Guest Dress Revolution

Dressing to be a wedding guest should be a string of fun occasions. On paper, it’s great: finding the perfect outfit to blend into the particular mood of that event; scheduling in a hair cut to feel glamorous on the day; breaking in a gorgeous pair of shoes to dance the night away…

In reality, however, getting organised to attend someone’s wedding is a faff.

I’m limiting myself to faff, out of politeness. No outfit seems quite right, and a Panic Shop looms ominously – nobody wants to do a last minute Supermarket Sweep through Coast for anything knee length and floral, or turn up matching someone who did the same… In reality, I also can’t actually justify the cost of an extra hair cut…. Or ‘break in’ a pair of heels when, at the age of 26, my feet are stubborn and set in their flat shoe ways. If there was any enjoyment in these outfit preparations, it’s probably squashed by sorting out the other practicalities – the travel booking, gift buying, etc. Then the day suddenly turns up: ten hours of tummy rumbling, foot aching, pretending to be only half as tipsy, generally feeling like you’d enjoy the dinner and dancing more if you’d been allowed to turn up in your pyjamas – and that’s just the bride…

I’m being a bit mean here. Weddings are special occasions, whether it’s celebrating two incredible people in your life or enjoying being the Plus One, peeking into another friend/family’s occasion. But from your mid twenties, there are a lot of them. I remember asking a beautician in my early teens when I’d grow out of spots, and she laughed and said you never do… I now feel like that about weddings. So how do you navigate them without breaking the bank?

I’m yet to figure out this one, but I have realised you can save yourself the outfit hustle, simply by steering away from the high street and picking out a couple of classic pieces to invest in for the long term. Particularly separates that can mix and match. It sounds counter-intuitive to spend more to save money and, obviously, budget is a major factor here. However, the idea is to spend more wisely – I will hold my hand up now and admit I am far more likely to buy four £30 dresses in a year than one £120 dress, which is £240 over two years, etc. This is, really, just bad budgeting. I know that spending £240 on a wise, thought out choice will save me money in the long run – it will inevitably last longer and encourage better saving habits, protecting my wallet from impulsive buys. Also, investing more wisely in clothes has sustainability points. More people buying less, and buying better, reduces fast fashion’s impact on the environment.

To follow this plan, I have to rewrite my mind set. To ignore high street windows and feeds yelling SALE, and look for when those slightly bigger ticket items are reduced. Basically, I’m learning to spend like an adult and not a teenager.

Which leads me back to the grown up topic of wedding guest dressing. Why not jump on the commitment bandwagon, and use this an opportunity to mature your own style? Take time to explore some slightly higher value pieces – now is a good point, as there are still some Spring/Summer 2019 items reduced. Find designers at a manageable scale, whose creations you actually tune with your personality – don’t sleep walk through Coast, Asos, etc. Buy a piece you feel is a classic when the season is moving on, and let it incubate in your wardrobe until next year’s plethora of weddings. You can always update it with on trend accessories.

Of course, there are flaws in this plan – it doesn’t rule out someone else turning up in the same thing, or account for any significant weight changes. But, at the very least: you take that bit of ownership over your financial planning (through fashion, yay) and you’re wearing something you actually like. So whatever else is going on at so-and-so’s wedding, you feel like a fabulous Grown Up – on your terms.

Looking ahead to your next event? Here are some options I love:

Harmur, founded in 2017, specialise in gorgeous silk designs. Invest in their skirts, which have a wraparound tie giving some flexibility to the fit. They also have complimentary tops if you want the full look, but I think the skirts are a great statement with a camisole, a classic button down shirt, or a simple top (think back to Olivia Palmero’s wedding outfit).

Frankie Shop’s pleated skirts are another good option – pair with a top from Cami NYC and some statement jewellery.

Reformation have a focus on sustainability and environmentally friendly manufacturing, and fantastic designs. They are getting quite a lot of press for eco-conscious wedding dresses and bridesmaid looks (be careful not to accidentally add yourself to the bridal party!). You could fill multiple suitcases with perfect holiday dresses from their main line but, in terms of weddings, they excel at classic shapes in a few colour options. Beware of clashing with the bridal party if you shop in their Wedding Guest line (so definitely incubate them for a few seasons to avoid any accidental matching!).

Finally, The OutNet is always inviting for a stylish deal. Look for Jason Wu, the previously mentioned Cami NYC, Sandro and Alice + Olivia for wedding worthy dresses and separates.


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