Hey Fashion Friend: What the Heck Do I Wear to a Beach Wedding?

Animation: The Cut

Fashion Friend is a nonjudgmental, politely honest shopping-advice column. Send us your hyperspecific questions on Instagram and we’ll crowdsource answers from people with great taste.

“Beach weddings are evil,” complained a friend recently. “It always gets windy, and you ruin your shoes.” Personally, I’ve never been to a beach wedding before, but from afar they seem lovely. Who wouldn’t want to be at a beach? But I guess it’s perhaps a bizarre place to find yourself in formalwear. Another friend, who’s attending one in August, had similar qualms. She was worried about being hot and sandy; she was confused about whether the setting allowed for a more casual dress code; and at the end of the day, she just couldn’t find anything to wear.

When I started asking around, linen and silk slip dresses came up as common, sort of obvious suggestions. Plus flat shoes. But my friend is afraid she’s going to have the same slip dress as everyone else. “All wedding party outfits look the same!” said one reader about beach weddings, outing Ulla Johnson as the go-to for her relaxed and roomy designs. A lot of people also said they were wearing or have worn suits and jumpsuits. (You can find suggestions for those here.) Beach weddings don’t have to be too Something’s Gotta Give, though. One friend said she wore a two-piece look with a crop top to her cousin’s wedding in Puerto Rico this year because “when your younger cousin gets married before you, you wear a two-piece to her wedding.” Correct.

If You Want to Match the Backdrop

Beach weddings are begging you to be on theme, so roll with it. Since people like looking at the blue ocean so much, you might as well just copy it.

Kamali designed this style in the ’70s, but it’s had a resurgence lately thanks in part, I think, to Emily Weiss, who shared a photo of herself wearing it on Instagram this spring.
Available in size XXS - XL.

There’s only one left of these in each color, but the deal is so good that I had to include. Almost all of Rojas’s designs are great for the occasion, though. Available only in a size small.

To me, this dress looks like a good time. Available in size S to L, and in orange.

Zoë Kravitz wore this dress on what seemed like a date with Channing Tatum last summer, so if you’re looking for love at your next beach wedding, maybe try it out.
Available in size XS to XXL.

If You’re More Into Sunset Colors

Blue isn’t everyone’s color. If I were going to a beach wedding, I’d wear more of an orange-y tone myself.

I’m afraid of sweating in silk, but this looks flowy and strappy enough to stay cool. Available in size XS to M.

These prints remind me of Dries Van Noten, but are a fraction of the price. Available in size 2 to 12.

This is a great dress for any wedding, really. It’s comfortable and colorful — and flattering. Available in size 2X and 3X. Also available in a different print ($525) in XXS to 3X.

This silhouette is a nice balance of casual and elegant. Available in size XS to XL.

I can see the sunset selfie now! Available in size XS to XL.

If You’re a Prints Person

If your instinct is to go the plain linen route, there’s nothing wrong with that, but maybe mix it up and choose a bold print instead. Personally, I treat every beach like it’s Miami.

This brand sells out so fast, but if you can find one of these dresses left, the print will make you stand out on the beach. Available in size M to XL.

Like my friend said, it can get windy on the beach, so a sleeveless sweater dress seems like a good solution. Available in size XS to 3XL.

Just don’t stand too close to the raw bar. Available in size 0 to 4.

I like how this print isn’t too on the nose. Available in size XS to XL. (Similar prints in this style go up to a 4XL.)

This print, however, is very on the nose, but that can be fun too. Available in size 0 to 14.

We love Issey Miyake Pleats Please, but there’s a chance someone else might be wearing it. Julia Heuer’s designs have a similar stretch, but more out-there prints. One size.

If You Want Something Roomy

Beach weddings are a great excuse to buy a caftan or caftan-adjacent style.

This silhouette reminds me of Valentino couture, but it’s cheaper in price. Available in size XS to L.

This brand has lots of very on-theme prints for the beach, but I like the cutouts on this dress. It’s roomy and sexy at the same time. Available in size XS to XL.

Emilio Pucci prints are always the life of the party, and you can get them for less at a vintage/second-hand retailer. Available in a size L.

I would love an excuse to buy this and wear it not only to a wedding but every single day for the rest of my life. One size.

This dress will give you full coverage, but the translucent fabric makes it sexy. Available in size S to L, and other colors.

If You’ve Always Wanted to Be a Mermaid

This is your chance!

In the last week or so I’ve seen both Bella Hadid and Elsa Hosk wear this brand that makes you look like a mermaid going to prom. So if you wear it too, it will officially be a trend. Available in size XS to L.

A friend recently wore a different dress by this brand to a wedding, and she looked amazing. So amazing that that style is currently sold out. But this one isn’t. Available in size XS to XL.

It’s a lot, but you could probably get away with wearing this dress to a summer dinner as well. Available in size EU 36 to EU 40.

And Lastly, Shoes …

I am giving you permission to wear Tevas to a beach wedding, no matter what the dress code says. Isn’t the point of having or attending a beach wedding that you can finally wear comfortable footwear? Or no shoes at all. Either way, flat sandals seem like the move, or espadrille wedges/flip-flop pumps if you really prefer a lift. I’m most inspired, though, by actor Ebon Moss-Bachrach of The Bear. In this week’s edition of the Blackbird Spyplane newsletter, he revealed that he’s been wearing jelly sandals with a linen suit while vacationing in Greece, and the photo he attached has me convinced that 1) we are crushing on the wrong Chicago sandwich guy and 2) jellies can be formalwear. Embrace the sand!

Hey Fashion Friend: What Do I Wear to a Beach Wedding?