Lost your fashion mojo? What to wear to outdoor summer gatherings

Post-lockdown summer style sessions: Getting back to real-life dressing

Summer days will hopefully herald the easing of restrictions and the start of some socialising once again. Barbecues, picnics and garden entertaining are among the first interactions we’ll be able to enjoy, so it’s time to unlock the wardrobe, dust off the forgotten style relics and get back to real-life dressing.

After a year of stretchy waistbands and loungewear, you might find you’ve lost your style mojo. But remember, dressing for social gatherings doesn’t require a total wardrobe overhaul. Instead, simple switch-ups, tiny tweaks and flourishes are what’s needed to get garden party-ready. Get reacquainted with the pieces you already own and love, and identify the gaps you need to fill.

It’s all about how to be comfortable, warm and stylish. Consider those alfresco style practicalities and the pieces that will re-energise your wardrobe, while ensuring you don’t freeze or get sunburnt.

Right foot forward

Shoes? Remember those? And no, not the tired, pavement-pounded trainers or the slippers in which you shuffled around the house for the past year, but real-life outdoor shoes. Heels and wedges won’t cut it for grass-based activities, particularly spindly heels that sink. Instead, stick to sleek trainers, backless mules, a flat boot or a chunky sandal. If the sun is out, add shades and a chic hat to your wardrobe rotation for a run of cloudless days. Baseball caps have become a surprise hit among the fashion crowd thanks to their dominance on the Celine catwalk, but straw, boater, bucket or beret will do too. Not only will they upgrade your look, but they offer maximum protection from the sun.


Great lengths

With the extremities taken care of, dresses are an easy, breezy option and something you probably have in your wardrobe already. Relaxed, silhouetted, midi-length dresses are practical and stylish, especially if you’re lounging on outdoor furniture, blankets or grass.

Avoid neutrals – too many stains to contend with – instead, opt for pretty prints or bold shades. Don’t be afraid to embrace an LBD, that’s a long black dress, in a summer-appropriate fabric that will disguise stains, grass in particular. Look for sweet details like puff sleeves, which are not only in season but also offer coverage from wind or sun.

Waist-down dressing

Loose-fit and louche trousers are the silhouette for the season, as seen on Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Balenciaga's catwalks. They are also a realistic and clever option for outdoor socialising. Try pairing them with a puff sleeve, prairie, or smocked style blouse and finish off with trainers to look more barbecue than boardroom-ready. If you'd rather take the hard work out of dressing, the boiler suit or utility jumpsuit will be your done-in-one outfit for summer, especially in a relaxed fit and lightweight material.


Light layers will be a clever way of beating the summer chill. Don’t pack away your knitwear just yet; instead, use it for layering. Whether it’s a crew neck that can be chucked over a dress or worn with loose-fit trousers or a cardigan that doubles up as a light coat, it will serve you well all summer. When it comes to outerwear, it’s technically the first thing people will see, or even the only thing if it’s freezing, so make it count.

The quilted jacket that dominated the winter has been abbreviated for the warmer months and is a practical choice, along with the parka, trench and combat jacket. Rendered in pastel, earthy tones and elevated fabrics, they tick the boxes for style and substance, so you won’t mind leaving your coat on all barbecue long.