This time last year, I, like so many around the world, was essentially living in sweats. A comfy pair of joggers and a hoodie, a matching lounge set (in black, because tie-dye has never been my style), and a years-old pair of Victoria's Secret yoga pants were the extent of my going-out outfits (and by 'going out' I mean picking up takeout and trips to the grocery store). I've been working, lounging, even wining and dining from my couch for so long, I've forgotten what it feels like to dress up for everyday events, let alone what cocktail attire for women means anymore. This all to say, I am not prepared when it comes to finding outfits for all the fall weddings that are coming up, now that nuptials can (more or less) carry on as normal.
Still, not to be melodramatic, but there's no denying that what was once considered 'normal' is no longer, and that goes for all aspects of life, especially when it comes to clothes. While it's unfortunate that it took a global pandemic to fully realize that the key to looking good is feeling good, the fact is, quarantine challenged the status quo. Now more than ever, fashion influencers, editors, and even designers are reimagining what it means to dress to impress, even in formal settings.
The way I see it, the future of cocktail attire should not only include the formalwear pieces we already know and love, but a few comfortable change-ups that cater to everyone's style. To find out what fall wedding outfits will look like by 2021 standards, I reached out to stylists for their best tips and expert intel on what's to come. Here's what they recommend wearing.
A High-Slit Dress
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If when you think "cocktail attire," you think Cinderella-esque gowns, think again. Cindy Conroy tells InStyle she'd change that script by making an entrance in a high-slit dress to leave jaws on the floor.
"[You can] style it up with stacked bangles, a faux diamond necklace, and statement rings or keep your jewelry muted with drop earrings, so all eyes are on the length of your legs," she says. Just try not to outshine the bride, okay?
A Velvet Skirt Suit Set
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If you're in the mood for a look that balances feminine with masculine, Conroy recommends a velvet skirt suit set (brownie points if the skirt has a slit) with a crisp white shirt and tie underneath.
"It's not your typical cocktail attire, but the velvety texture adds depth and a luxurious element that ensures when you walk into the room, all eyes converge," she says over email. "Add a towering heel in classic black or one of Fall's trendy colors, like emerald green or chocolate brown, for leg-lengthening height."
A Pant Suit
Of course, if a dress or a skirt isn't exactly your style, Dia & Co stylist Jaclyn Glass says you can absolutely opt for "a fun pantsuit or mixing and matching your favorite structured blazer with sleek trousers." She tells InStyle: "Just layer a silky camisole underneath with metallic pumps for a polished look."
A Classic Little Black Dress
You can never really go wrong with a timeless mini or midi-length black dress, Glass notes.
"Step up your LBD game by rocking one with an open back, ruffles, or statement sleeves. A colorful strappy heel and a chunky gold ring are sure to complete this on-trend ensemble."
A simple way to dress comfy but look chic for weddings is to rely on your accessories and attention to detail, like sequins and beads.
"You can choose to seamlessly add these types of embellishments through fun and flirty statement earrings or a micro handbag," Glass tells InStyle. "While we love a good clutch, a micro bag with a handle will allow you to enjoy yourself hands-free!"
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According to Ramy Brook Sharp, CEO and creative director of Ramy Brook, one of the most important components of wedding attire is footwear — the right footwear.
"A great sandal heel will elongate legs if wearing a jumpsuit or longer-length hem. If you keep your clothing neutral in a black or navy, I suggest spicing it up with a colored or metallic heel," says Brook. "If opting for something a bit shorter in length, try super fun mules or slides that keep things modern and playful."
Suprised to see this on the list? According to Joanna Angeles, gone are the days when you'd have to sacrifice comfort for style, even at a wedding. To channel both, the Tobi head stylist says co-ords are the "easiest option" because the outfit is already planned out for you.
"Try out a sophisticated two-piece skirt set with a flat pointed toe mule in a jewel tone for an elevated version of a typical going-out outfit," she advises.
On the subject of comfort, Angeles notes material plays a key role, too. For example, knit midi dresses are also another great option, especially for fall weddings that are a little more casual or outdoors. This is because "the fabric is softer and stretchier than the typical satin styles that people gravitate towards," notes Angeles. "Pair with a low kitten heel that will easily carry you from conversation to conversation all night long."