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A wedding is a perfect excuse (not that you need one) to dress deliberately. All the more so when a theme is involved. That’s the case for my friend Kris, whose nephew is getting married in Wyoming this summer. Kris flattered me by asking my opinion of what to wear to a Western-themed wedding.

I found that such a delicious question that I decided to start a series on wedding wear, starting with Kris’s question. We’re coming into the season for weddings, so why not? I’ve got weddings in March, May and June—all in different circumstances and times of day. Each one will require a little deliberation.

For the Wyoming wedding, Kris says the groom and groomsmen will be in jeans and most of the female guests plan to wear dresses and boots.

What should Kris wear?

In her case—almost anything. She has a figure that’s somewhere between a Barbie doll, a ballerina and a long distance runner. Tall and long-legged, she looks good in everything. I could throw a dart and hit a winner for her.

Option 1: Super feminine dress and boots

I could just say buy a great pair of Western boots, pair it with any feminine dress in her closet and we could all go home. This collage has dresses from J. Peterman, North Style, and Sundance. My personal favorite for Kris: the Sundance dress on the far left.

Option 1 More dresses collage

I couldn’t leave it at that—because this is the perfect time to make an investment in a pair of boots that could become her forever friend. Of course, you can get an affordable pair just for this occasion at places like Cavenders. They also offer the full gamut of quality on traditional Western boots, so you can spend as much or as little as you can afford.

Option 2: A crisp white blouse, denim skirt and boots

My personal preference for boots is a pair I found on Sundance, which have a weathered/vintage/Western vibe––and much more wardrobe potential than a traditional Western boot with pointed toes. Oh, yes, they’re pricey. I found two pair I liked in the Wild Western Wedding collage below. Both sell for around $300. To rationalize this purchase, think in terms of amortization. It’s not a lot to pay for a pair of boots that will be a lifetime partner.

It will be hot in July and I like the idea of combining a denim skirt with a crisp white western shirt, or possibly a peasant-style blouse. You could choose something in white eyelet or lace to dress things up a bit. In the collage below, most everything is from Sundance. I especially loved the flowing chambray-blue skirt in the center, which has a more feminine flair than the plain denim skirt below it. But both would be great.

Option 2 Wedding collage

Option 3: An iteration on option 2

If Kris already has a denim skirt, she could buy a great white shirt, the aforementioned investment boot and call it good. That’s the budget option.

Another source for feminine Western or peasant shirts: Back in the Saddle. I liked all the shirts in the collage below because they are feminine, cool and affordable at less than $50 each. They also had some suede vests with fringe, but I thought they were over-the-top and too hot for July.

Option 3 White Western Shirts collage

Option 4: The unspoken law

Finally, in the name of honesty, I want to disclose a law that isn’t mentioned openly among women. There is no real budget option for wedding attire. A wedding requires a new dress. Okay, maybe it isn’t a law, but it is at least a genetic trait. My mother is 76-years-old and the minute she knows about a family wedding, her first thought is, “What will I wear?”–even though she has a closet of options.

Kris didn’t want to spend a lot, so I went on a search for a denim or chambray option that was affordable, yet far from dowdy. Oh. My. Goodness. I scored by finding a new site, eshakti.com, an American designer that customizes each dress to your dimensions and allows you to mix and match details—all for $60.

Here are three denim dresses that would be so good on Kris.

option 4 collage of chambray

I hate to spoil the party, but I have to add something here. My heart soared when I saw the price on these. And then it plummeted. How does eshakti do this for $60? You know the answer: these dresses are made in India. My conscience prevents me from skipping over the fact that the seamstresses who make these are probably paid almost nothing for their work. Ultimately, the decision belongs with Kris. Let’s face it—we all have to make strategic choices about where to spend our money. We can’t change the world with one purchase—or could we?

What’s a reasonable, socially-conscious alternative? Save these photos and take them to a custom seamstress like Catherine Fritsch at Mercurious Design in Noblesville, Indiana. Catherine can design a custom denim dress for Kris just in time for the wedding. Kris would spend more, but she would be supporting the U.S. fashion industry––even better, right here in Indiana.

What would you wear to a Western-themed wedding? Any ideas for Kris? Please let me know if you have wedding coming up and aren’t sure what to wear. I’ll make it part of this series!

Life is short. Wear the good stuff.