It is a truth universally acknowledged that finding something to wear to a wedding where you are a guest is one of the hardest sartorial endeavors known to humankind — harder, even, than shopping for swimsuits in February and jeans in July. From my standpoint, I want to wear something I feel good in, something I can dance in and something that speaks to my personal aesthetic but doesn’t upstage the bride in a “look at me!!!!” kind of way. Easier said than done.
It wasn’t until recently, when I was watching the season 2 episode of Sex and the City called “The Chicken Dance,” that I realized Carrie Bradshaw happens to have a knack for concocting wedding guest outfits that meet all of these criteria and more. This revelation had never occurred to me before — probably because Carrie’s wedding guest outfits are some of her least memorable from the entire series, which is kind of the point. In comparison to her usual adventures in unexpected sartorial combinations, they are appropriately understated. They’re not boring, though; each is “styled” just enough to communicate that the person wearing them has a point of view. If you’re looking to strike a similar balance, scroll down for a chronological (and shoppable!) rundown of all of Carrie’s wedding guest looks and meet me in the comments to discuss.
1. The Carrie-fied LBD
This outfit is about as simple as Carrie gets, save for that one time she showed up at Big’s house in a black tank and low-rise denim capris the day before he left for California, but even then she accessorized with white pumps. As maximalist as my style proclivities tend to lean, I do like the idea of wearing something something classic and letting my curly hair do most of the talking. If I didn’t have curly hair, I would likely do as Samantha does and up the ante with a deliciously absurd head accessory.
2. The Black-Tie, Flat Shoe Affair
This is probably my favorite “Carrie goes to a wedding that isn’t her own” outfit, perhaps because I penned and styled an entire story about how to wear flat shoes to a wedding last year. I love the contrast of casual footwear and fancy everything else, which Carrie exemplifies perfectly in her blush-colored, sparkly, high-slit gown and flat Mary Janes. Her decision to wear flats is particularly interesting given that she is otherwise almost exclusively ensconced in shoes of the heeled variety. It feels more purposeful in that sense.
3. The “Purple Heidi Situation”
While this might be my least favorite “Carrie goes to a wedding that isn’t her own” outfit (I’m not sure why — maybe it’s that particular shade of purple?), it still makes a very strong case for how your accessories and your hair can jooj up a relatively quiet (by Carrie standards) dress. I’m very into the idea of encircling my wrists in gold bangles and a white corsage while witnessing matrimony — so festive! As for her hair, okay, maybe it’s a little Heidi-ish, but I appreciate her commitment to mixing it up and that’s the sentiment I plan on running with.
4. The Bubble Hem
I’m taking this bubble-hemmed tent dress with a small grain of salt since Sarah Jessica Parker was pregnant while filming this season and Patricia Field had to get creative, but I actually think it looks cool. Carrie’s half-ponytail bouffant and multicolored corsage tone down the early 2000s vibe, and I like that she opted for a simple shoe that looks comfortable enough to dance in. I’m strongly considering a revival of my ninth grade winter formal dress, which featured a bubble hem of its own.
5. The Coat-Dress Pairing
I love this look for a fall wedding. It’s very clear the coat and dress were intended to be worn together — thoughtful complements that aren’t overly matchy-matchy. I know it’s currently July and you, like me, are probably not thinking about coats at all, but it’s worth considering the idea that outerwear doesn’t have to be a utilitarian afterthought when it comes to wedding guest attire; it can actually be one of the hero pieces in your outfit.
6. The Tux
Amelia wrote this story about extremely fun ways to wear a suit to a wedding which is chock-full of great styling advice, but if you want to go one step further and wear a tuxedo, here is some inspiration courtesy of the Bradshaw Beat. I could probably write another 500 words about her decision to top things off with a black lace crown, but that’s what the comment section of this shindig is for. Let’s convene.
Feature photo by Paramount Pictures via Getty Images.