Weddings are beautiful for a lot of reasons: the bride and groom are so happy, family and guests are in a joyous mood, the setting of the wedding is typically gorgeous, and everyone there is dressed to the nines to go along with the wedding theme. Choosing what to wear as a wedding guest can be fun and challenging at the same time.
We’ve just returned from attending a stunning wedding of our good friends’ son and his fiance held in downtown Chicago. Two fun things: the festive wedding AND my first time in Chicago.
A Summer Wedding Guest Dress
Let’s talk about the wedding guest dress first! This summer wedding was black tie. Of course, that presented a bit of a dilemma for me since I don’t have a formal wardrobe and would need to find an appropriate dress for the occasion.
The dilemma was that I don’t like buying clothes that I can only wear in one specific situation, and since I don’t attend formal social events ever, I’d need to find something that would work for this wedding but also work for other situations. (That’s kind of my rule!)
I initially borrowed from my sister-in-law a beautiful pair of very dressy and flowy wide leg pants. They are stunning and have a satin first layer with gorgeously pleated panels over the satin (hard to explain but you’ll have to believe me that they are gorgeous). I found a vibrant red top to go with them. But…there was something about that outfit that just didn’t feel me and didn’t feel summery enough for the season.
So on the Monday before our Thursday departure to Chicago, I decided to pop over to a local boutique just to see what I might find. I was pretty sure this boutique is typically closed on Mondays, but I figured I’d just drive by and check. Sure enough, it happened to be open only because – as I learned later – the owner was there to address an issue with the store’s payment processing system.
Hanging at the back of the store was a tiny rack of about three dress styles all marked 50% off. It was meant to be – I found this beautiful watermelon red dress!
What especially attracted me to this particular Joseph Ribkoff* dress is the architectural detail – I’m a sucker for architectural features in clothing. The two layered visual of a short hem and the longer asymmetrical top layer is so interesting. Additionally, this dress is extremely low maintenance – I simply hand washed and hung to dry and it was ready to wear.
Although this wedding guest dress is not floor length, in most cases it’s acceptable to wear a cocktail dress for a black tie wedding.
*Canadian designer Joseph Ribkoff has been a designer of high-end women’s fashion since 1957. Over the years, his brand has risen to popularity and it’s no secret as to why. Each collection is created for women who are always on the go, but who enjoy looking effortlessly put together. As one of the top leading Canadian designers in the industry, Joseph Ribkoff has built his brand with his clients in mind. His designs are high-quality, versatile, and affordable. Ribkoff’s designs include something for everyone from fun, colourful florals to sophisticated and work-appropriate. Ribkoff focuses on creating flattering and timeless silhouettes while using trendy colours of the season. No wonder Joseph Ribkoff has been nominated for Womenswear Brand of the Year by British magazine Draper multiple times! Ribkoff makes sure to create styles for any occasion. There are formal dresses for special occasions, but there are also styles that are perfect for a vacation in a warm climate.”
Joseph Ribkoff designs are predominantly found in independent, boutique shops. But, surprisingly, I found a robust assortment of designs on Amazon! Check out the variety of easy-wear and beautiful clothes here.
(PS – This iPhone quality photo was taken near the end of the evening. You may notice my midnight-and-time-for-bed eyes!)
And the dress led to a need to find shoes. I’ll spare you the drawn out details, but just believe me when I say finding dressy shoes (at least in a suburb) is pretty much impossible during these days of people working from home and not going out to fancy events. I didn’t have enough time for online shopping, so I needed to find something in a local retail store.
I ended up with these that I happened upon at Macy’s for only $35! I’d had in mind open toe shoes, but these seemed fun with the see-through heel and angled wrap-around strap. Plus, the heel looks dressy without being 4″ high! (I’ve linked them below. Sizes are very limited in the “dark almond” color, but they also come in black, which has more size availability.) They were comfy for dancing – I was able to wear them the whole night – which was the best part. I always recommend shopping for style AND comfort.
I’m telling the weekend story backward.
Before the gorgeous wedding, we had a day and a half to explore downtown Chicago.
Architectural Riverboat Tour
The highlight of our Friday was an architectural riverboat cruise on the Chicago River.
This is a tour recommended by many who have enjoyed it as well as by Chicagoans. Famed for its bold architecture, Chicago has a skyline punctuated by skyscrapers. I’ve included a few photos below that may seem unexciting (sorry), but, seriously, the architecturally stunning, unique, and historic buildings that border the river are many. And they all have a story. I’m sure many large cities have buildings that tell an architecture story, but what makes Chicago unique is that we can tour them from a ride on the river.
We used this company. I recommend it. The docent was very knowledgeable and the boats are much smaller than some others I saw on the river. It had an intimate feeling. (There’s also a bar on board if that’s of interest.)
I don’t have a great photo of this comfortable and beautiful Italian linen summer dress, but believe me when I say it was perfect for the summer day. I paired it with marigold TOMS traditional Alpargata style shoes (linked below). They were cute and SO comfortable for the miles of walking we did both Friday and Saturday.
We were invited for cocktails on wedding eve. It was fun to connect with other out of towners – including the California contingent. (A topic of conversation among the women was wondering if we’d stand out with our California casual black tie attire!)
I was pretty casual with a pair of black Mother Denim jeans, and lightweight animal print sleeveless top (Banana Republic a long time ago) and a new pair of fun Dolce Vita shoes that I bought that day at Nordstrom, and that, despite the heel height, are pretty comfortable (linked below – available in a lot of colors).
I love the cross body Coach messenger bag that you can barely see in this photo. It’s great for travel because it’s hand-free and pretty roomy. It’s actually from the Coach men’s line (linked below). I purchased it during a deeply discounted Black Friday sale – it’s worth the wait for the great price. I recommend a roomy cross body when traveling as it’s great to be hands-free and still have space to stash things during the day.
(This is another late night photo, returning to the hotel at the end of the evening festivities.)
Okay – I know this is another very touristy spot. We had only part of the day on Saturday, wedding day. So we set out for a walk which took us to Navy Pier. We strolled the Pier and enjoyed people watching and being on the water. We didn’t ride Centennial Wheel, a 200 foot high ferris wheel offering 360-degree views of Chicago and Lake Michigan. But it was impressive to look at.
Since I’d had such a great experience with the comfort of the TOMS shoes, I paired them again with my outfit – a pair of front-wrap beach pants (actually sold as beach pants at Tommy Bahama) and an elbow sleeve tee.
Part of the fun (for me) of being in a city like Chicago is taking in all the styles that surround you. They run the gamut from very high fashion to whatever feels comfortable.
For a native Californian, Lake Michigan is something to see! The city of Chicago borders the shores of Lake Michigan, which to us West Coasters looks more like the ocean than a lake.
Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It’s the second-largest of the Great Lakes by volume and the third-largest by surface area, after Lake Superior and Lake Huron. It’s the only Great Lake that is wholly within the borders of the United States; the others are shared with Canada (see map below).
Lake Michigan was something to see. It looks more like an ocean than a lake!
I’d always wanted to see this body of water, and it didn’t disappoint!
The Great Lakes
A Peek at Our Riverboat Tour
Summing Up Our Chicago Weekend
We had a wonderful and quick trip to Chicago. We lucked out with perfect weather – mid-80s with relatively no humidity. I look forward to returning and adding a visit to the renowned Field Museum of Natural History. And being from a sports-oriented family, I’d love to go to a game at historic Fenway Park, as well as visit some recommended eateries we didn’t have time for.
Although I didn’t even attempt to pack in a carry-on bag, I brought the new Beautycounter TSA-friendly mini Countertime Carry-On Set. It was so great to have my favorite skin care products in small, travel-friendly, lightweight, product-specific containers. And they’re refillable and come with a useful pouch that will hold other cosmetics. Remember through the end of this year you can get 20% off of your first-time order (email me at email@example.com if you’d like to learn more).
Photos in this post were taken with an iPhone for convenience (not the best quality for a post, however) and by my patient and good-sport husband.
Links of Featured Fashion
I’ve linked a few of the fashions featured in this post below for browsing or shopping.
I always like to let you know that if you make a purchase through one of my links, I will earn a tiny commission. Your price is exactly the same as if you navigate independently to the item. I always appreciate purchases through my links – it’s one way bloggers generate income.