on the sailboat
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Anchors aweigh, seafarer -- an adventure on the open ocean awaits! But don't jump straight to celebrity yachting fashion for your wardrobe inspiration just yet -- you and your fellow yacht party attendees aren't posing for paparazzi photos, and the evening gown of your dreams might be totally out-of-place on a ship deck. Like any other affair, your party invite should give you some clue as to the expected dress code -- and if not, you can always ring up the host for a push in the right direction.

Dancing on Deck

A top-notch charity function or society affair might have you hunting down elegant clothes suitable for a night under the stars. If the invitation tells you to wear white tie or black tie, you will need to look your fanciest on this yachting adventure. Gentlemen, pick up a dark-colored suit and tie or classic tuxedo for black-tie affairs or a tuxedo with tails for a white-tie party. Ladies, a long evening gown works for either function. Odds are, however, that cocktail attire a more likely theme -- feel free to don a flirty dark or rich jewel-toned cocktail dress to go with your man's dark suit and tie.

A Business Affair

Meeting your colleagues for a business function -- day or night, by land or by sea -- assuredly does not require evening wear. The invitation may state business-casual dress, which means professionalism over glamour. For women, a wrap dress with kitten heels or a skirt or dressy pants with a long-sleeved top will suffice, while men should wear a polo or button-down shirt with a nicely pressed pair of khakis. Sweaters, blazers and sport coats are appropriate outerwear. If the invitation instead asks for dress casual or smart casual, choose fancier versions of these options, like dress pants instead of chinos or khakis. On your feet, wear dress flats, loafers or oxfords.

No Last Resort

Plenty of yacht parties are fairly relaxed social affairs, and dress codes lean more in the direction of resort wear. If the invitation asks for resort casual, country club casual or cruise wear, you are likely attending a day party. This means sportswear and light colors, and looking like you just stepped out of a Ralph Lauren advertisement. Ladies, go for flat shoes, sporty knee-length summer dresses or polo shirts and sweaters with slacks or long short. Nautical colors -- think navy and white stripes with pops of red -- are a staple of resort wear. Men, get ready to pull on slacks or linen pants, polo shirts or button-down tops and loafers or boat shoes.

An Ocean Apart

Unlike events on land, you don't have free reign with your fashion, no matter the dress code. With wind whipping around you on deck, any loose hair, dangling jewelry or baggy clothing is a no-go -- and with the wind chill, you won't want to dress too skimpy, either. Wear form-fitting clothing and keep a jacket or sweater on hand. Don't wear anything that could get damaged by sea spray -- that means waterproof watches and jewelry that might tarnish -- and bring a change of clothes in case you get doused. As for your feet, watch out for that rolling action -- steer clear of sky-high heels and opt for comfortable shoes with no hard soles that might scuff the deck.