It often surprises my friends to learn this about me, but I have a secret Peter Pan complex. I’m terrified of “growing up” in the traditional sense of the word — job, spouse, baby, burbs. And though it’s nice to know that the cookie-cutter version of that narrative doesn’t have to be the model anymore, the pressures of fitting into that mold are still embedded into movies and TV, fodder for conversation at family gatherings, and splattered aggressively across Facebook feeds.
Thankfully, there are plenty of small milestones along the way to help us ease into young adult life. Tonight, I’m taking a new step along that journey. I’m attending a friend’s wedding. That may sound uneventful and silly, but it feels like a significant step to me. Sure, I’ve attended weddings before — aunts, uncles, cousins, even distant older family acquaintances — but never the happy union of two close friends. It’s a reminder that things really are moving forward. No matter how much I’d like to freeze these days of total freedom, those around me are in motion, full-steam ahead.
My (probably unnecessary) deep analysis of the situation aside, I also had a bigger problem to deal with leading up to this wedding — dressing for a black tie affair in the midst of winter’s frigid grasp. When I think of wedding-appropriate dresses, I imagine gorgeous flowing chiffon gowns and delicate silk cocktail dresses, neither of which feels particularly appropriate when it’s 20 degrees outside. But there are ways to keep it chic and sexy without looking wacky and out of season.
Stick to the Classic Color Palette
A really bright color in the middle of winter may seem like a novel and festive idea, but it’s inappropriate. During spring/summer the majority of lady guests will be sporting bright hues, but in the winter you’ll be seriously outnumbered, which draws attention to you and away from the lovely bride. If you don’t want to stick to standard winter colors like black, navy, or grey opt for a darker hue of a favorite color; a deep red, gorgeous burgundy, or forest green piece are super chic alternatives to their bright counterparts.
Experiment with Texture
I’m a big fan of mixing prints and textures, but that can be a little loud, especially if you’re attending a more traditional wedding. In the wintertime, I would lean more towards picking a dress with an interesting texture. As you can see from my photo, I decided to opt for a dress that is 100% beaded. In the spring or summer, it would feel way too heavy, but it’s perfect for winter and totally festive without being over the top. If heavy beading isn’t your thing, try a dress made of dark, intricate lace or crafted from an intriguing fabric — I’ve seen some beautiful plaid-patterned felt gowns that feel very modern yet maintain an aura of elegance, Michelle Obama totally pulled it off.
Ditch the Pumps
If you’re going to a stuffy, formal affair, this one may be a no-go. I personally hate pumps. I think they were sent by an evil force to destroy women’s ability to really get down on the dance floor, plus they’re super boring. Winter gives you the perfect opportunity to swap out your pumps for fabulous boots or sleek wedges. I don’t mean military boots and cork wedges. I’m talking about sexy Valentino rock stud booties and Theyskens’ Theory wedges (as seen in my photo!). They’re so much more unexpected than a standard stiletto, and much friendlier when it comes to navigating potentially dangerous, slippery winter streets.
Top it Off
What better excuse to bust out a statement coat or fur than a winter wedding? Or, better yet, what better excuse to buy one! Honestly, I would rather dig a dress out from the depths of my closet and put the money allowed for a new outfit towards a piece of ultra-luxurious outerwear. You’ll get way more use out of it going forward than you would from buying yet another dress, so at least some of the guilt associated with spending a small fortune will dissipate.
Perfect Your Pout
When all else fails, there’s nothing like a vampy dark lip to add drama during the winter months. Deep reds, purples, and browns may feel silly in the spring and summer season, but they’re gorgeous for winter months — especially when contrasted with a simple dress. I worship NARS and Christian Dior lip products and hardly ever use anything else. These colors would be splendid for any winter affair.