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Every time a friend of mine is kind enough to invite me to their wedding, my heart soars—then sinks. To be fair, the soaring lasts for several months; the sinking, on the other hand, lasts a mere few treacherous weeks, and only really sets in once I realize my closet is ill-equipped to handle all the weddings on my radar. My wardrobe is woefully low on wedding guest dresses. And no matter how many times I encounter this problem, I never seem to really, decidedly fix it.
You see, I’m a fashion editor living and working in New York City—and my wardrobe shows it. My closet is filled with statement-making, ’80s-inspired duds, and any basics that have managed to make it in are dark, chunky and a little bit edgy. In other words, my aesthetic doesn’t lend itself well to wedding season—and the thought of buying a dress to wear only two or three times a year hurts my efficiency-loving heart.
Still, too many weddings are creeping into my calendar for me to let this frustration continue any longer. I’ve recently decided to embark on a quest to find the perfect wedding guest dress—and I’m not letting myself sacrifice practicality in the process, either. I want a dress that’s comfortable enough to wear to a four-hour event, budget-friendly enough to afford, appropriate enough to wear to a wedding and genuinely cute enough to wear on at least a monthly basis. These things may sound mutually exclusive, but somewhere in this world, there much exist an option—ideally, several options—that fit this four-sided bill. Ahead, my best effort to find them.
1. YAS Clara Maxi Dress, $160 at Topshop
A maxi that’s as fit for the office as it is for your friend’s wedding—and it’s cute, too.
2. River Island Satin Jumpsuit, $69.50 at ASOS
It’s 2019—wedding guest dress can definitely mean wedding guest jumpsuit. Especially when the jumpsuit is this sleek, fun and (most importantly) affordable.
3. Tila Dress, $775 at Free People
OK, so $775 is definitely a small fortune. But I’m monitoring this one for mark-downs and will definitely snag it if it ever goes on sale.
4. Selita Dress, $398 at Free People
Cutouts are usually a no-no as far as weddings are concerned, but the silhouette on this one feels modest and sophisticated enough to justify the risk. Plus, the color is too damn wedding-friendly to pass up.
5. My Long Time Love Maxi Dress, $118 at Free People
Got a beach wedding on your radar? No problem. (And you can repurpose it for date nights from here on out, too.)
6. Epiphany Contrast Stencil Floral Jumpsuit, $80 at Topshop
Black is generally frowned upon for weddings, but the floral leaves this fun feeling light, romantic and honestly, a little summery. Plus, it’s basically a blank canvas for all your favorite statement jewelry—and it’s sure to keep you wardrobe malfunction-free all night long. (No need to worry about your skirt flying up in the wind when you’re not wearing a skirt.)
7. Uma Eyelet Ruffle Maxi Dress, $129 at Urban Outfitters
Everything about this dress—from its polite cut, to its delicate textile, to its vibrant palette—seems like it was designed with wedding season in mind.
8. Polka Dot Wrap Jumpsuit, $64 at ASOS
If the wedding black attire-friendly, this jumpsuit is a no-fail option. And even if the wedding isn’t, this onesie’s sure to stun at the rehearsal dinner.
9. Ruffled Dress, $29.90 at Zara
Because weddings really just an excuse to wear vibrant, incredibly fun colors. And you could definitely rewear this hella affordable midi to the office, job interviews, brunch and more.
10. Long Printed Dress, $69.90 at Zara
I rarely find myself coveting paisley anything, but the silhouette, palette and pricetag on this Zara midi have me ready to embrace the retro print.
11. Deeply Cherished Green Lace Midi Dress, $72 at Lulus
Corset-bodice midis are the easiest way to take a wedding guest dress code and make it sexy. Plus, this color is all kinds of fun.
12. Only Everything Midi Dress, $495 at Free People
This one is definitely pushing it as far as the neckline and palette go, but I feel like it embraces the wedding vibe enough to work.
13. Greta Tiered Ruffle Mock-Neck Maxi Dress, $79 at Urban Outfitters
A bold option, but it ticks all my boxes—and I’d definitely rewear it a ton.
14. RYSE Ashley Lace Maxi Dress, $168 at Lulus
I mean, I literally own this one, so rest assured I’m planning to throw on my favorite turquoise jewelry and give this one a spin.
15. Hibiscus Floral Halter Midi Dress, $95 at Topshop
Wear it to a wedding, and then repurpose it for every cocktail party on your calendar this summer.
16. Twist-Front Midi Dress, $95 at ASOS
This one drips with vintage appeal, and the accessory potential seems endless.
17. Under the Moon Light Patchwork Maxi Dress, $168 at Free People
Not a cut I’d normally go for—and honestly, it’s a little dressy to rewear too frequently. But it’s so pretty I’m tempted to make it my wedding guest uniform.
18. Pleated Jumpsuit with Straps, $69.90 at Zara
Leave it to Zara to craft a flouncy jumpsuit you could wear to literally any wedding, no matter how dressy or casual.
19. Velvet Floral Maxi Dress, $76 at ASOS
Because fall and winter weddings are somehow even harder to dress for than summer ones.
20. Lingerie Style Print Dress, $69.90 at Zara
I love embracing less-obvious options, and this one definitely fits the bill.
21. On the Road Temptress Maxi Dress, $106 at Lulus
Lulus was kind enough to send this one my way, and I’m planning to wear it to a wedding in June. It’s out-of-the-box and eye-catching, and could definitely be dressed down for everyday wear.
22. Anita Midi Dress, $98 at Free People
This romantically delicate midi could skew casual or fancy, depending on the footwear you paired it with.
23. Acadiana Long-Sleeve Maxi Dress, $22 at Lulus
Available in blue-violet and hot pink, this silky maxi is heavier than you’d expect—making it a hearty addition to any wedding (or date night) rotation.
24. She’s a Waterfall Ruffled Maxi Dress, $128 at Lulus
This vibrant dress feels like the kind of thing you’d find at a vintage store—and it’d definitely play well with your favorite delicate jewelry.
25. Evalina Mock-Neck Midi Dress, $72 at Lulus
I just imagine throwing this on, slipping into my comfiest black gladiators, wearing my hair in a side braid, and calling it a day. Low-key sophistication that looks more effortful than it is? Yes, please.
26. Perseverance London Elysian Day Wrap Maxi Dress, $545 at Urban Outfitters
I fell in love with this floral maxi the moment I saw it—with my wedding season woes in mind. It’s another one I’m eyeing for discounts. (Hopefully summer sale season treats me right.)
27. Feathers and Foliage Midi Dress, $799 at Free People
I love the surprising cut on this one—and the fact that it’d look as great for a summer wedding as it would for a winter one. The pricetag is doing me dirty, but I couldn’t not include this less-obvious silhouette.
28. Floral Print Dress, $49.90 at Zara
This one is as fit for family vacation as it is for your friend’s wedding—if that’s not versatility, I don’t know what is.
29. Lost Ink Maxi Smock Dress, $79 at ASOS
Sleek enough for the office, dressy enough for your friend’s wedding—and fun enough to wear anytime.
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