The One Dress We're Wearing to Every Wedding This Year (And The Three Ways We Plan On Styling It)

A trick that could save you hundreds of dollars.
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This year, Leslie and Kelly are each heading to several weddings which (as anyone who's dedicated time and vacation days to weddings knows) is expensive. Between travel costs, gifts, and bachelorette parties, the last thing you want to have to buy is an additional dress for each wedding—which is why they've each decided to buy one dress and wear it multiple ways. The key here is investing in a dress that's super-flattering, but not necessarily incredibly memorable, then dressing it up with different hair, makeup, jewelry, and accessories. Done carefully, we promise no one will notice, on Instagram or in person, that you wore the same dress—and, depending on the number of weddings you're attending, it could save you hundreds of dollars:

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First and foremost: I want to be (relatively) comfortable at a wedding. I've never met a dance floor I didn't like, so I don't want to be worried about pulling up a strapless number or sweating through a beautiful silk slip dress. I also don't want to wear anything that feels too tight so I can eat, drink, and be merry to my heart's content! Weddings are fun and a painful pair of heels or an uncomfortable dress can truly make or break your evening. I'm all about a two-piece dress, since they're both comfortable and versatile. This one in particular can go from a relatively conservative event because of the high neckline (get the maxi if you think you'll be going to a black tie wedding) to a semi-casual wedding with just a swap of accessories and hairstyle. I'll also be getting more mileage out of it by wearing the top with high-waisted denim to the office... here's how I plan on styling it for three different weddings: 

Makeup People, Hair via Cup of Jo

Makeup People, Hair via Cup of Jo

Later this year, I'm heading to a wedding in Malibu. The ceremony and reception are in the evening, so the black won't feel too severe for the laid-back environment—but I still want to add a pop of color, in the form of a coral lipstick, that feels appropriately beachy.

Hair: I'm planning on playing down the dressiness of the two-piece set with a casual braided half updo.
Makeup: While I stick to all-natural makeup 99% of the time, I use a lipstick with staying power for weddings so I don't have to think about it all night. This coral lipstick from Laura Mercier in 'Onpoint' will, no joke, stay through the ceremony, dinner, dancing, and drinks—no touch-up needed. It may be made out of house paint (really, how does it stay on so well?), so I only use it on special occasions, but I'm always thankful when it's still on past midnight. 
Accessories: My favorite sea glass clutch (which I wrote about here!) will serve as a perfect nod to the seaside theme. I also don't do stilettos—they are never worth the pain that my feet are in at the end of the night. As a bridesmaid last year, I purchased a pair of these Sam Edelman nude low block heels ($79). They aren't as sexy as a sky-high pump, but they're a whole lot sexier than carrying my heels at the end of the night. 

Hair via Stay Glam, Makeup via RMS

Hair via Stay Glam, Makeup via RMS

I love how versatile this dress is, in that it can easily go from from practically black tie to a cabin in Yosemite, which is where I'll be heading for a September wedding!

Hair: I'm planning on keeping things simple with a sleek, straightened ponytail secured with a gold cuff.
Makeup: For makeup, I'll keep things natural with my favorite lip stain, Olio e Osso #2, and a touch of shadow. I love the RMS Eye Polish (my go-to is 'Magnetic', applied to the full lid) since it gives my low-key makeup base just a touch of drama. 
Accessories: Since I'm keeping everything else so natural, I like the idea of throwing on a funky snakeskin block heel. Once the temperature dips, I'll stay warm with this faux fur bomber (on sale!).

Hair via Pinterest, Makeup via Pinterest

Hair via Pinterest, Makeup via Pinterest

Hair: My go-to "wedding" hair are messy, loose waves that aren't so precious, they'll just look piecy and beachy after a few hours on the dance floor. 
Makeup: Bright, natural makeup with some extra luminizer so that the attention is on my killer red lip. I love Laura Mercier's matte stick in 'Fire,' which Emily turned me onto. I receive countless compliments every time I wear it. 
Accessories: I'll be keeping things similar with my regular stacked gold bracelets, plus a chunky gold addition like this one, and my trusty block heels, of course. 

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If I’m going to take the plunge to wear one dress to three different weddings, anyone who knows me well can probably guess that I would choose navy. IMO, navy can be easily dressed up or down, it isn’t a particularly “memorable” color, and the dress I chose has a little bit of ruffle flair action at the knee to compensate for the lack of a punchy color or fun floral print (my fav). Realistically though, the looks below are universal enough that they would probably work just as well with a plain black, light pink, or even a burgundy dress - to each her own!

Since this one dress will ideally run the gamut from a shivery Maine wedding to a Palm Springs fiesta, I went with a midi length to help combat both cold and heat. I’m also saving up for my own wedding next year (helllllp), so I chose a $119 option from trusty Nordstrom. However, you can definitely find similar options for more or less out there; go with whatever your bank account agrees with, and be sure to leave some money leftover for a new lipstick or some cheap accessories (more on that below). Most importantly, plan your particular looks around items you already have, and buy just a few things you’ll wear/use again to fill in the blanks. This whole thing is about saving money, so remember: your first stop should always be your own closet.

Hair via Love Hairstyles, Makeup via Harpers Bazaar

Hair via Love Hairstyles, Makeup via Harpers Bazaar

This is a “classic” look that I would wear to a more formal wedding (this year, it’s at an opera house in St. Louis). Classic isn’t really my personal style, but for a sleek black-and-white wedding, I don’t want to show up with full color on blast or in anything too casual (or too short). This is the kind of look where I’m expecting someone to comment: “Wow, you clean up well!”

Hair: Low, sleek bun
Makeup: Matte rose lipstick (Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in ‘Verbena’), matte face makeup, maybe a little bronzer since it’s spring and I’m extra pale this time of year, full eyebrows; nothing too fancy
Accessories: Nude Target heels that I already own (these are shockingly comfortable for the price, $29.99), gold Margot earrings from the Shop, and a simple light grey/lilac leather clutch that I’ll use with another look (currently on sale for $59).

Hair via Salty Lashes, Makeup via Pinterest

Hair via Salty Lashes, Makeup via Pinterest

Opals are having a moment right now, and I’m here for it. For my second look, I’m excited to get a little more playful with my accoutrements. Anchored by the navy blue dress (although light pink would also work here, especially for spring/summer), I’m putting together an opalescent/unicorn inspired outfit for a semi-formal seaside wedding in Maine.

Hair: This wedding is the least formal of the three, so my trademark semi-straight, semi-wavy, I-literally-woke-up-like-this hair with sparkly bobby pins will do.
Makeup: Emily tried out an opalescent Laura Mercier eye shadow / liner a few weeks ago, and I obviously bought it immediately (#influenced). I’ll go with a "dewier" look here, which works well with my naturally oily skin, and a glossy lip (I won Glossier’s lip gloss in our white elephant holiday gift exchange last year; thanks Raven!).
Accessories: This is my other (and final) shameless plug for Target shoes. I’m from Minnesota, so I feel like it’s my stately duty to spread the word to women everywhere that Target shoes are comfortable, cute, and most importantly, cheap. I’m going to buy these crazy holographic shoes for $20 and wear them all the time (with jeans) until they fall apart. I'm repeating the same light grey clutch from the “classic” look, bringing along my black AllSaints leather jacket to make sure I don’t freeze, and adding some $22 crystal earrings from Lulus to finish it off.

Hair via Her Campus, Makeup via Pinterest

Hair via Her Campus, Makeup via Pinterest

A Palm Springs wedding calls for a little color, am I right?? This is the closest look to my “happy place,” and I’m really just foreshadowing the Cinco de Mayo theme of my own wedding next year. I’m not afraid of color (I live for a pop of neon right now), and a hot pink lip feels perfectly at home here.

Hair: Fiesta waves, until they fall out and I throw it up in a ponytail for the dance party.
Makeup: I received this hot pink lip pencil (Nars Matte Lip Pencil in ‘Let’s Go Crazy’) as a sample from Sephora and laughed out loud when I saw it. I tried it on as a joke, and was blown away by how cool it actually looked when applied. I wore it to a wedding last year and got a zillion compliments, so I’ll repeat the look here and keep the rest pretty natural (most of my makeup will probably melt off in the desert anyway, so less is more).
Accessories: I live for a statement earring, and these $21 rainbow earrings from Lulus are GOOD. 10/10 will wear again, which also applies to the nude Target heels I’ll be repeating (although hot pink heels would be my pick here if I already owned some). That being said, I’ll spend another $59 on this rainbow cork clutch because it really speaks to me, and I’ll gleefully bring it to every happy hour until summer is over.

P.S., We recognize this only works for Kelly and Leslie because neither are attending weddings with super-specific dress codes this year. Jess, on the other hand, is attending eight (eight!) weddings this year, from a London mansion to Malibu wedding and country club black tie. She'll be sharing her outfits by dress code later this month!

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