Think about each event and plan your outfits in advance – this will give you time to go shopping and avoid any last minute panic purchases. Mix and match key pieces, and don’t be worried about wearing an outfit to more than one event (as long as you are socialising with different sets of colleagues or friends). Check dress codes and read the small print; some traditional events can be strict on details such as hem-lengths and hats.
Avoid being over or underdressed by conferring with friends and colleagues about what they are planning to wear. For public events, utilise your resources – website photos, social media posts – to see what other people have worn in previous years. For private occasions such as parties, you can always check with the hosts to make sure you are getting it right. Remember, however, it is usually best to be on the smarter side rather than turning up underdressed for the occasion.
Every year we hope for a scorching summer, yet there are always times when we have to suffer our unpredictably inclement weather. Make sure you will be warm enough, especially towards the end of the day or evening. It is more elegant to remove a layer (e.g. jacket, wrap or cardigan) than stand shivering in the cold. Some seasoned socialites wear thermals under lighter summer outfits to maintain their seasonal style while avoiding the chill.
Footwear should be practical yet stylish, and suitable for the occasion. Think about underfoot surfaces, how long you may be standing for and the distance you might have to walk (remember hidden extras such as walking to and from a station, or standing for speeches etc.). Opt for something elegant but durable (no sinking stilettos in grass), and make sure you can wear them for a long period of time without hobbling (cue emergency pumps in your handbag).
Entertaining clients at the races? Glamorous invitation to the polo? Sophisticated evening at a country house opera? Once you have your outfit sorted, do some research about the event. For example, read a brief history of the venue, look into the basic rules of the game, check out the favourites or read the plot. You will turn up feeling confident, well-informed and ready to make conversation, all of which will help ease stress and worry.
While you might feel exhausted by the summer social whirlwind, don’t forget that every event brings different experiences. You may have the chance to learn something new, meet different people, impress bosses and colleagues, or just take a break from the norm. Remember to be stylish, have fun and enjoy yourself.
Jo Bryant is an etiquette expert. She offers a range of private tutoring and professional services, including business conduct and soft skills training, British protocols and customs, wedding planning support, and afternoon tea and dining etiquette. See more at jobryant.com