Take A Hint From The LocationThe bridal shower invitation can offer a clue as to the style of the shower. An evening shower held at a fancy restaurant will let you know that jeans and a nice shirt are not going to cut it. An invitation printed on gold foil paper with formal language is another hint that your attire will need to be more dressy. Conversely, a causal invitation inviting you to the home of the hostess for a backyard barbecue will rule out the fancy heels and shimmery dresses.
Tap Into The Shower ThemeMany showers today have a specific theme which might help you choose an outfit. A 50's theme suggests you dress accordingly, while a Caribbean beach party lets you know you can arrive in more casual attire. If the shower is based on a room of the house or special interest, the theme won't provide much help.
When All Else FailsIf you have checked the location and the theme and still find yourself in the position of not knowing what to wear, you can find some help with your family tradition. Since showers are typically a gathering of friends and family, base your outfit on prior family parties. What would you wear if this were not a shower, but a family party at the same venue? Another option is to ask the hostess what she would suggest. A phone number is usually provided to RSVP, so ask about attire when you respond to the invitation. Then call two friends who will also be attending to confer on your choice. If none of these options will work for you, it's time to find the middle of the road. Slip on a simple knee length dress or skirt, a pretty cardigan, some reasonable shoes and head to the party. Avoid anything fancy, trendy or made of denim. While you won't be making any kind of fashion statement, you will be appropriately dressed for any occasion.
Hostesses UniteIf you will be hosting a bridal shower, offer some guidance for your party. A simple statement on the bottom of the invitation will stop the suffering of all your guests. By adding wording such as "resort casual" or "semiformal" to your invitations you guests will know your intentions and can help them arrive in the appropriate attire. If guests call wanting some advice on clothing choices, do not blithely state that anything is fine when you know what type of shower you are hosting. Describe your own chosen clothing to give these gals have a chance.
The Bride's AttireIf you are the honoree of a shower, your attire should match the plan of the hostess. Ask her what type of clothing she would like you to wear. This friend has gone to a lot of trouble on your behalf and hopefully has consulted you on the theme and tone of the shower. Everyone will know you are the bride, so leave the sparkling crystals and lacy dresses at home. This is a gathering of your friends and family, not another opportunity to wear a white dress and diamonds.
By using some common sense, you should be able to create an outfit which will keep you comfortable during a bridal shower. Taking a middle of the road approach and not trying to stand out is a reasonable solution if no guidance is available from the invitation or the hostess. And remember this feeling if you ever become the hostess and be sure to include a little wording on attire on your invitations.