There are plenty of social events that have specific dress codes. From cocktail parties to work functions to house parties, you’ll go to lots of places that have strict codes of what is and isn’t appropriate.
When it comes to what to wear to brunch, however, the rules are less concrete. Since the idea of “What is brunch?” can be open to interpretation, the fashion rules are less so rules, and more so guidelines. Restaurant failure rate isn’t ever linked to dress codes, so you don’t have to worry about anything too strict when hosting brunch.
That said, there are plenty of ways to decide what to wear to brunch. It can depend on who it is you’re going to brunch with, where you’re going, and what the occasion is. It’s time to dive into all the different things you may wear to brunch, and when you may wear something specific.
What Do You Wear to Brunch?
There are, technically speaking, no set rules about what you should wear to brunch. Brunch is defined as “a meal usually taken late in the morning that combines a late breakfast and an early lunch” (Webster). A definition like that implies a casual dining setting.
It could be dessert or breakfast dishes. It could be casual wine food pairing options. If you want to, you can wear holey jeans and an old shirt to brunch. You can also wear a party dress if you feel like it. The options are endless. We’ll explore 15 of them here.
15 Best Brunch Outfits
These 15 brunch outfit ideas are a varied bunch. Some are for women. Some are for men. There are also some that are gender-neutral.
Of course, we’re not here to tell you what you can and cannot wear. If you like something on this list, go for it! You may not find exactly what you’re looking for on this list, but you’ll find some inspiration, that’s for sure.
15. Jeans and a Blazer
Starting off the list is quite a classic. For brunch wear, it doesn’t get more middle of the road than jeans and a blazer. This combo is cozy and casual, but just dressed up enough.
14. Slacks and a Tee
Slacks and a tee are, in a way, the opposite of jeans and a blazer. This combo is just as much a mix of casual and sleek, but with the roles reversed in terms of tops and bottoms.
13. Maxi Dresses
For summer days, or spring or fall days (with spring cocktails and fall cocktail recipes, respectively) when you want to enjoy the warmth and sun. Maxi dresses are both cute and cozy.
12. Jogger Pants and a Hoodie
If you want to go really casual, jogger pants and a hoodie are perfect for a brunch with close friends. This combo is best for when you just rolled out of bed, and you don’t want to wear PJs, but you’re not wearing jeans.
11. Mini Dresses
Mini dresses are definitely more suited to a summer brunch. When it’s below 60° you’ll want to wear something warmer. For those hot summer brunches out on a sidewalk or patio, mini dresses are perfect.
10. Leather Pants and Printed Tops
To go a bit fancier, with a hint of a party, leather pants and a printed top can work for people of every gender. This is the perfect pairing for a brunch that will turn into an afternoon and then night on the town.
9. Shorts and a Tee
Another mix that’s perfect for summer days, but also super casual brunch dates is shorts and a tee. This is quite the comfy outfit, and you can dress it up with a fancier tee or patterned shorts.
8. Jeans and a Button Down
For something on middle ground, jeans and a button down work for anyone, at pretty much any brunch. You can throw a blazer or cardigan into the mix to dress it up and have an extra layer if it’s chilly.
7. T-Shirt Dresses
T-shirt dresses are the perfect mix between dressed up and casual, literally, as they’re a casual dress. I’m of the opinion that there’s never a bad time for a t-shirt dress, and brunch is the optimal time for them.
6. Tank Tops and Shorts
For a casual summer mix, a tank top and shorts is the way to go. Again, this is one that can be fancier if you wear a fancy tank or patterned shorts. That said, jean shorts and an old tank work just as well.
Rompers are great for any occasion. The variety of rompers available means they can be fancy or relaxed. You can always toss on a sweater for a little extra warmth.
4. Chic PJs
If you want to have a relaxed brunch, but still look put together, chic PJs are a great choice. For really chic choices, silk pajamas, or maybe a sleek top paired with comfy slacks is a great option.
For those hot summer days when you want something breezy and easy to go with your summer cocktails, sundresses are the best choice. These will take you back to the best summer nights and make a midday nap after brunch seem like a great idea.
2. Bike Shorts and a Big Tee
With the bike shorts craze of the last few years, the trend of bike shorts and a big tee is still going strong. This cozy, casual combo is perfect for an impromptu brunch.
1. Leather Jackets with Anything
The number one spot is reserved for something that works for anyone, anytime. Leather jackets can be paired with any other combo on this list. There’s never a bad time for a leather jacket, and it’ll bring a great vibe to any brunch.
Birthday Brunch Outfit Ideas
If you’re going to brunch to celebrate a birthday, the dress code is a bit more specific. Of course, this will depend on the birthday you’re celebrating, but typically a birthday brunch calls for more effort in your outfit.
The birthday person might want it casual. If not, you can assume a birthday brunch outfit can be a shirt-dress or some slacks with a top. It could also be something as fancy as a cocktail dress or suit.
What to Wear to a Brunch Wedding
When it comes to the classiness level of a brunch dress code, a step above birthday brunch is a brunch wedding. A brunch wedding comes with the same ruling as all brunches. If the hosts dictate a casual setting, then you’re fine to wear what you like (within reason).
For most weddings, the couple will include some level of dress code in the invitation. If you’re invited to a brunch wedding and aren’t given any sort of dress code, err on the side of being dressed up. If you’re unsure, just reach out to the couple and find out what they’re looking for.
What to Wear to Brunch In Winter
Brunch is often a summer-y occasion. That said, we all could use the fun of brunch on cold winter days. If you’re going to a winter brunch (maybe with winter cocktail recipes), you may be wondering how to combine winter warmth with brunch fashion.
The best advice is, avoid open air brunch settings. As long as you have a coat that you like wearing with your brunch clothes, you’ll be good to go.
Frequently Asked Questions About Brunch Fashion
We’ve covered a lot of information about brunch wear in this article, but there’s always more to learn. If you’re looking for advice, or you want to learn more about brunch wear, these frequently asked questions will satiate your curiosity.
What Do You Wear to a Classy Brunch?
A classy brunch calls for your best brunch wear. No, this doesn’t mean ball gowns and tuxes. For a classy brunch, nicer dresses or skirts, slacks and a dress shirt, or even a smart suit, will fit the bill.
Can I Wear Jeans to Brunch?
This will depend on the brunch, but for most of your casual brunches, jeans are completely within the acceptable dress code. Maybe stay away from your oldest pair, but if the setting is right, denim is a nice brunch choice. It can't hurt to check out the aesthetic of the place, and the feel of the bar equipment layout, to know if your jeans will fit the bill.
What Is an Appropriate Time for Brunch?
If you’re going out to brunch, you can expect it to be any time from 11am to 2pm. If, however, you’re hosting brunch, you can let your schedule and that of your guests dictate the time.
Maybe you’re having friends sleep over, and you’ll end up with a PJ dress code. Maybe you’re all in the mood for brunch foods at 4pm (this might be a happy hour brunch). Depending on the setting, the typical brunch time varies quite a bit. That said, bar staff will be around outside those hours, so if you’re just hunting for a cocktail your hour options are a bit more varied.
What to Wear to Brunch: Lay Out Your Outfits
After all those potential outfit choices, you’re ready to go to brunch. Choose the cocktail drinks you want to try, find a great appetizer list at a local spot, lay out your clothes, and enjoy!