Style 911: “I Need The Perfect Dress For A ‘Casual, Elegant’ Beach Wedding!”

Next month, I will be traveling halfway across the world for my boyfriend’s sister’s wedding, and it will be the first time I meet most of his family. It’s a beach wedding, and the only style guidelines I’ve received from my fashion-challenged man are that the wedding is “casual and elegant” (though, frankly, I think it’ll be more elegant than casual). I’m envisioning a drapey, colorful dress (coral? royal blue?) with a defined waist and a plunging neckline, or maybe a beautiful print, though any two of these variables would do. I need to look good! My ideal price point is somewhere below $250. –Smalls

Ahh, boyfriends — not always the best communicators when it comes to letting us know what we should be wearing. Dress too dressy, and you’ll upstage the bride. Not dressy enough, and your boyfriend’s family might think you have no taste. Never fear, there are ways to make this work! First off, I’d recommend steering clear of certain “prom dress-y” fabrics that may come off as too formal, such as satin, lace and taffeta. Stick with a more neutral fabric like linen or cotton to keep things on track. Remember, this is a beach wedding, so you’re going to want to be comfortable. You’re also most likely going to have to wear sandals, and that will help better define what your options are. photo of wedding dress options

1. Adam Long Basketweave Dress, $207
2. Girl by Band of Outsiders Dress, $219
3. Aqua Encom Twist Bandeau Full Maxi Dress $70.68
4. J. Crew Louisa dress in silk chiffon, $235
5. BCBG Generation V-Neck Dress with Pockets, $98
6. MM Couture One Shoulder Dress, $68

The number one tip for properly dressing for the occasion: Bring lots of accessories. Once you’ve spent some time around his family you’ll be able to get a better sense of how they dress, and you’ll be able to tell what their definition of “casual elegance” really is. If you need to dress up your outfit, pile on some bangles and necklaces. Dress it down, wear less jewelry.

I’ve picked out an array of dresses in blue and coral–I think it’s best to steer clear of prints at a wedding–again, you don’t want to upstage the bride. Plus, both colors are classic and timeless and wearable year round. After all, you want a dress you can wear long after the wedding’s over, don’t you?

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