The Fix: What Should I Wear to a Daytime Summer Wedding?

Dressing appropriately for a wedding made easy by style expert Kim Johnson Gross

Q: Okay, so I'm going to my aunt's wedding in August around Santa Rosa, CA, and was wondering what I should wear. This will be her second wedding and I think it's going to be outside. Not sure though. Not sure if I should go to a bridal store and find a formal long gown? What colors would be best?
—community member crystalmsc

A: Hi, Crystal. Generally, second weddings are not as formal as the first time around. Also formal weddings no longer mean that women have to wear a floor length dresses. All colors are acceptable including black. White is a little trickier, because you don't want to upstage the bride, even if she's wearing color. And there is no need to shop in a bridal shop unless you want one-stop shopping for a very dressy dress. Whatever you choose though, it should be something that you would enjoy wearing for other special occasions.

Practical Considerations
• August is Santa Rosa's warmest month with temperatures averaging above 82, so find out if the wedding and/or reception is indoors or outside and what time of day it is.

• Is there a religious ceremony that requires covering your arms?

• Where is it being held -- in a formal or relaxed setting?

• It's okay to ask the bride what she expects guests to wear.

The answers to these questions will determine how dressy or not you can be. Also, what do you feel comfortable wearing? Dressy pants, a knee-length dress, a longer dress, bare arms or covered?

Inspirations for Your Look
Dresses are feminine and an easy way to dress for a special occasion. Solid colors offer more versatility than prints because they can be mixed and matched with a variety of accessories to give it a fresh look each time you wear it. For a daytime wedding linen, silk, and cotton blends are great, but for a more formal wedding, look for dressier fabrics like satin, silk taffeta or chiffon. How about the Periwinkle Sleeveless Pleated A-line Dress by AGB ($69 at Macy's).

If you decide to go with a simple, classic dress in a solid color, choose an eye-catching piece of jewelry to add interest to the overall look, like the Silvertone Flower Necklace ($78 at White House Black Market).

Floral print dresses are a feminine, flirty seasonal classic that is very appropriate to wear to a summer wedding, especially when worked in a dressy fabric like silk charmeuse. The wide ruched waistband and flaired skirt on this Floral-Print Silk Surplice Dress (pictured, $119 at Spiegel) give the illusion of a narrow waist and detracts from wide hips and thighs.

If you prefer just a hint of flowers, wear them as an accessory. A small decorative bag adds the perfect finish to dressy outfits. Remember the smaller the bag the dressier, and it's more interesting when it doesn't match your shoes. I like the White Floral Satin Clutch ($88 at White House Black Market).

I could go on forever. Let us know how it goes!

If you need fashion advice, just ask us on our message boards!


Kim Johnson Gross co-founded 'Chic Simple,' a book series selling over 1.5 million copies, which has helped women dress for every stage of their lives. Read her latest book, 'What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life' -- it will change your life! Got a question for Kim? Visit her expert page and ask away!

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