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As Ella Fitzgerald once sang, “It’s summertime and the livin’ is easy”—and the livin’ also involves plenty of fun outdoor barbecues. While the most stressful part of a barbecue should be figuring out what you’re going to bring (mac and cheese, potato salad or homemade cupcakes?!), deciding on what to wear to a barbecue can be tough, too. Perhaps you’re bouncing between pool parties all day long (Lucky you!), or maybe you’re meeting your partner’s family for the first time and you can’t decide if you should dress up or keep it casual when you try to impress their grandparents. There are so many outfit options out there, but we’re here to help you narrow it down.
There’s no one way to barbecue, which means there’s no one perfect barbecue outfit. Depending on the location of the barbecue or even who you’re with—be it friends, family or your crush—you’ll want different options for how to dress. One barbecue might be a bit more of a formal occasion, so you likely won’t want to don your favorite cut-offs. A different barbecue might be located near water, so your swimsuit can serve as a great outfit base. There are so many barbecue scenarios, so we’ve created a handy guide to how to dress for each.
Ahead, we put together six different outfit ideas for six different summer BBQ situations (Trust us. They all exist.) so you can focus on more important things—like polishing off an entire plate of grilled wings. No matter the type of barbecues you attend this summer, you’re going to look incredibly cute at each and every one.
1. To A Bonfire BBQ At The Beach
A bonfire barbecue at the beach can take place day or night—or even start when it’s light outside and then continue well past sunset. In this situation, you’ll want to be prepared with some layers. Grab some black cut-off shorts and a black cami, then throw on a light cardigan when the sun goes down. You’ll be able to curl up by the fire and stay nice and cozy while the ocean breeze hits you.
A classic knit tank is a wardrobe essential, and works great for wearing alone when it’s hot AF and layered under sweaters or jackets when the temps drop.
Just like the knit tank, black cut-off shorts are also something that should definitely be in your closet. Pair them with a puffy sleeve blouse or your favorite graphic tee. Endless possibilities.
This long lightweight cardigan is perfect for throwing over your skimpiest summer ensembles when the nighttime chill hits.
When you wear a minimalist ensemble, it’s always a fun option to add a cute statement earring.
Lace-up and strappy sandals are on trend for this summer, so do yourself a favor and make sure you have a pair ready to go.
2. To A Family BBQ With Your Boo’s Relatives
A shirtdress is a cute and fun summer dress option for when you want to look adorable and impress your partner’s family at the same time. You’ll look pulled together and stylish without even trying. We love a cute gingham for summer, but the style is ultimately up to you. Add a straw bag and strappy heel, and you’re ready to wow them.
This gingham midi shirtdress was practically made to be worn at a summer barbecue.
Step your straw bag game up a notch and opt for a straw crossbody bag in a fun shell shape!
You can never go wrong with some square-toe heeled sandals this summer. We can’t get over how cute the croc embossing is on this Vince pair.
3. Pool-Hopping BBQs In Friends’ Backyards
Turning a swimsuit into an outfit isn’t difficult if you have the right pieces. Try a bikini that feels a little bit like real clothes—like one with a belt detail—and then throw a cute sheer kaftan on top of it all. Add some oversized sunnies and comfortable slides, and you’re set.
It’s hard to resist this adorable striped bikini top. The colors are perfect for summer!
Pair the striped bikini top with these Solid and Striped bikini bottoms. The belt detail will have you standing out from the crowd.
The most versatile beach cover-up is the black kaftan. It’s sheer enough to keep you cool and show of your swimsuit, but will make you feel covered when you’re not lounging by the water.
A good pair of comfy slides will be your best friend when hopping from party to party this summer.
Give any outfit a bit of a dramatic flare with these oversized sunnies from Le Specs.
4.To A Rooftop BBQ At Your Friend’s City Apartment
The key to dressing for a rooftop barbecue? Keep it cute and cool—temperature-wise, that is. Avoid darker colors and fabrics that might make you hotter. Reach for a mini skirt that’s comfortable enough to sit in and a classic white cropped tee to create an ensemble that you won’t regret wearing in 90 degree heat.
This reversible cropped tee is sure to get plenty of use this summer. It goes with just about anything, but has a fun twist front detail to switch it up.
The elastic waist on this striped mini skirt will make it comfortable enough to wear all day—and all night—long this season.
Who can resist a part of cute summery heeled mules? This pair from SHUTZ is a summer must-shop.
Complete just about any summer ensemble with these willow charm stud earrings. They’ll add just the right amount of bling to your outfit.
5. To A BBQ At Which You’re Determined To Get A Cute IG Pic
If you’re itching to get that perfect photo for social media, you can’t go wrong with a fun and bright jumpsuit paired with summery accessories. We love the idea of pairing a light yellow jumpsuit with creams and browns for a simple but gorgeous summer look ideal for the ‘gram.
The best part about this belted wide-leg jumpsuit is the fact that it can be easily dressed up or down depending on the situation.
OK, these wrap block heels from Andre Assous are truly a summer dream. These are at the top of our wishlist for sure.
This Kayu straw bag is a classic with a twist. Rather than all straw, the brand added some pretty leather details. We stan.
6. To A Low-Key BBQ At Your House
When you’re just hanging out in your own backyard but still want to look cute, you can’t go wrong with a pair of fun shorts and cute graphic tee. Add some sneakers if you’re walking around or grilling outside. Then, top it all off with some blue light glasses once the sun sets and you’re camped out in front of a movie with the fam.
This Unfortunate Portrait graphic tee is low-key so funny. Wearing a graphic tee that makes ’em laugh is always a great idea.
The tie-dye trend will never die, so lean in with these super cute tie-dye shorts this summer.
These oversized blue light glasses will help protect your eyes while you’re on your phone—and they’re so freakin’ cute.
Take your outfit to new heights with these white platform sneakers. They’ll go with just about everything, but the platform detail makes them stand out—and makes you stand a little taller.
A version of this article was originally published in 2017.
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