The country club casual look is one of relaxed sophistication and is often the guideline for outdoor corporate meetings, summer weddings and equestrian events. In the past, dressing country club casual referred to following the often-strict dress codes of elite community clubs. Although the term may still bring to mind polo shirts and khakis, the country club casual look has evolved in recent years, allowing much more room for creativity.
Tops: Modest and Feminine
Collared shirts, feminine blouses and sweaters are safe choices that reflect the country club casual style. Err on the side of modesty when choosing the right sleeve length and neckline. Sleeveless tops are acceptable, but halter tops and sultry silhouettes might be inappropriate. If you're uncertain about whether the top is too revealing, wear a light sweater to cover up and remove it later if you feel comfortable doing so.
Bottoms: Classic and Demure
When choosing the lower half of your outfit, consider both the length and sharpness of the garment. An appropriate dress, skirt or pair of shorts should have a hemline no more than a few inches above the knee. The right bottoms, and pants in particular, should have a tailored fit rather than a baggy or skin-tight look.
Choose lightweight, breathable fabrics such as cotton, silk, and linen to keep cool but maintain professional style at outdoor events. Heavier fabrics like wool, denim, and velvet can also be worn if the event is during cooler weather.
Shoes: Wide Range of Seasonal Choices
While flat shoes and low heels are traditionally preferred, tasteful sandals and espadrilles can also be worn — there is a bit more leniency in the shoe department for this relatively rule-laden style.
The country club casual dress code is often reserved for outdoor events in warm weather, so choose shoes that would be comfortable when walking on grass. Stiletto and platform heels could cause some difficulty in this environment, so it is best to avoid these styles for your own comfort.
Accessories: Traditional With a Twist
For jewelry, classic and feminine pieces such as a pearl necklace or charm bracelet are appropriate additions to your country club casual look, but don't be afraid to try the more audacious items that traditional business attire prohibits. This dress code provides the perfect opportunity to try out a wide-brim hat or chunky statement ring. Brighten up a neutral ensemble with a pop of color. A brightly colored belt, clutch or wrist cuff does the trick without overstepping dress code boundaries.
Colors and Patterns: Be Creative
While pastels are traditional in this style, don't be afraid to try a festive or vibrant print. Nautical stripes, retro polka dots and graphic floral prints are worthy alternatives to the usual monochromatic attire typical of this style. Colorful footwear like a pair of printed ballerina flats or jeweled sandals is also an option.
Outfits: Put It All Together
Because of the relaxed nature of the country club casual look, there is a wide range of possible outfits to choose from. A classic combination would be to wear ankle-length dress pants with a pastel silk button-down shirt. Top off the ensemble with a pair of loafers and a silver charm bracelet. A more contemporary option for outdoor occasions would be a white cotton sundress with a pearl necklace, woven Panama hat and sandals in a summery color like yellow or turquoise.
A resident of Washington, D.C., Rebecca Fontaine has spent five years at the epicenter of the fashion industry, working as a model for leading agencies in not only the city of Washington, but also New York, Hong Kong and Barcelona. Fontaine has born witness to the industry's many trends and complexities, both at home and abroad; and she's come to know a thing or two about the pursuit and the sacrifices of beauty.