What to Wear To A Wedding Reception

The wedding invitation has arrived. Now the big question is “What will I wear?”

Naturally, it’s all about the bride on her wedding day, but that doesn’t mean that you as a guest, shouldn’t look fabulous, too.  There aren’t very many occasions to dress up  these days, so if you’re going to a summer wedding, seize the chance to wear something special and shine.

Here are some things to think about when trying to find the right dress.

blue dress to wear to a wedding

Shop this outfit: 

1. Recognize you Need to Dress Up

This sounds obvious, but a wedding or semi-formal party is special.  It means you need to dress up. Don’t think you can throw on a day dress that you’d wear to the office and be done with it. You need something more luxe and glamorous.

2. Consider the Venue and Time of Day

What to wear  to a wedding reception depends on several factors, including where the wedding is being held and when.  A beach wedding taking place at 1:00 pm is going to be far more casual than a church reception at 4 followed by a country club reception at 6 pm. Regardless of the time or place, all wedding receptions require a certain degree of decorum.

Women have more flexibility and options when it comes to dressing for a wedding reception. A skirt and a blouse, or dressy evening pants and a fancy top are both acceptable options. However,  the perfect choice for wedding guest attire is a dress.

3. Pick an Appropriate Dress

While there are no formal rules, it is common sense to forgo wearing a white dress. White should be reserved for the bride.

Length is important. A ladylike length – just above the knee at the knee or even a bit below is appropriate. A very short cocktail dress is not.   Also avoid low-cut dresses or dresses that are too loud bright or busy. You want to stand out, but not in a negative way.

If you want to camouflage your tummy, a soft draped dress in a solid dark color like this blue cocktail dress  (above) will help. An empire waistline can also help hide some jelly belly.

wedding guest attire

Shop the outfit: 

4. Buy Dressy Shoes

Leather business shoes won’t do. They need to be finer, dressier and a little sexy.  For example, gold heels add the perfect amount of glam to the Monaco blue dress featured above.  A sexy black ankle strap heels complements this pretty pink sheath. You’ll want to hit the dance floor so be sure you can move comfortably in whatever shoes you choose.

5. Accessorize with Elegant Jewelry

Let your shoes set the tone for your jewelry. A gold bangle and a pair of gold, lace dangle earrings are the perfect accompaniment to the dress and shoes. Keep the earrings to a reasonable length, no more than 2″ below your earlobe.

6. Add a Chic Clutch

Leave your heavy, everyday bag at home and opt for something more elegant. A colorful clutch is the perfect choice for the occasion. This striped clutch ( below)  adds  jolt of energy to this pretty pink sheath dress and makes it look modern.

7. Don’t Forget a Wrap

You will likely need something to cover your arms because many cocktail dresses are sleeveless. A wrap will come in handy in the church, in an air-conditioned reception hall or when you are on a patio if the reception is outside. Make sure your wrap is delicate and ladylike. No heavy wraps to weigh you down.

Did you look fabulous recently at  a wedding or semi-formal party? Send me a photo. I would love to post it.


What to Wear Over 40 – Kid’s Graduation


It’s Graduation Day and I’m sure you couldn’t be prouder. All those years of studying have finally paid off…for both your child and you. This is a time to celebrate and enjoy before the next chapter of  your lives begin.

As with any important occasion, choosing what to wear to your son or daughter’s graduation can be more difficult than you may have thought. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

what to wear for graduation ceremony

what to wear for graduation ceremony

Outfit: Floral Dress  , nude shoes,  blue handbag, earrings,  bracelet

1. Leave Your Jeans at Home

You may not feel like dressing if it means buying something new but graduating from college or high school is a big accomplishment and merits more respect than wearing a pair of jeans or capris.  A pretty dress, or a skirt and  top is perfect for the occasion. Dress pants with a feminine top worn with and fitted jacket can work well too.

2. Keep it Conservative and Ladylike

The day belongs to your child and his/her achievements. Your choice of clothing should not draw unwanted attention to you.  Avoid tight or low-cut tops and dresses and very short hemlines. Stay clear of  clothes with sequins, sparkles, fringe. A graduation is not a cocktail party. It’s best to err on the side of conservative.

Shop the look above:

3. Limit Color and Pattern

Photos are a big part of Graduation Day so if you want to wear some color go right ahead.  A cheery shade is fine, but no neon hues or  jarring brights that distract from the real star- your child. Also, avoid giant or loud patterns and edgy animal prints.  They’re overpowering.  Florals are a natural choice and always work well this time of year, or you can go for a relaxed print. Elegance is the magic word when it comes to dressing for a graduation.

what to wear to graduation ceremony

Outfit: Floral Dress, shoes, clutch, bracelet, earrings

2. Consider the Venue and Time of Day

Will the ceremony  be at night in a large fancy hall, early morning in the gym with you sitting on the bleachers, or in the afternoon out on the grass under a tent? It’s something you need to consider. A  shoe with a heel may work inside but if you are outdoors, flats, wedges or block heels are going to be a lot better. You don’t want to get your heel stuck in grass or between patio stones.

3. Be Prepared for the Weather

Graduation ceremonies are usually long and often held outdoors. Don’t forget how scorching it can be. You want to be cool and comfortable. On the other hand, sometimes it can be chilly so be prepared for weather inconsistencies and surprises. It’s a good idea to bring along a sweater in case of rain or air conditioning. A shawl or light blazer also works. And don’t forget your sunscreen and sunglasses.

Shop this plus size look:

4. Keep it Simple with Understated accessories

Make a good impression by not embarrassing your child with outrageous accessories that are too trendy or gaudy. Polished, simple accessories will look great. Since you will be carrying a bag for the entire day, select one that isn’t too big or too heavy.  Avoid flashy prints and lots of hardware or ornamentation. A simple, classic leather bag that holds your keys, lipstick, phone, camera, and sunglasses fits the bill.



What To Wear Over 40 To Mother’s Day Brunch

mother's day pink dress

How do you celebrate Mother's Day? In my family my sisters, parents, aunts and cousins all go out and have a big, leisurely buffet brunch. I always like to dress especially pretty for the occasion, so … Continue Reading

10 Ways to Dress Sexy on Valentine’s Day Without Letting it All Hang Out

Valentine's Day Dress

Going out for a romantic Valentine's Day dinner and want to look sexy, but not too exposed? Here are some tips to look alluring, not desperate at 40, 50 and beyond. 1. Show Some Skin Don't … Continue Reading

What to Pack For a Cruise


Hi Deborah, I love your site! I am going on a  cruise soon and want to bring some shorts. Can you suggest what type of shorts to bring for walking around the ship and going ashore that … Continue Reading

Off to The Movies in 2 Great Outfits


Feel like getting out to a movie this weekend and need an idea or two for what to wear? Here are 2 easy outfit recipes that are perfect for sitting back and enjoying a flick on the big … Continue Reading

What to Wear For A Girl’s Night Out


If you like getting together with your girlfriends, you know much fun it can be, and how important it is to wear something cute! Whether you all go out to dinner, to the movies or you just have … Continue Reading

Festive, Flattering Holiday Party Pants

holiday party outfit

If you've been invited to a holiday cocktail party, and are they type of gal who feels more at home in comfy pants than a short,tight cocktail dress, don't sweat it. Here are two styles of party … Continue Reading

How To Wear Ankle Booties With A Dress

how to wear booties with a dress

Dear Deborah, I love ankle boots and own a few pairs. I usually wear my booties with jeans or leggings, but would like to try them with a dress. Since I'm 46, I  wonder if they are age … Continue Reading