On Lesson #89: Summer Wedding Guest Dress Ideas

by Rachel on July 13, 2011

There have been a lot of takeaways after I wrote about weddings last week. That discussion? Was wonderful! It has inspired so many more posts, the first of which is a fun one, because it’s about fashion.

Lesson #89: Reward yourself for going to wedding showers, bachelorette parties, and weddings.

Eric and I are driving up to Kansas for a wedding in August, the weekend of my birthday, and I decided that I’d put this lesson into action. When I picked out a dress for SXSW, I wanted to wear it all summer, but since the smaller size I had to buy nearly strangled me — and I have no plans to crash diet or have a rib removed in the next month — I decided to look for something new.

Since summer is over as far as retail stores are concerned, there are a lot of good sales going on now, making it a great time to shop for a party dress! I was shopping for something…

  • semi-formal
  • with a defined waist
  • that worked with accessories I already owned
  • under $150 (preferably way under)
  • that made me feel pretty and happy

I pinned a lot of dresses to my Pinterest board, but they don’t all fit the requirements I just listed; I just wanted to get a better idea of what I liked. But here are the dresses I put on my short list.

1. BCBG Milo Chiffon Dress — $99. I never used to love blue, but lately I’ve been liking it more and more for fashion and decor, especially light blue. I always think of it as a color for pale blondes, but I love how this dress looks against the model’s dark skin. I also love that the straps can be pulled down for an off-the-shoulder style since that’s my favorite style to wear. The price is good, the waist is there…definitely a good option!

2. J Crew Arabelle Dress — $90 – $225. I read a tip on J’s Everyday Fashion suggesting that when looking for dresses to wear as a wedding guest, you check out…bridesmaid dresses! I thought that was kind of genius; bridesmaid dresses are getting cuter and cuter these days. That led me to J. Crew and I was thrilled that the color I liked best was on clearance for $129. The sweetheart neckline, cut, and color are ladylike and sort of 1950s, and pistachio is one of my favorite colors to wear (and in general).

3. Modcloth Long Island Longing Dress — $138. When I wrote about the Anthropologie dresses I was considering for SXSW, a lot of you suggested Modcloth. I love the site; the only problem is the best dresses are always sold out! I was really excited when I found this dress. I love the stripes, love the blue, love the sweetheart neckline, the small waist and full skirt…basically just everything! It was on the pricier side, but I could see myself wearing it a lot.

I was really torn between #2 and #3, but when I went back to JCrew.com the next day, the dress was an additional 30 percent off the sale price! Um, SOLD. But when I went through all the steps to check out and got to the final page, they said…”Oops! We don’t actually have that size and color!” I wanted the dress so badly so I went up a size (um, or two) but ordered the petite (I’m…not tall). I hope it’s not too big, but if it is, I’ll happily have it tailored.

I have accessories already, so my main challenge now is figuring out how to get this hair and make-up (via Brooklyn Bride/Phi Style).

So. Fucking. Perfect.

Does anyone have any other great summer wedding dresses to share? Either one you’ve bought or one you’re lusting over?

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dori July 13, 2011 at 11:06 am

I’m happy you went with that J Crew dress. I absolutely love it, and it will look gorgeous on you.


2 Lia {sprightly} July 13, 2011 at 11:28 am

The Arabelle is so beautiful! I am a long admirer of it, so much so that 2 of my bridesmaids are going to wear it at my wedding (one in the ivory, one in a rust color which isn’t online anymore). I tried on my sister’s, which is the rust-colored one, and it was really flattering on my curves. I think you will love it. I usually will order the petite sizing if it’s offered, but my sister is actually taller than me and she got the 8P rather than her regular 6, and it fit just fine. Hope you love it!


3 Blog is the New Black July 13, 2011 at 11:57 am

I actually wore the J. Crew Arabelle dress to a wedding recently (as a guest.) Just make sure you know whether or not the bride is doing J. Crew dresses- it’s VERY popular around me!! (I knew what the bm dresses looked like already! ;)


4 Ashley Breton July 13, 2011 at 12:29 pm

I have 3 weddings in the next 3 weeks, and I’m in the third one! So this really helped! Believe it or not, Target had a lot of good finds too! I might look at J Crew now! Post pictures of that beautiful dress on you!


5 Nicole @ Giraffelegs July 13, 2011 at 12:32 pm

obsessed with the green one…so glad you got it..hair is perfect.

I’m going to stop gushing now. I was looking for a dress for weddings also, and decided to look at the Kensington Tanger outlet mall near MSU. They have a BCBG last call and I nearly shit my pants. I got a bomb ass dress for $89 and I will proudly say that I look smoking in it. Thanks kensington for fulfilling my broke ass college girl needs…yippppp.


6 Jessica @ Stylish Stealthy and Healthy July 13, 2011 at 1:04 pm

i actually JUST wore that J Crew dress in a wedding two weeks ago (I picked it out and was thrilled when it not only went on clearance but then on sale and we got it for like $50!).
And you probably will be glad you sized up because it runs REALLY tight around the bust, but it also folds down at the top so I suggest double-sided tape to help it stay up. You can see a few pictures of in action here: http://stylishstealthyandhealthy.com/2011/06/27/shes-crafty/
But it really was a beautiful dress and we got so many compliments on it. You will no doubt look gorgeous in it!


7 Rachel July 13, 2011 at 1:18 pm

I was SO concerned about the tight bustline, so that made me feel better about going up a size. I will definitely get some double-stick tape; I don’t want to be that girl who is always pulling up her dress,

And the dress looks great on you! Thanks for sharing the link!


8 Jessica @ Stylish Stealthy and Healthy July 13, 2011 at 1:27 pm

I was totally that girl.
And thanks, I always like to see stuff on other people so I figured I’d pass it along ;)


9 Mary @ stylefyles July 13, 2011 at 2:28 pm

I love your modcloth pic! I just got a gorgeous dress on sale at Anthro that I plan to wear for a wedding. I paid just $30 (down from $160-ish)!!! And it’s SO cute w/my new pixie haircut. I LOVE it and now am actually excited for the wedding!


10 Kat July 14, 2011 at 10:01 am

Mary, I can’t wait to see pics of this dress!!


11 Tracy July 13, 2011 at 3:23 pm

When do you think the transition from summer dresses to fall dresses begins? I have a wedding the first weekend in September and have a bridesmaids dress I wore this past weekend (it’s yellow but it’s a nice yellow) that I would love to wear again. Too late? And I love that JCrew dress!!


12 Rachel July 13, 2011 at 4:42 pm

I think it’s all about the weather! I mean, I think first weekend in Sept still counts as summer, but if the weather is still hot later in Sept, I still think a summery dress is OK!


13 christine July 13, 2011 at 3:27 pm

This post is perfect! I have been looking for dresses to wear as a wedding guest. (3 weddings in the next 2 months) I love the J Crew dress but they don’t have my size & color. :( Got any other dress websites I can cruise? Thanks!


14 Jasmine July 13, 2011 at 4:56 pm

PULEASE tell me you will take a million pictures of you in that dress and with that hairdo. You will be amazing, I have no doubt.


15 Eirinn July 13, 2011 at 7:33 pm

I love the dress you chose! I liked them all but that was my favorite. And I love J’s Everyday Fashion! Her blog is awesome.

You 2, and AFoodieStaysFit, are my only three that I read EVERY DAY.

Can’t wait to hear more about the dress and see final pictures.


16 Rachel July 13, 2011 at 8:15 pm

I hardly ever go shopping for nice clothes because I don’t have patience to try on a million things, get easily frustrated when things don’t fit my small chest, and I get major anxiety over spending a lot of money on clothing. (I always think of how I could use the money on a trip or alcohol, which I tend to enjoy more…) But for my Master’s graduation this May, I wanted to look damn fine, since I looked like a total wreck studying throughout the year. I ended up buying an ESPIRIT dress for about $150 something, which to me, is an arm and a leg. I’m soo happy I did though because I felt gorgeous on graduation day and I’ve gotten mileage out of the dress–wearing it to my cousin’s Vegas wedding last week and my sister’s graduation in June. I’m now a new believer in using pricier, quality clothing as a personal reward!


17 Kat July 14, 2011 at 10:00 am

Agree wholeheartedly about looking at bridesmaids dresses. I got my last one from anthro’s new BHLDN line (over $150, but everything else you suggested!) I also wore it to the Kentucky Derby and got SO MANY complements on the unusual color and great 50’s style:


I’m even planning on wearing it a few more times!


18 Rachel July 14, 2011 at 12:57 pm

LOVE that color!


19 Lauren @ Chocolate, Cheese and Wine July 14, 2011 at 10:39 am

I am loving ALL of those dresses! You should check out Vestique.com they have some amazing dresses that are PERFECT for summer weddings!


20 [SMASH] at Sweat. Style. Swoon. July 14, 2011 at 11:39 am

Wow, all 3 are so pretty but I love the one you chose! That pistachio green will look so pretty with your coloring. :) Hope the tailoring turns out okay!


21 Mindy July 14, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Since you didn’t get dress #3, can I get it?! :)

I made an impulse (and semi expensive) dress purchase on Westheimer about 3 months ago that I justified with, “I will wear this to Katie’s wedding.”. I’ve been dying to wear it all summer. Wedding is in 2 weeks & I’m glad I stuck to my guns about breaking the dress in at the wedding, because now I’m excited not just for the wedding but to rock my new dress too!

Great post & great tip for surviving wedding season. :)


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