancy as you would for the wedding," she says. "Don't be afraid to glam it up a bit, but avoid going full black-tie unless required."
Here, the essential dos and don'ts of dressing for an engagement party.
Do: Consider the time of day.
Whether the engagement party you're invited to is in the morning, afternoon, or evening will determine the type of dress you should wear. "Daytime events tend to be less formal, with evening events supporting more formal attire," explains Lindsey Sachs, a wedding planner and owner of COLLECTIVE/by Sachs. For events that transition from daytime to evening, she recommends dressing in layers so that you're more prepared should the party become more or less formal over the course of the day.
Don't: Wear white.
Although it seems obvious, Russo reminds guests to avoid anything that reads as bridal—that means to leave your white, champagne, and pale pink dresses at home. "You never know what color variation the bride will wear and unless you can find out directly, opt out of taking the risk," she says.
Do: Assess the venue.
Unlike weddings, engagement parties are hosted in all sorts of venues, from restaurants to function halls and even fancy hotels. For engagement parties hosted at a public venue or restaurant, Sachs recommends taking a look at their website or Instagram profile to gather inspiration from others who have been there. "If you're unsure of what to wear, ask others attending the party and play it safe with neutral colors, or focus on adding a festive accessory," she adds.
If you're deciding between two outfits, one that's on the dressier side and one that might be too casual, always choose the dressier option. "You always want to be respectful to the couple by putting effort into planning your attire," reminds Sachs. "Don't assume casual attire for a backyard gathering or poolside party." When in doubt, check with friends or the couple in advance of the celebration.
Do: Dress according to theme.
If the engagement party invitation specifies a theme, make sure to play along! "There's likely a good reason for the theme and the couple will appreciate your enthusiastic participation," says Sachs. "Plus, themed attire makes for Instagram-worthy photos to share from the celebration." Often the theme is merely seasonal, so it's also wise to keep in mind the time of year.
Don't: Go overboard.
Remember that this day is about the bride and groom—it's not your opportunity to make a bold fashion statement. Sachs recommends vetting your outfit with a few friends if you're unsure of its appropriateness. "Don't make the mistake of getting too loud with your outfit so that you overshadow the happy couple," she says. "Find a happy balance with an outfit you feel confident in but that also looks appropriate."