Recently, I had the unique honor of being the officiant at the wedding of two exceptional friends, at the Horned Dorset Primavera resort in Rincon, Puerto Rico. But when I had to shop for a dress, I was stumped. I was not just the officiant, I was a guest. It really got me thinking about what’s appropriate not just for guests at weddings not just for destinations, but for all of this season’s upcoming special events.
Here’s the issue: you want to look elegant, but you also want to be comfortable, especially if you are going to be standing or dancing and it’s hot for the outdoor event, but air-conditioned at the reception. The outfit should be special, but you don’t want to upstage the bride or the person of honor.
What do you choose??
The first rule of thumb when choosing your outfit is to remember that you just need to look appropriate and attractive, The focus is on the bride or the person being honored, not the guests. And while you’re attending a celebration, it’s not an ordinary party, so your attire has to reflect the solemnity of the occasion. Graduations, weddings, christenings, etc. are serious occasions, so you can’t glitz and glam it up too much.
We have found the perfect outfit!
If this is making you wonder what works, no worries, we have what we think is a perfect look for guests, and even for those who are “players” in that special day, whatever it is. Better still, it’s from an easily accessible (from just about anywhere) source that might surprise you: Lands End. And it’s affordable!
Here’s how to get the look:
Let’s begin the look with this Lands End sleeveless lace column dress that flatters every body type.Dress it up or down, wear it with accessories that match your personality and age group. It is wedding perfect because while it is romantic, it is not tight or overly sexy. We love the rich colors — hot coral or wedding belle deep blue (Lands End calls it “Rich Cobalt”). The coral is lovely for summer or a beach wedding, the deep blue is an alternative to evening black, and both are a great way to stand out in a sea of black or pastels. The cotton lace is heavy, not thin and bridal, so it’s appropriate for day or evening. The dress is fully lined and the skirt is full, so if you really want to skip the spanx or the slip, you probably can. That’s a plus on a hot day.
There is a keyhole back that closes with one button You can drape a jacket or shawl over your bare arms if you need to, but since it is sleeveless you won’t but too hot if it’s on the beach or the sun is beating down on you.
The sizing is regular, petite or plus. The dress is generously cut, especially on top, with an elasticized waist. Get a size smaller than usual if you want a slimmer fit. This dress is meant to be worn demurely below your knee and due to the lace trim, would be pricey to hem (Approximate shoulder to hem lengths: Regular, 44”; Petite, 41 1/2”; Tall, 48”; Plus 47”) . If you are looking for a shorter hemline, you might consider the petite.
The dress travels well and is machine washable, so if someone spills on you, it’s not the end of the dress.
You may not have found the perfect man, but this could easily be perfect wedding guest or sisters/mother of the bride dress. At $129. ($139 PLUS) it’s a bargain.
MAKE IT YOUR OWN: Dress this up or tone it down with your accessories and make it age-appropriate. Ditch the ribbon belt and substitute a better ribbon, perhaps one you’ve decorated with some bling or fastened with an antique pin. For an edgier look, wear a wider , use a wider leather belt, or try the ladylike look with a little bow belt like this Lands End Bow Belt ($29.00) in blue or coral or silver metallic.
Comfortable footwear is essential at weddings. These T-strap sandals gold sandals from Lands End are better than bare. They protect your feet and they add a bit of glitz. In a medium width and sizes 6-11 they will fit most, and they are so so classic, they work with everything, and keep the focus on the rest of your outfit. They look dressy enough, but they feel like bedroom slippers. I wear tested them for hours with no pain, thanks to the foam-padded foot bed and the adjustable ankle strap with elastic gore that actually lets you fit the sandal securely to your foot. The metallic upper is not leather but it’s super soft and pliable so you won’t get chafing, and the bottom of the sandal isn’t absolutely flat–there is a little heel, so you aren’t stomping around flat-footed. The only downside is that the rubber sole doesn’t have any ridges. If you are walking on wet tile or any other slippery surface you can slide, since there is nothing on the bottom to grip…a minor point but it would have been nice if Lands End designers had put a few grooves in the bottom. The sandal comes in four dressy colors: metallic gold and silver, and patent leather black and navy. It is the sandal you want in every color for special events if not to wear for the ceremony, to slip into for the reception. At less than $50.00, they are affordable, too!
But you also need a bag…
When you are a guest, you need a bag–a good bag. The last time I carried a tiny evening bag, my keys wouldn’t fit in it. I relied on my husband to open the door to our apartment after the party, and found myself locked out (and that’s another long story, entirely). So now I carry a larger bag. But you don’t want to be weighed down, and a daytime hand bag that’s too large, looks unbalanced with a dressier outfit. For a daytime or beach wedding, I like the Lands End Women’s Landmark Mini Fontana Lady Bag (item #441361-A63) that is just the right size for essentials at 1 3/4” wide, 9 3/4” long, and 6 1/4” tall and comes in three colors: Bright Sun, Coral Bliss, or Cognac. For the Coral or Blue dress above, I picked Bright Sun, a Summer-worthy yellow that adds a pop of color.
For $148.00 you get a genuine leather handbag of good quality that you can use by itself or pop into a larger tote. Perfect for travel (especially if you’re going to a destination wedding or you travel for work, the leather seems very stiff when you get it but it softens with use. The long strap is adjustable to be a cross body, or you can make it a classic shoulder strap, or double it for a handbag strap, or remove it and make this a party clutch.
Other bells and whistles that you’d expect from a quality handbag include nice gold metal hardware and reliable zippers on the interior pocket, a wipe-able interior lining, a dust bag for storage, and if you choose the cognac brown leather, you’ll find that it matches with other Lands’ End leather products so your bag, belt, and shoes match. you can heat stamp your initials on the bag as well, for a classy touch in gold foil, silver foil, or plain.
..add a pop of color!
When I originally requested a get the look head to toe from Lands End, I also asked for a statement necklace to pull the look together. The one I chose was the Women’s Bead Multi-strand Necklace (Item #441895-A67) for $39.00 that I originally spied at the Lands End Spring preview months ago, and that stuck in my mind as one of those pieces that you’d wear with everything. Two days ago, as I was preparing to write this review, I attended a Lands End event and one of the Lands End executives was wearing that necklace –my eyes immediately were drawn right to it, and to her. This necklace will do the same for you at any event you attend, or frankly, anywhere you go. Alas, when I went to the Lands End web site to check on availability for this feature, the coral version was no longer available, but the Limelight yellow version is.
Something so seemingly simple can do so much for just about anything you put it on, from a simple tee, to a business blouse, to this lace dress. It’s one necklace with a lot of different beads and layers in a bright yellow, but it’s lightweight. The strands range from 25″, 27″, 30 1/2″ and 33″ so it really shows up, and you can use the extender to adjust the length if you wish, or just pull the entire thing over your head and you’re done making an outfit. It’s a jewelry “scarf” if you will. I can’t tell you just how much of an impact this necklace makes, but trust me, it does. I wore it on a simple grey tee and it changed it from a boring basic into something I felt confident wearing “out.” It’s not just something to add to a wedding guest look, it’s a piece you’ll wear with everything, over and over again. Acrylic beads, plated 10k gold. Nickel free. It’s my new favorite piece I reach for all the time. I hope Lands End brings it back in more colors.
..and be on time!
If there is one thing you must do when you are a guest at a wedding, it is be on time. And one way to do that elegantly, no matter what you wear, is with a fabulous watch. The Advice Sisters will be reviewing this Ladies Diamond Watch EW 1934-59A by Citizen with Eco Drive ($350) in an upcoming Accessories article, but we’re giving you a sneak peek here, because this watch is the perfect time piece for a wedding guest, a bride, a groom to give his bride, for a graduate, or for anyone for any reason, actually. Citizen Eco Drive watches are eco-friendly because they are powered by light so you don’t need batteries. Exposed to just about any light source, they keep going on their own….you’ll be reading all about what makes them “tick” in our accessories article…watch for it. Meanwhile, you can learn more on the Citizen Watch web site at www.citizenwatch.com
The Bottom Line:
Accessories change the personality of this outfit. A mother of the bride or groom might add fine jewelry (e.g. real pearls) and add pumps to make the look more serious.Younger women might add silver jewelry and strappy sandals or platforms. If you select this dress for your attendants, bling it up with crystal jewelry and maybe a jeweled ribbon belt with ballet flats, or pin a corsage of real flowers at the waist. We will be featuring more accessories for special events in an upcoming article, so watch for it! Follow us on twitter @advicesisters and friend us on Facebook and/or subscribe to our blog feed (all of the icons for this are at the top of this post), and you will never miss a thing.
Hair Tip: Want to do something special with your hair that doesn’t cost a lot? Just look like you made at least a bit of an effort. Pin a fresh (or faux) flower somewhere, or add a jeweled pin (glue some beads or crystals on a drugstore hair band or barrette if you don’t want to go for department store prices). “Hair is really one of those things that depends upon your dress,” says Jenny Balding, my fabulous and talented hair stylist from Cutler and Redken. “A fascinator can be a beautiful headpiece, a style of millinery. It has become more popular over the last couple of years because headbands and hair accessories have been all over the runways the last few seasons.This is a quick and easy way to accessorize your hair if you are not so great with styling your hair or if you fancy a slightly different look.”
Lands End is one of my favorite places to shop online or by phone or through the catalog. Their customer service is friendly and knowledgeable, and if you have a problem with anything they take care of it immediately. Visit http://www.landsend.com or shop the catalog or call 1-800-587-