Attending weddings is always a joy, but deciding what to wear can be stressful. As a guest, you want an outfit that is appropriate and complements the bride, without going overboard. Lace dresses are a timeless and romantic choice that can work for any wedding style. The key is selecting the right lace style, color, silhouette, and accessories to suit the occasion. Follow this guide to feel confident and stylish at your next wedding celebration!
An Introduction to Lace Styles and Fabrics
Not all lace is created equal. The first step to choosing a lace dress is understanding the different lace types and fabrics out there. Here are some of the most common options:
Alençon lace is a high-quality, ornate French lace recognizable by its intricate floral detailing. It has a delicate, lightweight feel. Alençon is suitable for very formal events like black-tie weddings. It can look luxurious in ivory or soft neutrals. However, it’s also one of the pricier lace options.
Chantilly lace features a lighter, daintier look with lots of space between the embroidered flourishes. The pattern looks like vines, flowers, and scrolls. The delicate and airy feel of Chantilly lace works well for garden weddings and daytime events. Chantilly comes in many colors, though black and white are most iconic.
Guipure lace has a structured, geometric pattern with heavier stitching. Modern and elegant, it’s perfect for sleek, contemporary styles. Guipure highlights the body’s shape rather than obscuring it. It’s often used in wedding gowns for its simple elegance.
Venice lace features ornately swirled designs that almost resemble embroidery. It has a refined, romantic vibe. The three-dimensional flowers in Venice lace give it a luxurious look, making it ideal for formal weddings. It’s available in colorful options beyond basic ivory.
Schiffli lace gets its delicate appearance from a weblike “net” background. The machine-made lace often incorporates sparkling threads or beads into the design. The lightweight, shimmery quality of Schiffli makes it wonderful for summer weddings. It’s frequently employed on bridal gowns.
Once you understand the distinctions between lace types, you can choose one that aligns with the wedding’s formality, season, and your personal style. Be sure to pick a high-quality lace that appears refined, not cheap. Synthetic blends won’t drape as beautifully on the body. For a dress you’ll re-wear often, splurge on the best lace you can afford.
The Top 5 Versatile and Elegant Lace Dresses for Guests
Here are my top picks for exquisite, formal, and versatile lace dresses that would suit any elegant wedding. These dresses range from splurge-worthy designer options to budget-friendly fast fashion.
Reformation Winslow Lace Dress – $278
This slim fit-and-flare silhouette highlights your shape without clinging too tightly. With a vintage vibe, the Winslow dress features a midi A-line skirt and sultry open back. The lightweight design works year-round. It comes in black, green, and red colorways. This eco-friendly brand upcycles vintage lace for a sustainable style statement.
Baltic Born Kinsley Midi Dress – $168
For the trend-focused fashionista, this midi dress with a bodycon slip under a flowing lace overlay ticks all the style boxes. With long sleeves and a mock neck, it provides tasteful coverage. Reviewers love it for cocktail parties and formal events. The Kinsley comes in both vibrant colors like raspberry and velvet black.
Rebecca Vallance Juliette Dress – $620
This splurge evokes modern elegance with a ladylike vibe. A column of buttons and a crisp collar offset the sensual illusion sleeves and midi flare. Made of embroidered tulle and chantilly lace, the flattering silhouette is at once retro and contemporary. Choose your best neutral like ivory or blush pink.
ASOS DESIGN Curve Midi Lace Pencil Dress – $103
This structured frock with delicate lace overlay proves you can look chic and feel comfortable. It flatters curvy figures with an of-the-moment longline silhouette and midi length. The stretch underlayer ensures you can move and dance all night. For maximum versatility, opt for classic black lace.
Adrianna Papell Long Sleeve Beaded Dress – $280
Channel old Hollywood glam in this floor-length column gown. Intricate beading resembles lace embroidery for stunning detail. The illusion long sleeves and demure high neck provide coverage. The figure-hugging stretch crepe elongates your frame. Choose champagne or silver blue for a decidedly bridal feel.
Choosing Colors and Patterns Wisely
When selecting a wedding guest dress, it’s smart to avoid overly bold prints or patterns that could distract from the bride. Solid colors are a sophisticated and safe choice. For lace specifically, traditional options like black, navy, champagne, and blush tend to work best. metallics like gold and rose gold are also elegant neutrals.
If the wedding has a distinct color scheme, coordinate accordingly. For example, a blue and green beach wedding calls for a verdant lace dress rather than classic black. Ask the bride if you need guidance on dress colors. Some may prefer guests stick to a specific palette.
The venue and time of day also help dictate colors. Darker shades like navy and black lace make most sense for evening ceremonies and receptions. Pastels and lighter metallics suit daytime weddings. Don’t wear a pure white or cream dress, which could be confusing with the bride’s gown. Ivory lace is likely fine, but if in doubt, check with the couple.
Ultimately, choose a color and print that flatters your complexion. Avoid hues that clash with your skin tone. Jewel tones like emerald and rich blues enhance darker complexions, while pale pinks pair best with fair skin. The lace texture itself adds plenty of visual interest, so you don’t need an overly loud pattern.
Finding the Right Silhouette and Style
From tea length to floor-length gowns, lace wedding guest dresses come in an array of silhouettes. Consider the formality, time of day, venue, and wedding theme as you choose. Here are some popular options:
For outdoor boho or beach weddings, midi lengths feel chic, current, and feminine without sweeping the sand. Strapless or halter necklines also suit the vibe.
Formal cathedral events and black-tie nuptials call for longer hemlines – ankle, midi or ballgown – and sleeves or straps rather than strapless styles.
Morning or brunch receptions are the perfect occasion for knee-length lace dresses or chic jumpsuits. Focus on bright colors and minimal accessories.
In chillier months, look for long sleeves and high necks to stay comfortable. Or layer under your lace dress with a slip. Lean away from skin-baring styles.
The most versatile silhouettes include fit-and-flare, A-line, and wrap dress shapes. Look for strategically placed ruching, clever seam work, and waist-cinching belts to elegantly accentuate your figure.
No matter the exact style, pay attention to the dress code provided by the couple. Follow any requests like “black-tie optional” or “bohemian chic” when choosing your lace look. The wedding style should steer your silhouette, length, and styling.
Accessorizing Your Lace Look
The accessories you select help pull your whole wedding guest ensemble together into a polished, cohesive look. Follow these tips when accessorizing a lace dress:
- If your dress features elaborate lace detailing and beading, keep jewelry minimal – think simple stud earrings and a bracelet or two. Let the dress take center stage.
- For plainer lace styles, add a statement necklace, chandelier earrings, or bold cocktail ring to amp up the visual interest.
- Neutral or metallic shoes elongate legs and go with anything. Save black for evening weddings only.
- Minimal clutches are chic, but make sure it’s large enough for your essentials. Stash lipstick for touch ups!
- Skip elaborate hair pieces and opt for chic updos secured with rhinestone pins or elegant florals instead.
- Capes, shawls and wraps lend warmth between the ceremony and reception or at outdoor weddings.
- If in doubt, ask the bride about her vision for your accessories. Some may prefer muted, uniform looks on guests.
The most important thing is choosing accessories, hair, and makeup that complement – but never compete with – the bride’s complete look. Keep it simple and let her shine.
How to Be a Gracious and Respectful Guest
Your outfit is just one part of being a considerate wedding presence. Avoid these faux pas:
- Revealing fabrics or silhouettes that show too much skin, especially at formal or religious ceremonies
- Pure white dresses that could be confused with the bride’s gown – ask if unsure
- Anything in the same color family as bridesmaid dresses
- Bold prints or loud colors that don’t fit the wedding palette
- Dramatic makeup or hair – classic wedding guest beauty focuses on elegance, not trends
- Phones that aren’t silenced or taking calls and pictures during the ceremony
- Dressing overly casual or overly formal for the occasion
The idea is finding a balance between looking stylish yet fitting in with the group. Seek guidance from the couple or other guests if you’re unsure what’s appropriate.
Most importantly, be fully present. Biography in the vows, tears during speeches, and delight on the dance floor. Keep your focus on celebrating true love. That’s what makes a perfect wedding guest!
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I don’t know the couple well? How do I determine the right dress code?
If you aren’t close with the bride and groom, start by checking the invitation wording. Formal invitations often indicate attire, like black tie or cocktail attire. Reach out to someone in the wedding party for guidance if you’re still unsure.
What if I wait until the last minute to find a dress and can’t find anything?
Don’t panic! Try checking rental services for high-end designer options to borrow. Department stores also carry wedding guest dresses you can buy off the rack. Or shop resale and consignment stores for deals. Bold accessories can also elevate a simple neutral dress you already own. Worst case, be honest with the couple – they’ll understand!
Can I wear a short or long white dress as a wedding guest?
It’s best practice to avoid pure white, ivory, and cream, which are reserved for the bride’s gown. Light nude or blush pink lace dresses would work well. For a short white dress, add contrasting accessories. If wearing long and white, stick to dark accent colors so you don’t compete with the bride.
What if I’m curvy? Are there lace styles that will flatter me?
Absolutely! A-line silhouettes with defined waistbands, like fit-and-flare or wrap dresses, beautifully accentuate curves. Look for dresses with strategically placed ruching or piping to emphasize your shape in a subtle way. And don’t be afraid to rock figure-hugging styles in your best assets like your hips or bosom.
Can I re-wear my lace dress to multiple weddings?
Of course, re-wearing is eco-friendly! Just avoid heavy beading or bright patterns that make it memorable. Simple black or navy lace dresses work for nearly any wedding. Change your accessories each time for a brand new look. If attending 2 weddings in a row, make sure they won’t have overlapping guests.
The Perfect Lace Dress Awaits
Finding a lace dress for your next wedding invite doesn’t have to be daunting. Now that you know how to select the right lace fabric, color, length, and silhouette for your body and the occasion, you can feel confident you’ll look and feel amazing.
Most importantly, remember to keep the focus on the bride. Avoid anything too revealing or attention-grabbing. Be present throughout the celebrations. Your thoughtful presence and grace matter so much more than your outfit details.
With the tips from this guide, you’re sure to absolutely shine in a lace dress that helps you celebrate the happy couple in style! Enjoy the music, food, and magical memories – and dance the night away feeling comfortable and chic.