What to Wear to a Bonfire [Outfit Ideas for All Seasons]

You have cozy bonfire plans- but what to wear?  Well, it depends.  What you should wear to a classic, summer-night-out beach bonfire will be different from what you should wear to stay warm around a fire on a crisp fall evening.  

It’s challenging to figure out bonfire attire because there are so many factors to take into consideration. The fire is hot- so you want to wear something that won’t leave you a sweaty mess.  However, the second you step away from the fire, you’re looking at chilly after-sunset temperatures.  You’re probably going to be with a group of people, so you’ll want to look your best.  Unfortunately, the fire tends to leave things smelling like smoke and soot marked- so you’ll want to leave your favorite clothes at home.

The best thing to wear to a bonfire is a multi-layer outfit, such as jeans with a light cotton shirt and a fall jacket. Alternatively, you can go with a tank top with a long-sleeve button-up and a jacket, so you can put more clothing on as the night cools down or take it off if the fire gets too hot.

Of course, other considerations may play into your wardrobe decisions.  Let’s look at the different factors that will affect what you should wear to your bonfire event.

What to Wear for Bonfires During Each Season

Summer

You might be tempted to go straight from beach waves to fire-side, but you’ll regret that before the night is through.  A damp swimsuit is no match for a chilly night.  If you can’t get away to change before heading to the bonfire, throw a sweatshirt and pants in your beach bag to pull on once the sun goes down. Do you run cold?  A jacket, thick pair of socks and a change of shoes might keep the temperature from ruining your night.

 

Autumn

  Autumn bonfires can vary from sweaty, mosquito-filled gatherings to frigid huddles around the fire.  If you have time to think about what to wear, you’re also going to want to take a minute to check the weather.  Pay special attention to what is predicted to happen after the sun sets.  Again, layers will be your best friend- try a tank top with a flannel shirt.  Pack a light jacket in your car or bag and a heavier jacket if you’re looking at temperatures under 55 degrees.

Winter

Unless you’re living in the tropics, winter bonfires are about staying warm.  Keep the ability to shed layers, but think heavy layers.  A long sleeve base layer will keep you cozy if you’re closer to the fire.  You should put a sweater on top with a light jacket on top of that.  Keep a hat, scarf, and heavy parka handy, just in case.

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Spring

  Spring weather can be a wildcard, just like autumn- think along the same lines as fall bonfires when planning what to wear to spring bonfires! 

What to Wear to a Bonfire in Special Settings

Beach

Beach bonfires can be beautiful and enjoyable if you’re prepared.  Walking in the sand on beaches can be tricky, though.  Wear footear that is easy to remove to avoid the discomfort of sand in your shoes.  Are you heading to the bonfire after a day of swimming? Bring an extra towel to wrap around yourself for warmth.

Woods

Unlike at the beach, you’ll want to wear sturdy, closed-toes shoes to a bonfire in the woods.  There are a lot of tree roots that might trip you in the dark- make sure your shoes have good ankle support to avoid injuries.  Don’t forget to wear bug spray!  The heat of the fire and gathered humans can bring out the hungry bugs, so you’ll want to be prepared.

 

What to Wear to Bonfires if You’re a Guy

Girls might have their favorite cute campfire or outdoor outfits, but what they’ll need isn’t too different from what their guy friends should wear.  If you’re a guy who’s still stumped, here’s the basic bonfire wardrobe: 

 Jeans

Unless the bonfire you plan to attend is in the middle of a hot summer day, you’re going to want to wear long pants or jeans.  They’ll keep you warm when you’re not right next to the fire.  Additionally, fires tend to spit out small pieces of burning debris- you need to make sure your legs are covered.

Tee shirt

Bonfires are typically not formal occasions, so feel free to wear a comfy tee shirt.  Since the fire throws out sparks, leave your favorite shirts at home.  Sparks can burn small holes in the fabric of your clothing.

 

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Closed-toed shoes

Your feet are going to be near open flames!  Keep them safe by wearing thick, closed-toed shoes.  A pair of wool socks can keep your feet cozy, too.

Accessory Ideas

If you’re looking to jazz up your outfit, a ball cap in the summer or a beanie in the winter can provide some style while keeping your head warm.  Leave anything expensive- like smartwatches- at home.  Expensive accessories aren’t very compatible with hot temperatures and dark outdoor settings.

 

What to Wear to Bonfires if You’re a Girl

In addition to the list for guys, girls should consider bringing:

Hair tie or hat

Bonfires are tons of fun!  Unfortunately, they leave everything smelling like smoke.  If you don’t want your hair to smell like a campfire, make sure to bring a hair tie.  If you really can’t afford to smell like smoke and won’t have time to shower, try a ball cap or beanie that can cover as much of your hair as possible.

Light makeup

Smoke-induced tears will ruin any carefully-applied makeup.  If you feel the need to put on cosmetics, keep it light.  Tinted moisturizer and lip balm can keep you looking fresh without running down your face at the end of the night.

A big bag

If you follow the cardinal rule- “layers”- you’ll need a bag to stash your stuff.  Totes, bucket bags, hobo bags, or even a cute duffel can do the trick.  Leave the tiny purses at home.  If you don’t want to bring a bag, you’ll need to use another strategy:

 Pockets

Women’s clothing is notorious for its small pockets.  However, if you’re ditching the bag, you’ll need storage space.  Pull out the utility jackets with the zippered pockets or the sweatshirt with the deep hoodie front pocket.  Make sure any pocket you stash your smartphone in can keep it from falling out.

Accessory Ideas

 You might be outside, but you can still look cute!  Long, layered necklaces and dangly earrings over flannel shirts create a boho look.  Embrace the camp vibe by tying a plaid shirt around your waist or donning a knit beanie.  Fashion rules are bendable when it comes to the great outdoors- suddenly, wool socks and Birkenstock sandals are okay to wear together.  Have some fun!  Make sure not to wear anything you can’t live without, however,  Once it gets dark, it’s easy to lose your expensive sunglasses in the grass.

 

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What to Wear to Special-Occasion Bonfires

There might be special considerations if the bonfire you’re planning to attend is more than a casual gathering with friends.  With a few adjustments to the usual wardrobe, you should be able to keep to the dress code while remaining comfortable.

Bonfire Party

 If you are invited to a fancier party that involves a bonfire, you can adjust your partywear with a few tweaks.  Keep in mind that you should leave anything expensive at home.  Bonfires happen in the dark, where things can get lost.  Leave the diamond earrings.  Instead, opt for accessories that are cute but reasonably priced.  If you want to wear a party dress, make sure they’re leggings-friendly to protect your skin.  Thrown sparks can burn holes in your fancy clothes, so stick with cute-but-cheap items that you don’t mind getting ruined.  Luckily, bonfire means low light, so no one will notice if you’re not wearing high-fashion brands!

Bonfire Wedding

Pay close attention to your invitation to a bonfire wedding.  It’s not unusual for couples to indicate what they want guests to wear under the party details.  If they say it’s casual, you can follow the guidelines above- but err on the side of dressy.  “Casual” wedding typically means a button-up shirt for men, not a tee-shirt, and casual dresses for the ladies.  

Sometimes couples opt for a formal ceremony with a casual, outdoor bonfire reception.  If the invitation indicates typical wedding attire, think about what you should wear to protect your fancy clothes.  A trench coat can cover a dress or suit, and any dry cleaners can get the smoke smell out afterward.  Closed-toed flats can work with dresses and provide enough stability to navigate fireside dirt paths.

Conclusion

When it comes to bonfires, your wardrobe should vary depending on the circumstances.  However, you’ll never go wrong with layers.  Lightweight base layers with middle and heavy weight clothing to add on will keep you comfortable and enjoying your night.

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