Wedding Guest Dress Help!

Updated on June 09, 2016
N.R. asks from Chicago, IL
15 answers

I am going to a wedding in FL this summer, country club fancy, evening. Obviously hot. (Tho probably indoors with air-co) I'm coming up short finding a dress. I want to be chic and stylish, but I'm too old (and a teeny bit out of shape) to wear all the super strappy, tight, short, I-don't-need-a-bra stuff. Do you have a favorite brand that's hip and pretty but can accommodate a less than super model shape? Online sources? Or, if you're in the Chicago area, favorite boutiques or big stores? I'd love your help!

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So What Happened?

Thank you for all the great advice here and in my "what fabrics are best for hot weather" question. Really appreciate the time everyone took and label/site suggestions, which I did check out. Found a couple of nice dresses (one in my own closet, even better) and am having them tailored. Taking the advice to hit the gym to feel better about whatever I wear! Also recommend looking in your closet for clothes you can have altered a bit to update them. Have a great summer, all.

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answers from Boston on

I have a great even this summer too and being just a teeny bit out of shape (as you say you are), I would rather hit the gym hard and then be able to wear what I really desire.

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answers from Phoenix on

My opinion is to not stress about it so much. Don't worry about trying to fit in to the country club look if that isn't truly your personality to begin with. Find something you are comfortable in and flatters you. Most weddings end up with a huge difference in attire anyway so just be comfortable and don't try so hard to make something fit you. JMO. Good luck!!!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I think you will find a huge range in wedding attire among the guests. I think you can absolutely assume there will be air conditioning.

I would consider going to a nice boutique with an involved owner, or a good department store with a good department manager or fitters/stylists who know what they have in stock. Tell them what you are looking for (fancy enough but not likely to show up the family of the wedding couple), but look for a classic item you can wear for many occasions. Classic looks will carry you a long way. You can always dress up something somewhat sedate with jewelry or a fancy bag/clutch, or maybe hair accessories if that's your thing. If you do layers or a jacket/wrap, you will be prepared for any temperature. I also like to carefully fold a jacket or shawl and place it on the back seat of the car, then put it on when I arrive. It's never as wrinkled as it would have been if it were clamped into a seatbelt, and it gives me a finished look

I have NEVER bought clothing on line - too much hassle to try on and return all that don't fit. I'd rather be in a decent store's fitting room and have the skilled help bringing me a size up or a size down so I don't have to keep getting dressed again. And I do wear a good bra and take my good shoes and even accessories with me if it's an important purchase.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Whatever your normal style is, that you feel comfortable in, for a wedding. Go with that. And yes, Florida in summer, will be A/C. So, make sure that whatever you wear, you have something to throw on over/with it. I live down here where you don't survive through September without A/C 24/7, but the problem becomes that venues set it at different temperatures. I often grab a sweater/shrug to take with me when we go out to eat. Because they set the air so low that I'm COLD inside. And if you have the unhappy luck to sit under a vent, well, you will freeze at times.

Walk outside, and your glasses fog up. Not even kidding.

But, you can never predict how far/low they will go. So, dress as if you will be sitting out on the patio in the humidity, but have a shawl/shrug/sweater or matching jacket of some sort, in case the A/C is set to keep everyone chilled through hours of vigorous dancing and drinking at the reception.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Eta: I agree to stay within yourself and be comfortable in your own skin vs fitting into a specific style you may not be used to.

At our club you see a wide range of attire. Be yourself and you'll fit in perfectly!

Neimans Marcus has never failed me when I need a good classy, classic evening dress.

I'm very petite and in shape but big natural boobs make it hard for me.

They have a great alterations department. My last dress was a size 4 and alterations tailored it to fit me perfectly.

Don't get scared off by the name Neimans. You can find affordable clothing that will last you a long time!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I go to a fancy holiday event each year. I actually find perfect dresses at a great price at Ross. I always look for something with at least cap sleeves so that I can wear a normal bra.

As for a style, it really depends on your build. I have a super high waist, so I usually go for things that are gathered high and then go down in an A-line. But if you don't have a high waist, then this style is not for you. It's best really to just try a bunch of things on until you find a cut that fits you well.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

There are so many clothes out there for everyone. Plus size clothes are very cute nowadays too. Even if you're just a bit overweight and don't wear plus sizes there are lots of dresses to choose from. I wouldn't ever buy a dress online that wasn't a knit/stretch dress.

Every single designer has their own idea about a size. Some design for broad shouldered/narrow hipped ladies while others design for a lady who's had at least one child that left her with fuller breasts and hips while her waist stayed a little bit narrower. You can tell those two designer's clothes wouldn't fit the other's ideal at all.

I work in a dance clothing store and I have leotards that are the same size, side by side, and some of them are 5 inches longer than the one next to it. Some have a necklines that are 14 inches across and some are 8 or 9 (on the hanger).

My point is that you need to go to a mall or shopping center where many ladies wear stores are and just go from store to store and try everything on that catches your fancy.

Go to Pinterest and search for summer dresses/outfits. I did that the other day and have a whole lot of ideas about clothes to put together for this summer. Lightweight jackets over sleeveless dresses with a cute heeled sandal and semi matching purse, add on a pair of earrings and necklace and you have a pulled together outfit that looks expensive and sharp.

Any print dress will work. A short sleeve short bolero style shrug/sweater covers the upper arm and makes the outfit look more work/church than just a simple summer dress.

Yes, a jacket with a lining and structure will be hot. That's not what I mean at all. I meal a lightweight simple jacket that adds to the outfit and not to the heat.

Pinterest inspired me.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I just wanted to let you know that just because you're attending a wedding does not mean you are restricted to only wearing a dress, even if you feel uncomfortable in it. Just be aware that you DO have options. My mother has attended a few weddings where she wore a cream-colored beaded blouse with a velvet shrug and a nice pair of dress pants, for example. They also sell formal separates, where you can buy a nice, formal skirt, and pair it with the top or blouse of your choice, even a pretty, beaded shrug. How dressy you make it and how you accessorize is completely up to you. You could also go for a tea dress if you're intent on wearing a dress. They make many of them with sleeves and the flare of the skirt will flatter even the most unforgiving shapes. You can buy a solid colored one or something with a pretty floral print.

You could even go so far as to wear a solid colored dress with a pretty spring hat, a nice jewelry set and a cute purse. A wrap dress may also be a good idea, because they flatter pretty much all body types. You can find these at Macy's, or even some discount stores like TJ Maxx or Marshall's. Trying a thrift shop or consignment shop may be a good idea, you can find designer names for very low prices and get a lovely, good-quality vintage dress. Some people splurge and spend hundreds on a designer dress for a wedding that they never use again, and then you find these treasures at the vintage shops for yourself. sells dresses too, believe it or not, and they have a great return policy and customer service if you purchase through them. Here are some pretty ones in the tea dress style I mentioned earlier:

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Salt Lake City on

Try Modcloth and Boden USA, both online. Also, if you like loose and flowy but elegant, take a look at Eileen Fisher. Depending on your budget, you could buy new, or check out options on eBay.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I got a simply jersey plus sized swing dress from Old Navy I love, it looks stylish while hiding my tummy.



answers from Portland on

I tend to go with sheath dresses in a dressier fabric. You can wear them to other things. I have a nice one I bought at Banana Republic in a pretty blue color. I just had a nice scarf/shawl to throw on if it got chilly. I myself tend to have a much better time if I am not fussing with straps or fussy clothing. A-line is even better. You can eat, dance and be comfortable. They aren't terribly formal or dressy. So that may not work for you.


answers from San Diego on

I don't know what size you are but if you're a 10/12 or higher Torrid has the absolute best dresses! I am in my 40s and I always find something that looks amazing on me without looking like a little old lady, which I'm not. I am large chested so there is no way I could go braless. I'm not going to try and deal with a strapless bra and my bras aren't teeny little Victoria Secret things and their dresses take all of that into account. Torrid is my go to place for dresses!



answers from Phoenix on

I really like Adrianna Papell dresses, and I am short and curvy :)
I have also had really good luck with Stich Fix- give them the event and budget and they will send you options!

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