What to Wear to a Private School Fundraiser

Hi Deborah,

My son goes to a private school high school, and there are many school fundraisers from casual to formal that happen throughout the year. I have no idea what to wear to these types of things as it is all new to me. Can you please give me some guidance?  Lynn

Hi Lynn,

A school fundraiser is always an important event to support because the money goes towards important events and projects happening in the school. Plus, fundraisers usually end up being a lot of fun.  However, I can imagine that there is some pressure to dress to a certain standard when your child is attending an elite private school, even if that pressure is all in your own head. We all want to feel confident about the way we present.

Here are a few suggestions about what to wear to 3 typical private school fundraising events.

1. Fall Garage Sale Fundraiser- sweater and jeans

  • black jeans – dressier than blue
  • riding boots – very old world/private school
  • fine leather accessories like this fab bag
  • silk scarf – cultured, refined
  • gold/silver Real, gold jewelry is always elegant and looks classier than colorful costume jewelry

Floral Dresses - Blue and White

Spring  Tea Fundraiser  – A Pretty Dress and Polished Look

  • feminine dress with classic cut
  • pretty jewelry
  • knock out quality leather designer bag
  • florals always look pretty and classic
  • heels

Little Black dress with Ruffles

Annual  Parent’s Fundraising Ball – A Cocktail Dress (or Little Black Dress)

This is the most stressful school fundraiser to attend because it is a big event with ladies expected to wear cocktail dresses or long gowns and gentlemen to wear dark suits or tuxedos. Here’s what you need to know about your dress.

  • Keep it Classic:  Don’t get caught up in trying to find something that is overdone.  Remember, classic is always classy. Look for a dress or jacket that has simple lines, and that is the highest quality you can afford. The Little Black Dress always works.
  • Look for a good fit: Avoid boxy shapes and go for more fitted pieces with a nice shape to it?  That is what you want to look for!
  • Solid Color or Simple Print:  A solid color or classic print is most conservative and likely most appropriate if your fundraiser is at a private school. That yellow sparkly cocktail dress with the butterfly motif doesn’t have the old world, old money vibe that a private school has.
  • Keep Your Accessories Simple:  Keep all the accessories classy and simple.  The attention should be on the dress, and you don’t want to over accessorize and confuse the eye.  One more tip is that your shoes and handbag do not have to match.  In this outfit, the shoe is black and the bag silver which makes a classy combination.
  • Don’t try to be too sexy:  A fundraiser is not the time to try to show off your sexy side.  This dress has a high neckline but isn’t so prim and proper that it doesn’t look modern and stylish. You could also find a dress with a nice “v” neck that would work just fine but make sure that the fabric is not too flimsy.
  • The Proper Shoe Can Make or Break Your Outfit:  The biggest mistake in creating the perfect look can be choosing the wrong shoe.  This sparkly closed-toe pump is stunning and very appropriate for this dress.

The best advice I can give you is not to leave finding a dress for a formal school fundraiser to the last-minute.  If you do, you’ll feel too pressured and most likely end up spending money on something that you might not wear that often.

Lynn, I hope these tips help you feel more comfortable going to fundraising events at your son’s private school. Keep the idea of looking conservative and polished in mind, and you will be sure to make the right choices for what to wear. Best Wishes!

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