3 Last-Minute Summer Wedding Outfit Ideas

Juliana Salazar gets dressed for three weddings during wedding season

I’ve been to two weddings in the last two weeks. Next week, I have another. While it can be fun to have so many opportunities to dress up, it can also be stressful if your closet isn’t equipped for it. I own very few dresses — and even less I’d deem specifically “wedding appropriate.” I was reminded of this two weeks ago — a day before the first wedding. If you’ve found yourself in this scenario, you know the predicament goes from fun to stressful, fast.

But as soon as I went through my closet, pulling anything that had a shade of fanciness to it, I realized I wasn’t as woefully unprepared as I thought. I just needed to figure out how to dress up a daytime dress, dress down a sequin dress, and find a way to make a two-piece set feel less casual. In the end, I just had to be more thoughtful with my styling. So if your last weeks of summer are as busy with weddings as mine are and you’re in need of some inspiration, I’ve outlined my three wedding looks below.

A Statement Dress With Simple Heels

I originally wore this Ganni wrap dress to an engagement party. It was such a hit that I immediately regretted not saving it for one of the many weddings in my near future. I initially thought it would be too casual, but I suppose there is nothing casual about an almost-fluorescent orange dress. I know this because every time I’ve tried to wear this dress with sneakers or flat sandals, it feels like too much. This dress also coincidentally perfectly matched these Roxanne Assoulin earrings I have been obsessed with ever since I saw them in production. Normally this matchiness would feel too over the top for me, but for a soirée that calls for cocktail attire? Just right.

Since I was wearing such a bright color, I knew I wanted to play down the rest of my accessories. I went with this straw bag from Silvia Tcherassi. It’s one of my favorite acquisitions of the summer. Although it’s the same color as my dress, I think the difference in texture is really nice. For shoes, I went with these Zara pumps I’ve had forever. I bought them on a whim because they were $30. I really liked them and knew I wouldn’t feel guilty if I only ended up wearing them only a few times. Fast forward three summers later: I have worn them so much that I destroyed my first pair and then hunted a new pair down on eBay for double the price. That’s amore. I’m telling you all of this because I think some things are worth investing in, and for me shoes that you wear all the time are one of those things. (I would buy these Mari Giudicelli ones today in a heartbeat. These Sam Edelman ones would work, too. And if I didn’t already have the above Ganni dress in my arsenal, I’d seriously consider this Mara Hoffman one-sleever on sale for $220, or this Topshop one for $75.)

A Summer-y Answer to Black-Tie

If you’re like me, the mention of black-tie conjures up images of ball gowns, uncomfortable shoes and generally all-black clothing. Why does no other color feel fancy? But black felt too dark and serious for a summer wedding, so after endless online searching, I think I finally cracked the summer black-tie code: Sequins! So many sequins! And in fun colors! It’s so easy it almost feels like cheating.

This Tibi dress was a strong contender, but the Attico dress you see here really won my heart (it was on sale). I ordered it hoping it would look terrible on me, but as soon as I slipped it on, I never wanted to take it off. Even though it was on sale, it was still more than I had ever spent on a single dress — but there was something about it I found very difficult to part with. For example, it’s actually not a dress at all — it is a long, robe-like top meant to be worn over pants. I sewed the front closed together (loosely enough so that I can unstitch it again) and voila! A dress! The versatility definitely made the cost more justifiable to me. That said, other excellent sequined robe options exist, like this pink maxi mega-size sequin robe from Topshop, or this similar style from ASOS, or this one, also ASOS, for $55 — you’d just need to add a slip underneath.

The casual dresser in me almost felt like the dress was too much even on its own, but I had already sewn it, so I was committed. I relied on the rest of my accessories to make my dress feel as blasé as purple sequins can be.

On an unrelated-but-kind-of-related note, I’ve been really into a yellowish-green pedicure this summer. When I caught a glimpse of my toes against my purple dress, I was really inspired to keep the polish on and match it to these Yvonne Kone sandals. Yvonne is a shoe and handbag designer from Copenhagen that I fell in love with via Instagram. I love her color palettes, and these sandals especially. Although they are a chartreuse green, they almost feel neutral. I think to wear them with such a playful, almost childish nail color really made the black-tie look feel more easy-going. And in an unforeseen pairing, this burgundy Staud bucket bag was perfect with the other two colors.

Separates! Don’t Forget About Separates!

I very rarely see women wear separates to a wedding. I guess I rarely do it, too. I’m not sure why that is, but at the sight of this Priscavera set on super sale at No. 6 in Soho, I couldn’t resist giving it a try. The material checked the box as far as conventional formal attire goes. As I was thinking about all the ways I could wear the top and skirt in the future (top underneath overalls or with high-waist jeans; skirt with a chunky gray knit and flat slides), I remembered a friend of mine works for Priscavera. I took my chances, asked if I could borrow the set and, fortunately for me, she said yes. It made me think about how, for my next set of weddings, I should just borrow from friends’ personal closets — and let them borrow from mine.

(But you know who else has great separates? ReformationThis navy J.O.A. top and skirt combo could also work for a wedding — would just need some dressing up with earrings and shoes.)

Since most of the weddings I’ve gone to have started in the late afternoon/early evening, I decided to go with a tuxedo-inspired blazer. It calmed my “is this appropriate” anxieties and was ideal to have on hand later in the night when temperatures dropped a bit.

In my dream world, I wore these Sophie Buhai earrings. The next best thing were these shiny old things from Topshop that you see here and I still love a lot. You can find some great vintage ones on Etsy. I normally don’t like pink and black together but in this case, I think black slingbacks helped elevate the whole look.

Any additional wedding guest pointers for when I overuse my own? Please share your secrets below!

Juliana Salazar

Juliana Salazar is a freelance stylist and brand strategist and contributing fashion editor for Man Repeller.

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