Ready to bid loungewear bye-bye and get dressed up again? Us too. With wedding season back on the horizon, here’s our edit of the very best wedding-guest dresses – and how to style them
The feelgood floral-print dress that’s a fashion failsafe
A floral-print dress is a pretty choice for a spring or summer wedding, perfectly complementing country house or marquee settings. When selecting a patterned dress, consider styles that will work beyond wedding season for maximum cost-per-wear value. Choose a fit-and-flare style with puff sleeves to tap into the season’s whimsical mood and add on-trend sandals to ground the look (wedges and flatforms work well for lawn receptions). Alternatively, keep things classic with a vintage-inspired shift dress: take your pick from bold blooms or ditsy floral prints and pair with a smart blazer and heeled pumps for a fail-safe outfit that will stand the test of time. Where frills and ruffles are concerned, keep accessories understated: minimal jewellery and a sleek clutch bag provide the final flourish.
Looking to add something a little different to your occasionwear repertoire? Try a statement-making pink tailored trouser suit instead.
The hot-in-the-city mini dress that turns heads
Stand out from the crowd in a sweet mini dress that bucks the trend for sweeping hemlines. Ideal for petite women who feel overwhelmed in a maxi dress, figure-flattering short dresses look just as smart as long dresses when styled with ballet pumps or kitten heels. City weddings are the perfect opportunity to showcase your style credentials anyway, and short dresses have the bonus of passing as civvy clothes when dashing about on public transport to reach your destination. Throw a cardigan or trench coat over the top to stay warm when hobnobbing outside the register office and keep a pair of flat shoes in your shoulder bag in case walking is required.
The best wedding-outfit accessory? A glowing complexion, of course. Get yours with our guide to active skincare ingredients.
The elegant off-the-shoulder dress that keeps you cool
Pastels for spring/summer weddings? Groundbreaking. Well, yes, they can be. Whether you opt for a traditional wedding look in classic pastel lace or give pastel styles a twist in a printed dress with a sun-seeking off-the-shoulder neckline, you can elevate with an unexpected accessory or look-twice shoes – metallic silver sandals bring sugary shades into 2021 territory. A Bardot dress is a great way to heatwave-proof July and August weddings outfits – team with a wide-brimmed hat and oversized sunglasses to up the glamour factor. You’ll be glad there’s no pesky tan lines to worry about after an afternoon sipping champagne in the midday sun, just don’t forget the sun cream.
Read our tips for finding the perfect-fitting strapless bra, a must when wearing an off-the-shoulder dress.
The relaxed animal-print dress that’s beach-ready
With more weddings taking place outdoors this year than ever before, it’s time to radically rethink more traditional dress codes. Beach barbecues, glamping and seaside arcades call for laid-back, fashion-forward style and bold patterns. Animal print is up there with the best of them: the modern way to wear it is in relaxed, loose-fit proportions or in an unusual colourway. Style a breezy leopard-print maxi dress with a raffia cross-body bag for hands-free buffet browsing, or experiment with a graphic tiger-print tea dress to break the ice.
If you’re taking the easy-breezy sun dress approach, check out our edit of the best dresses to see you through summer in style.
The colour-pop midi dress that’s perfect for evening weddings
If your invite is for the evening do only and not the official ceremony, the dress code could go either way, so check with the host to see if they’ll be expecting you to rock up in black tie or smart-casual before committing to your outfit. A failsafe midi dress is comfy, flattering and easily dressed up or down. Whether you choose a tea dress, a wrap dress or a shirt dress, a midi dress will easily earn its bread and butter in your post-lockdown party wardrobe. Pick a vibrant shade to express your personality: fuchsia, green or geranium red are key shades for spring/summer and bound to start a conversation in the queue for the bar – a godsend when you don’t know many faces in the crowd.
Words: Dulcie Emerson and Sophie Hines