What to Wear to a Black-Tie Wedding aka My Dress Madness

While the recent wedding I attended was spectacular, the days leading to it were not.

Having never been to a wedding before (or any other black-tie event), I was in a panic about what to wear. Once again the internet gave largely unhelpful advice. “An evening gown or a dressy cocktail dress,” it said.

What did that mean?!?!
Were sleeveless dresses appropriate? Or knee-length ones?

After consulting a few slightly more seasoned friends, I ordered a dress online: Arabelle in Jalapeno.
It was beautiful, chic, and many vanity sizes too large. It seemed I still haven’t learned my lesson about how strapless dresses will always fall on me.
Arabelle
Unfortunately, the Arabelle misfit happened the weekend before the wedding date. I ran around all weekend looking for an alternative. I eventually purchased a vintage Slyvia Cuur dress from a local consignment store. It was my first vintage dress, and I probably grossly overpaid it out of desperation, but finally, I had an outfit for the special day.
Sylvia Cuur
With a bit a self-tayloring, the Slyvia Cuur dress fit wonderfully. It featured a spiffy front zip and a faux tie. Oh how I loved ties.

I slept easy for the next few nights until my mom frantically called me after receiving pictures of my new dress. “It wasn’t formal enough!” she relayed the message in a panic-stricken voice.
The very next day, I once again dashed about the local stores. My mission was to purchase the first formal dress that fit, no matter how hideous. Off the racks at Macy’s, I grabbed a XSCAPE one-shouldered ombre dress with flowers.
XSCAPE
Much to my surprised, the dress fit quite well, and looked fabulous. I’d never gotten this lucky before!

In the end, I wore the Slyvia Cuur dress to the rehearsal dinner and the XSCAPE dress to the actual wedding. I got a lot of compliments on the dress, which was quite nice.

Here’s what I learned about what to wear to a black-tie wedding:

1. Strapless and knee-length are totally acceptable, unless it’s a ultra-conservative setting.

2. Dresses needn’t be fancier than the shiny one-colored dresses listed on J. Crew’s website, and certainly doesn’t need to cost as much

3. My lovely vintage dress with floral prints ARE formal enough. In fact, I saw some other lovely ladies sporting floral dresses. The strictness seemed to be much looser with women and their dresses than men. Most men I saw were in tuxedos or nice suits and jackets.

Hope this helps some future wedding guest neophyte!

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