Best Outfits for Small & Socially Distanced Events

While giant bashes are out of the question right now, there’s plenty of small-scale celebrations happening that are still part of the equation. For the intimate gatherings and socially distanced events that abound these days, whether it’s a backyard meet-up with another couple, a special family event, or something extra-impactful like an engagement or wedding, it’s worth taking the extra time to dress up a little. After all, we’ve got to grab happiness where we can, and a great outfit can put you in a jubilant frame of mind before you even get there. Check out these ideas, all excellent points of entry, when you’re getting ready to attend a gathering.

Family Occasions

Maybe your sister finally got the pandemic puppy she’s been talking about since June and wants to show off her new fur baby. Maybe your parents are celebrating their anniversary and can’t bear to let it pass without at least a little fanfare. Maybe everyone is doing their own thing this Thanksgiving, so you’re meeting up for some low-stakes family time before the holiday.

Whatever the reason, attending family events are good for the soul...and they also make a valid excuse to break out something more special than your ubiquitous yoga pants. Relatives know you well enough to realize when you’re overdoing it though, so don’t rock that sequined minidress that’s been hiding at the back of your closet since last New Year’s Eve unless you’re prepared for them to poke fun at you all night long.

Instead, dial up your usual casual look by a notch or two. Now’s the right time to don a cute plaid dress, accessorized with a wide-brimmed felt hat and a denim jacket––it’s pure autumnal perfection. If it’s cold and you’ll be hanging out in someone’s backyard, consider layering on an oversized shawl for a retro-inspired finishing touch. If you’ll be indoors and suspect you’ll be too warm after you acclimatize to the room, leave out the denim jacket and sub in a wide belt instead. Why? A belt accentuates the smallest part of your torso; plus, it lends a little extra polish to any casual ensemble and elevates it.

Birthday Picnics

Ah, the birthday picnic. It’s always been a lovely way to celebrate––who wouldn’t love their special day to include balloons and fully stocked coolers? –– but it’s taken on a whole new level of importance these days when so many other venues are off-limits. Parks haven’t seen this much action...well, ever! What we’re saying is that if we could buy stock in greenspaces, we’d be set for life.

Though it’s obviously a clever way to hold a small gathering (grassy meeting places are great when it comes to social distancing), it becomes a more complicated story when you’re trying to get dressed for a birthday picnic. The first thing that will determine what outfit you pick: whether this outing is a midday affair or sunset rendezvous...or whether it’s going to be a long-haul event that starts at midday and ends at sunset!

Some other things to consider: if you’ll be sitting on the ground, a short skirt or minidress is not going to work. Even if you’ll be on picnic benches or in fold-out chairs, high hemlines are less than ideal. Instead, opt for a flowing maxi dress that keeps everything covered––meaning you can get up from the ground, adjust your legs, and generally move around with ease without worrying about an accidental flashing. Alternatively, a pair of jeans with plenty of stretch sidesteps the whole hem conundrum. If you’re in a location that stays warm until the December holidays (or beyond), then you have lots of options to work with for your top, from tanks teamed with breezy kimonos to cute crochet popovers.

If it’s chillier where you live, feel free to layer up, especially if you’ll still be hanging out when the sun goes down. We’re partial to chunky-knit sweaters and fuzzy fleeces, which feel especially right for fall. Both a chunky sweater and a fleece bring a textural component to your outfit and both options layer well over either your jeans or a maxi dress. Bring along booties that don’t mind getting a little scuffed and you’re all set.

Double-Date Night

It sure is nice to see your favorite couples’ friends in person rather than through a computer screen. So even though double-date options are, um, different than they used to be, we’re always down for a hangout whenever it’s safely possible. Options like drive-in movies dates, outdoor dinner-and-drinks nights, or grillin’ and chillin’ on the patio (or the rooftop for you apartment dwellers) make for responsible and comfortable ways to get together that don't involve too much pre-planning...except when it comes to your look.

A double-date night is about the company, not the dramatic outfit, but you can still raise the bar on your usual getup with an on-trend dress. Whether you’re into the cottage-core moment happening these days and opt for a micro-print prairie dress or you prefer more modern, solid styles with swingy silhouettes, a casual-cute dress feels just right without coming off as overdone, especially if you keep the accessories pared back and your hair and makeup simple.

If it’s chilly outside where you’ll be meeting, a puffy vest can add warmth while making an interesting counterpoint to the femininity of a dress. A pair of knee-high boots or leggings (or both) layered underneath a dress will also keep you in the comfortable warmth range when outside temperatures drop.

Intimate Engagement Parties and Weddings

The most special but also the most challenging to pull off in these times, engagements and weddings are still happening––even if they’re happening differently than originally planned. That’s okay though! Happy life events are beautiful things and worthy of celebration, whether they involve three people (just the couple and their officiant) or the full number of guests allowed in that area (which varies from place to place).

Celebrating a union of two souls should be a joyous occasion, no matter what’s going on in the world. That said, there are a lot of tough decisions to make, both for the bride-to-be and for guests––but getting dressed for the occasion doesn’t have to be one of them! If you’re a bride-to-be, it’s easier to do an off-the-rack white dress than it is to get something custom-made (this popular option is better held off until brides feel comfortable having large weddings). For an engagement get-together or a small wedding, Cupshe’s white lace dress is an ethereal, delicate choice. Because it’s totally sheer, you can layer whatever you like underneath, be it a slip dress or something with sleeves. We can see this one being a good choice for an intimate beachfront wedding or even for engagement photos.

Bridesmaids and attendants have strong options, too. A midi-length dress with flutter sleeves and a deep V in back is classic but still brings a special flourish to the festivities. A similar silhouette that’s slightly less revealing, our shirred midi dress comes in a host of colors. This is great if you’re aiming to match the event’s color theme or if you’ll be in the bridal party.

The nice thing about smaller gatherings is that guests can find the right balance between festive and comfortable. For those who’ve missed dressing up to the max, a slinky, sexy slip dress in velvet makes a major fashion moment. Likewise, so does a laced-back gown for the ultra-daring and romantic among us. Demure guests or people who simply want to stay warmer throughout the party should consider long sleeves and an even longer hemline. An elegant pink maxi dress makes an equally lovely way to dress up for a big-deal event, just without all the skin exposure.

Remember that whatever type of event you're hosting or attending, stay safe, be smart, and make sure everyone feels comfortable. This is key to ensuring a good time will be had by all!

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