6 easy summer wedding guest dresses

Wedding guest outfit idea: midi dress with gold accessories.

I’ve had a few requests to show some wedding guest or special occasion outfits. I have to confess, the only wedding we’ve attended in the last decade was a casual backyard affair in Palm Springs. 🌴 (Hawaiian shirts seemed to be the unofficial dress code 😉 but it was a lovely event.) So it’s not something that’s been on my radar, but I do have some ideas…

“Dressed up, not trussed up” wedding guest outfits

As things open up again, long-postponed weddings and other celebrations may be scheduled with short notice. For all but the most formal affairs, you probably don’t need “special occasion” wear. I think any of these easy dresses could be made wedding (or anniversary, or other celebration) appropriate. It’s all in how you accessorize…

Above: dress | earrings | belt | sandals

I’ve selected a few dresses that should be comfortable in warmer weather, and shouldn’t require special undergarments or shape wear. I’ve also tried to stick to knee-length or longer hemlines. (And I have to say, it was a challenge to find styles that weren’t drowning in ruffles, or that had a plunging v-neck or enough fabric to sail a yacht. 😆 )

Amour Vert knit floral dress with front tie.

This sustainably-produced floral knit dress has a front tie for a comfortably flattering fit.

Madewell x LAUDE tiered linen dress.

A more sophisticated take on the tiered dress. This one’s organic linen, in sizes XX-Small to XX-Large. You can always dress this up by replacing the cloth belt. Add some white or off-white sandals and bag for a chic tonal look.

Wedding guest outfit idea: jersey floral print dress with colorful accessories.

dress | earrings | bag | sandals

An easy knit dress (yes, those are pockets) gets festive with bright strappy sandals and bag that pick up the colors in the print.

Johnny Was floral print midi dress with asymmetrical hem.

I think this tropical print is just so pretty, and love that asymmetrical hem.

Universal Standard Geneva dress in Navy.

If your style skews more modern/minimalist, this dress is a true chameleon. I’ve seen it worn with heeled sandals and bold jewelry, and it looks amazing. It’s available in several colors as well as a v-neck style, in sizes XS to 4XL.

A few things to keep in mind for summer celebrations:

  • will the event be outdoors, on grass, gravel, or other uneven surfaces? Opt for a block heel or wedge for better stability and to keep from sinking in.
  • will you be in the sun for extended periods? Use plenty of sunscreen (don’t forget your feet!) and consider adding a hat with UV protection.
  • will it cool off in the evening? Think about bringing a lightweight shawl or wrap.
  • opt for a bag with a shoulder or crossbody strap to keep hands free.

Click here for more “dressed up, not trussed up” wedding guest options

Instagram Live with Red Leopard

I’ve been having SUCH fun with these Instagram Lives! Yesterday Manina and Rachel, the color and style experts from Red Leopard, shared a LOT of information about going grey and our best colors. If you weren’t able to catch it, you can watch below:

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  1. Totally agree with your comment about “drowning in ruffles and enough fabric to sail a yacht”. I recently spent 3 hours at 3 different large department stores shopping for a special occasion dress. After trying on more than 50 dresses I lost count. Finally found a comfortable knit fabric simple sheath dress in a vibrant color with minimal ornamentation. But really, what are dress designers thinking this year? What normal middle age woman wants to look like she is drowning in ruffles? It shouldn’t be this difficult.

    1. Congrats for finding a simple sheath dress. I literally found nothing suitable when I tried shopping for a dress, because I wanted to add my own accessories and interest.

  2. Although I don’t have this exact dress (although I’ve been eyeing it), I’d also like to recommend Boden’s jersey dresses in general. I have several and they are all flattering, comfortable, with pockets, and they pack well. The prints are colorful and fun, but I also have two solid colored ones that are probably the most versatile because they can be dressed up or down. Generally, the jersey is a good weight in that either holds its shape or drapes well, as the style of the dress dictates. I prefer the more structured, thicker jersey dresses on me, but that may just be my body shape. I do think they are a little pricey for a jersey dress, so I often look for a sale.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion of Boden, Susan, and your recommendation April. I have been looking for a summer dress that is casual for a family gathering and lunch out. I am not a dress person normally but would like to try one more often this summer. I haven’t ordered one yet, but their website has a lot of choices too choose from. The prices look reasonable.

  3. I’ve been looking for a wedding guest dress for months for an outdoor but elegant July wedding in northern CA and have finally settled on a simple aqua linen dress w matching lightweight, 3/4 sleeve sweater from JJill. Everyplace else from Nordstrom to Macy’s to you name it boutique featured tiers and/or a ruffled hem…darling perhaps on a twenty-something, not so much on a sixty-something. Plus I hate prints as I am petite & always feel like prints wear me rather than the reverse. Ugh. I also don’t want to spend a fortune on a dress I’ll possibly wear once. My friend, the MOB, has also torn her hair out with the challenge of finding a suitable dress, and she has a higher budget than I do! I echo Sandy’s comment that it shouldn’t be this hard.

  4. This is a well-timed and welcome post. We have two weddings this summer and finding appropriate wear (including shoes and bag) is a struggle. One thing to consider is that, no matter what you wear, it will be fine because the spectrum of wedding attire has become so wide and diverse. Unless the event is black tie, any dress or nice pants would work.

  5. My outfit for a Southern California wedding this summer is a Banana Republic jumpsuit. It is modern and really comfortable. It’s a beautiful caramel color. I am accessorizing with gold jewelry and a block heel sandal.

    1. Not the best thing for a dash to les toilettes, however. I never wear those. Choose a top and comfy trousers in the same fabric for that effect.

  6. Susan, I love your blog. Is it possible to view your videos another way besides Instagram? Thank you.

    1. Hi Rita, thanks! I haven’t been able to find a way to make these videos available outside of the platform itself or the embed in the blog post, sorry!

  7. I wonder what nature has in store for me if I let the grey show. Which I am not going to do (yet).
    Your summer dresses look very nice. I would wear them to more occasions then a wedding.

  8. My BIL booked a memorial harbor cruise (my MIL passed in Nov. – not Covid). I live over an hour away from the dock so I’ll be away from home most of the day. It’ll be hot. (26C – 78+F) The second or fourth dresses look appropriate, with flat sandals.

  9. I just got a printed knit Boden dress to wear to a wedding and I’m delighted with it. I’m in the Midwest and most weddings here are not formal, but you need to wear something “nice.” I had not ordered anything but kids’ clothes (very cute and very good quality, but not inexpensive) from Boden before and was happy to see that their adult clothing was every bit as well-made and comfortable as that for the little ones.

  10. I own the the long sleeved v-neck version of the minimalist dress in a berry/red to wear in cooler weather with tights and ankle boots. I’ve been eyeing the short sleeve style and already have a couple of casual t-shirt dresses from the same company for when there are heat waves.

    1. I loved the Geneva dress but there was nothing but black and blue in the v-neck. I’ll check the long-sleeved one for cooler-weather events up here in Montréal. My favourite colour in it is the forest green. To be honest I have few such events any more; any weddings are second-time around and relatively casual – no Hawaiian shirts though!

      I can’t abide floral prints or anything pastel.

  11. The Red Leopard presentation is so enjoyable – many thanks. As to the dresses, I am interested in something to cover my arms. Although I do strength training and have the muscles to prove it, I do not want my arm wrinkles to show. For state occasions I have some sleeveless dresses with various cardigans but perhaps there are other ways. Shawls and wraps require more dexterity than I have.

  12. i loved the Red Leopard video! Thank you for doing that. What a great reason to book a trip to London in the near future! My hair has turned Pandemic gray and I’m one of those people that felt my coloring lightened up too. She said it fades a bit. So you can see, I need all the help I can get. They seem delightful!

  13. Brilliant Red Leopard IGTV segment.
    As a recent transitioner (???) I have found that many of the darker colours in my Winter palette can now look overwhelming and will need to be replaced over time. On the plus side, many of the lighter ones are now really flattering when previously as a brunette they didn’t provide enough contrast.
    Many thanks Susan, Rachel and Manina :-):-):-)

  14. Very nice dresses but one design feature is missing. V-neck dresses are much more flattering than round or crew neck for older women.

    1. Hi Julia, I have to qualify that. The most flattering neckline for any woman is much more dependent on proportions and personal style than age. Not every woman (of any age) looks best in a v-neckline, and some women aren’t comfortable showing décolleté. (And I did include 2 v-neck styles. 😉 )

    2. Boden has a dress similar to what was featured in a v-neck. I think it’s called the Lola. I have one and recently ordered a second. I can’t speak to the general population, but I personally look much better in a v-neck and aim to find them when I shop.

  15. I’ve bought some nice things from Boden. Their wide range of fashion caters to more than one demographic and that makes this 63 year old happy. Even if something doesn’t work out, Boden has an effortless return policy. As for necklines, I have seen some mature women who look good in round/crew necklines, but they are not for me. I am petite with a short neck and a round face. I do better with angular necklines, so I look for V-necks and some boat necks. In the end, though it boils down to what one likes.

    1. I’m the same Carol: over 60, petite, short neck and round face – V necks or a low-round it needs to be!

  16. For me all of the dresses are a miss. Why oh why can we not have dresses with sleeves? And, no I don’t want to wear a sweater. And I do love my body, but can’t I have sleeves? I can’t tell you how many times the above comments from sales people have been given to me. My son is getting married and I found a nice dress at Macy’s. Pretty, dark green with sleeves, and easy skimming fit on the body. I can’t find a web link but it was stocked on the floor at my local store. Thanks for letting me vent ladies.

    1. Hi Annie, for this post I didn’t include sleeves as I often get feedback from readers that they’re too warm to wear in summer. But I am planning a roundup of dresses with sleeves, so stay tuned.

    2. Annie, have you ever heard of Sleevey Wonders? I discovered them after falling in love with all the sheer mesh sleeves Lily Tomlin’s character wears on “Grace & Frankie” and doing a lot of research. They can transform a simple sleeveless sheath dress into long- or three-quarter-sleeves simply and elegantly without a lot of added bulk. Check ’em out. Spanx sells a similar style they copied from Sleevey Wonders, but there are fewer color options and I didn’t find the quality as good.

  17. Several years ago, I purchased an Eileen Fisher black dress to wear to “a formal wedding on the beach”. It is sleeveless like a tank top, has a flared, asymmetrical , hi-lo skirt with a sheer border at the bottom. It can be dresed up to look formal, worn with casual sandals to look very casual, and has worked for everything in-between. It has been to several weddings, gone on a cruise in SE Asia, as well as all of those inbetween situations were it is hard to tell what to wear. It might be the last dress I will ever need. I hope so!

  18. When will Red Leopard come to Los Angeles? I think they have come to the states in the past. I for one would sign up. Thanks for the Red Leopard segment on going gray. I went silver during the pandemic and I noticed some slight changes in the colors I wear. I used to be able to wear white tops and jackets-a great contrast to my brunette hair. But now when I wear white tops there is not enough contrast. I have to add some color or b/w in a scarf. My best color now is cobalt blue. Black and navy look great with my silver hair.

  19. Susan, the Red Leopard video was terrific! Too bad London just extended their lockdown, or I might make the trip right now. For decades, everyone has assumed I’m a Summer. After trying a wardrobe based on a Summer pallet, even I could see that is incorrect. I’m a Spring! Obviously I need to know which Spring, but what a revelation. Interesting how I’ve always had a preference for gold jewelry. Thanks so much!!! I look forward to more Red Leopard videos.

  20. Thank you so much for sharing your conversation with Red Leopard. I watched it through the browser since I don’t use Instagram and it worked great.

    I thought it was SO INTERESTING that it was stressed that sallow/yellow-toned skin goes with cool colors and blue-toned skin goes with warm. I literally did a double-take since this is the exact opposite of everything I’ve ever heard.

  21. Susan,
    Can you please comment on this last comment from Esme. That is news to me! Also, can someone please tell me how to watch these Instagram videos through my browser. Thank you.

    1. Rita, in Firefox and Chrome, try clicking the play button of the video. In Safari, it opened the Instagram page (https://www.instagram.com/tv/CQJuXlbnAlS/), but I didn’t need to to login or sign up, I just clicked the play button. I don’t know about Microsoft IE/Edge.

      re: comments about yellow skin needing cool colors (and vice versa) are around 43 and 48 minutes of the video. There were a couple of questions about this on the Instagram page as well, so I wasn’t the only one surprised. 🙂

      1. Thanks, Esme. It works on Safari on my husband’s tablet too (he doesn’t have an Instagram account). I just click the Play arrow and can watch right from the blog post.