Dresses and photographs Courtesy of Richard’s of Greenwich

Is it any wonder that people wait till spring and summer to put their homes on the market? Homes and gardens are never prettier then when lush green lawns, colorful azaleas, plump peonies and thickets of rose bushes enhance them.  It’s also the perfect time to host celebrations and parties outdoors, from graduations and weddings to birthday and cocktail parties.

If you are hosting, you will probably take equal care with the guest list, food, table arrangements, signature cocktails and attire.  As a gracious guest, any specific requests, from “no gifts” to “festive attire” should be adhered to.

If your host has requested a specific type of attire and you are unsure what exactly “cocktail casual” means, by all means feel free to ask him or her to clarify or confer with other friends who will be attending.  It’s always nicer to err on the side of over- rather than under-dressed.

It’s important to know if you will be standing in grass, on a patio, or in a tent with or without a floor. Let’s just say, 90mm Jimmy Choo stilettos are best saved for indoor venues.  Pretty patent wedges are a better option for stability, comfort and, if the occasion calls for it, dancing the night away.

Regarding dresses, wearing any of the “terrible toos”– too tight, too bare and too short – may entertain your fellow guests, but will not endear you to your hosts.  Here are some looks that would be both pretty and appropriate for garden celebrations this summer:

Graduation or afternoon wedding: The Talbot Runhof navy-and-white floral cotton/lycra dress would be a perfect choice.  For starters, it has a sleeve, which is a rare commodity these days. It also has a sweetheart neckline, which I find to be universally flattering.  On the hanger, everyone thinks the ruching will add inches, but surprisingly, it’s just the opposite.  The delicate folds of fabric are wonderful for disguising figure flaws. A smoky blue Jimmy Choo shoe is a nice bridge between a pump and a sandal.  I could see getting a lot of mileage out of this style.

Cocktails: Known for her love of prints, Alberta Ferretti has created a vibrant print that looks like a party.  The nude mesh detail on the shoulder is a chic, modern touch.  I like popping the brightest shade in the dress, so I paired it with a lemon-yellow Nancy Gonzalez alligator clutch and gold Gucci sandal.  Festive and ladylike, this dress is a winner.

Black-tie Wedding: Pamella Roland is quite well-known for her beautiful evening clothes.  They have graced the bodies of beauties like Gisele Bündchen, Emma Stone, Blake Lively, Maria Menounos and Carrie Underwood for their red-carpet outings.   I was utterly charmed by this spectacular green chiffon floral gown.  The tiny strips at the bodice are made of lizard.  This gown has it all – elegance and movement and, though it shows a bit of skin, it is done tastefully.

This is the kind of gown you could dance the night away in – even if you are barefoot.

Here’s to the pleasures of summer – gorgeous gardens, good friends and parties that celebrate the milestones that make life so joyous.

To read Debbi’s blog, visit DivaDebbi.com.

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