5 Outfits to Wear to a Wedding Instead of a Cocktail Dress, Straight from a Stylist

Is this a good floral? Is this dress too close to white? Do I really have to wear three pairs of Spanx with this body-con look?

Phew, getting dressed for a wedding can be stressful. If a wave of sartorial panic washes over you every single time a formal invitation lands in your mailbox (or inbox), we’re here to tell you not to worry. And celebrity stylist Jamie Frankel is backing us up on that notion.

“I personally am a pants girl. I don’t feel comfortable in dresses,” Frankel admits. But considering stars such as Christie Brinkley, Nina Agdal and Ebonee Davis trust her taste—in addition to big fashion names like Moda Operandi and Vogue Mexico—this stylist clearly knows what she’s doing. And she’s got plenty of styling tricks up her sleeve, so you don’t have to settle for wearing that same go-to, boring dress to yet another wedding reception.

Here, five alternative wedding guest looks, straight from this celeb stylist.

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Colorful Suit

Ditch the dress. Seriously. And instead, put on a playful two-piece suit—the shirt underneath is totally optional. “To keep it feeling fresh and cool, I like to do a bright color, a cool plaid, or a monochromatic look, including accessories,” says Frankel. Once you’ve discovered the suit that feels inherently you, just make sure it actually fits. The shoulders should be snug (but not too tight), the pants should hit right above or at your ankle and your choice of shoe should work to lengthen your leg. (We prefer a barely-there sandal or a super-pointy heel.)

Get the look: MKT Studio blazer ($240) and trousers ($158); Stuart Weitzman sandals ($398)

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Blazer Dress

When reaching for this tailored style, Frankel has one major tip: “The material is really important. Having something in satin or silk makes it a little more luxe, instead of a stiff, traditional blazer look.” Also, take note of how she pairs the buttoned-up piece with a funky pair of leopard platforms, because a playful shoe will definitely read ‘Where’s the Champagne?’ rather than ‘I’m OMW to the office.’

Get the look: Fleur du Mal dress ($625); Stuart Weitzman platforms ($495)

Emily Morgan/PureWow

Belted Maxi

Psst, here’s a secret: You can completely change the look of a simple dress with a belt. “I love to pair [one] with something a little more more flowy because it cinches the waist. It can make any silhouette feel a little more sexy,” Frankel explains. She notes that you need to find the “sweet spot on your waist” in order for this cinching trick to work its magic. (BTW, that sweet spot is the narrowest area of your torso, right above your hips.) And don’t forget to blouse the fabric over the top of the belt for an additional flattering boost.

Get the look: Silk Laundry dress ($186); Rachel Comey belt ($110); Stuart Weitzman sandals ($398)

Emily Morgan/PureWow

Layered Bodysuit

A basic bodysuit is the ultimate foundation for piecing together a new outfit. It seamlessly tucks into even the tightest skirt, it eliminates bulky fabrics from bunching around your midsection, and it’s an easy shirt on its own that won’t rise or shift. Frankel keeps three bodysuits in her styling kit—a sleeveless, a scoop-neck T-shirt and a long-sleeve turtleneck—as any can work in a pinch. For a formal event, she loves to pair one with a patterned skirt to dress up an easy silhouette. Plus, she notes that this trick works with many different skirt lengths and shapes, so try out a few combinations and see what you love the most.

Get the look: Wolford bodysuit ($200); Rixo skirt ($115); Stuart Weitzman pumps ($160)

Emily Morgan/PureWow

Tailored Jumpsuit

“I would recommend buying a size larger than you normally would, so you can tailor [the] jumpsuit exactly how you want it,” Frankel suggests. Once you stop procrastinating and finally make it to the tailor (no judgement!), make sure they pay close attention to cinching the waist just so. A proper fit shouldn’t gap above your butt or pull at the crotch. Frankel adores this particular Victoria Victoria Beckham style because it has—gasp—shoulder pads! “They kinda update it and make it look a little bit cooler,” she explains.

Get the look: Victoria Victoria Beckham jumpsuit ($440); Stuart Weitzman sandals ($398)

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Dena Silver

Fashion Editor

From 2019-2021 Dena Silver held the role of Fashion Editor covering product recommendations, trends, and what you should be shopping this season.
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