Picnic outfit ideas: How to dress when eating alfresco this summer

Looking for picnic outfit ideas? This is what a fashion expert recommends for outdoor dining this summer

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There's no better time to get your picnic outfit ideas in check. With the warmer weather officially upon us, bring your socializing outdoors for a spot of alfresco dining and have your summery ensembles ready to go.

Picnics are the ideal way to boost your time outside this summer. A quintessentially sunny activity, putting together the best picnic outfit ideas will ensure your transition from couch to picnic blanket is a smooth one, as there is a certain level of practicality needed. Picnics in general require sitting on grass, or a picnic blanket, meaning planning your outfit ahead of the event is wise. 

Starting from the ground up, sensible shoes are a must, as heels and grass is not a mix you'll want to contend with. A sneaker or a summer sandal will help you navigate grassy terrain, and ideally, something that slips on or off easily if you want to stay extra comfy. As you will likely be sat on the ground, when it comes to picnic outfit ideas, hemlines are important. The safest bet is shorts or a pair of jeans or pants with plenty of give. However, if you want to wear a dress or skirt, opt for fuller, A-line shapes as these allow you ease of movement, and ensure you have a midi or maxi hemline so you can sit on the floor and cross your legs if you choose.

Picnic outfit ideas for a chic summer look

Your existing summer capsule wardrobe is likely to already be packed with plenty of pieces that will translate well to picnic outfit ideas, but we've pulled together some of our favorite picnic-ready looks so all you need to worry about is the sandwiches. 

1. Midi dress

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For a throw-on-and-go outfit that requires minimal styling, a midi dress is hard to beat. Just add comfortable flats and a roomy bag and you’re good to go. The longer length of the best midi dresses makes them perfect for covering your legs when sitting down on a picnic blanket. While any midi dress will fulfill the brief, A-line designs will allow you to sit cross-legged more easily than straighter designs. Embrace summer with full-bloom prints and romantic pastel shades, or keep it simple in more muted tones. The best summer dresses are the ones that go with everything and will take you anywhere, so they're well worth the investment.

2. Wide-leg jeans

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Picnics are great fun, but we’re fierce advocates of the fact that it’s very hard to enjoy a good meal comfortably while wearing skinny jeans. Enter instead wide-leg jeans and pants. Stylish and remarkably comfortable all at once, this roomier style looks just as good teamed with a romantic blouse as it does with your best t-shirt or sweatshirt. If you’re worried about what to wear with wide leg pants, or are concerned the wider shape will overwhelm your frame, choose a pair that are cropped at the ankle and team them with a form-fitting top to keep everything perfectly proportioned. Perfect for transitional weather or cooler summer evenings, the best jeans won't let you down.

3. Co-ord

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We’ve all been there, holding a top and bottoms in the mirror agonizing over whether they “go together”. With a co-ord, there’s no need to wonder, as these pieces are designed to be worn as a set - and they're ideal for answering how to dress like Carrie Bradshaw. Shorts and pants win for practicality over skirts, but both will look equally chic as you soak up the sunshine. You can consider mixing and matching both parts of your co-ord with other items in your wardrobe too, to max out your cost-per-wear - capsule wardrobe dressing at its best.

4. Jumpsuit

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Craving sartorial simplicity? A flattering jumpsuit  is one of the best picnic outfit ideas. The all-in-one shape means there’s no need to worry about matching tops and bottoms, as well as offering added comfort. One of the big denim trends 2023, a denim boilersuit is a smart choice for cooler picnic days, as the thicker fabric will help keep you warm. When it comes to denim washes, the lighter the denim, the more casual, and more summery, your look will feel. Utility jumpsuits in easy-breezy cotton and linen are great for warmer days. Look to safari-inspired shades of khaki and sand for a laid-back feel. 

5. Statement sweater

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Wind starting to bite? No bother. A stylish slogan sweatshirt will keep you warm when the sun is hiding behind the clouds as well as adding a point of difference to your look. Neutrals like black, white, and grey are guaranteed to go with any outfit, but for a summery feel, we love bright, look-at-me colors. Not sure what shades go with what? If you’re already wearing a print, look to see which colors feature within it and choose your best sweater in the same, or similar, shade. White jeans always make the perfect base for an outfit with a bright sweater, particularly in sunny weather.

6. Straw bag

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There’s something very whimsical about taking a straw bag to a picnic, and they're great for holiday outfit ideas too. A modern take on the classic picnic hamper, a generously sized straw bag will make room for all your essentials, plus your contribution to the food and drink. The open shape means all your belongings are within easy reach too. Black, white, or tan leather straps feel traditional, with the added bonus of coordinating with any outfit, while bright straps and pops of color will add extra interest. Style up with the best linen dresses or some wide-leg pants and sandals.

7. Shorts

Picnic outfit ideas with shorts

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Shorts and summer go together like strawberries and picnics. Although denim cut-offs are essential for a travel capsule wardrobe, when it comes to shorts for picnics, opt for lightweight linen pairs to keep you cool as the mercury rises. Shorts with a more tailored shape (think front pleats, high waists and a built-in belt) will instantly feel smarter, while elasticated waists and curved hemlines add a sporty feel. Wear with a linen shirt over the top (make sure to half-tuck if it's an oversized design) and finish with chunky sandals or platform white trainers for a cool smart casual outfit idea.