Ask Laia: What Do I Wear To A Conservative Wedding?

"I realized how hard it is to find non-sexy stuff without looking like a grandma or a devout Muslim or a crazy person."

May 17, 2011 at 12:00pm | Leave a comment

I am attending an Orthodox Jewish wedding in June, and according to religious custom, the couple have requested that guests dress "modestly" -- specifically, no bare shoulders or knees.  I am having a lot of difficulty with this -- I've looked a tons of longer dresses, but they all are either sleeveless, or too "sexy" -- cleavage-baring or body-con tight.  Also, it's in late June and will probably be hot. I realized how hard it is to find non-sexy stuff without looking like a grandma or a devout Muslim or a crazy person.

HELP ME LAIA YOU'RE MY ONLY HOPE

- Katie

Ah Katie, I feel you! Weddings are already a weird thing to get dressed for I think, and this added conservative clause makes everything just -this- short of exasperating. But fear not! Finding an appropriate outfit might be hard, but certainly not impossible.

Luckily the recent "boho" trends sweeping the world are working on your favor in this endeavor. It makes finding full-coverage dresses that aren't matronly a bit easier and since it has resulted in a proliferation of maxi skirts, it gives you a few more options.

 

image
Top: Wolla Jersey Maxi Dress, By Malene Birger;  Julian Wrap Gown, Diane von Furstenberg. Bottom: Classic Long Dress, Tucker; Printed Long Dress, One by Line & Dot.

 The one thing I always look into when I'm buying something for a special occasion is ,"Am I going to be able to wear it later?" This is not always the case, but whenever possible I imagine the possibilities of post-event use. All these dresses have a definite afterlife even in more casual outings. Shirtdresses and wrap dresses are a good option because they're a classic style that will live on in your closet for a long time. Their loose silhouettes also mean you will stay cool in the summertime.

image

Top: Issie Blouse, Diane von Furstenberg; Farrow Shirt, Friend of Mine. Bottom: Long Sleeve Tie Blouse, Tucker; Doreen Top with Bow Tie, Jill Stuart.

Another option is to go with separates. It'll probably be easier for you to find a long-sleeve silk blouse that covers all the right things and is still within your particular style. I'm particularly attracted to the bold colors which can turn a simple shirt into a much more elegant and unusual piece.

image

Top: Tea Pleat Skirt, Apiece Apart; Althea Skirt, Girl. by Band of Outsiders. Bottom: Mirrored Skirt, Rebecca Taylor; Draped Military Skirt, Madewell.

There are a lot of beautiful skirt options out there with flattering a-line silhouettes that are perfect for warm weather. You can pair a bold top like the Diane von Furstenberg one above with the jewel-toned pleated Apiece Apart skirt for a dressier nighttime occasion, or keep it light with the Tucker feather print shirt and mirrored skirt by Rebecca Taylor. This is my favorite option because I think it is more conducive to being true to your style while adhering to "the rules" and because separates are way easier to integrate into your everyday wardrobe.

Let me know how it works out!