Last week, I went to an Israeli wedding. As we all know, to go to an Israeli wedding is to participate in friends’ happiness, in a glitzy, glorified, club-with-cocktails-like setting, almost always in the evening. For the wedding attendees, most of the night is spent dancing to synthesized music and taking Instagram photos. This is definitely not your grandmother’s wedding, no matter where your grandmother got married!
Whether or not you are a fan of the modern Israeli wedding setup, you likely have several invitations on the horizon, and you know that you will want to look your best when you show up. However, without an endless supply of cocktail and evening gowns, how is a woman supposed to avoid a wedding-look rut?
It’s actually surprisingly simple.
As long as you have a few dressy basics in your closet, with a bit of practice, you should be able to put together numerous wedding-appropriate outfits. The trick lies in knowing which basics to stock up on or keep, and which to avoid.
The first, and most obvious, basics you will need are 2-3 nice cocktail dresses. One should be a fancy little black dress, and the other should be in “your color.” The third should be a more formal option, and may even be a long gown instead of a cocktail dress, for those occasions when someone in your family is the one getting married. I recommend that this dress be either your best color or a light neutral–stay away from a plain black formal, as almost every woman in Israel wears black to weddings, and stay away from white, of course, as it’s rude to wear white to any wedding besides your own!
You should ensure that these dresses look great for your personal body shape. The key here is to shy away from details, cuts, or colors that call attention to things you’d rather keep hidden, yet that accentuate areas of your body that look great. For example, if you have great legs, feel free to wear a shorter dress, but if you’re over 50 or could honestly afford to do some squats, try an option that hits the knee. If you have wide hips, stay away from decorations or detailing in the hip area, and instead choose a dress that has little extras along the neckline. Meanwhile, if you have a nice-looking upper body–toned arms, a beautiful neckline, or a great bustline, feel free to choose a dress that has extra detailing or a special cut to accentuate the area.
The second closet essential for looking good in any wedding outfit are 2-3 pairs of fabulous heels. Feel free to splurge and get better or fancier shoes than you would normally wear, because a quality shoe in a classic, yet beautiful design will withstand many seasons, and sometimes even more than one decade. I personally recommend Steve Madden shoes, as mine tend to last approximately 5-8 years before I have to replace them. You don’t have to wear 5-inch heels, but I do recommend that you get the highest heel you can walk comfortably in. After all, the higher the heel, the better your legs look–this is why ballerinas’ and pageant girls’ legs look so great!
You should choose a pair each of black and nude heels, and perhaps one fabulous pair of conversation-starter heels, for when you want to be absolutely decadent. The importance of the first two options cannot be stressed enough. Black heels can always be worn with the little black dress, as well as virtually any dark-colored outfit, and are the shoes you will choose to wear to every winter wedding you attend. The nude heels can be worn with virtually any light-colored outfit, are perfect for summer weddings, and elongate the look of the leg. These shoes can also be worn with a brown ensemble, since mixing brown and black is always a huge fashion faux-pas. (In case you’re wondering, this is because mixing brown and black looks like you tried–inexpertly–to mix things that shouldn’t be mixed–or, as my mother explained when I was little, that you didn’t care enough about your appearance to spend the money on more than one pair of shoes.) However, if you choose a dark brown dress instead of or in addition to a black one, and if the nude-colored heels don’t look the best with the brown dress, consider purchasing brown shoes to match.
The final component to a perfect wedding look is proper evening jewelry. This jewelry should be bigger, and perhaps sparklier and more colorful, than what you would typically wear during the day. The purpose of evening jewelry is twofold: It should add finishing touches to the outfit, as well as draw attention toward certain areas. Sparkling, dangling earrings, for example, draw others’ attention to your face and eyes, while a statement necklace draws the eyes more toward the neckline. A bracelet or cocktail ring can add personality to an outfit, while bringing color, shine, or detailing down toward the center of the dress.
I recommend having several evening jewelry options. At the very least, it’s important to have both post and dangling earrings, as well as a statement necklace and a statement bracelet, in both goldtone or silvertone. These can have rhinestones or be simple metal, but they should be attention-grabbing, fabulous, and, most importantly, a style you love. Additionally, it’s good to have other pieces of evening jewelry in black and, again, in “your color.”
The jewelry, along with makeup and hairstyle, are where an outfit can really change its personality. Virtually any of these jewelry options will look good with a little black dress, depending on the shoe, makeup, and hair choices. Most of these options usually match a colorful outfit as well. Simply remember to never wear gold with an outfit that has silver trimming, or vice-versa, and feel free to try many different jewelry combinations each time you dress up. Along with varying your hair and makeup looks, this will make you seem like you have endless wardrobe choices, no matter how many weddings you’re attending this year.