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what to wear to a black tie wedding…



Next month, Bob and I are celebrating the marriage of our good friends at their intimate black tie wedding in Los Angeles. It's a pretty rare occasion when I get to dress up that fancy, so I've been trying to figure out what to wear. I know I don't want to do the classic black dress, but I'm torn between "pretty and romantic" or "glamorous and offbeat". Getting a new dress is always the priciest part of going to a wedding, so I think the accessories should be pieces you can wear again and again for other occasions as well. What do you guys think? Which one look should I go with?

Pretty and romanticAnthropologie pouch, Kate Spade bangle, Joanna August wrap dress, Nine West gold heels.

Glam and offbeatParis House coin purse, Kate Spade prince charming studs, Aidan Mattox dress, Ted Baker heels. 


  1. Glamorous & offbeat! I think it’s both an elegant and fun look, with pieces that will complement your existing wardrobe. Plus, it’s a gorgeous dress.

  2. I think both dresses are plenty elegant, and the glam and offbeat option fits your style better. Could you do the rent the runway thing or look in a upscale consignment shop to save some cash? I’ve had great luck finding dresses to wear to weddings at consignment shops – guessing because we all wear them once or twice and that’s it.

  3. Okay Joy, after looking at both dresses on their respective sites I had to come back and comment again. I cannot believe both of those dresses are 100% polyester! Though they are both beautiful in the pictures, I can’t help but wonder how they look up-close in person. For those prices I would have expected silk or similarly luxe fabric…

  4. Ok, ok… I’m going against popular opinion – I’m loving Pretty & Romantic! I think it’s just the loveliest dress, and I can’t think of a better occasion for it than a romantic wedding! And I can’t take my eyes away from that Kate Spade bangle… so pretty!

  5. I am gonna go against the crowd and go for Pretty and Romantic. When’s a better time to be pretty and whimsical than a wedding? There are plenty of glam opportunities.

  6. I definitely can’t afford to buy a new dress for every wedding I go to. I love your blog, Joy, but I think it’s a good idea to be sensitive to the range of your readers’ circumstances and not make assumptions about how everyone shops.

  7. Totally agree. So many expensive clothes these days are polyester; it’s very disappointing. I would go with the glam and offbeat, but maybe with different accessories.

  8. Hmmm…well, I love both the looks. BUT I would have to say that glam and offbeat seems more quirky and fun. It’s an intimate ceremony, so why not do something unique?
    Great picks!

  9. you’d look lovely in both, of course, but i can see you in the glamorous one better, you seem to have that modern, colorful, playful, beautiful and friendly vibe:)

  10. these are wonderful pairings i think i like the right one the best that contrast bodice is amazing and the bright pop color shoes are lovely with the navy 🙂

  11. Both are nice, but I not a huge fan of either. The first one seems like a long casual wrap dress in a muted color, and the second seems a little pagent-ish. If you have no plans to wear the dress again, you might consider renting a more unique dress via Rent the Runway or other sites

  12. This is what I was going to say, but you said it so I don’t need to. I don’t know how much they cost, but they look kind of cheap in fabrication and meh in design. A black tie wedding is an opportunity to wear something fabulous. If budget doesn’t allow, I wouldn’t definitely rent.

  13. Agreed. For the price ($200+), fabrication (polyester) and construction (one is made in China, not sure about the other), personally I wouldn’t spend the money on either. The accessories are cute and fun for both options and a smarter investment since they’re reusable, but I’m not sold on either dress. If based on accessories alone, I’d go glam and offbeat, just with a different dress.

  14. The dress on the left is so beautiful on its own! (And so are you!) Maybe you could let it shine with more quiet accessories… But not too quiet! Maybe some type of bright, warm-colored jeweled studs, a loose, modern updo or ballerina bun, and more neutral shoes? I really love the way leslie mann can pull quirky elements into black tie/award show ensembles while still looking like the most elegant person in the room. I can’t wait to see what you choose. I know you’ll look stunning!

  15. Another vote for Glam + offbeat AND for! Feel like a movie star for a night without dishing out the dough? Yes, please!

  16. Definitely the navy dress – that’s lovely, think you could choose either accessories to go with that, which ever you think you’ll get more use out of. I’d go bright shoes with the other outfit’s bangle and purse. And some chandelier style earrings. Enjoy!

  17. If you don’t get to wear long dresses that often, you should try Rent the Runway! It’s my favorite for special events.


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