Fall/Winter Fashion

What To Wear to a Winter Wedding

A reader wrote in asking for fashion advice about what to wear to a winter wedding. I’m willing to bet others of you have weddings to attend this winter, so I thought this would make a great Fashion Friday topic!

I generally think of winter weddings as dressier than summer weddings, and this particular wedding takes place in the evening, so she’s looking for cocktail attire. Unless it is a formal wedding, in which case a floor-length gown might be appropriate, you can’t go wrong wearing a classic sheath to a winter wedding.

Fashion Advice: What to Wear to A Winter Wedding

It used to be that wearing black to a wedding was taboo, but not anymore. The only color that is out for a wedding guest is white. Pleeeeease do not EVER wear white to a wedding. Just. don’t.

However, you may feel free to wear your favorite LBD (little black dress) and jazz it up with colorful accessories.

Fashion Advice: What to Wear to A Winter Wedding

Personally, I prefer jewel tones or even a pastel. Pastels are very much on trend this season, and they can be an unexpected and welcome change from all the bold colors we generally associate with this time of year. This Jacquard Sheath is a nice choice if you’re not worried about being too cold. Of course, choosing a wrap can be part of the fun!

What to Wear to A Winter Wedding: Tahari Jacquard Sheath Dress

I love this lace sheath by Adrianna Papell. It comes in a variety of colors, and IT HAS SLEEVES!

What to Wear to A Winter Wedding: Adrianna Papell Lace Sheath

A simple wrap or knot-front dress can work too, such as this one from Kohl’s. You can dress it up or down depending on your choice of accessories.

What to Wear to A Winter Wedding: Chaps Surplice Knot-Front Dress

A pretty print can be nice for a wedding that’s not too formal. This 3/4 Sleeve Geometric Printed Chemise from White House Black Market is lovely.


And this one in a Swirl Print is nice too.


I’m always afraid of being cold, so I tried to pick dresses with sleeves, but your options open up drastically if you’re willing to wear a sleeveless dress.

Choosing a Cardigan

If you do opt for a sleeveless dress, you will need a wrap of some sort. A blazer can work if it’s not too businessy, but a cardigan is probably better. Here’s the thing, though. You have to be aware of the cardigan frump factor. NO FRUMPY CARDIGANS, PLEASE. The wrong cardigan can take you from hot mama to frumpy schoolmarm in no time flat.

White House Black Market has a few to choose from. I like this 3/4 Sleeve Jewel Neck Cardigan, for example.

cute cardigan

Or this 3/4 Sleeve Structured Peplum Sweater could work with the right dress. The Shawl Tie Coverup is adorable.

Shawl Tie Coverup

A longer coverup like this or this could even work, over a simple sheath dress. It wouldn’t be as dressy as some of the other options, but it all depends on the formality of the wedding you’re attending.


A shrug tends to be dressier and not as likely to have the frump factor. This ivory sequin shrug could maybe work over a pastel colored dress. A little bit of embellishment can be nice, but you don’t want it to overpower your dress. I love this Chiffon Shrug. It’s not going to do much to keep you warm, but it gives you some coverage if you have a strapless or sleeveless dress and you’re concerned about modesty.

Chiffon Shrug

This fur caplet is great if your event is dressy enough, and this faux fur bolero is adorable.

Faux Fur Bolero Jacket

To be honest with you, I would rather wear a dress with sleeves and not have to worry about finding a wrap that doesn’t detract from it. But that’s just me.


Let’s face it. Choosing a dress is only part of the battle. It’s accessorizing the dress that throws most of us for a loop.

A few weeks back, we discussed what hose to wear with a winter dress. If you missed it, you should really go back and read that post.

hosiery options

With most of the dresses shown above, I’d recommend sheer black hose or perhaps even the nude fishnet. You might be able to get away with tights if you’re going the route of the geometric print shift dress, but generally sheer hose are better for dressy occasions. If you’re wearing black or a jewel tone, consider a pair of sheer black hose.

sheer black hose with semi formal dress

If you prefer a more natural look, a nude fishnet is subtle, but slightly more fashion-forward than regular sheer hose. I think nude fishnets with a pastel dress would be charming! If you feel weird about wearing fishnet stockings, then by all means give yourself permission to wear a pair of very sheer hose that matches your skin tone. I have it on good report from a professional stylist that Donna Karan does great nude, natural looking hose to match your skin tone. If I had a winter event to attend right now, I would definitely look into these.

When it comes to shoes, a classic pump is always going to be your safest bet. They may not be as fun as a strappy sandal or edgy bootie, but they’re always appropriate with a cocktail dress. Consider a nude color or metallic rather than the expected black.

classic nude pumps

Of course, a pop of color can be fun too, especially if you’re wearing a black dress.

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 2.22.44 PM

That said, booties are all the rage right now, and some are certainly dressy enough for (most) wedding guest attire. If they fit your personal style aesthetic, and you’re sure they’re appropriate for the venue, then by all means, go for it!

dressy bootie

A caged sandal can work too if you like that look.

caged sandals

And I love this caged peek-toe pump.

Christian Siriano Kaged Peep Toe Pump

You’ll notice that a lot of the dresses shown above are worn with strappy sandals. They look great, but I’m not a fan of hose with open-toe shoes. Personally, I’d save those for warm weather and bare legs, but that’s me. You can usually get away with hose in a peep-toe pump. Just be sure to tuck the seam under your toes.

Jewelry depends largely on the dress. The trend at the moment is to wear minimal jewelry and let the dress shine. I noticed at the Golden Globe Awards, SO many actresses wore no jewelry or ONE statement piece. Often that was earrings. Necklaces were few and far between.

Casablanca Chandeliers

If your dress is plain, choose more dramatic jewelry. If your dress makes a statement by itself, then go easy on the accessories.

You can often take a simple dress and jazz it up for wedding attire with a few new accessories. That’s a lot more affordable than buying an entire outfit from scratch.


For your bag, definitely stick to a small clutch or minaudière. It is not necessary to match your bag to your shoes, but it is certainly okay to do so.


I know that a lot of the old rules of etiquette have been thrown to the wind, but I’m a traditionalist when it comes to wedding guest attire. If you’re unsure about the dress code, ask. And when in doubt, I think it’s best to err on the side of being more conservative.

I hope this helps. I wish I had a wedding to go to! I’m a sucker for a wedding.

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17 thoughts on “What To Wear to a Winter Wedding

  1. Great advice! I just went to my winter wedding last weekend and wore jewel tones (green), long sleeves, and nude pumps. It ended up being a warm weekend, so I took full advantage of not needing tights! I love everything you have shown.

    Amy Ann
    The Real Arnolds

  2. Hi Joanne,

    Thanks so much for hosting this great party! I’m glad to meet you and excited to be here. xxHugz

  3. I posted on the Facebook page but Facebook is kinda wonky sometimes so I wanted to make sure you knew how much I TOTALLY loved what you put together. I found a dress that I fell in love with online but the reviews were iffy and it was a little more than I wanted to spend. My son left some clothes at the tailor and since he works out of town I made the trek across town to pick them up for him and coincidentally there is an Anthro in the that shopping center so I popped in just to see if they had the dress in the store. I found the dress and another to try and by the time I got to the dressing room all the sales ladies had contributed to the selections. I tried on about 8 dresses and the overwhelming fave was the one I went in to see!! I think it fits with everything you said and I even bought super sheer black hose to wear with and seriously I haven’t worn hose in YEARS!!!! You hit the nail on the head with your advice….I just hope I followed it well. Thanks for being Stacy London on my personal what not to wear episode!! haha Oh here’s the link to the dress 🙂 http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/product/clothes-dresses/4130347322311.jsp#/ And yes, that embroidery work on the sheer top part is gorgeous!!!! You Rock!!!!!!

  4. Great tips! Love that plum lace dress at the top of the blog. Can you give the details of that dress? That is exactly what I am looking for a wedding I have in a few weeks. Thanks!

  5. Thanks for so much useful information and great ideas. Would a fake fur shrug work? And are necklines usually a bit conservative?mine shows a bit of cleavage and now I’m wondering about that

  6. My daughter’s wedding is in February in Minnesota indoors of course.  Is it appropriate to wear open toe dressy sandals barefoot under my full length dress?  I’m the mother of the bride.  

    1. Hi Sue, Congrats!!! I believe so. I wore open toe strappy sandals to a Christmas party in December in Philly. For formal events, I think they’re appropriate all year round. 🙂

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