Shopping for special occasions can be overwhelming, especially at this time of year when every store has about ten thousand pieces in the their ‘wedding shop’ section. To whittle down my wardrobe options, I often find it easier to begin with what not to wear to a wedding. Here’s a short tick list to go through before you say ‘yes’ to the dress. Or jumpsuit. Or skirt… You get the gist. P.S. This dress is £40!
1. Can I Justify The Cost? (Cost Per Wear Factor)
When a wedding invitation rolls in and we think ahead to the big day, most of us will imagine ourselves in attendance wearing a gorgeous gown, the perfect playsuit or perhaps some super chic co-ords. Something fabulous and beautiful to fit in with, what is likely be, a wonderful and often quite glamorous occasion. Not only that but since all your family, friends or work colleagues will be there, you don’t want to be seen in anything you’ve already worn. Not to something so special. It comes as no surprise then that our default thought each time is to splash out on a wedding outfit. But why?
The reality is that if you splash out on something so special that it’s only wedding-worthy, you’re only going to get to wear it a few times a year max. The rest of the time it will gather dust in the back of your wardrobe. This is when the cost-per-wear factor comes into play. Say I spend £250 on a premium high street dress and some matching shoes to wear to a friend’s wedding. I’ll probably comfortably wear this outfit three times in the next year as I have another wedding next spring and there’s grandad’s birthday party. £250/3= £83 per wear. Would I pay £83 each time to rent this dress? Probably not… For me, dresses that cost above £100 but aren’t actually designer always fall into the ‘what not to wear to a wedding’ category because the cost per wear just doesn’t stack up. Now, if I were to use my ‘how to spot a great designer dupe’ skills that I learnt in this post to find a great quality 3 Floor or Self Portrait dress dupe, my cost per wear would be more like £75/3= £25. Would I pay £25 to rent an outfit for a wedding? Yes, that feels comfortable.
2. Will I Get Bored of It?
The longer you keep an outfit, the lower the cost per wear becomes so longevity is always something to factor in before you start writing things off as what not to wear to a wedding. Yes, a £1,000 Marchesa dress might seem like a ridiculous spend but assuming you have the cash to splash, if you love it, have it and wear it for the next ten years, even only three times a year, the cost per wear becomes just £33 a time. Alternatively, if you buy a new £20 high street dress for each event, only to get bored of it and never touch it again afterwards because it didn’t wash well, it’s no Marchesa and you were never really into it, then it becomes clear which purchase makes the most sense. Especially as designer pieces will have a higher resale value, so if you do finally decide to sell your Marchesa dress on eBay, it’s likely you’ll get at least half of your money back if you’ve looked after it well, thus halving its lifetime cost per wear. Sometimes investing in designer is worthwhile, you just have to do the maths.
3. Is It Appropriate For Everyone?
Many a time I’ve found myself reaching for a cropped co-ord set that I just know that my friends would adore and coo over but then I realise that it’s not just my 20 something friends and I attending… They’ll be parents, grandparents or, if it’s a work colleague’s wedding, perhaps a boss’ boss. Whilst you may feel super sexy throwing shapes at 11pm, will you feel the same way sitting in the church pews at 11am? I don’t believe in dressing for other people but at the same time I don’t like to make anyone uncomfortable or to feel disapproving eyes burning into us all day. Remember, it’s not all about you – if the bride is blushing you don’t want it to be out of shame on your behalf her conservative aunt Ida won’t stop talking about your sideboob. Just something to bear in mind when thinking about what not to wear to a wedding.
4. Can I Accessorise It With Things I Already Have?
Or borrow from your mum, sister, friend, neighbour… It’s amazing when you find the perfect dress AND it’s bang on budget. Just don’t get caught out by forgetting to factor in accessories. If you spend exactly the £100 you saved with Depop sales but then get home only to realise that you now need new shoes, shawl and clutch to match that pretty perriwinkle/purple/lilac-y dress colour that you were lusting over so much in the shop, you’ll soon remember why you normally stick to navy.
5. Will It Still Be Comfortable in X Hours’ Time?
There are few things sadder than having to utter the words, ‘No, thank you. I’m okay’, as the waiter at the wedding moves onto the next guest with the tray piled with plates of freshly sliced, rich, red velvet cake with buttercream frosting. I remember the best meal I ever ate at a wedding. It was an Indian food spread and it was magical. As the steaming plates of paneer, golden, ghee-filled curries and pillowy piles of pilau rice and potatoes were brought to our table, we all locked eyes and there was a moment of, ‘I know I shouldn’t…but I will’, before we all dove in. And that was just the starter. I was in utter bliss, proud of myself for selecting a dress with an A-line skirt that would easily conceal the food baby I was about to conceive.
When working out what not to wear to a wedding, comfort is a huge factor. Sure, your outfit feels great now as you sashay around in your stocks in the changing room, two minutes into wearing it but what about towards the end of the big day? I have definitely found myself tearing up as we all stood for wedding speeches. Not because the childhood anecdotes were so moving but because I’d gone for the wrong shoe and the balls of my feet were burning like the fire pits of hell. Don’t let the same happen with your outfit. Straps that slice through shoulders, restrictive waistlines, jumpsuits that cut you in half… ‘Try before you buy’ means that you sit, stand, stretch and squat in your outfit – you want to go through an entire yoga flow of moves in it before you commit to purchasing for peace of mind that you’ll be comfortable on the day.
I hope that this post has given you some what not to wear to a wedding inspiration! Keep these five tips in mind when you’re next shopping for you special occasion and you should find that the selection of options that you’re left with is nicely manageable.