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Q. I am performing a civil ceremony for my friends and their 50 guests on the beach in North Seattle. The ceremony will be outside and the reception inside. I have many dresses but none of them seem appropriate. I own a strapless embossed J.Crew beach dress in sundried tomato, a pink 3-ply J.Crew silk empire waist dress (very classy) and a brown embossed J.Crew beach halter dress that may be too revealing in the cleavage.

I feel like one of my dresses should work but I seem to find reasons why none of them will. I worry about looking too fancy for a beach wedding. I like the idea of wearing either the strapless or the pink J.Crew dress, but I don’t know what shoes to wear. One idea I have is to find some dressy flip-flops to wear for the ceremony and then change into heels for the reception.
-Closet Confusion

A. There is no reason to buy a new dress when you clearly have several good options. Instead, buy new sandals and pull together great accessories to give a dress you’ve worn already a boost. For an outdoor ceremony with sand, grass and water involved, wear pretty flat sandals and switch to heels when you head to the party inside. Skip the word “flip-flop” whenever mentioning “wedding” in them same sentence, instead think thong sandal.

Nine West
ZapitDolce Vita
Aegean-17Stuart Weitzman Chaingang
Matisse 'Escape' O-Ring SandalMatisse 'Naive' Thong

left to right:
1. Nine West Zapit, $82.95 at
2. Dolce Vita Aegean-17, $87.95 at
3. Stuart Weitzman Chaingang, $174 at
4. Matisse ‘Escape’ O-Ring Sandal, $74.95 at
5. Matisse ‘Naive’ Thong, $99.95 at

Q. What should my 26 year old son wear to a beach wedding in San Diego?
-Beach Boy

A. Beach weddings are generally a more casual, colorful affair and men should avoid dark colors. Best looks are khaki, cream or tan lightweight dress pants or linen pants worn with a colorful button down shirt. He can wear a full light colored lightweight suit or linen sport coat with a colorful shirt and tie (or no tie), but he may be hot at the beach. And consider wearing nice leather thong sandals to maneuver through the sand. If the reception heads indoors, then have a pair of dress shoes to change into.

Ppolo2-3495016 Standard V330Ppolo2-3421495 Standard V330

left to right:
1. Classic-Fit Pinpoint Oxford, $49.99 (sale) at
2. Classic-Fit Gingham Poplin, $79.99 (sale) at
3. Façonnable Long Sleeve Classic Fancy Poplin Check Shirt, $125 at
4. Slim fit stretch poplin dress shirt, $59.50 at

Q. I’m getting married on a Saturday night in December. I already have my dress - it’s by Amsale and it’s long, simple and elegant. However, I love clothes and fashion and I plan to change into another dress after dinner. I’m looking for something very fashion forward, not trendy, but more of-the-moment than a regular wedding dress. I definitely want the second dress to be white (or ivory / off white) and short so that it’s great for dancing and moving around in. I also would like to be able to wear it again if possible. It doesn’t have to be a wedding dress from a wedding dress designer, especially since I don’t want to pay wedding dress prices (already did that once!). Do you have any suggestions for dresses or designers that may make the type of dress I’m looking for?
-Dress to Dance

A. Glad you plan to have genuine fun at your wedding! Too many brides look back years later and can’t remember the food or dancing since they spent so much time going table to table to say hi to plenty of relatives and parents’ friends they rarely see or know. Eat, drink, dance and be merry. Make the grand impression in your wedding dress, get the photos taken care of, mingle and eat the dinner you painstakingly chose. Then change into a shorter fabulous dress and dance the night away with your new husband and friends.

These dresses will work on the dance floor, at another affair and keep you cool indoors:

BCBG Max Azria Lace Empire Mini DressRobert Rodriguez Ruffled Silk DressBCBG Max Azria 'D Esprit' Trimmed Point Strapless DressCarmen Marc Valvo Pleated Chiffon Cocktail DressBCBG Max Azria Strapless Appliqué DressCarmen Marc Valvo Sequin Lace Dress

1. BCBG Max Azria Lace Empire Mini Dress, $400 at
2. Robert Rodriguez Ruffled Silk Dress, $396 at
3. BCBG Max Azria ‘D Esprit’ Trimmed Point Strapless Dress, $440 at
4. Carmen Marc Valvo Pleated Chiffon Cocktail Dress, $565 at
5. BCBG Max Azria Strapless Appliqué Dress, $396 at
6. Carmen Marc Valvo Sequin Lace Dress, $568 at

 Images Colorized 72037202 0051Q. I have many questions as the mother of the bride. October 20th wedding in New England - 3:00 pm - bridesmaids will wear cocktail length sage green dresses with chocolate sashes. Groomsmen will be in navy blazers and khaki colored dress slacks, white shirts with green Vineyard Vines ties. My daughter will be in a beautiful non-embellished ivory satin gown. Reception will be at a lodge-like venue. Not black tie but certainly not informal. I’ve posted the dress that I have ordered through Talbots. It also comes in midnight blue (which I’ve also purchased). I won’t decide between the 2 colors until I see what mink brown actually looks like. First, do you think the dress is dressy enough - the fabric is silk dupioni - the fit is great for me and I do not want to wear full-length. If so, what would you suggest for the color of the shoes and clutch for the brown dress? For the midnight blue dress? And what would you suggest for jewelry for that neckline? Wrap or should I have a jacket made while in the church?

-Color Quandry

A. As mother of the bride, you are clearly making good choices for your dress even with your multiple questions. It’s smart to have purchased both dress colors so you can try them on and determine which color is most flattering. For the brown, consider a bronze or coppery gold heel. And for the midnight navy you can probably get away with black, but a muted grey silver, gold heel or deep blue would give it more sass. As for coverage at the church, I’d suggest taking your final dress choice with you to department stores to see if you can find a jacket that works, but otherwise a lightweight wrap will surely work since it’s not a black tie affair. We love the lightweight ones from Love Quotes.

For jewelry, keep the pieces light, not chunky. For a necklace wear something pendant-like for the v-neck of the dress and choose earrings that are slightly larger with a possible drop effect. And consider thin bangle bracelets on one wrist. If you’re concerned about skipping hose to wear a peep toe, then I’d suggest indulging in a spray tan on your legs a day or two prior to the event. I’ve picked out several suggestions for shoes and jewelry as a guide.

Stick with golds, bronze and copper for the brown dress and silver and pewter hues for the navy dress:

BCBGirls LymaNine West HaelliReport Dione

1. BCBGirls Lyma, $92.95 at (also available in pewter)
2. Nine West Haelli, $82.95 at (also available in silver)
3. Report Dione, $178.95 at

Anna Beck Floating Circle NecklaceJulie Sandlau Smokey Quartz and Cubic Zirconia Drop Necklace Julie Sandlau Clear Cubic Zirconia and Champagne Zirconia Flower Drop Earrings

4. Anna Beck Floating Circle Necklace, $238 at
5. Julie Sandlau Smokey Quartz and Cubic Zirconia Drop Necklace, $127.99 at
6. Julie Sandlau Clear Cubic Zirconia and Champagne Zirconia Flower Drop Earrings, $198 at

Q. My daughter is the maid of honor in a wedding in January. The bride has picked out a beautiful apple red formal dress with a diamond-like broach and has chosen to accessorize with ivory shoes. My daughter and I think that the ivory would stand out too much against the red dress. What color shoe would you suggest?
-Ivory & Faux Ice

A. I would have suggested a pale or muted gold heel for sass or a neutral hue of deep cream or light tan for a sophisticated look. If you intend to approach the bride with a new color suggestion, do it delicately.

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