Style Panel: 7 foolproof ways to dress for events with no set dress code

As if trying to find the perfect outfit for an important event wasn’t task enough, being invited to one with an ambiguous dress code can make getting dressed even more difficult. And because no one likes feeling overdressed or underdressed for any social engagement, we asked the ladies of Style Panel to help us out.

Question 9: If you’re invited to an event without a specified dress code, what’s a good way to dress so that you don’t look too overdressed or underdressed? Read the answers now! »


Gabrielle Lacasse, 23
Montreal | Dentelle et Fleurs

Going to an event is always a good way to try new styles and show off your favourite pieces of clothing. I usually meet new people at events and make new contacts, so I also like to look a little professional without looking too serious; I never wear super-short skirts or lingerie-inspired tops.

The thing I always make sure of when I go to an event is that my hair and makeup look nice, because it is the first thing people see. I also love to wear my favourite pair of heels because I don’t wear them a lot in my everyday life. Here is a little example of what I would wear during an event: linen pants, a statement necklace and my brand new pair of wedges.

Vickie Laliotis, 28
Edmonton | Adventures in Fashion

If there’s one motto I live by, it’s that it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed—hands down. So with that in mind, I say look your best every chance you get, including fêtes with ambiguous dress codes. I like to dress for my mood, which generally leads me to feminine silhouettes, but as long as you look polished and put together, you’ll fit into any party!

Vickie’s wearing: Top and skirt, Forever 21. Sandals, Sam Edelman.

Lolitta Dandoy, 32
Montreal | Fashion Is Everywhere

When I’m left wondering what to wear, I try to go for something simple that has a chic twist to it, and stick to neutral colours. That’s why I love this sheer H&M number. From the front, it looks like a regular blouse, but the longer hem in the back gives it a more sophisticated vibe that contrasts perfectly with the casual cotton dress. Shoe-wise, these wedges are great because they are comfy and casual, but the transparent straps also make them very chic!
Another little secret: I always bring a pair of pretty ballerinas to change into if my look isn’t casual enough. It’s easier to dress an outfit down than up.

Lolitta’s wearing: Dress, American Apparel. Sheer blouse, H&M. Necklace, Lia Sofia. Bracelet, Luxetto. Wedge, Abaete for Payless.

Kassandra Camponi, 26
Edmonton | Kastles

Dress codes can be a tricky thing. Personally, I would rather be a tad overdressed than underdressed. Throwing on a dress is generally a safe bet when the dress code is unknown. Dresses thankfully can be dressed up or dressed down fairly quickly. One suggestion I would make is tossing some jazzier accessories and a pair of heels in your purse. That way if you show up and it is a tad dressier, you can swap out what you are wearing for some fancier options. Another tip would be throwing some extra makeup in your purse as well. Add some extra eyeliner and a bright lip to liven up your look.

Mo Handahu, 29
Halifax | Curvy Geekery

When it comes to events that are sans dress code, I just stick to what I know for sure: being myself and expressing my personal style. This always falls within the realm of mixing prints and bright colours with some unique accessories.

Whatever I decide to wear, I’m not afraid to stand out whether I’m over or underdressed, because I know that what I’m wearing embodies me.

Mo’s wearing: Shoes, the Bay. Everything else, thrifted.

Alex Grant, 25
Toronto via Vancouver | To Vogue or Bust

Generally speaking, your best bet is to simply wear whatever you’re most comfortable in. Given that I opt for dresses or skirts nine times out of 10, I’d feel most myself in a cheery sundress and pair it either with neutral heels or slightly dressed up flats (these sparkly numbers from H&M fit the bill nicely). Worst-case scenario, I’ll either be somewhat dressy for a super casual affair or look relaxed yet still put-together for a dressier event.

Alex’s wearing: Dress, Buffalo. Clutch, Urban Outfitters. Flats, H&M. Necklace, vintage from Bracelet, Club Monaco.

Kristin MacDonald, 27
Fredericton | Doll Parade

Events without an obvious dress code can be a bit bewildering, but I never really find myself worrying about being over or underdressed. I’ve always been a firm believer in dressing oneself with a pinch of thought and contemplation each and every morning, and for me, being in a dress code pickle allows me to come back to some of my tried and true basics. A simple shift, a blazer, and some identifying accessories can go a long way, as well as allow for either a fully suited-up look (blazer on) or a more relaxed look (blazer off!).

And to make sure I’m totally appropriate: flats. Would I have switched these out for heels in a multitude of different circumstances? You bet. But with the right combination, flats don’t have to dress down an outfit. They can also ensure stealthy moves and feet that don’t hurt: always a good accessory.

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