When I check my mail and see one of those big, creamy white envelopes with the feminine, curly script, my first thought is not, “Yay, a wedding!”
It’s usually, “Oh jeez, what am I going to wear?”
Sure, all eyes are theoretically on the bride, but at most weddings, we see a lot of friends and family members whom we haven’t seen in a long time, so we feel pressure to look perfect. And all stylish women know that nailing a gorgeous look involves a lot more than just choosing the right dress.
In fact, contemplating each element of your look is sometimes a bit overwhelming. That’s why I sat down and came up with a step-by-step guide to planning every single part of a sophisticated, formal outfit.
For most women, everything starts with the dress. Because it’s the centerpiece of your look, it’s best to choose this first and then build your accessories around it.
Obviously the style will depend on your personal taste as well as the type of wedding you’re attending, but one rule is always true: Don’t wear white. It’s the bride’s color alone. And though it’s a classic and elegant choice, I think all black is a bit too somber for such a celebration. I recommend a vibrant and beautiful color, like this sapphire blue.
If the event is like most weddings, you’ll be moving around and dancing, so consider a knee-length dress that has some movement to it. But be sure to walk around, sit, and dance in it before the event, just to make sure you’ll be comfortable. As for cut, regardless of your shape, a dress that nips in at your natural waist is always figure-flattering and feminine.
Do as the royals (and most British ladies) do and wear a beautiful head accessory like a fascinator. It’s a gorgeous way to stand out from the crowd and make your outfit truly special. If you plan on wearing it during the wedding ceremony, however, choose a low-profile design that won’t impede anyone’s view of the proceedings. Or, if big is your thing, then just hold it in your lap until the ceremony is over.
The thing to remember for formal jewelry is to not overdo it. Pick one statement accessory near your face and let that shine. In this case, because we went with the fascinator, we want everything else to be very subtle. A simple, black necklace along with diamond or sapphire stud earrings is all you need.
Regardless of the season, it’s almost always a good idea to bring a shawl, wrap, or shrug along with you. This is especially true if the ceremony is taking place in a church or other place or worship, as modesty is often preferred in these settings. Plus, you never know when it might get a bit chilly. It’s nice to have a slightly fancier pashmina, like the one here, which features a bit of sparkle at the ends.
Please don’t make the mistake of ruining a perfectly beautiful outfit with your everyday, over-the-shoulder, carryall purse. You absolutely must have a small, dressy clutch that matches the formality of your dress. If ordering online, look closely at the dimensions.
While it should be small, it should be large enough to fit your cell phone, keys, credit cards or cash, a couple of makeup essentials, and your foldable flats…more on that in # 7. And I recommend opting for one with a wrist strap or chain so that it’s easy to hold during cocktail hour.
You’re old enough to know better than to wear terrible uncomfortable, sky-high heels that will make you miserable after an hour. Weddings involve lots of standing and dancing, so try to find the balance between cute and comfy. Wedges offer a good compromise because they give you height and support.
When it comes to color, you can pull a color from your dress or, if you want to be bold, go for a contrasting color, like the gold in the picture. Whichever you choose, give them a test drive around your house just to be sure they won’t hurt you on the actual day.
An often-forgotten element of the outfit, small socks designed for wearing with heels are key, as they’ll help you to avoid painful rubbing and blisters. There are even designs available made specifically for peep-toe shoes. You can choose between a nude shade, your shoe color or basic black in a pretty, lacy fabric that’s meant to be seen. If you’re wearing tights or panty hose, this won’t be an issue. But if not, don’t forget to pick these up.
8. Back-Up Shoes
I don’t know about you, but no matter how comfortable my high heels are at the start of the night, by the end, they feel like torture devices. This can be a serious problem if you’d like to actually stay till the end of the wedding or even dance a little.
That’s why I’m so grateful for these brilliant foldable flats that come in their own little bag, which is small enough to fit into many clutches. You can invest in a more expensive but durable pair like Sidekicks brand, or go for the cheaper Dr. Scholl’s kind you can find in most drugstores. When you pull these out and ditch your heels, you’ll be the envy of every woman there.
Next time you get a wedding invitation, don’t panic. Just refer back to this guide and, you’re guaranteed to be fully prepared for a fun and fashionable night.