Style Inspiration: What to Wear to an Upscale Poetry Reading

Shailo writes, “I’m going to an upscale poetry reading/birthday bash in downtown Houston this weekend and I have no clue what to wear. I don’t want to go to “club-y” or too relaxed. HELP!”

I’m on it! I’ve been to my fair share of poetry readings, and the attire can be very casual, while there are some people that tend to go the dressy route. Being that this is on the upscale end, and a birthday extravaganza, these looks are decidedly reflective of that.

The key in avoiding the look from being too “club-y” is to make sure your outfit is neither too tight, nor too short.

This red peplum top will skim along your hips and work in conjunction with the leopard print pencil skirt to highlight your curves. It’s sexy without being scandalous. I wanted the focal point to mainly be the garments, so I kept it simple with gold studs, and a matching clutch. I also went for black pumps with a gold plated cap toe (they’ve been huge this season). Keep your lips a faint color, and go more a subtle smokey eye.

If you’re not up for showing those gams, perhaps you’d like to opt for look 2.


I went for a basic black tank, and jazzed it up with a pair of floral cropped trousers. Brighten your look with a pair of pink pumps like these Brian Atwoods, and a turquoise clutch. The button stud earrings complement the floral detailing found in the pants, while the pink lip will set off the ensemble.

Lastly, I chose an Alice + Olivia silk chiffon dress. It’s fresh and summery.



To make this outfit pop, add colorful accessories. Purple pumps look great against the white dress, and is also uplifted by the green clutch. You can opt for a bold coral lip and black and gold earrings.

There you have it, Shailo! Now I’m contemplating hitting up a few poetry readings myself. I love a good spoken word.


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