The Picnic Outfit Dilemma: What to Wear to a Picnic

picnic outfit guide

(Editor’s note: This post about picnic outfits was updated on 1/2017). Ah, summer. That means slippin’ into sandals, driving with the windows all the way down and, of course, enjoying the tradition of a great summer picnic. But before you start making your famous macaroni salad, think first about what you’re going to whip up wardrobe-wise. The perfect picnic outfit is stylish, carefree, fashionable and picture-friendly. Here are some ideas to help you ace your picnic look.

And if you’re not a “dos and don’ts type of gal, jump to the bottom of the article for our no-fail picnic outfit formula.

How to Create the Perfect Picnic Outfit — Dos and Don’ts

Do Be Practical

OK, so “practical” just doesn’t really scream, “fun times.” But trust us, any kind of fun can come to a grinding halt when you realize your skirt is a wee bit short for some Frisbee tossing.

Keep in mind the kind of picnic you’ll be heading to (environment, activities, duration, company) and rock your stylish self accordingly.

Don’t Diss the Dress

Are light activities like horseshoes or badminton on your agenda? For active fashionistas, we can’t say enough about summer picnic classics like capris, shorts or jeans paired with tanks or basic tees.

But just because there’ll be some movement doesn’t mean we’re about to ditch the dress by any means. There are plenty of dresses that let you bend and stretch (think subtle moves, not hardcore volleyball saves and knee-bruising dives), while still flaunting your summer chic. Knee-length or longer dresses are ideal; we like a sunny yellow dropped waist dress or a patterned faux wrap. And for more conservative fashionistas — a simple, light-colored maxi dress.

Do Wear Layers

We love layering. Layering allow us to mix ‘n match different patterns and fabrics in one shot, and a layered outfit is also picnic-perfect. Try a sheer pink tunic over a white tank for a feminine look that also helps nix sun’s rays (hey, sheer is better than nothing). In the daytime hours, your skin will feel that summer breeze. And in the early evening hours, your layered picnic outfit keeps the chills at bay.

Do Wear a Hat

picnic outfit guide - floppy hat

Floppy Woven Straw Hat, $22, Macy’s

There’s something about summer picnics that just begs for hats — floppy hats in particular. We’re all about sipping some lemonade from underneath beautiful straw brims. Wearing them is a fun, flirty and sophisticated statement that also keeps the sun out of your eyes (and lots of eyes on picnic-pretty you).

Plus, macaroni salad eaters everywhere will thank you (you’ll see what we mean in the next picnic suggestion).

Do Put Your Hair Back or Up

Paper plate? Check.

Macaroni salad? Yup.

Hair in the macaroni? Nasty.

We know, we know. Sometimes things just happen. But avoid embarrassing (and gross) macaroni “extras” by keeping your hair back in a pretty, trendy way.

Try a high pony tied with a silk scarf, rock a side braid or cover it all with a bold scarf. For serious hair control, you might even consider one of those translucent, goes-with-anything plastic dog cones (kidding! Point is, do the best you can to keep the food — and your hair — looking pretty).

Don’t Wear Flip Flops 

Summer picnics are the perfect time to wear awesome sandals and show off your pedi to the masses. But for a moment, let’s put to-die-for toenail colors aside and consider what’s stylish and sensible.

Flops are great for low-key poolside barbecues. Not so much for backyard volleyball. Unless:

  • you have a serious “sandals be damned!” competitive streak AND
  • you don’t mind possibly ending the day in a cast.

Wear what works, not just what looks good (hard sometimes, we know). This season, the sneaker styles are fashionably comfortable, allowing you to do what’s right for your footsies while still having fun!

picnic outfit guide - suede sneakers

Superga Suede Sneakers, $89, Shopbop

Do Arrive Prepared

Sometimes, a random stranger gets a little too ambitious with the ketchup squeeze bottle. And sometimes, you’re standing next to Hyper Random Stranger. You see where this is going.

It never hurts to bring a pretty tote filled with some picnic extras for all those “just in case” moments: another sheer tunic for the ketchup incident or back up flops for the teething puppy/sandal mishap (yeah, we cringe at that one too). Be ready no matter what and look terrific every step of the way!

The No-Fail Picnic Outfit Formula

If you’re still unsure of how to put together your summer fun outfit, follow this formula:

  1. Capri pants
  2. Loose, feminine tank top
  3. Lightweight cardi or denim jacket (the latter if you live in chilly parts)
  4. Sneaks: converse, vans and the like
  5. Pastel tote
  6. 1-2 accessories: floppy hat, neck scarf, cat-eye sunglasses

Choosing styles that are sensible, comfortable and of course, stunning on you is the winning strategy for your picnic outfits this summer. Dig in!

JenniferL

JenniferL

Jennifer is an award-winning creative writing and communications professional who loves heels (even her flip flops have wedges) and pencil skirts, and has seen her hair through more shades than a Pantone color wheel.
JenniferL

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