Fashion S.O.S! What do I wear to a bitchy family wedding?

If there’s one thing I like better than shopping, it’s shopping with other people’s money. So I am introducing a new column in which I will attempt to solve your fashion dilemmas using my mad shopping skillz. Up first is Alisande with a wedding wardrobe conundrum…
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If there’s one thing I like better than shopping, it’s shopping with other people’s money. So I am introducing a new column in which I will attempt to solve your fashion dilemmas using my mad shopping skillz. Up first is Alisande with a wedding wardrobe conundrum…

Dear Phoebe,

I used to work with stylists but, since giving it up, I have totally lost my look. Usually this is not an issue but since I’m going to a family wedding soon, I need some guidance. We are a family full of bitchy and competitive girls so this shit matters.

It’s a late afternoon to late night event at the start of October that will see the bridesmaids in shades of gold and purple. It’s being held in the country so rain-sodden fields may well be an issue.

alisande-and-cousin

Bitchy, competitive and convinced that outfits such as this are hilarious - particularly when accompanied by a cousin in a matching one- does not often make me the best dressed person at a wedding

I am only willing to wear skirts that fall below the knee, but am not self-conscious about showing my arms, back or cleavage. When it comes to buying party frocks, I usually work on the basis that the right size is usually the tight size. Body con dresses, fifties dress that are tight on the waist and maxi dresses of almost any description, I like. Empire line dresses, I do not.

Does £150 sound reasonable (I hate spending money but as I've said we are bitchy and competitive so it has to be done)? I have a shoe collection to rival Imelda Marcos' so no shoes...

I’ll also need accessories.Please help!

Alisande x

I have been known to frock-stalk women at weddings, creepily sidling up to them in the loos murmuring, “That’s from COS isn’t it? It’s lovely…” It’s my clumsy way of making friends and people are usually drunk so it works!

agnes-b-dress-and-accessories

THE JAZZY OPTION: agnès b Africa dress, 295 euros, agnesb.com, Topshop blazer, £40, topshop.com, H&M earrings, £3.99, hm.com, ASOS envelope clutch, £14, asos.com, River Island cuff, £18, riverisland.com

You want something that has a sense of occasion, that you can eat and drink and dance in comfortably with having to go to the loo to take your bra off to make more room (ahem, this never happened) and that you feel special in. That means playing to your strengths, emphasising them and going the teeniest bit over the top – isn't it strange how family rivalry is such an amazing motivator? Anyway, on with the search!

asos-baroque-bodycon-and-zara-bodycon

SLINKY BODYCON JUST FOR YOU ALISANDE! ASOS Baroque bodycon dress, £40, asos.com and Zara racer back dress, £45.99, zara.com

I think it’s worth spending a bit more on a dress for weddings – I invested in two a few years ago from Jesire (God rest its soul) and agnès b and they have done me proud. Of course now it’s got to the point where I’m wearing them in ALL the photos of me at weddings (thanks for that Facebook) so it’s time to invest in a new one, but they were totally worth it.

banana-republic-and-jaeger

AUTUMNAL SHADES AND RETRO LACE: Banana Republic BR Monogram Silvia silk gown, £175, bananarepublic.gap.eu and Jaeger Boutique Alicia Embroidered Prom Dress, £199, jaeger.co.uk

Of course there are some rules which it’s only polite to observe – it’s probably best not to wear white, but wearing black seems to have become more acceptable as long as you don’t look too funereal (jazzy accessories please!) and being old fashioned, I don’t really approve of anything bum-skimmingly short.

j-crew-silk-shift

JUST. SO. CHIC. J Crew colorblock silk v-back dress, £150.30 (gotta love that random J Crew pricing!) jcrew.com

If you're worried about someone else wearing the same dress as you, vintage is a wise move, as is shopping in places that your peers may not frequent (Laura Ashley springs to mind, but they haven’t got anything amazing at the moment so I haven’t included them in this selection.) You can also minimise the risk by personalising your accessories – wear your favourite old comfy dancing shoes, or carry a vintage bag and even if you meet your 'dress twin', it won’t matter (plus did I mention everyone will be drunk?)

phase-8-teresa-dress-and-accessories

DID SOMEBODY SAY JOAN HOLLOWAY? Phase 8 Teresa dress, £150, johnlewis.com, New Look black suede peep-toe courts, £15.99, newlook.com, River Island envelope clutch, £27, riverisland.com, Zara Martin for Made necklace, £25, and bracelet, £12.50, asos.com

As a final thought, can I just say it’s really hard to find dresses that finish below the knee – retailers, listen up! We don’t all want to flaunt our upper thighs thank you very much, so give us a bit more fabric please. Thank you.

asos-wiggle-dress-and-wallpaper-dress

Floral print wiggle dress, £42, asos.com and wallpaper print pencil dress, £42, asos.com

So do you have a wardrobe dilemma that I can help with? Ask me in the comments section below or email me at phoebe@xojane.com