Wedding Guest Dresses for Grown Women: 40+ Best Ideas of What to Wear to a Summer Wedding

wedding guest outfits for grown women: 40+ looks for women in midlife to wear to day weddings, evening weddings, and outdoor weddings this summer

With our country opening up, many of us are receiving wedding invitations in the mail. After a year at home and such a drastic change in fashion trends as of recent, it's hard to know what a grown woman should wear to a wedding this summer. What is considered stylish, and what looks too try-hard? Is it possible to be chic and comfortable?

Wedding Guest Dresses for Grown Women

Women of all ages can wear whatever the heck they want to a wedding, as long as they're not trying to upstage the couple. But we grown women have fewer f*cks to give while still giving a sh*t what we look like. We desire comfort with our chicness, to not overheat, get gas pains, struggle to walk in our shoes, and have to sit and stand weirdly to keep things under wraps.

All of this is possible; you can be true to your personal style and beliefs, have clothes that work with not against your body, while being stylish and appropriate for a wedding. Below I share some options of wedding guest attire for grown-ass women. Looks that are chic, seasonally-appropriate, and hopefully a bit different from the traditional suggestions for grown women to wear to a wedding.

Just because you're old enough to be the parent of the bride or groom doesn't mean you have to dress like one. It is possible to look tasteful, sophisticated, and festive without a single bit of mauve chiffon or dove gray polyester crepe. Below I share some great wedding guest dresses for grown women (plus some dress alternatives!).

What to Wear for a Daytime Summer Wedding

A daytime wedding can be hard to know what to wear. What is too casual, what is too dressy, and with current trends, will it look too try-hard on a grown-ass woman? My suggestion is a breezy dress that hits somewhere between knee and ankle. Wedding guest dresses for grown women attending a day wedding in the summer:

what to wear to a daytime wedding over 40
Shop Wedding Guest Dresses:
Top row: green fit and flare (sizes 2-14) | blush pink eyelet (sizes 4-12) | ink-blot print crepe jersey (sizes 0-18W) | red and green floral wrap dress (sizes XXS-7XL)
Second row: black and red floral fit and flare (14W-22W) | puff-sleeve pencil dress (sizes 2-22) | acid yellow belted dress (sizes 00-16/18) | halter neck graphic dress (sizes 0-18)
Third row: soft yellow chiffon wrap dress (sizes 2-16) | mixed florals tiered dress (sizes XS-XXL) | green floral belted midi dress (sizes 2-18) | floral puff sleeve midi dress (sizes 00-16/18)
Bottom row: butterfly print maxi dress (sizes XS-3X) | orange tie-waist dress (sizes 14-28) | floral faux wrap dress (sizes 14W-24W) | pink and red floral halter dress (sizes 1X-4X)

The dresses above (they are also below in a carousel; scroll through and click the dress you're interested in and it will open in a separate browser window) are great choices for a grown-ass woman to wear to a daytime wedding this summer. Embrace color, prints, and interesting architectural details like strategic knots and twists, halter necklines, and asymmetrical hems.

Shop Summer Daytime Wedding Guest Dresses:

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You don't have to wear a dress. A jumpsuit achieves a similar look as does a coordinated set of top and pants or skirt in the same fabric and color or print. A summer suit is also chic; a silk linen blend will look festive and seersucker is always a smart option.

Keep the shoes feeling summery. If you prefer a closed toe, choose a shoe that is low-contrast to your skintone so it feels light and breezy. A nude-to-you shoe or a soft metallic is a safe bet with most any color, print, and style of day dress.

What to Wear to an Evening Summer Wedding

Evening weddings can run the gamut of being a post-sunset casual get-together or a black-tie affair. In general, when a wedding takes place after 5:00 pm it is dressier than a day wedding. Look for dressy fabrics – crepe, silk, beading, chiffon overlay, and metallics. Wedding guest dresses for grown women attending an evening wedding in the summer:

over 40 what to wear to an evening wedding
Shop Wedding Guest Looks:
Top row: gold metallic off the shoulder gown (sizes 14W-24W) | black and blue metallic floral (sizes 14W-22W; click here for sizes 2-14) | beige embellished sheath (sizes 14W-24W) | storm-colored satin slip (sizes 12-26)
Second row: blue jacquard knee-length dress (sizes 0-18) | gold sequin twist-front gown (sizes 2-16) | brocade pantsuit (custom measurements for all sizes) | black off the shoulder gown (sizes 14W-22W)
Third row: metallic wrap dress (sizes 0-18) | black metallic dress (sizes 00-18) | blush beaded chiffon overlay halter gown (sizes 6-16) | black silk wrap gown (sizes 0-16 and 16W-26W)
Bottom row: black tuxedo (custom measurements for all sizes) | coral and navy lace overlay dress (sizes 2-16) | blue cocktail suit (sizes 0-18) | black floral dupioni maxi shirtdress (sizes 0-6 with customization of length, sleeves, etc.)

From above the knee to skimming the ground, most any length works. This is an opportunity to dress for what matters to you. Love your gams? Choose an above-the-knee cocktail dress. Is it going to be hot and you wish to be comfortable? Consider a maxi-length dress where you can wear comfy flat sandals and slipshorts to prevent chafing and still look formal. A midi-length dress with a subtle to strong fit and flare silhouette will offer coverage when sitting but will still be a blast to wear spinning on the dancefloor. Above I focused on dressier looks because I know in general they are more difficult to find.

Shop Summer Evening Wedding Guest Dresses:

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Again, it is not necessary to wear a dress to look appropriate at an evening wedding. While formalwear stores carry plenty of matte jersey chiffon-overlay pants outfits known as a popular look for mothers of brides and grooms, that isn't the only option if you don't like wearing dresses.

  • Again, jumpsuits are a popular choice found at most any price point or size; many are easy to alter with a quick hemming of the legs and maybe lifting up the torso from the shoulders; most dry cleaners can achieve such alterations.
  • A proper two-piece pantsuit is a stylish alternative to a cocktail dress. One in a dressy fabric will feel festive instead of corporate. Underneath wear a crisp white shirt, a silk blouse, or a satin camisole. Summisura is a site that offers a variety of dressy suits custom-designed to fit your unique measurements. The Tailory NYC is a woman-owned company that offers virtual fittings for custom made suits.
  • A dressy pair of pants or a formal skirt can be paired with a crisp white shirt or even a cashmere tee for an eternally chic alternative to a dress.

For an evening wedding, a safe bet is a delicate-strap sandals in a nude-to-you dressy fabric, or a metallic. If you prefer a shoe without heels, a flat in a dressy fabric in the color of the dress or low-contrast color to your skin is a lovely option.

What to Wear to an Outdoor or Beach Wedding

An outdoor wedding may have as much fanfare as an indoor event, but the dress code is slightly relaxed for the guests due to the conditions. Shoes can't be sinking into soft earth, clothes need to breathe and keep you cool (or have a layer to ward off an evening chills), and you'll likely want a pair of sunglasses and even a parasol if there aren't shaded areas. Wedding guest dresses for grown women attending an outdoor garden or beach wedding:

what to wear to an outdoor wedding
Shop Wedding Guest Dresses:
Top row: blue and yellow floral faux wrap (sizes 14W-24W; click here for sizes 0-16) | orange floral dupioni shirtdress (sizes 0-36 and customization for collar and sleeves) | blue print one-shoulder dress (sizes 2-12) | yellow one-sleeve dress (sizes 0-36 and customization for length and sleeve)
Second row: black print puff sleeve (sizes XS-XL) | cream and blue floral Mikado gown (sizes 2-16) | metallic crinkle caftan (sizes 0-18) | green leaf print wrap maxi (sizes XXS-3X and petite XXS-XL)
Third row: floral chiffon overlay maxi dress (sizes 2-16) | gold sleeveless wrap maxi (sizes 0-16 and then 16W-26W) | black with floral print skirt long dress (sizes 14W-22W) | blue swirl print charmeuse (sizes 4-16)
Bottom row: pale turquoise ruffled gown (sizes 0-18) | short-sleeve floral wrap gown (sizes 00-18) | coral chiffon wrap gown (sizes 0-18) | black silk caftan (plus size OS)

The outdoor location lends to more of a tropical vibe with your ensemble. Colorful florals, chiffon overlay, maxi dresses, wicker and raffia purses, and espadrille-inspired shoes will fit the aesthetic. A pair of flat metallic sandals may be your best choice for comfort and the ability to walk and dance on grass, sand, and any other outdoor surface.

Shop Wedding Guest Dresses for an Outdoor Wedding:

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If the event is in the evening, tuck a pashmina into your bag to cover your shoulders if it gets breezy. And if it's during the day, don't forget to apply sunscreen and bring backup (I love this convenient powder) for touch-ups.

Have you done any shopping lately for wedding guest attire? Seen any great wedding guest dresses for grown women that I may have missed? Do share in the comments!

4 Comments

  1. Patty
    June 17, 2021 / 10:05 pm

    Timing is everything. But so is fit; I’ve grown into a barrel shape but I am still proportionately small busted. Finding a flattering but comfortable look has been torture. I love the look of the Eloquii wrap front dress, but notice the pics on their site are all voluptuous hourglass bodies. I really don’t want to spend $100 plus for a one- and-done outfit. I have bought and returned seven potential outfits so far. Having small boobs, broad chest, with a thick torso and behind is very frustrating.

  2. annieb
    June 15, 2021 / 7:07 pm

    I laughed at the timing of this! I’ve recently been invited to my boyfriend’s step-daughters wedding (sounds confusing, right? Her mom was his long term girlfriend who passed away from cancer six years ago. His stepdaughter signed him up on the dating app that I met him on last year. It would make a cute Lifetime movie) which is at 4:30 in mid-September and I’m overwhelmed with ideas on what to wear. I’m in love with several of these options! Thank you again.

  3. Kate
    June 15, 2021 / 2:48 pm

    It is so exciting to have joyful events to look forward to and I love looking at dresses. IMO, the first option for a night wedding looks too much like a bridal gown! I know the color is described as metallic so maybe it just photographed that way.

  4. KC
    June 15, 2021 / 1:10 pm

    So helpful! Please do this for a September wedding in the Colorado mountains!!

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