27 Cute Items to Wear to an Intimate Summer Garden Party in 2021


Whether you are hosting or attending a small summer bbq, garden party or celebration, we’ve got you covered with what to wear!

This post is all about what to wear to an intimate summer barbecue or garden party. 

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure (here)  


We’re thrilled to see that things are finally starting to open up again.


It feels so delightful to be able to socialize with our friends and family.

However, we still want to do so in an utmost safe and health conscious way.

Hosting or attending an intimate garden party – or even a more casual, socially distanced barbecue, seems like the most fun and fuss-free way to do this…and we couldn’t be more excited!

Therefore, as social distancing is still going to be encouraged, we are going to need the utmost stylish summer outfits that will steal the show even from far away! 🙂

After our social lives were put on hold for what seemed like an eternity, we now want to make up for lost time and get dressed up no matter what.

Even if it is just to go to our own backyard!

Our homes are so much more vital for us nowadays to feel comfortable and our backyards can feel like a mini vacay.

Turn your backyard into a magical, fun garden style oasis for your next small get together with a few friends or Sunday night dinner with family members.

Time to step up our fashion game this season whilst enjoy whichever safe, summer outing, GNO or intimate dinner party we endeavor! Let’s dive in.

Take a look at some of our summer outfit ideas below…

Summer Dresses 2021


Photo credit: @shelbyannkatherine

Nothing says outdoor summer party quite like a frilly, flowy or lightweight summer dress. 

There are so many ways to go about styling a summer dress, no matter how dressed up or casual you want to go. Whether you’re looking into gorgeous casual summer maxi dresses, pretty pastel mini dresses, or something in-between, these choices are surely going to make a wonderful sartorial statement regardless.

So without further ado, here are some of our favorite summer barbecue dresses that are stylish, affordable, and of course, totally on-trend!


White Off the Shoulder Summer Dress

White delicate dresses for women are the epitome of summer, and we love everything about this off-the-shoulder Forever 21 summer dress.


We always look out for lightweight summer dresses when we know the weather is going to be scorching, and this dress definitely ticks that box.

This Forever 21 summer dress comes in a light and breathable fabric which is great for warmer temperatures, and at $29.99, is an absolute steal!

Some lower priced pieces tend to compromise in terms of durability and fabric, and you’ll often find cute summer dresses in less than forgiving, sometimes even itchy, sweat-inducing fabrics such as polyester.

Aa Erika Jayne once stated on an episode of RHOBH, ‘This polyester does not breathe honey!’

We can get a beautiful summer dress that looks and feels like summer for as low as under $40 from Forever 21, H&M, Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx, Amazon Fashion, Macys etc.

• Goodnight Macaroon ‘Melody’ Collar Ribbed Knit Midi Dress with Slit


When you want the color palette to scream summer but the weather isn’t on your side, a knit dress is the perfect option.

This white summer dress – which also comes in black, khaki, and a stunning shade of blue that reminds us of summer skies – is the perfect piece that lets you have it both ways.

We love the white dress, but if you’re not feeling brave enough to wear this summer dress midi to an outdoor party involving mud, grass stains, and a white dress’s worst nightmare, ketchup, then one of the other shades may be more appropriate.

At just under $60, it’s well worth grabbing a few as they’re so versatile and can be dressed up or down with ease! We live for affordable summer clothes, in case you couldn’t already tell!


• Off-the-Shoulder Floral Print Dress

Fun, flirty, feminine, and best of all, affordable, this off-the-shoulder dress from Forever 21 is an outdoor party essential.

This blue Forever 21 beautiful woven dress definitely looks like it cost more than it is, and we think a huge part of that is due to the gorgeous ruffle detailing.

(Side note, ruffles are a huge new-season trend right now, so this dress will be en-vogue for quite a while, making it worth every single penny)!

This dress can be dressed up or down, which maximizes its wearability even more.

Team it with some cage sandals or sliders for a low key summer look, some white low top sneakers for a true off-duty vibe, or add some wedges or sky scraping stilettos to wear to an outdoor wedding or something a little fancier.

• H&M Denim Dress

Toughen things up by throwing a denim dress into the mix!

Dressing for summer doesn’t have to be floral and feminine all the time, and this H&M summer dress more than proves it!

This is the perfect summer barbecue outfit. This denim dress from H&M ticks so many sartorial boxes, and we wouldn’t hesitate to wear it to our next outdoor gathering, especially when the weather is being a little temperamental.

One option is to pair a summer dress with a long sleeved cardigan, while another option is to cut out the middleman and wear a long sleeved dress in the first place.

The stretch cotton-blend denim is the perfect fabric for these sorts of temperatures, and the short hemline makes it scream summer, just in case the message wasn’t clear with the sleeves.

We think this dress is great value for money, because it can also be worn with tights and ankle boots, heck maybe even knee high boots, in the fall and even winter.  

The options are endless!

• ASTR The Label Pleated Bodice Bubble Sleeve Dress

This dress may cost a little more than our previous selections, but we think it will be one of the most versatile and hardworking dresses in your closet, so investing in it is a no brainer. It’s all about that price per wear!

The pleated bodice and full skirt exudes femininity, which is just what we are looking for when we think of summer dresses.

The bubble sleeves are a nice touch, as not only are they great for anyone conscious of their arms, but they add that chic factor that makes the dress perfect for fancier occasions. 

How many dresses do you have that can so easily transition to evening wear?

Elevate the dress by teaming it with some sky scraping stilettos, a glamorous clutch bag, and a waist cinching belt. 

For ultimate comfort, which may just be what you’re going for when attending or hosting a low key summer barbecue, it can also be dressed down by adding some cute gladiator sandals or sliders.

Casual, Cool Summer Outfit Ideas

Fashionable summer outfits don’t start and end with dresses. Another sartorial route to go down is the casual cool one – and there’s something very cookout chic about attending a barbecue in something simple yet stylish like the failsafe jeans and a tee look, or even cut-off denim shorts and a cute top.

From tops and bodysuits to trousers and shorts, here are a few clothes to wear in summer that we would recommend to wear for the casual cool outdoor party aesthetic.


Tops and Bodysuits

• Knit + Spandex Tank Bodysuits

Not every day or every occasion calls for feminine dresses. Sometimes, it’s a jeans and tee kind of day, and that’s totally ok, as there are so many ways to look chic and polished when wearing this dressed down type of outfit.

A great trick we use when wearing on-trend outfits such as jeans and a tee (or a top) is to go for a bodysuit instead, as it ensures that the aforementioned piece stays firmly in place for the entire day.

Your hands will be too full of delicious burgers, and you’ll be too busy catching up with friends you haven’t seen in what feels like forever, to constantly worry about your top being untucked from the jeans.

This Forever 21 bodysuit is the perfect piece for an outdoor party, and also great to add to your spring/summer wardrobe, as it can be worn with absolutely everything from skirts to shorts to more jeans and trousers than you ever thought possible.

We love this neutral taupe version for the versatility factor, although all four colors are great to have on hand to mix and match as your outfits dictate.

• Berryou Women Lace Crochet Hollow Out Tank Tops Casual Blouse from Amazon


Another style trick we use a lot is to keep the bottom half of our outfit comfortable and casual, and add some glamour on the top half.

This makes for a well-rounded, smart casual look that can be dressed up and down accordingly.

Casual summer tops don’t have to cost a lot if you want to go glam on the top either. We aren’t talking about dipping yourself in liquid gold (although wouldn’t that be nice?) but we are in fact talking about going for an embellished or intricate top that does all the hard work for you.

We’ve gone for the latter on this occasion, and chosen a gorgeous lace crochet tank top that can be added to anything from jeans to faux leather trousers to denim hotpants to instantly elevate the look.

Now sit back and wait for everyone to be amazed that your top only set you back around $20.

• Asvivid Womens Lace Crochet V-Neck Blouse 


Time to add a pop of colour and femininity to the proceedings!

If you want something a little bit more girly to juxtapose something like ripped jeans for example, then going for a feminine piece like this Amazon  crochet v-neck blouse is an excellent way to go about it.

We love everything about this delicate blouse which is a gem of a find on Amazon with a price tag worth noting. 

From the relaxed fit to the applique detailing that makes this blouse appear a lot pricier than it actually is, (shh, we won’t tell if you won’t!) adding it to our basket to wear to our next big event is a no brainer!

• Abercrombie & Fitch Romper


Abercrombie has been really stepping up it’s game lately.

A lot of rompers and playsuits are best saved for the beach or a pool party but that isn’t the case with this versatile and conservative Abercrombie & Fitch romper.

Easy to wear and accessorize, and in a summer-friendly fabric consisting of 55% linen, this romper can do no wrong.

Another reason this romper stands out to us and is a cut above the rest is that it comes in petite, regular, and tall; and anyone who has ever worn a romper will tell you just how important getting the right fit is.

How many times have you felt like you’ve had a wedgie all day because the romper rides up just that little bit too much? 

Sometimes you do have to pay the big bucks for such a well-fitting item, but luckily, this isn’t the case with this Abercrombie romper.

We would have been happy to splash out even more on this romper, just for the comfortable fit alone, but we were pleasantly surprised that it’s within a pleasing budget.

Worth every penny, and then some.

• Levi’s Jeans  

You can’t do casual cool without possibly including a pair of jeans, can you?

You’ll be the judge with this find 🙂

Jeans don’t come much more iconic, well-fitting, recognizable, comfortable, and hardworking than a pair of Levi’s.

They’re icons for a reason.

There are many ways to go with jeans, as there are so many different cuts, colors, and styles to choose from. However, we can seldom go wrong with a pair of high rise skinny jeans, especially if they’re from the jean-gurus at Levi’s.

These flattering women’s jeans look great on  almost everyone, and tuck you in in all the right places.

Sometimes, well-fitting jeans can set you back quite a bit, although it’s usually a price that we are happy to pay because of the fit and just how long they will last us.

However, it’s even better when you can shop Levi’s in the sale… and that’s exactly what we’ve done.

We’ve sourced some high rise skinny jeans for an already impressive price, but we’re even more excited to reveal that they are now on sale! Christmas has well and truly come early!

Some SLS favorite summer-worthy Levi jeans styles are: The 721, 711 and 311 skinny jeans, all available in multiple colors and sizes!

1. The 711 Levi Jean

2. The 311 Levi Jean 

These will definitely be your go-to jeans for any event in the summer and then you can also transition them for more weather seasons later on 🙂


• Levi Women’s Mid Rise Rolled Hem Distressed Ripped Denim Jean Shorts

Who wears short shorts? 

Not you, if you totally don’t want to! Since mom jeans were all the rage this past year, let’s throw mom AND boyfriend shorts into that mix as well.

You don’t have to be a catwalk model to wear shorts this summer, as there are so many options out there that aren’t quite as daring as the hotpants that you see in every rapper’s music video. 

And it’s all thanks to these hero pieces known as mom shorts…

You can be in the best shape of your life, yet we know that you’ll still appreciate the comfort and style of mom shorts. 

These high rise mom shorts from Amazon are some of our current favorites in terms of cut, color, composition, and of course, price.

Your legs will thank you for allowing them to get some air this summer – not to mention your legs will be grateful for the sunlight for a tan and of course, that vital Vitamin D for that perfect summer glow.

Lightweight Summer Cover Ups

You’ve heard us referencing the unpredictable weather all through this blog post. And instead of just complaining, we want to show you what you can do about it. 

So yes, it is still possible to wear your cutest summer outfit to an outdoor event – and the key is all in the preparation and anticipation.

Layering up with a jacket is a great way to get one up on the weather – so even if the weather starts to get a little cloudy or chilly, you will be prepared.

A great tip is to incorporate the jacket into your outfit from the start, so your look is seamless and polished with the jacket both on, and off. 

OR my a personal SLS favorite way to wear a coat/jacket is casually over the shoulders.


• Target Women’s Essential Freeborn Denim Jacket – Universal Thread™ Medium Wash



Here at SLS, a jean jacket reeks of nostalgic, all Americana 2000-2003 energy.

Very Britney Spears in Crossroads kinda vibe. And we love it.

A denim jacket or even a cropped denim jacket will be just the ticket if you don’t want anything too overpowering with a light, summer set. Anything blue denim, can be regarded as one of your summer party outfit essentials.

Whatever aesthetic you’re going for, we can almost guarantee that a denim jacket will be the perfect choice for outerwear from a dress, shorts or even casual, athleisure wear.

Denim jackets look trendy paired with darling, floral pattern dresses to chic maxi dresses.

And now that double denim is back with a vengeance (it was very prominent on the Fall 2021 catwalks and presentations – look at Victoria Beckham’s collection if you don’t believe us) you team it with your favorite pair of jeans, denim shorts, and even denim overalls if you’re feeling brave enough.

Stylish Overalls Yes, OVERALLS are in nowadays. Here’s one of our favorite pairs of overalls just in case that’s what you’re looking for!

Target has once again saved the day here. 

We can’t quite believe the price of this women’s denim jacket, especially considering just how much use we are going to get out of it.

And we will actually get quite a lot of wear out of it, as unlike some budget-friendly pieces, this button-front denim jacket is made from a soft, comfortable, and hard wearing material that will withstand hours and hours of wear without showing it.

Ponchos and Wraps

Did you know that a poncho can be easily converted into an effortless summer cover up to wear?

It’s true! A summer cover-up can easily be achieved with a poncho already in your closet. 

They’re great for just effortlessly throwing on with any outfit, and there are so many affordable ways to get in on the trend.

Look for something like a waterproof poncho for events like music festivals where going inside might not be an option. Better to be safe than sorry.


• Target Women’s Knit Poncho – A New Day

In the spirit of mixing things up, another great option for covering up at an outdoor event is to opt for a poncho.

Another versatile and hardworking staple from Target, this poncho has a relaxed silhouette that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Perfect to just keep in your bag and throw on as the weather dictates.

The goes-with-everything color means that you don’t even have to think twice about whether it will match the rest of your outfit. If only all matching and accessorizing was that simple.


Cute Summer Shoes in 2021

Some might argue that women’s shoes are the most important parts of an outfit, so obviously we were going to include some great options. From casual to super casual to comfy to chic, here are just a few options for your next outdoor party.

• Jessica Simpson Platform Sandals


Shelby Says:

I cannot say enough about how much I love Jessica Simpson heels and shoes! The Jessica Simpson brand is economical and her heel designs…are BEYOND comfortable to walk in. The Jessica Simpson brand heels and platforms are a wonderful dupe for Christian Loubatin, Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik style heels.

Don’t be intimidated by what seems like a gargantuan heel height – these shoes are actually a lot comfier than they initially look.

And that’s all thanks to the platform!

Platform wedges and shoes are a very clever way to wear the highest of high heels while taking some of the pressure off the balls of your feet.

Plus they’re also a lot easier to walk and stand around in, which you’ll more than likely be doing a lot of at an outdoor party or barbecue.

Because when are there ever enough seats – are we right?

We adore these basket weave sandals, because they’re actually a two for the price of one sort of deal. Hear us out.

If you’re torn between spending your money on a pair of summer wedges or another pair of heels, then these shoes are the best of both worlds as they incorporate the best of both designs in one.

Plus, they’re in such a versatile color that they’ll go with practically everything.

You can also find more adorable Jessica Simpson Summer shoes at DSW, Nordstroms, Macys, Von Maur, Amazon and the Jessica Simpson website.

And you won’t even need to worry too much about getting mud or grass stains on them, thanks to the darker color that should conceal quite a lot of accidental marks.


• Ermonn Womens Espadrilles on Amazon


Name a more feminine yet comfortable woman summer wedge shoe. We’ll wait!

Espadrilles and wedges are an absolute must in terms of shoes to wear for summer, and we always like to add a new pair to our shoe rotation at the start of the spring/summer season, as we know we will get so much wear out of them.

Luckily, you don’t need to spend a lot to get a great pair of summer wedge sandals, such as these white lace up offerings that you can grab on Amazon for under $45.

These particular espadrille wedges are fabric, so they do have the potential to get very dirty very quickly, especially as they’re white.

Great for summer-not so great for showing stains.

Major style tip-One way to avoid this is to of course only wear them to events where you aren’t expecting a lot of dirt OR invest in a non-costly shoe protectant!

That will extend the life of your shoes and you can use this product for multiple shoes if need be.

Another way is to go for low wedge sandals in a different color – black to the rescue, once again – or a different material, such as leather for example, as that can withstand a little bit more dirt.

However, fashion is there to be enjoyed, so we won’t be too torn up if something does happen to them, especially as this pair will be fairly inexpensive to replace.

And the joy wearing our favorite shoes definitely almost always outweighs the potential pesky stains.

• J. Adams Nori Mules + Dressy Slip On Block Heeled Sandals 


When you want to go for a feminine heel but don’t want the discomfort of a stiletto, mules or block heel shoes are a fantastic option.

These J. Adams Nori block heels for women on Amazon are perfect for summer barbecues, and will instantly complement and even elevate a multitude of summer ensembles.

They are also very similar to a great pair of designer ones like the brand YSL.


• Goodnight Macaroon ‘Smith’ Cut-Out Slides


What do you do when you have an Hermès taste but a Target kinda budget?

Seek out pieces that are inspired by your favorite luxury brands, so you get the best of both worlds! We love these cut out white sliders that have a very Hermès Oran vibe about them; even more so as the summery color means they’ll go with absolutely everything.

And as they’re so purse-friendly, we may even get them in some of the other colors too, as they also come in black, gold, and silver.

Metallics are still very much in, so it’s very tempting…

PS: If you’re a new Goodnight Macaroon customer and sign up, you’ll get 20% off your first order with an email sign up!

Summer Accessories to wear in 2021


Any style maven will tell you that no outfit is complete without some on-point accessorizing.

Accessories are great for penny-pinching, money-savvy fashionistas, as simply investing in just a few key pieces will instantly transform outfits season after season.

Simply adding a hat to your favorite summer dress, or layering some necklaces under the collar of your failsafe blouse will give the look a new lease of life, which is perfect for anyone on a budget who doesn’t like wearing the same outfit twice.

All hail the power of accessories!

Additionally, fashion designers have very quickly and very cleverly mastered the art of producing fun summer clothing accessories for less, meaning you can change up your outfit by mixing and matching to your heart’s content.


•Straw Ribbon Print Fedora


Hats are not just there to cover roots, disguise bad hair days, or protect your head from the sun. Although of course, they do an excellent job of all three.

Hats are one of our favorite summer accessory trends!

They are also great for breathing new life into an outfit, and adding another dimension.

This straw fedora is one of the must-have accessories for summer, as not only does it do everything we mentioned above, but it also has the power to make every outfit pop.

Either wear with an all-white ensemble to add a pop of color, or use it alongside some other pastel or pink pieces for a seamless top to toe match.

You may also like a similar fedora from Amazon in more colors!

• Vintga Bamboo Summer Wooden Beach Basket Handle Handbag



Straw bags have been a summer staple for quite a few years now and they don’t seem to be going anywhere, anytime soon!

Perfect to just grab and go; from pool to party, this straw bag will deliver.

• Red Dress Boutique White Quilted Purse Clutch


Show us a quilted bag, and we’ll more than likely get serious Chanel vibes.

White quilted bags are the epitome of summer luxury, and this posh-on-a-penny edition is just as jaw-dropping as its high end competitors.

Great to wear all summer long with both daywear and eveningwear.

• Shein mini Hérmes Kelly Bag Dupe 

We live for luxury dupes here at SLS – and this mini Hérmes Kelly copycat bag is one of our current must-haves.

Style is teamed with practicality thanks to the detachable strap, which means we can keep our hands free for eating and drinking, while also ensuring the bag stays with us at all times.

And when a bag looks this good, you definitely don’t want to let go of it!

• The Styled Collection Eternity Bracelet


Stacking bracelets of different sizes, metals, and even materials with watches and other types of wrist candy is a very en-vogue trend right now.

Luckily, you don’t have to go all-out and spend several months’ rent to get an enviable selection of jewelry, as there are so many budget friendly pieces to choose from.

This Eternity Bracelet from The Styled Collection bears a great resemblance to the iconic Cartier Love bracelet, and is therefore a perfect example of a piece of jewelry that looks classy and expensive, but secretly isn’t.

The even better news is that the bracelet is currently on sale, so why not get one in gold, one in silver, and one in rose gold to mix and match as you please?!

• PAVOI 14K Gold Colored Lightweight Chunky Open Hoop Earrings


Dainty Gold Earrings + Trendy Gold Jewelry 

cute-things-to-wear-to-an-intimate summer-party

Photo Credit: Style Like Shelby

We actually don’t mind spending a bit more money on a versatile piece of jewelry that doesn’t depend on the latest trends to determine whether we wear it or not. However, it’s a nice bonus when the aforementioned piece of jewelry has a very low price tag attached to it – which is exactly the case for these gorgeous ladies gold hoop earrings.

They’re bold and attention-grabbing without being too overpowering.

In other words, they’re the Goldilocks of the hoop earring world, and are the perfect size to wear with everything from summer dresses to casual jeans and tee combos.


• PAVOI 18K Gold Plated Sterling Silver Round White Pearl Earrings


And for something a little bit more subtle than the gold earrings we just mentioned, how about a dainty pair of stud pearl earrings instead?

Pearls will NEVER go out of style in the SLS style rulebook.

There’s something fabulously feminine about a pearl earring, especially as it has the power to elevate even the most casual of ensembles.

Wear these pearl earrings studs – which come in a pack of five, may we add, so they’re excellent value for money – alongside one of your fancier outfits, or use them to add a touch of luxury and femininity to an otherwise very casual look.

There’s no wrong way to wear these and can be worn everyday!

Trendy Summer Sunglasses For Women

Summer plus accessories definitely equals sunglasses. That’s a math problem we will always know the answer to!

No summer outfit is complete without a fabulous pair of fashionable but also cheap sunglasses to finish off with.

(Cheap in terms of price, and definitely not in appearance, of course!)

So, here are just a few of our current favorites


• Dollger Rectangle Sunglasses for Women


There are so many sunglasses brands and styles to choose from, but you can seldom go wrong with a pair of square frames.

We think this style is very universal, and is particularly flattering if you’re looking for sunglasses for round face shapes. And the fact that this pair is also leopard print – i.e. the boldest and trendiest animal print of all – makes adding it to basket an absolute no brainer.

90’s style rectangular sunglasses


Photo Credit: @shelbyannkatherine

Wear with monochrome pieces or something vintage and denim for a totally nostalgic vibe.


• SOJOS Fashion Cateye Reflective Sunglasses Mirrored For Women


Cat eye sunglasses are the epitome of classic, cool.

We love how this non polarized pair of women’s sunglasses also comes with the added bonus of mirrored lenses, giving us two trends for the price of one.

And speaking of price, we still can’t believe that these are around the ballpark of $14!

And neither will anyone else; especially as they don’t compromise on style or sun safety thanks to their UV400 protection.

• SOJOS Small Retro Round Polarized Sunglasses


Go back in time and explore the fashion of decades past with these groovy retro round sunglasses. We’re obsessed with all the color combinations available!

If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, perhaps one of the bolder color combos might tempt you even more than the safer and more versatile gradient brown hues we have selected…

The blue, green, and pink versions are particularly wow-worthy, and will guarantee that all eyes are on you – or more accurately, your eyes – the whole day long.

Which pair do you have your eye (sorry, not sorry) on? 🙂

• Loewe Oversized Sunglasses Designer Dupes


This summer, The brand Loewe is super, ‘in’.

Thanks, Morgan Stewart!

Here are some great looking designer style sunglasses for under $10 at Forever 21!

These VANLINKER Polarized Rectangle Retro Vintage 90s Sunglasses for women are another great pair of Loewe sunglasses dupes as well!


This post is all about what to wear to an intimate summer barbecue or garden party.






About Style Like Shelby

A big warm welcome to Style Like Shelby blog! My name is Shelby and my mission is to help you have a beautiful life + style on a budget. Read more..

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  1. Maria wrote:

    Love this article- so many great suggestions!

    Posted 5.14.21

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