If you’re anything like me getting dressed up for a wedding can be a mixture of exciting and stressful. I love getting all dressed up for a special occasion but sometimes I can feel like I have nothing to wear and anything nice is out of my budget. Here are a few tips which have got me through a couple of years in which everyone I’ve ever met seems to have said ‘I do’.
WEDDING GUEST OUTFITS ON A BUDGET
Shop your wardrobe
Think outside of regular habits when it comes to your clothes. Could that A-line skirt you wear to work take on a new lease of life with a nicer top and a swish pair of heels? Could that floral blue dress look extra special with a nice wrap or cardigan? Take time to go through your wardrobe and really evaluate what you have. If you’re going to a family wedding they probably don’t know that you wear that skirt every week, they’ll just think it’s a nice skirt. I’ve toned down racy (ooh err 1988) going out dresses by wearing a delicate lace detail vest underneath or slipping on a cardigan. I’ve dressed up fairly standard outfits with the addition of pearls, a wrap, heels and a hat. Start to think outside your usual habits and hopefully you’ll find a new use for something you wouldn’t normally have considered wedding worthy.
The icing on the cake
Invest in a good hat. I bought a black hat with a small veil to the front in 2007 and I’ve worn it at least 3 times a year since. I’ve worn it as it is but also opted to add in extra details such as flowers or ribbon (I even once tied an elaborate bow onto the base using a thin vintage scarf) to change it up a bit. The hat set me back about £50 and has been worth every penny. I have quite a few daring hats as I used to collect them however they’re not as versatile as a good classic which can be changed up to go with any outfit.
Plain Jane or Colourful Carol?
If you’re buying a new dress opt for something fairly plain and go to town on accessories. Great additions to a plain dress can include anything from a great belt, cracking shoes or even a statement piece such as a necklace or handbag. This way you can wear the same dress time and again but with a swift change of cardigan, corsage or necklace you can make it look totally different. Another option is to go for something with lots of colour so you can match it in a number of different ways. A dress with 6 different coloured flowers can usually be matched with all six colours along with complementary colours and neutrals like black, navy, white, cream and beige. When buying something think of the possible options for accessories and getting as much use from it as you possibly can by teaming it with what you already have.
Second hand options
Check out charity shops, bootsales, vintage shops and second hand shops. Many people get rid of formal wear after one wear so there are some real bargains to be had. It’s also well worth checking outevents and clothes swaps. I’ve worn second hand outfits to lots and lots of weddings and saved myself a small fortune as a result.
If you have a dress or skirt which could be great but isn’t quite there yet make the bold leap of dying it an interesting colour or adding detail. Sew in a beautiful lace trim or even have it taken up (or in) by a seamstress – they’re much cheaper than you’d think.
Hire a dress/hat
There are plenty of dress and hat hire agencies which are suitable for those uber formal events where seriously special clothes are required. We attended a ‘society wedding’ in Edinburgh which needed something very fancy, so I hired a dress locally for £45 and teamed it with a wrap I bagged free from a magazine about 10 years ago and a second hand hat I snaffled at a vintage fair for £3.50. Most women at this wedding had outfits which ran into the thousands and mine fit in perfectly having spent less than £50.
Shop the sales
This year there are some really good sales out there so it is worth having a snoop to see if you can add something to your wardrobe which will do for both weddings and other events.
Here are my picks all under £20:
Wear it again
If you’re going to a wedding with a different group of friends or relatives no one is to know you’ve worn that exact same outfit at Nancy and Fred’s wedding only the week before to Amanda and Philip’s wedding. Wash it and wear it again with your natural style and panache. Go for it!