What to Wear to a Beach Chic Wedding

What is your interpretation of “beach chic” attire? This was for a very casual beach front wedding. If you google the term “beach chic” the attire most often suggested for women is a long sundress.

I had fabric purchased at Mood last summer in the stash. It was a silk crepe de chine panel print. Very interesting but would definitely require some creative cutting to make the most of the design. I had two panels and planned to use one for a long wrap skirt and the second for the bodice and trim.

Silk Panel

Skirt draping started first. I have a professional style dress form which has been padded to my size. I find the effort spent constructing this saves so much time that I can’t imagine working without it now. The process I used is detailed in my post on April 25, 2014. How time consuming to drape and fit a design only to need to make alterations because the dress form is shaped differently than your body.

I basted a lightweight silk/cotton batiste to the silk and thread traced a reference line for the hip. Start at the left side which will be the skirt underlap and work around to the right side seam. At this point, just get the hip aligned; don’t worry about the waist shaping.

Begin DrapingContinue Draping

When you reach the right side seam, smooth the fabric downwards from the waist, which will drop the reference line. My post on November 3, 2015 also gives an explanation of how to drape this style of pleated skirt.

Right Front Drape

Form the first pleat. Second and third pleats are formed.

First PleatSecond PleatThird Pleat

Shape the back darts, pin in place and thread trace. Thread trace the waistline. I’ve also placed a thread mark at the center back line

Back Darts PinnedThread Trace Waist 2


Next you want to accurately mark the front waist and the pleat shaping. I pin a narrow ribbon around the waistline. Remove the skirt from the form, being careful to keep everything pinned in place.

Front WaistRemove Front Waist

Now I cut the waistline seam leaving a 1 inch seam allowance.

Trim Front Waist

I wanted the front overlap to gently curve from the hem to waist. An easy way to experiment with possible shapes is to use a length of leaded drapery weight. It is easily shaped yet is heavy enough to stay in place while you cut.

Drapery Weight

Front Curve

I had considered a lapped closure but as the bodice and skirt were attached the easiest solution was to insert a zip at the center back. How to do this with no back seam? I found inspiration from Valentino. Here is a center back invisible zip with a contrast satin welt.


Why not turn this into a design detail? Construct it like a narrow welt pocket.

Zip 2Zip 1
The bodice was a simple scoop neck with tiny piping at the neck and armholes. It was cut on the bias so the design is shifted 45 degrees from the skirt.  I left the center back seam open to the waist so ties at the back neck were in order. I used thin drapery pull cord; measured the amount needed for the neck edge and added about 15 inches to each end for the ties. The ends were done first, cording removed from inside and then a bias strip covered the center portion. The bodice was lined to the edge with the same lightweight silk/cotton and fell stitched to the piping seam line.

Cording 1Cording 2Cording 3Piping


Finished 1Finished 2

I must also mention that in addition to his medical practice, my husband decided to become a licensed U.S. Coast Guard captain,  which gives him the authority to officiate at weddings. We are close friends with the bride and groom and they were thrilled to have him conduct the ceremony.



21 thoughts on “What to Wear to a Beach Chic Wedding”

  1. Are you kidding me????

    You are a f-ing genius. Forgive my scrappy, piratey banter – but Mary, this is so ONE OF A KIND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You AMAZE ME!!!!!!


    I still need that navy blazer….


    1. Photos done and posted. I really need to practice with the remote on my good camera; the cell phone pics sometimes just don’t work. You always have such wonderful shots.

  2. Beach chic extraordinaire! What a fabulous dress, Mary. Such an inspired use of that fabric – everything about it is just amazing! I hope you have many opportunities to wear and enjoy it!

  3. How lovely that Dr CC could marry your friends, and that you made such an appropriate, unique and wonderful outfit for yourself. I imagine you will be able to wear the top with trousers, or the skirt with a plain top to get more use from them. Sensational, and thank you for sharing how it is done.

  4. Beautiful, chic, & another example of the perfect combination of inspired design, lovely fabric, & expert sewing skill. Great dress & gorgeous on you!
    My one suggestion is that you hold your camera to the side when you take photos of yourself wearing your creations, so that you don’t block our view of a significant portion of your body!
    Thanks for another terrific post

  5. The way I tame silk bias is to use Japanese silk ribbon, 1/4″ wide. I like to make mens vests from silk kimono lined with Bembeeg rayon. When stitching everything closed, I use the narrow silk ribbon to stabilize all the seams, resulting in crisp seams that don’t distort out of shape. You could try using the tape to sew up those bust darts and any other seams that are bias or off grain. Just a thought.

    1. Thanks for a great tip. I’ll definitely give silk ribbon a try. I’ve worked with it in the past and it does behave well and doesn’t have a distinct ridge along the edge. I usually use crossgrain strips of silk organza but the silk ribbon sounds like a good option.

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