Choosing the right wedding guest dress can take time and effort. There are many factors to consider: the season, where the wedding is taking place, dress code, body shape, and more.
The first step is to understand what the dress code means. You want to look classy and elegant but not overshadow the bride or her big day.
Know Your Body Shape
Knowing your body shape can help you find the most flattering silhouette when shopping for a wedding guest dress. For example, if you have a pear or triangle-shaped body (smaller upper body with larger hips and thighs), look for a dress that adds size to your top half and slims down your bottom. Try a high-waisted maxi dress with a ruffle sleeve that flows into a tie in the back.
Choose a simple, body-hugging dress for women with an hourglass figure (perfectly balanced shoulders and hips with a defined waist). Flutter or puffed sleeves can also balance out your chest, and a deep V-neckline will emphasize your natural waistline.
Another thing to consider is how formal the event is and what fabric you want to wear. For example, a black-tie affair will call for an elegant floor-length dress like Tadashi Shoji collection. At the same time, a casual outdoor wedding could be more appropriate in a floral print or flowy sundress. The season will also play a role in what kind of dress you’ll need – summer weddings are often best for bare legs and strappy sandals, while a winter or fall wedding may require a thicker knit with a cozy shawl or coat.
Know the Occasion
When it comes to wedding guest attire, elegance is key. As a guest, you want to avoid upstaging the bride and groom or drawing attention to yourself by wearing something too bold. This means skipping bright red dresses and elaborate updos. Instead, opt for a chic, classic style in a tasteful color like black, navy blue, burgundy, or purple.
Consider adding a statement-making accessory or shoes to your look. A shimmering jumpsuit in a rich velvet or satin fabric is a party-perfect option for a summer wedding. At the same time, a glittery sequined dress in a vibrant color like pink would be perfect for a winter celebration.
Also, remember the location of the wedding and what the weather is supposed to be like on that day. If you’re attending a ceremony at an ivy-covered terrace or a European villa, you may need to choose a longer gown or long-sleeve dress that can be worn with a shawl or cape to stay warm. On the other hand, if the ceremony is at a backyard barbecue or a hayfield surrounded by wild grasses and sweeping expanses, you can go for a lighter, more casual dress.
Know Your Budget
Knowing your budget is the most important part of shopping for a wedding guest dress. You want to spend only what you can afford or risk accumulating debt using credit cards on an expensive purchase. If family members or friends plan to contribute to the cost of the wedding, factor that into your overall budget.
If you’re trying to stay within a certain price range, look for stores with large selections of versatile wedding guest styles in your size. Anthropologie, for example, has a wide variety of size-inclusive and gorgeous dresses for different wedding vibes, venues and formality levels. Similarly,a go-to for stylish and contemporary designs can be worn repeatedly.
If you’re looking for a dress that feels more elegant than casual, look for long-sleeve silhouettes in rich shades like blue or green and choose lace or tulle fabrics. This more sophisticated look can still be quite feminine and pretty without stealing attention from the bride and groom. Also, consider what accessories you’ll wear with your dress, as those can make or break an outfit.
Know Your Style
When you’ve got a wedding on the calendar, it’s important to plan. You want to ensure you have a beautiful dress in your closet that you can grab immediately. This way, you won’t have to stress about trying to find something at the last minute or risk showing up in a less-than-flattering outfit.
The fabric and color of the dress should also be taken into consideration. Opt for dresses made of materials that drape well and create a polished look, like silk, satin, or chiffon. Choose darker colors such as black, navy, and burgundy for a more formal look, or choose a dress with a floral print or polka dots to add a casual touch.
For women with pear or triangle-shaped bodies, a strapless dress can help add balance to your figure. If you have a round or oval body shape, try a cinched waist dress that flatters your figure. And if you’re going for a romantic look, a lace dress can be a great option.
Know the Time of the Year
Whether you’re planning on toasting the couple with champagne poolside or dancing the night away at a black-tie affair, the perfect wedding dress will give you plenty of style mileage. Switching up the look of a slip dress by throwing a shawl over it is easy, or making a maxi dress read more casually with a straw clutch and ballet flats.
The color or print you choose will also depend on the time of year, with darker hues and floral prints more appropriate for fall and winter events. Try a summer dress with flowers or pastel colors if you want something lighter and brighter.
Wear a formal dress with long or cap sleeves for a fancier event. These dresses are best for the winter and fall seasons when the temperatures drop, and you’ll want to cover up more. They can be fitted to the wrist or have a fuller sleeve for a more flowing look that’s still romantic. These lace dresses are gorgeous examples of the latter.