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Wedding-Guest Dresses | The Realest

Why should models have all the fun? We decided each month we’d find a “real woman”–i.e., of all shapes and sizes–and give her the model treatment. In this new feature, we bring the wardrobe, stylist, photographer and blog editor–she brings her anything-but-one-size-fits-all personality and style–and we all head out on location for an IRL photo shoot. Meet this month’s featured guest, Kathy Loyola–a new mom who balances a busy work schedule as a content publisher at Microsoft while she and her husband raise their 13-month-old, Lexi, at home. As a petite woman who stands at 5′ 3″ (and a half!), Kathy sometimes feels frustrated not knowing how clothes seen online will look once they’re actually on her.

That’s where we step in, outfitting her in guest-of-wedding dresses to inspire looks that take the stress out of that moment just after that invitation is received. What to wear? What to wear! Read on to get to know Kathy, and see our stylist suggestions for the perfect dress (hint: it’s all about rich, beautiful color) and accessories–no matter the occasion.

MIDNIGHT SHIMMER – Evening Wedding

Wedding Guest Dress Inspiration--Evening Shimmer.Adrianna Papell sequin mesh dress

Wedding Guest Dress Inspiration--Evening Shimmer.

Stuart Weitzman ankle strap sandal | Minaudieres | Stackable rings | Crawler earrings

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On dressing for weddings: “I love that you can really dress to the nines for a wedding! For events like this, my philosophy is that it’s always better to overdress than under.

“After receiving that invite, the first thing I like to do is visit some of my favorite blogs for inspiration (Atlantic-Pacific, Wendy’s Lookbook, Extra Petite, etc). A lot of these ladies put together outfits that aren’t necessarily practical for my day to day but are perfect inspirations for events like weddings. I then spend a lot of time visiting my favorite online stores, searching for and bookmarking any looks that resonate with me. It all gives me a good idea of what to look for when I go the stores to try things on. I like to plan ahead like this so I’m not overwhelmed when I actually begin to shop for an outfit.”

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UPTOWN CRIMSON – Daytime Wedding

Wedding Guest Dress Inspiration--Daytime Cocktail.

FELICITY & COCO pencil dress

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 Cocktail rings | Bangles | Leather evening bags & clutches | Topshop sandal |

GARDEN GREEN – Destination Wedding

Wedding Guest Dress Inspiration--Garden Wedding.

Eliza J floral fit & flare dress

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On her personal style: “I’ll let my best friend describe my style–she put it best: “casual chic!” As much as I love to get dolled up, my day-to-day look is pretty casual. When I’m not at work, I’m running around after a very active toddler, so comfort is key.

“On the flip side, just because I’m a mom doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t look put together! Sure, it’s more difficult to take a ton of time to get ready when you have a kiddo, but all you really need is just five minutes. For my lazy days, I defer to my uniform of skinny jeans, flats and a cute top–all topped off with either a bright scarf or a designer handbag. I’m more of a bag girl than a shoe girl and firmly believe that a gorgeous designer handbag can make any outfit look pulled together.”

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Suede ankle strap sandals | Satin clutches | Ball stud earrings

BLACKBERRY COSMOPOLITAN – Cocktail Reception

Wedding Guest Dress Inspiration--Cocktail Reception.

Donna Morgan lace shift dress

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“One major thing that’s really changed since having a little one is that I don’t wear as much jewelry as I used to. I used to LOVE to pile on the arm and neck candy, but after having a few necklaces break from Lexi yanking on them, I stopped wearing them. I also find that having several go-to outfits on hand–that I know will make me feel put together and presentable–makes it super easy to get ready REALLY quickly for those crazy mornings :)”

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Black strappy sandals | Box clutches | Stackable rings

Stylist Notes: “Whether it’s the color, fabrication or print, all the dresses in the above looks are bold enough to speak for themselves. I’d recommend going more minimal with jewelry. A little something personal can be very complementary, and adding a “wow” shoe will give it that extra pop to complete the look. All these dresses are lovely and easy to wear, and that’s so important when you want to be comfortable, appropriately dressed and fashion conscious all at the same time.” –Tamala Ayres, Nordstrom Stylist Associate

Shop: Our Wedding-Guest Dresses Guide | Blue | Red | Green | Pink

Special thanks to our real woman model, Kathy Loyola. See more from Kathy, including OOTDs and the occasional pics of her adorable toddler, Lexi: follow Kathy on Instagram or over at her blog Hello, I’m Kathy.

Shot on location at MOHAI.

Images by Elizabeth Rudge.

–Jeff Powell