It’s pretty laughable that I haven’t written a what to wear to a wedding post before, considering the amount I’ve been to. Any loyal readers will know that I’m somewhat of a pro when it comes to being a wedding guest, easily racking up double figures of the events over the last few years. I wrote an article about wedding guest etiquette for The Huffington Post a while back and even got interviewed on ITV’s Daybreak to discuss the cost of weddings for young people. (actually correction, that was the laughable part)
Last month we attended our first wedding of 2014 and although all of the weddings we’ve attended have been special, this one was especially special to me, being the nuptials of a friend I went to school with and have known for around 25 years.
The day itself somewhat crept up on me, having had a busy start to the year work wise and a lot going on elsewhere and suddenly it was only a mere month away and neither myself or GB had really entertained thoughts of what we were going to wear. (totally normal behavior for GB, panic inducing behavior for me). With the wedding also doubling up as a reunion of sorts with my bestest friends and their partners, it was to be one of the few occasions we were all together in a long time and I knew there would be photos aplenty so I was determined for us both to wear something we were happy with.
And so, here is the tale of what BB and GB wore to a recent Spring wedding…
You’d think with going to so many I’d have mastered the art of wedding guest attire a long time ago and have enough dresses in my wardrobe to never need to buy anything new, but even now I still look back at photos of previous days and wonder how I got it so wrong. I’ve worn shoes that have cut up my feet, dresses that are way above the politically correct hemline length and tops that are almost see through when the camera lens flashes (which of course I’d only realise after the photos were published on Facebook for all to see). When you’re part of someone’s lasting memories the pressure really is on and finding something that you both feel comfortable in and look good in without it being OTT or inappropriate can be a minefield.
Usually though I do quite enjoy the process of devising a new outfit. Even though I left it a little last minute this time I did have a fairly good idea of what I wanted to wear, but it still took three ASOS packages to be ordered and sent back before I found the right dress.
I was sure I wanted to wear something demure. I’d had my 29th birthday only a couple of weeks beforehand and I have to say this age above all others so far has really got into my head and is doing funny things to my fashion sense. Suddenly anything above midi length just didn’t feel quite right for me and I wanted to look a little more grown up so I started hunting for wiggle dresses and pencil skirts in fun prints and colours so as not to be too dowdy.
It was only after dying my hair that the pink option came into play, but after going slightly blonder it was the only colour I found myself looking at. I’d sworn off bright fuchsia pink when my hair was at it’s reddest as it just didn’t work but now that I was on route to a blonder future it was possible again and I was really excited to get back in the colour.
I scoured through what felt like every pink dress in the land online and was very nearly clicking purchase on this lovely lace number from Whistles, but at £165, on a freelancers budget I just couldn’t justify it. In the end the dress I chose was found on a bit of a whim and ordered during a flash discount day on ASOS (gotta love those). I’d already decided on my bag and shoes ahead of time as I’d bought these Mango buckled stilettos in the sale a while back and was yet to wear them. Along with this spangly vintage clutch that I’ve had forever I was channeling somewhat of a retro vibe so when I spotted this pink pencil dress with its billowing sleeves and vintage look I thought it would go perfectly. Really though, it was the back that sold it to me (a nightmare in regards to underwear but that’s another story), and I loved the idea of a high neck and cheeky open back.
What I love about ASOS is that their range is so large and ever changing that you can always find something that no one will guess is from there. The material of this dress was a lovely loose crepe which hung beautifully and it could have easily been mistaken for a Whistles or Reiss item, but of course the price tag was a lot lower – hurrah.
I’ve always thought it’s so much easier for men. They buy one suit and wear it to every occasion, simply changing their shirt and tie/ bow tie accordingly to suit the colour scheme/ their girlfriends dress. They rarely have to buy anything new and never have to worry about whether their dress is appropriate compared to everyone else’s. A suit is a suit after all. But as I realised when we started the search for GB’s new suit this year, things are a lot trickier for guys than I imagined.
During our ‘year of weddings’ which lasted around 3 years, GB purchased one simple black suit from Moss Bros and that was it, it saw him through 22 weddings, 1 christening and a funeral. In terms of his cost per wear I think he got his money back twice over.
He was the first to suggest that this year was high time he purchased a new one and got himself a more dapper look for the next run of weddings we have, although I hope this one doesn’t see 22! Unlike me, GB doesn’t find the prospect of clothes shopping in any way exciting, for him it’s more of a chore but one which he will put off for as long as possible until it becomes absolutely necessary. So for that reason I didn’t think too much of the fact that March approached without any talk of suits, but as the weeks edged closer to the wedding I began to think that the Moss Bros one might just see it’s 23rd wedding after all.
When we finally started the search it proved much more difficult that I’d imagined. While GB spent his lunch breaks checking out the offerings in the high street stores, I would photograph anything of interest whenever I was in the vicinity of a menswear store and send it his way. I’d suggested he go for either grey or navy as I felt a black suit would suggest corporate work attire and a different colour would give more longevity. Obviously if your not willing to pay the price that comes with a properly tailored suit from Saville Row, then you know that your choices may be somewhat skewed but I was really shocked at just how limiting the high street was.
For one, most stores only seemed to cater towards the skinny fit kind of guy. If thin lapels, just a little too short sleeves and a jacket that doesn’t need to do up is your thing then you’ll be able to choose from all sorts of cool patterns and checks on your suit, but if looking like an East London hipster at your friends wedding doesn’t seem right then your options are simply black, or black pinstripe, and you get lumped with the not even remotely tailored fits which all but drown you.
Although GB wasn’t too fussed about a patterned fabric or anything too colourful, he did want something a little different to the run of the mill office suit, and needed a style that fitted his broad build but still had a hint of a tailored fit, and that proved to be almost impossible.
In the end it was Next who came to our rescue. I had always known that Next carried a large range of suiting, but when it actually came to shopping it, I was pretty amazed at just how wide their selection was. From classic blacks and blues to more fun reds and greens and various checks and patterns, they’ve got a suit to suit every guy that’s for sure. Most of the Next styles come in a range of fit options from skinny fit, slim fit, tailored fit to wide fit and what is really great about their collections is that for the majority, you can mix and match those fits to create something that works well for you in all areas. GB was able to choose a slim fit jacket (in the correct size on Next this fitted perfectly) along with a regular fit waistcoat and tailored fit trousers, forming a suit that could have almost been made for him.
We visited the Next store in Westfield Stratford to try on options and get an idea of sizes but in the end ordered online as it offered a much wider range. When it came to choosing styles I was a big fan of the checks but GB was too worried he’d look like a middle aged science teacher. There was a brief point when he fell for an electric blue suit, which did actually look pretty good on him, but with thoughts turning to my pink dress I wasn’t sure it would work so I threw down the longevity card which seemed to work and instead he chose a dark grey three piece from the wool blend collection.
Although originally against a waistcoat, I’m so glad that I managed to persuade him to go for a complete suit as I think it really brings the whole thing together. GB’s always been a fan of the bow tie and braces look so kept his style pretty retro with a classic white shirt, black bow tie and a pair of brown brogues which were Peter Werth at TK Maxx.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen him and his ginger beard look so smart…
So that’s what we wore, and we had a wonderful day, to see more pics from the wedding, see my round up of the weekend.
All photography © Jaclyn Craig and Stuart Watt