Even if your summer-chic soiree overlooks the ocean, you don't want to show up in a bikini and coverup. This whimsical dress code blends classic elegance with styles of the season, turning wardrobe selection into a colorful game of mix and match. Bright summer hues and breathable fabrics keep you stylish and comfortable, even in the sweltering heat and humidity.

Understanding Summer Chic Style

Summer-chic doesn't mean beach casual. Instead, this type of attire calls for your standard semiformal look with a summer twist. Replace that little black dress with a soft and airy chiffon frock. Swap the dark suit for seersucker in a light hue. Accessories are more casual as well, and shoes can be open-toed and comfortable.

Summer-Chic Styles for Her

Dresses are a staple of the summer-chic style. Within this general category, however, many attire options exist. Sundresses can hit around the knee and come in soft pastels, such as pale pink or seafoam green. Bright, tropical shades -- think aqua or colorful floral patterns -- are also summer-chic staples. Choose a frock with a flirty and feminine skirt or opt for longer, flowing maxi styles. Choose one with a subtle split in the leg for keep your legs cool. Find dresses in lightweight fabrics, such as linen, chiffon and silk. A strapless eyelet style is a classic summer look. Swap your standard LBD with a little white dress for summer events -- choose a strapless, cap-sleeve or spaghetti-strap style that hits around the knees.

Summer-chic accessories call for open-toed sandals, like metallic high heels or espadrille wedges. Opt for seasonal accessories, such as a multi-strand beaded turquoise necklace, an arm decorated in gold and soft pink bangle bracelets or colorful clutches, to add to the summer-inspired look.

Chic Cuts for Him

The classic suit gets a little more casual for summer-chic dress codes. Khaki, seersucker or light gray cotton suits are ideal. Pair them with cotton shirts -- a pastel or colorful plaid pattern sets a more casual tone for your look. Opt for an unlined or lightly lined suit jacket to avoid getting too hot at an outdoor summer event.


Leave the silk tie in the closet, and opt for a more casual and seasonal cotton tie in a colorful hue that complements your suit and shirt.

Choose lightweight, lower-cut shoes in lighter hues of cognac and tan. Leather and even canvas loafers are summer-worthy options that complement a lightweight suit.

Factors to Consider

Even when the dress code is defined as summer-chic, your attire choice will depend on a few factors:

  • Time of day. Evening affairs are dressier than daytime gatherings. Choosing dressy accessories, such as a statement necklace for women or leather shoes for men, can take your summer-chic look from afternoon to evening.
  • Location of event. A beachside party is decidedly more casual than a cocktail reception at a swanky hotel. Let the venue be your guide as you decide how formally to dress.
  • Event theme. A festive luau calls for bold, tropical prints, while a garden wedding reception may require softer and more subtle hues. Use the theme as inspiration for your summer-chic look.