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The Best Occasion Dresses for Every Summer Event

Feature: Quick Read
Words by Eleanor Hibberd

For those who love an excuse to dress up, we have four words for you: May, June, July and August. As our calendars fill up with weddings, garden parties, sporting events and black-tie galas, ensure your spot on the best-dressed list with our guide to the best occasion gowns and dresses to wear to every event this social season.

Garden Party Dresses

Heading to an afternoon affair? English-garden florals are always best placed for daytime fixtures such as christenings, Chelsea Flower Show or cocktails on the lawn, while sporting events like Wimbledon and Henley Royal Regatta invite you to don your ‘tennis whites’ in the form of crisp cotton and linen summer dresses. Block heels or chic flats underfoot will ensure you stay upright on soft and uneven ground, and a hands-free cross-body bag will prove worth its weight in strawberries and cream.

Woman in floral midi dress

Zimmermann​ dress, Jennifer Behr​ headband, Jil Sander​ earrings, Savette​ bag

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Destination-Wedding Guest Dresses

Aside from the holiday that comes with it, the best part about jetting off for a destination wedding is that your outfit choices won’t be hindered by the Great British weather – nor by traditional guest dress codes. That means slinkier silhouettes, sunnier colours and exotic prints are all yours for the taking. Silk is your best friend when it comes to keeping cool, and won’t take up too much room in your luggage – though be sure to pack a steamer to keep creasing at bay.

Woman in purple dress
Woman in purple dress
  • The Best Summer Wedding Guest Outfits

    What to Wear to Every Kind of Wedding

    Learn the nuances of guest dressing for stately home, destination and city receptions alike.

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Summer Cocktail Party Dresses

Hot town, summer in the city. Cue cocktails at sunset and a host of unmissable events at which to see and be seen – from the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition preview to the Serpentine Summer Party. Touted as some of the season’s most fashionable occasions, these soirées will require an extra-special outfit in order to make it onto the best-dressed lists. Aim to strike a balance between elegance and glamour, and honour the urban setting by championing homegrown London talent from Erdem and Simone Rocha to Nensi Dojaka and 16Arlington.

Gala Dress

Erdem​ dress, Bottega Veneta​ bag and earrings, Manolo Blahnik shoes

woman in garden party dress

Black-Tie Ball Gowns

Whether you’re heading to the opera or a black-tie banquet, summer is eveningwear’s true time to shine. With no outer layers to stifle their brilliance, high-octane ball gowns and statuesque sequin dresses come into their own. It’s as much about exuding unapologetic glamour as it is about having fun. After all, it’s not every day that you can wear bubblegum-pink Carolina Herrera. Enjoy it.

Woman in Carolina Herrera dress and Alessandra Rich earrings
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STORIES

Ready for Royal Ascot?

Ascot races

If you’re harbouring fantasies of a My Fair Lady moment come Royal Ascot 2024, step this way for fabulous millinery, elegant occasion sets and more.

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Men’s Dress Codes for Summer Events

Men

Why Linen Suits Are a Summer Occasion Essential

Whether you’re attending a garden party, Wimbledon or a destination wedding, here’s why a linen suit is all you need to navigate the season – and how to style one.

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Occasion hub

Summer Occasions

Off to an event? Or, perhaps you’re hosting one yourself. Consider this hub your best friend for the coming months.

Discover the Occasions Boutique