So you have to tear yourself away from a weekend of Netflix, eat, and repeat long enough to attend a wedding? And worse, it's happening in the winter? Truly shudder-inducing. But don't fret—winter-ready dresses (opens in new tab) can be the most gorgeous, and we've for you covered (literally). Unlike spring and summer weddings (opens in new tab), to which you can wear the bare minimum, winter weddings call for dresses made from thick fabrics like velvet (opens in new tab) and with sleeves, if possible. You can also feel good about icing yourself out in a ton of jewelry (opens in new tab) to match the icy temperatures outside.
We tapped a stylist for her insight on what to wear to a winter wedding and curated a list of the best wedding guest dresses for the 2023 season, all of which you'll find ahead. In fact, the styles below are so nice you'll want to wear them twice—i.e., the holy grail of wedding attire. (opens in new tab)We've got everything from simple, ruched mini dresses to drop-dead-glamorous gowns that will make you look red-carpet-ready.
What to Look For
"For weddings in general, it’s always important to figure out how formal the wedding is," advises fashion editor, stylist, and influencer Caroline Vazzana. "Is it black tie, cocktail attire? That will determine how you should dress. If you’re not sure, I’d always suggest either asking the bride or checking the couple's wedding website."
- Rich Fabrics
"For a winter wedding, in particular, I think velvets and satins are always great," says Vazzana, adding that you'll want to steer clear of summery fabrics like linen or lightweight cotton.
Unlike a summer ceremony where easy-breezy dressing and limited layers are encouraged, you'll need to don outerwear for a winter wedding. However, you can't just throw on any winter jacket (opens in new tab) in your arsenal, says Vazzana. A bulky puffer or parka won't cut it, but "a faux fur coat or shrug, for instance, is also always the perfect accent to wedding guest looks in the winter," she says. A sharply tailored blazer or wool peacoat are also options to consider topping off your outfit with.
Shop The Best Winter Wedding Guest Dresses
Don't Shy Away From Shimmer
"I love a little sparkle, so a deep metallic or black sequin can always be fun for a winter wedding," Vazzana shares. "I’d stick to a darker sparkle though as not to distract from the bride, though."
For a timeless winter-ready look, try a dress made of luscious, dare-to-be-touched velvet. In particular, Vazzana encourages you to consider "a long, deep red velvet gown, as it's a gorgeous option" that delivers a glamorous effect without fail.
*Don't* Take the Plunge
"A high neck is always stunning in winter as well," says Vazzana. Julia Marzovilla (opens in new tab), Marie Claire's E-Commerce Editor, seconds the stylist, shouting out this silk cowl-neck number from Reformation. "I have been dreaming about the Casette dress since I first saw it on Reformation's website. It comes in four colors—including this light green that I love so much- and has a high, halter-style neckline, making it a little more winter-ready. Plus a sleek low back if you want to show extra skin." As for styling the luxurious midi dress, the shopping expert "would wear it over patterned tights or lace tights and style it with close-toed pumps or even a tall boot for a more casual affair."
Winter-Approved Long Sleeves
You can't avoid it: winter's chilly temps necessitate more fabric. But, as Vazzana points out, a more covered-up silhouette doesn't always mean your look will feel modest or tame. "Don’t be afraid to opt for a long sleeve," she advises. "Though it may feel very covered, it still can be very chic," especially if the style boasts a few choice cutouts or an open back.
Dark & Moody Florals
Flower motifs and prints are inherently romantic, making them a natural choice to wear to a wedding. And even though real flowers may be scarce in nature during the winter, Vazzana encourages you to keep floral prints in your guest dress rotation during the cold season. "Dary, moody florals are always perfect for winter," the stylist shares via email. "Oh, a bonus is that a darker floral cocktail dress works for so many occasions, more than just a wedding!"
Meet the Expert
Caroline Vazzana is a fashion editor, stylist, influencer, and the author and founder of “Making it in Manhattan.” She began writing “Making it in Manhattan” back in 2015 while working at InStyle and subsequently launched her brand as one of New York City’s most colorful influencers. Aside from running MakingManhattan.com, Vazzana has also styled celebrities for various red-carpet events such as the MTV Video Music Awards, The Tony Awards, and Comicon and is also involved in a wide range of social media brand collaborations and campaigns.
Emma Childs is the Style Editor at Marie Claire, where she researches up-and-coming trends, curates shopping guides, and gushes about the must-buy items she can't stop thinking about. She previously wrote for TZR, Editorialist, Elite Daily, and Mission Magazine and studied Fashion Studies and New Media at Fordham University. When she's not writing up fashion deep-dives or finding the season's best pieces, you'll find her fiddling around in Photoshop and perusing HBO Max for the next show to base her personality on (currently, it's "Succession").
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