How to be the best-dressed wedding guest this summer – without resorting to wearing a floral dress

Whatever the wedding (country, city, destination), whatever you wear to it can usually be solved with two words: floral dresses.

Appropriately romantic, floral dresses can be glamorous or glamorous, depending on the dress code. Because they are ubiquitous on the high street, there is something for every shape, age and budget. It’s no wonder they’ve had a resurgence this season after being declared paseé last year. Proof that you can’t stop a good trend, especially one that’s so universal.

My own casual wardrobe is bursting with hyper-feminine flowers: Ghost with ditsy print; strips of Rixo; Ganni with puff sleeves. With a wedding in a few weeks – my first in years – I should take the chance to wear one. However, I experience the exact opposite. Once cheerfully frou-frou, my floral dresses suddenly feel too girly and twee.

My children are to blame. Since becoming a mother, I have longed for simplicity and ease in my wardrobe. Life with a one- and three-year-old is hectic enough without throwing busy flowers into the mix. A sentiment only fueled by fashion’s current preoccupation with ’90s minimalism and all things ‘discreet chic’ (think pared-back silhouettes and muted tones).

I’m not the only one who wants to change my wedding look. At fashion rental platform HURR, searches for ‘wedding guest style’ are up 128 percent year-on-year. But while floral dresses are still a staple, tailoring has skyrocketed in popularity, with matching suit sets currently among the most sought-after styles.

Brands are also responding to the mood change. “Most people know us as a floral dress brand, but we wanted to offer an alternative that offered more versatility,” said Clara Francis and Tania Hindmarch, founders of O’Pioneers. The London dress label (of which Sarah Jessica Parker is a fan) has introduced smart separates that can be restyled throughout the season. Pair the Frida ultra wide leg trousers (€295) with a silk shirt and blazer for a city wedding, and add a blouse and wedges (yes, they’re back) for country outfits.

If you’d rather leave flowers to the flower girls, here are the chicest alternatives to try.

Occasion suitable

Much has been made of the comeback of the 9-5 pantsuit (call it a response to WFH scruffs), but tailoring can also cross over into occasionwear.

Lightweight fabrics provide a relaxed look. Linen is a seasonal classic (Jaeger has a great selection), but if you’re worried about wrinkling, try a breathable cotton blend, like French Connection’s Alania blazer (£99) and matching trousers (£75).

A touch of color prevents everything from looking businesslike. See the powder blue suits from John Lewis and the sugar pink suits from Me + Em. Both can be restyled for future occasions; throw the jackets over a dress, add a cocktail blouse to the pants. The beauty – and value – of suits lies in their versatility.

French connection

French connection

Alania blazer, £99 And matching trousers, €75both French connection

John Lewis jacket and trousersJohn Lewis jacket and trousers

John Lewis jacket and trousers

Jacket, £125 And trousers €85, both John Lewis

Me+EM jacket and trousersMe+EM jacket and trousers

Me+EM jacket and trousers

Jacket, £325 And wide leg trousers, €250both me and Em

Waistcoat and wide leg trousersWaistcoat and wide leg trousers

Waistcoat and wide leg trousers

Waistcoat, £125 And wide leg trousers, £125, both Aligne

Luxury pajama clothes

Whether it’s a silky shirt and pants, or a nightgown-inspired dress, there’s something effortlessly decadent about nightwear as party wear. The trick to making it look intentional (rather than wearing your actual PJs) is to go luxurious with fabric and fit. Abolish cotton and go for satin and silk in draped silhouettes.

Up the glam factor with accessories, too: now it’s time to dust off your strappy heels and big earrings. After trying this look myself (I wore a silk set with feather embellishment to a wedding with a black tie), I’d also suggest rugged underwear. A beautiful bodysuit makes you feel more dressed and gives a smooth silhouette over which supple fabrics glide.

Wear Olivia Von Halle’s silk Jagger tuxedo jacket and palazzos with raffia accessories for weddings during the day, and add a touch of crystal at night. With removable feather cuffs, Sleeper’s satin Suzi dress can range from demure to va-vavoom depending on the dress code. Or Kitri’s embroidered bed jacket (€215) and matching trousers (€165) are just a nod to sleepwear.

Blue silk pajama setBlue silk pajama set

Blue silk pajama set

Blue Silk Pajama Set, £611.97, Olivia von Halle at Harrods

Maxi dressMaxi dress

Maxi dress

Maxi dress, £230, The sleeper

Blazer with tie frontBlazer with tie front

Blazer with tie front

Tie-front blazer, £215 And pleated trousers (available soon), £245both Kitri

Graphic printing

In the flood of floral prints for wedding guests, other prints are often overlooked. Stripes and spots are equally timeless and have a sleek, sophisticated look.

Marks and Spencer’s polka dots have a chance to win the best high street dress of the season. Mango’s spotty one-shoulder blouse (€35.99) and palazzo trousers (€79.99) also look more premium than the price tag and have a hint of ss24 Dolce & Gabbana. Although wearing black or white may be considered a faux pas for a wedding guest, when worn in the context of a classic polka dot, they are perfectly acceptable.

With stripes, horizontal lines create an elongated silhouette. Maksu’s striped jumpsuit (€360) has a leg-lengthening effect and comes with a matching blazer in case the party tent’s heating is out of order. The European contemporary label is new to the UK and well worth checking out for stylish, mid-priced occasionwear. For weddings in popular destinations, pair the tutti-frutti striped halter top (€150) and trousers (€185) with gold sandals.

Dress with polka dot patternDress with polka dot pattern

Dress with polka dot pattern

Polka Dot Dress, £49.50 Marks and Spencer

Spotted blouseSpotted blouse

Spotted blouse

Spotted Blouse, £35.99 And trousers, £79.99both Mango

Ruffle top, €106, and wide-leg trousers, €145, both MaksuRuffle top, €106, and wide-leg trousers, €145, both Maksu

Ruffle top, €106, and wide-leg trousers, €145, both Maksu

Ruffle top, £106 And wide leg trousers, €145both Maksu


Metallics were big on the ss24 catwalks (Versace, Miu Miu, Rokanda to name a few) and they are just the ticket to bring high summer glamor to a wedding guest’s look.

Gold and silver are more wearable than you might expect because they compliment almost every other color; enhance them with jewel tones and soften them with neutrals. They are also flattering and provide a complexion-enhancing glow.

You don’t want to outshine the happy couple – literally – so stay away from high-shine lamé and sequins. Instead, look for fabrics with a subtle sheen. The silver dress from Jigsaw hits the right note, and thanks to the knitted look you can wear it both casual and chic. Even more of a statement (without being scene-stealing) is the melted Mint Velvet long vest and trousers.

Gold jacketGold jacket

Gold jacket

Gold Jacket, £139 And gold trousers, £139both mint velvet

Silver dressSilver dress

Silver dress

Silver dress, £165, Puzzle

Block color

The chicest way to wear color this season is in a solid block. Although pastel colors are traditional, they can give preference to saccharine, especially in the silhouette of a dress. (Personally, I think they wash me out.) Saturated tones feel more mature yet summery.

More than one fashion editor I know has invested in Tove’s cinnamon Mali maxi (£395). Brown is having a moment and looks great paired with gold, cream or black. For garden weddings, try the grass green seersucker midi from Wiggy Kit.

The main street offers plenty of possibilities. Take a look at the raspberry jumpsuit from Reiss and the azure blue dress from Whistle. The latter fits perfectly with a beach reception.

A word of caution: stay away from red. A guest wore a red dress to my wedding and the photos are testament to the fact that it draws attention in all the wrong ways; you barely notice the rest of the wedding party. Needless to say, if I ever renew my vows, I will issue a strict ban.



Raspberry jumpsuit, £268, trip

Maxi dress with rufflesMaxi dress with ruffles

Maxi dress with ruffles

Ruffle Maxi Dress, £329, Whistles

Seersucker dressSeersucker dress

Seersucker dress

Seersucker dress, £395, Wiggy Kit

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