The best wedding guest dresses to buy this summer, as selected by a fashion editor

Our fashion editor selects the best wedding guest dresses this season, to provide you with style inspiration and high-street options for your next event

best wedding guest dresses: Anthropologie, M&S/Nobody's Child, H&M
(Image credit: Anthropologie, M&S/Nobody's Child, H&M)

Diary bursting with invites? The best wedding guest dresses will see you through a summer season of parties. As the sartorial pressure mounts, we're easing the burden with our guide to the top frocks, alongside some key wedding dressing rules to keep in mind when selecting your dress.

The best wedding guest dresses should offer timeless style. While they might give a nod to the latest spring/summer fashion trends, if you've got a stack of invites, you're going to want your frock to offer a decent cost-per-wear. Easy to dress up and down or reinvent with new accessories, the right look for a big day will depend on the style and location of the wedding and if you plan to wear a hat or fascinator to complete the look.

Offering elegance and the need for minimal styling, begin your search by assessing the theme of the day, as the best wedding guest dresses for a black-tie event can differ from those for a garden affair or religious ceremony. If that wasn't tricky enough, wedding guest dressing comes with its own set of style rules too. 

Establishing the big no-nos, such as whether you can wear white, or the same color as the bridesmaids dresses, will help you narrow down the vast dress offering this season and avoid any fashion faux pas.  

Best wedding guest dresses as chosen by our fashion editor

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From the best midi dresses to dramatic maxi styles, the best wedding guest dresses come in a variety of shapes and designs to match every taste and body type. In general, a midi, midaxi or maxi length dress is most appropriate for wedding guests, as a longer line frock will avoid wardrobe malfunctions on a windy day, while any length over a mini will also ensure you're not tugging at a short hemline. 

And while a dress might feel less versatile than a coord, when it comes to what to wear to a wedding, you can rework block-colored dresses all season long by switching up your accessories for each occasion - a great styling hack if your diary is full of invites. If you're not looking to invest, the best designer dress rentals will ensure you get maximum style without commitment - winning!

Best wedding guest dresses - FAQs

When it comes to the best wedding guest dresses, these are some of the most commonly asked style questions that will help you decipher what you and can't wear to a wedding.

Can I wear a sparkly dress to a wedding?

In general, it is fine to wear sequins to a wedding, although you should consider the color of the sequins, the time of year and the style of the wedding before choosing your dress.

If the wedding includes an evening black-tie party or a cocktail hour, then sequins are expected, however, if you're going to a wedding that involves an afternoon tea, or a beach ceremony, sequins might be seen as 'over-the-top' for the event.

You will want to avoid sequins that are too light - ie. too white or a very light silver, as you don't want to upstage the bride. Equally if you can find out the color of the bridesmaid dresses, you might want to avoid that color sequin too. If you're still unsure, ask the bride for her thoughts, she'll appreciate the thought and can put your mind at ease. 

Can you wear polka dots to a wedding?

Kate Middleton wearing a blue polka dot dress at wimbledon tennis

(Image credit: Getty)

This might seem like an odd question, but many polka dot dresses have a white base color, meaning that the majority of your dress could still end up being white. To avoid any chance of upstaging the bride, it is best to avoid white-based prints, unless there is a significant amount of color in the dress. 

Polka dots on any other color base fabric that is not white or champagne is absolutely fine. One of the most classic and timeless prints, you can guarantee that a polka dot dress won't date and can be worn for multiple weddings, even serving as an answer for what to wear to the races or what to wear to Wimbledon (like the Princess of Wales) too. 

Can wedding guests wear the same color dress as bridesmaids?

It's best to avoid wearing the same color as the bridesmaids where possible, as you don't want to look like you're part of the bridal party if that's not the case. While this isn't a massive faux pas, in order to avoid this, ask the bride if she can give you a heads-up on the color theme of the wedding, so you can avoid accidentally matching.

Rivkie Baum
Fashion channel editor

Rivkie is a fashion editor, writer and stylist with twenty years' experience in the industry. Rivkie studied design and pattern cutting at the London College of Fashion, and fell in love with styling and journalism, and has covered fashion weeks in London, Paris and New York, as well as shooting editorial all over the world.

Specialising in plus size fashion, Rivkie has long championed that style is for everyBODY and has appeared on a host of radio stations and television shows, pushing for greater representation for plus size women and fashion throughout her career.