What to wear when I don’t want a dress or a suit?

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Chic wedding pantsuits for dapper brides as seen on @offbeatbride

I am a very plain and un-fancy person. I hate wearing makeup and jewelry. I want to look somewhat good for my own wedding, but I don't know what would be an alternative to anything girly (like dresses or skirts) and nothing like a suit either — it's just not me. I tend to wear guy clothes, like men's t-shirts, and shoes, and I am always wearing baggy pants. I just want to feel like me. -Becky

I totally support your goal here, Becky. You want to look good at your wedding, but you also want to look like YOU, instead of someone wearing a costume. I hear you saying you're not girly, but you're also not into butch formalwear. And I think I've got a solution for you.

Really, your wedding is just a big party.

So tell me this: what would you wear to a big party full of all your friends? Now, take that outfit and wave a wand over it to make it really special — imagine better fabrics. Imagine if it was custom made just for you. Imagine it in your very favorite colors. Imagine nicer accessories. Picture your favorite “nice” clothes, but with a bit more oomph.

That image you're seeing in your mind? Wear that.

In my book I talk about this concept of “a smidge above.” However you normally adorn yourself (clothes, accessories, skin, hair), just do a smidge more than usual.

…If that means you wear chapstick to your wedding instead of nothing on your face, then that's perfect.

…If that means you get a sterling wallet chain instead of the cheap one you bought at the mall, then that's perfect.

…If that means you get a pair of custom baggy pants made out of butter-soft twill, then that's perfect.

Really, this is just about knowing what clothes make you feel your very best, and then taking them up a notch. A smidge above, really. Maybe for you this looks like a nice pair of baggy slacks, a sweet pair of new chucks, and a custom-made shirt with a vest? I can't really say, but I'm pretty sure you know what clothes make you feel best. My advice is to take that look, and push the “special” up a notch.

Comments on What to wear when I don’t want a dress or a suit?

    • *late reply is late*

      Whenever I do end up getting married I’ll show you guys. But you know? We’re having distance and money problems at the moment. And he’s only 17 [I’m 18, younge </3] Plus our parents don't approve, so we have to wait a few years, plus the fact that I'm in Canada and he's in the USA doesn't help. I was thinking black Butterfly pants and some sort or tube top, [Colour of whatever wild colour we chose to be the main colour] I've always loved how those look on people with larger breasts and a bit of a stomach like myself. With a long button up shirt [un buttoned] to cover up my arms cause I'm self concious of their inner stretch marks.

      But yeah, I was thinking of something along those lines, and skate board shoes or runners, cause any other shoes I can't walk in properly.

  1. I think this is right on. Another thing you might want to do is find something you would normally wear, only wear it in a different color (like the traditional white or ivory). Or, you could add some adornments (or buy some adorned clothing). I have a v-neck green t-shirt with a little lace panel covering the cleavage area, and I wear it to job interviews under a black jacket with black dress pants. My mom has a pair of jeans trimmed with lace that she wears to work. We’re both big fans of lace 🙂 Also, you could try a ribbon belt, or something like that.

    Since you don’t seem to ultra-butch, I would wear a feminine top – something that’s you, but something that’s dressier than a t-shirt. I’ve actually been searching myself for such a wedding top that might be worn with jeans – etsy is my go-to place for that type of search, but you could probably also find something nice at fashion boutiques like urban outfitters, modcloth, or plasticland. Bridal “tops” just aren’t made – now bridesmaids, or mothers of the bride, on the other hand… feel free to cheat. Nobody has to know the top you wear with nice pants is supposed to go on a bridesmaid.

    A piece of advice my mom always gives me when talking about wedding attire: Remember that your wedding is a day you’ll want to remember for the rest of your life. Feel free to do something out of the ordinary, but keep in mind that anything you’re uncomfortable with looking at years down the road, you shouldn’t do now. Be you, but don’t be too casual, because your wedding is a very important day, and it should be treated just as formally, if not more so, than you treated your senior prom. Go at your wedding like an adult, and you won’t regret it.

    • Stephanie, I’d beg to differ with your mom’s advice. I don’t think anyone should ever worry about being “too casual” at their wedding. If you’re a casual person, then have a casual wedding! Formal-wear does not a special day make.

  2. Hmmm, I had a friend who had a similar dilemma. She ended up having a seamstress make her dress, which was “half dress, half pants”, and it looked great.

    I’ll send her the link to this post, and she can comment with more info. 🙂

    • I am the friend irisira is talking about. I rarely wear dresses in my day to day life and honestly, regardless of what other people think of what I look in them, hate them for myself.

      I drew some inspiration from Ao Dai’s (an oriental style that looks like pants with a two panels of fabric over them) and some of the pants outfits that are online. I brought everything I found that I liked (and things I didn’t like) to a local seamstress and we picked apart the designs. I basically said “I don’t want to wear a dress, but I want to feel like Cinderella.”

      In the end, I ended up with a 3 piece outfit. One was a strapless top, one a pair of pants, and one a skirt that could be attached and detached. The skirt opened in the front allowing for ease of walking and – when my husband started stepping on it while dancing – allowed for easy removal so that I could dance wearing just the pants. So few people realized there were pants underneath that they thought I had changed!

      If I can figure out how to add photos here, I will.

  3. Stephanie at this point it’s looking like my whole outfit will be a bridesmaids/mother of the bride one. Or just a regular prom dress.

    I’m also kinda tempted to bring back ye olde pesantry tradition of just wearing the nicest thing you already own, but that’s just because I hate clothes shopping!

  4. I once owned a pair of silk cargo pants. I wore them to occasions that were a little fancier than the ones to which I’d wear regular cargo pants. A fancy version of something you already like could be very cool.

    Or what about something like an Indian Salwar Kameez? It’s like a shirt dress over comfy pants:
    http://www.salwarkameezdesigns.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/salwar-kameez-ns531.jpg
    http://www.entertainmentpk.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Embroidered-Salwar-Kameez.jpg
    http://www.harinisilks.com/images/uploads/STX%20Salwar/SSSX60.jpg

    The male version is a kurta:
    http://www.exoticindiaart.com/kurtapajamas/pure_white_kurta_pajama_vp17.jpg
    http://www.eastwesteducation.org/images/adult_kurta_pyjama.jpg

  5. Oh YES!
    This topic is so exciting and interesting.
    I have so many Etsy favorites that are coming to mind right now… I’m going to narrow them down and send a few your way Ariel!
    Another way of taking your favorite comfy outfit to the next level could be through accessories like a beautifully embellished wide belt or a dress jacket specially made just for you.
    I used to wear only the baggiest of pants. It was a glorious time. What happened to those pants? I think I need to go shopping now…

  6. I suggest you try on something that you just really like, even if it is out of your comfort zone. You never know, it may make you feel amazing.

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