I'm going to my friend's wedding tomorrow and my friends and I have been on a seemingly endless loop of "What are you going to wear!?" I finally took a picture of the dress I'm borrowing from my endlessly patient roommate because I was tired of describing it. OH MY GOD MY LIFE IS SO HARD I HAVE TO DESCRIBE A MAXI DRESS.
Oh yes, I said, "maxi dress."
The difficulty in dressing for this wedding is that the groom/friend is super laid-back. The event and location, though? Fan-cy! What's a girl to do? That's pretty easy, actually: dress for the room and the event. It occurs to me that there are a lot of difficult occasions for which we must dress, and a guide based purely on my opinions because let's remember that I have a theatre degree, not a fashion degree might be helpful. Sorry guys, for pretty much all of these the only thing you have to do is show up in a clean, well-fitted suit. And we HATE you for it.
Evening Wedding with sit-down-type dinner and things like that
This is a dress up event. Get out that nice dress from the back of your closet and do it up. This is definitely the time to bust out those amazing shoes you never have a reason to wear. Black is fine, but color is great too. NOT WHITE. NOT OFF-WHITE. Super formal wedding? Feel free to wear the full-length gown. Make sure you can walk in the shoes and if your bag has room in it, pack flats for dancing. No one likes to see bare feet in the middle of a chandelier-packed ballroom. Remember what Mary J. Blige says in her seminal woman power song "Just Fine" - "I'm a lady so I must stay classy." Always listen to MJB.
Now here's my problem, and maybe you can solve it for me: Winter weddings. You look lovely and then have to throw your big honking jacket over it all. Ugh. I have a coat that is formal-ish, but it's kind of a mess and it's really bulky. I'm not buying a dress coat just to have a dress coat for the one winter wedding I go to every year. And freezing to death by draping a little scarf around my shoulders is not an option because I get cold easily. What is a girl to do?
If it's like outdoor sit-down wedding, you are going to need a pretty party dress or a day dress. Just go to ModCloth, close your eyes, and click. Problem solved. Same can go for outdoor barbeque wedding (which would be EXACTLY what I would want if I was getting married, ps) but you can also really up the funk factor on this kind of a wedding. Big prints: YES. A fascinator? TOTALLY. Cowboy boots with a day dress? I HAVE DONE THIS. Just have fun because you're going to be covered in cornbread anyway. Mmmm...cornbread.
Nice pants and a cute top with decent shoes or a pretty day dress. Think of a favorite aunt. Would she say you look very nice and how great it is to see you all grown up? If not, start over.
Oh, when I say day dress, I am thinking of something along the lines of this. Also, omg, can that dress be any cuter!? It has BOATS ON IT.
Do not dress as though clubbing. Look nice. A non-floor-length cocktail dress will do the trick. Keep the accessories minimal; keep the shoes comfortable but appealing. You WILL be standing pretty much the entire time. Whether or not that standing happens in front of the dip is up to you. (But you know where to find me. Mmmm...dip.)
I can sense that I am bumming you out but the truth is these things come up and then we stare at our closets, not sure what to wear and also distraught, so it's good to have a go-to outfit or two that you don't have to think about too much. If you're close with the person and his or her beliefs include such a thing, you may have to also attend a viewing the night before. That means two outfits. Basically, nothing sexy (ever) (NOT EVER at a funeral), so watch your hem lines and watch your décolletage. Interesting stockings: yes. Fishnets: no. You don't have to wear black, but it's an easy choice. Dark or muted colors are fine - burgundy, grey, navy, whatever. Waterproof mascara and lipstick that won't "kiss off" as the commercials say. You'll probably kiss a lot of cheeks and cry some. It's okay.
Here's a trick for keeping your lipstick on a little longer. Put on your lipstick. Now blot three times on a tissue or square of toilet paper. (I prefer a square of toilet paper because it's big enough for the job and I don't feel as wasteful.) Now put on lipstick again. Blot three times again. Now put on lipstick again. Blot ONCE. Lightly dust your lips with some translucent powder and then press them together. This is not the way to get glassy lips but it is the way to have lipstick on for 5 hours.
Dinner with Significant Other's family
Meld engagement party with funeral. Nothing sexy, but something cute that fits you well. Make sure you can walk in your shoes or the first thing the family will think is, "this girl is an idiot." If you're me, you don't need your shoes to give them that impression when you’re nervous awkwardness can do it for you. The first time I met my ex’s family, it was during intermission of a play and I excused myself ten minutes into conversation because I thought the lights had flickered, signaling the end of intermission. I went back to my seat across the room and sat there, alone, while the lights stayed up and intermission went on for another ten minutes. I wanted to die.
Day dress. Comfortable but cute shoes. Waterproof mascara, in case the chorus of "Sunrise, Sunset" starts playing in your head when you see your little sister receive her Master’s degree. BRING GUM.
Don't go to clown rodeos. That shit is creepy.