It's wedding season!
You read that sentence in one of two ways: Your internal voice was full of joy and excitement, OR your internal voice was filled with dread for the weekend-killing, money-spending nuptial events.
As someone who has been in eight weddings (counting the one where I was the bride) and attended -- and this is a rough estimate -- in the neighborhood of 60-plus weddings, I'm a self-certified wedding expert. I know the etiquette for attending, bridesmaid-ing, bridal-ing, sending regrets and everything in between. Of all my pet peeves about weddings (and there are many, believe you me), one of the biggest is wedding attire; specifically, in terms of what lady guests are wearing.
What are you thinking? Let's go over some rules before you start buying new dresses.
Wearing White to a Wedding
I went to a wedding in Florida a few months ago and was shocked when an older woman--I'm guessing in her 60s -- sat down in front of me, wearing an off-white lace suit. Wearing white to a wedding is just a flat-out, no-questions-asked, HELL NO DON'T DO IT. Not white, not off-white, not eggshell, not ecru, not snow, not seashell, not cream, not ivory -- are you following? I'm used to seeing the occasional clueless 20-year-old show up in white, but a 60-year-old woman? Color me flabbergasted. (Flabbergasted is not a shade of white.) Even though the New York Times-via-Peggy Post says it's okay, I still say no way -- we're about a half a generation away from that being totally in the clear.
Err on the side of caution and just pick, literally, any other color. I'm not even a fan of dresses that feature white as one of two main colors -- why take the chance? Unless you know the bride is not wearing white, it's not worth it. She will notice and complain about you for the rest of her life.
Alternate Choice: Wearing white gets you noticed for all the wrong reasons at a wedding. Spring and summer are the perfect time to buy a beautiful, brightly hued dress: yellow, turquoise or the ever-flattering coral. J. Crew Mollie Dress (was $235, now $170-$188).
This Wedding Is Not a Rave
Looking and feeling sexy is totally fine for a wedding. Weddings remain great places to meet people you'll regret hooking up with later, so naturally you want to look attractive. Weddings are also places where you may run into an ex, or That Bitchy Girl from High School. These are all valid reasons to vamp it up. However, please do not look like a whore. If your asscheek touches chair when you sit down, your dress is too short; if your nipples feel a breeze in your dress, your neckline is too deep. Cleavage is great! Body-conscious cuts are terrific! But if you can't sit still without risking a reveal, things will not go well on the dance floor. Pick another dress.
Alternate Choice: You want a dress that is both elegant and sexy; classy and flirty. Anthropologie has two tempting options:
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Black Is, in Fact, Back
Wearing black to a wedding used to be a no-no, but today wearing an LBD to a wedding is perfectly acceptable. (My bridesmaids wore black. FORESHADOWING?! I'll keep you posted.) Even the occasional bride wears black -- usually a celebrity, and it's still a story (Sarah Jessica Parker, Ellen Pompeo, Shenae Grimes). As long as you avoid full-on widow's weeds, a proper (read: not dour) black dress is completely appropriate. Punching it up with some colorful accessories -- shoes, a brightly hued necklace, a jewel-toned clutch -- also keeps you from veering into funereal territory.
Alternate Choice: Alice + Olivia "Nelly" Leather Detail Dress ($595) is expensive, but the leather and lace is sexy and sophisticated -- spot-on, wedding perfect.