Style Panel: How to appropriately (and stylishly!) dress for a summer wedding

Ah, the summer wedding. It’s one of the most special events of the year, and yet it poses one of the biggest fashion challenges. Can I wear white? Is floor length too much? How much skin is appropriate? Do I look like a doily? To answer your these dilemmas and others like it, we’ve turned to our Style Panel for some much needed help.

Question 7: What is your favourite way to dress up for a summer wedding while avoiding the many faux pas? Read the answers now! »


Photography by Paul Hillier

Chloe Wise, 21
Toronto | Naughty Mess

Summer weddings are the most awesome, because they combine the two best things. If you’re going to attend such an awesome event during such a beautiful season, you have to look equally amazing. It’s definitely touchy to wear a white or frilly dress, because you’ll just look like a bride wannabe. Try wearing something bold (while remaining appropriate, c’mon now), like an unexpected print. This Chloe Comme Parris dress is a perfect summer cocktail dress; it’s fancy enough to wear to a formal event, but the print is still fun and arty. Pair with a chunky summer shoe instead of something strappy and fussy — weddings can still permit some sass. 

Chloe’s wearing: Dress, Chloe Comme Parris. Shoes, Chloe Sevigny x Opening Ceremony. Bag, Alexander Wang. Headpiece, homemade.

Alyssa Lau, 20
Edmonton | The Ordinary Peoples

Since I attended a wedding just this past Saturday, I could not have asked for better timing for this question. Whenever I get the chance to go to a wedding, there’s no doubt about it that I’ll gleefully say “yes!” Not only are you witnessing the beginning of a couple’s life together, you also get to dress up and ogle at lovely dresses. It’s like watching a romantic movie and a fashion show at the same time. The best of both worlds, right? But, like most events out there, there are always a few rules to keep in mind. I’m no wedding expert here, but most of these self-made rules are pretty self-explanatory. 1) Don’t wear an all-white dress. You’re not getting married. 2) No cleavage. Keep it classy. 3) Keep your dress or skirt at least half-thigh length. Preferably at least knee-length (which I failed to do). 4) Wear something colourful! And if you’re wearing something neutral, spice it up with a bright pop of colour. And voila, you’re wedding-ready.

Alyssa’s wearing: Dress, Wilfred at Aritzia. Clutch, J.Crew. Shoes, Zara.

Kassandra Camponi, 26
Edmonton | Kastles

Whenever I go to weddings, I try to wear something classy and unique. Your best bet for finding something unique is shopping at local boutiques. My reasons for this are a) The majority of the other female guests at the wedding most likely picked up a dress at your local mall and it would be a disaster showing up in the same frock, b) local boutiques carry different and unique lines and usually carry a small size run of a design. This way you know the chances of someone else showing up in the same dress are slim to none. I picked up this BB Dakota dress from Bamboo Ballroom a couple of summers ago, and I sure have gotten a lot of use out of it. It has a classic silhouette but is still unique with the beautiful print. As usual, I love to add some colour to my outfit with my accessories. Throw on a bright belt, fun clutch and some eye-catching earrings. One of my favourite trends right now is statement earrings. Rachel Bingham’s line, BangBang Bijoux  is my number one pick for some sparkly, show-stopping earrings. Have fun at those summer weddings for me! The dances are my favourite part! 

Lolitta Dandoy, 32
Montreal | Fashion Is Everywhere

Dressing for a summer wedding is always tricky… you can’t wear white, you can’t go too short and you can’t choose a dress that looks like you are trying to upstage the bride! So the trick is to opt for something pretty, summery and classic. If you want to show your personality, do it with the accessories.

I have very short hair, so I don’t have a million styling options; that’s why this colorful turban is perfect! It dresses up my hair and gives it a ‘30s vibe that works perfectly with my vintage-inspired pleated dress. I finished things off with classic pearls and a heart-shaped bracelet in honour of love.

Lolitta’s wearing: Dress, Chance & Coincidence at Turban, Headmistress. Necklaces, Lia Sofia and Ardene. Bracelet, Azzaro. Shoes, Manolo Blahnik.

Kristin MacDonald, 27
Fredericton | Doll Parade

Wedding season is in full swing, and, for me, dressing for this particular festivity involves finding a balance between maintaining some personal style while staying classy, appropriate and comfortable. A wedding is about the people that are getting married, and taking attention away from that by dressing inappropriately, whether it’s by being too dressed up or too dressed down, is a major no-no. This said, weddings are an opportunity to get a bit fancy and wear something fun, so if you’re anything like me and enjoy the opportunity to get swanky, you can incorporate something special into your day, like a fun headpiece (I chose a floral one for this outfit). Keeping your outfit (or whatever you choose to wear) unstressed and simple is key, as you’re probably going to be in your outfit for a while. Though it’s not super visible, my dress is (tastefully) backless and because my hair doesn’t fare that well in the heat, I went with a super-simple updo. I find summer weddings can get warm, and ensuring that you’ve taken some steps to remain comfortable throughout the events of the day will make you one graceful guest.

Alex Grant, 25
Toronto via Vancouver | To Vogue or Bust

Funnily enough, I’ve never actually been to a wedding (my sisters and friends are such disappointments). But if I ever got the good fortune of getting to go to someone’s big day, this is probably what I’d wear. I feel like all of the wedding guest outfits I’ve seen are usually limited to the same old, same old: sun dresses in lilac, rose, buttercup yellow and baby blue, usually paired with nude or metallic peep-toe pumps. I like the idea of taking the building blocks of that formula and giving them a twist: this vintage-inspired H&M number’s length and sleeves gives it a romantic vibe, but with some edgier booties and a layered arm party, I feel like it looks a bit more modern. Now, if someone could just invite me to their wedding (anyone… seriously, anyone!) I could finally take this look for a spin.

Alex’s wearing: Dress, H&M. Booties, Aldo. Clutch, vintage. Belt, vintage.

Alicia Quan, 25
Vancouver | Alicia Fashionista

When I’m picking out an outfit for a wedding, my very basic guideline boils down to the invitation. Besides shying away from the obvious white dress, it’s also customary to avoid the wedding colours used on said invitation.  No one wants to show up to a wedding looking like the groupie bridesmaid! Your oh-so-helpful piece of paper should also indicate where the wedding is being held and give you some clues as to what to wear. A beach wedding often allows you to wear something slightly casual and fun, whereas a fancypants ballroom reception might call for more of a cocktail dress.  Always avoid anything too short and/or scandalous and as a general rule, I say it’s better to overdress (within reason, let’s not get into ball gown territory).
Still not sure what to wear?  Just play it safe and wear a nice dress that you love and feel comfortable in.  Remember there’s going to be lots of good food and dancing!  I’ll be wearing this floral dress from Barefoot Contessa to an island wedding in August.

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