The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

Ask BB: Wedding Guest Etiquette for Cocktail Attire

I am attending a wedding in September. They request "cocktail" attire. I am having a tough time 1) figuring out how "formal" cocktail attire is, and 2) finding something affordable. Her bridesmaids dresses are from The Limited. Any suggestions? —Wendy S.

Cocktail attire for a wedding typically means a chic dress and heels for ladies and tie-optional-suit for gents. A pretty blouse and skirt can work, too, but I find that wearing a dress is so much simpler. Look for something knee length or even slightly shorter. I'd start my search by hitting the sale racks at a store like J. Crew or your favorite department store. You could even try The Limited, they have an amazing selection of dresses under $100 (it goes without saying but just make sure you don't buy the exact same style/color as the bridesmaids!) One of my secret weapons is Talbots Outlet - yes, Talbots will surprise you with classic pieces you can personalize with your favorite jewelry and fun shoes. If you're comfortable shopping online, you'll find dozens more options everywhere from to

A picture is worth a thousand words, so here are some perfect cocktail dress options under $100.

1. With it's clean, graceful lines and rich gemstone hue, J. Crew's "Avedine" dress is quintessential cocktail chic. Pair it with slingback heels, a pretty necklace and a clutch for a pulled together ladylike look. ($69.99, down from $225)

2. Always elegant and in style, a little black dress is totally appropriate for a wedding. This Merona "Carey" dress has an Audrey Hepburn feel to it - timeless! And just $39.99 at

3. Where but Talbots can you find silk doupioni for $85!? This doupioni cocktail dress is available in sizes 4- 24W as well as petites, assuring you'll find the perfect fit. Personalize with your own accessories, from edgy layered necklaces to stacked boho-glam bangles or a simple strand of pearls.

Talbots at ShopStyle

Thanks! I am heading out today to do some shopping!
#1 Wendy S. on 2011-07-31 10:28 (Reply)
awesome, let me know what you find. whatever you choose i'm sure you will look amazing :-)
#1.1 The Budget Babe on 2011-07-31 22:13 (Reply)
I've always found my wedding guest dresses at Ross or Marshalls or another mark-down store (we call them "new stuff thrift stores"). Generally a dress that was sold for $120 and up elsewhere I can pick up for 20 bucks or so.
#2 heather on 2011-08-16 16:18 (Reply)
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