A black-tie wedding will likely be one of the most formal occasions you'll ever attend. Unless you frequent red carpets or White House dinners, consider this your chance to pull out all the stops and get really glam with your look. And while the idea of donning a beautiful ball gown or sleek dress might be alluring, it can also be challenging for some. Finding a style that fits the formality of the event and your frame can be a daunting task, especially if you’re looking for petite black-tie wedding guest dresses.
"Petite" sizing refers to the length of a garment. It typically caters to heights 5'4 and under.
When you think of a petite dress, picture one that’s slightly shorter in length. While most formal gowns need to be altered anyway, petite gowns are designed to better fit the proportions of someone who is under 5’4. For example, the waistline of these gowns will actually hit at the waist versus at the hip (as can often happen with “regular” length gowns on petite bodies). This means a better all-over fit and fewer pricey adjustments with the seamstress.
As you’re searching for the perfect black-tie wedding guest dress, you’ll want to keep the formality of the celebration front and center of your mind. This is one of the most formal dress codes, and it typically calls for floor-length gowns, elegant hairstyles, and stunning accessories. To help narrow down your options, we rounded up the best petite black-tie wedding guest dresses from the most reputable brands around. Whether it’s a winter wedding or a daytime celebration, there's a fancy 'fit for you.
Best Ball Gown: Fame and Partners Queen Of Peace
Size: Custom | Materials: Tafetta | Care: Professional dry clean
Between the billowing ball gown silhouette and side cutouts that define the waist (but don't show too much), this Fame and Partners gown is a black-tie must. The best part is that these gowns are made-to-measure, so whether you select this style in midi or maxi, it'll be made with your height in mind.
Pleated Favorite: ASOS DESIGN Petite Puff Sleeve Lace Trim Pleated Skater Dress
Size: 00-12 | Materials: Polyester, nylon, and lace | Care: Machine wash
The clever design of this ASOS gown officially has us swooning thanks to the silky, pleated fabric and lace-trimmed detailing. Pair the charming style with silver shoes and dangly diamond earrings to play up the magnificent mauve tones.
Boldest Options: Anthropologie Siddhartha Bansal Button-Front Maxi Dress
Size: XXS-XL petite | Materials: Viscose | Care: Dry clean
Attending a bright, colorful, vivacious black-tie event? This block color gown from Siddhartha Bansal features a button front, and the richest hues fit for a loud and lively celebration. Keep your accessories to a minimum to really let this eclectic style stand out.
For a Spring Wedding: ASOS DESIGN Petite Maxi Dress With Ruffles and Floral Embellishments
Size: 00-12 | Materials: Polyester | Care: Hand wash
This icy blue ASOS dress pairs seamlessly with warmer weather thanks to its V-neckline, delicate ruffled detailing, and lace-up back. The best part is the floral embroidery that raises the bar on the usual prints seen at spring weddings, making it a vision for special black-tie events.
For a Daytime Wedding: Reformation Petites Twilight Dress
Size: 0P-12P | Materials: Viscose | Care: Dry clean
While you'd normally want to stick with evening gowns for black-tie events, a daytime wedding is a bit of an exception. In this case, think of the attire more like that of a black-tie optional dress code. Elegant cocktail or midi dresses, like Reformation's Twilight, fit the bill. We love this style in the dark blue hue to nod at the formality of the event without feeling too dressy in the daylight.
For a Fall Wedding: Alex Evenings Petite Sequined Lace Embroidered Rosette Gown
Size: 6P-16P | Materials: Sequined lace | Care: Machine wash
Fall wedding guest dresses typically call for harvest hues and jewel tones, which is why we're all about this Alex Evenings gown in merlot. The deep red hue feels utterly decadent while the all-over sequins and subtle floral pattern elevate the celebratory style even more.
Most Feminine: Kavita Bhartia Rosette Tiered Tulle Gown
Size: 00P-16P | Materials: Tulle | Care: Dry clean
The dusty pink tiers and oversized floral embellishments on this Kavita Bhartia gown officially have us dreaming of the ultimate romantic event. Wear your hair up or pulled back, and don some showstopping dangle earrings to compliment the subtle sparkle in the flowers.
Best Beading: Let Me Be Juliet Sheer Maxi Dress
Size: XXS-XL petite | Materials: Viscose | Care: Hand wash
It's all about the gold with Let Me Be's Juliet maxi. The shimmering sequin and bead details create a flattering design along the body to compliment your shape and play up your curves. Just make sure to wear a slip or jumpsuit under this style since the fabric is sheer.
Most Sexy: Betsy & Adam Ruffle Tier Scuba Crepe Dress
Size: 2P-14P | Materials: Scuba crepe | Care: Dry clean
Add a little va-va-voom to your black-tie style with this glamorous Betsy & Adam trumpet gown. A high round neckline is balanced by a dramatic slit that shows the perfect amount of skin without being too revealing.
For a Summer Wedding: ASOS Design Petite Lace Insert Midi Dress
Size: 00-12 | Materials: Polyester | Care: Machine wash
Bring on light fabrics and bright hues for summer black-tie weddings! There's no need to stick with darker colors in the warmer months (unless you want to), so try a seasonally-appropriate style like this sage stunner from ASOS. The pretty lace waist not only highlights your curves but keeps you cool as well.
Best Satin Gown: Revelry Skye Satin Dress
Size: 0-32 | Materials: Satin | Care: Dry clean or wash on a delicate cycle
Sleek in style but spellbinding in execution, Revelry's highly-rated Skye dress is complete with a cowl neckline and knee-high slits. Coming in three different lengths (not to mention a midi option), 30 different colors, and sizes 0-32, it's the definition of the perfect satin dress for all.
For a Beach Wedding: Betsy & Adam Halter Print Wrap Dress
Size: 2P-14P | Materials: Chiffon | Care: Dry clean
Black-tie beach weddings can be tricky since you not only have to dress to impress but prepare for the elements as well. This flowy blue number from Betsy & Adam is easy to pair with block sandals or flats, a shrug to block the salty breeze, and a cocktail or two in the sand.
For a Glamorous Wedding: Revelry Ariel Convertible Dress
Size: 0-32 | Materials: Velvet | Care: Dry clean or wash on a delicate cycle
Coming in 25 different color options and three different lengths, this exquisite velvet dress from Revelry is exactly what any black-tie wedding is missing. Bonus: The sweetheart neckline has detachable off-the-shoulder sleeves giving you two jaw-dropping looks in one.
Best Empire Waist: Fame and Partners The Rocco Dress
Size: Custom | Materials: Satin | Care: Professional dry clean
Whether you're sporting a baby bump or just prefer a higher waist, this empire gown from Fame and Partners gives you plenty of breathing room while also serving serious style. There's even a dainty bow detail in the back to play off the boldness of the bright mint hue.
For a Garden Wedding: Fame and Partners The Lafayette Dress
Size: Custom | Materials: Georgette | Care: Professional dry clean
You can expect plenty of floral prints at a garden wedding, but this darker-hued georgette gown from Fame and Partners creates an air of formality over light-colored prints. The strappy tiered design can easily be worn with a jacket or shrug if the event turns chilly as the sun goes down.
Favorite Tulle Dress: Maya Petite Short Sleeve Maxi Dress
Size: 0-10 | Materials: Tulle, sequin | Care: Handwash
Tulle is a dreamy black-tie wedding choice, and we love how this V-neck dress from Maya marries the floaty fabric with a sequin embellished top. Short sleeves give you arm coverage and the deep navy hue ensures the formality of the look.
For a Glitzy Wedding: Revelry Camilla Geo Sequin Dress
Size: 0-32 | Materials: Sequin | Care: Dry clean or wash on a delicate cycle
From the fit-and-flare silhouette to the geometric sequin pattern and jewel-tone color options, there's so much to love about Revelry's Camilla gown. Pick your ideal length and illusion mesh skin tone for an exceptional black-tie look that's made with you in mind.
For a Boho Wedding: Revelry Cora Chiffon Dress
Size: 0-32 | Materials: Chiffon | Care: Dry clean or wash on a delicate cycle
Black-tie and boho don't always go hand-in-hand, but when they do, Revelry's Cora gown is a clear winner. Choose from over 40 color options to fit your personal style and compliment the plunging neckline and darling ruffle-capped sleeves.
Designer Favorite: Marchesa Notte Strapless Embellished Floral-Print Organza Gown
Size: 0-16 | Care: Dry clean
Light and bright fabrics with floral prints are what you typically think of when attending a summery black-tie event, and this Marchesa Notte gown completely hits the mark. The strapless gown is made even more sophisticated by the floaty tiers and gold bodice embellishments, plus the high-low hemline makes it perfect for petite wedding guests.
For an Outdoor Wedding: Revelry Harper Chiffon Faux Wrap Dress
Size: 0-32 | Materials: Chiffon | Care: Dry clean or wash on a delicate cycle
Chiffon is a fantastic outdoor wedding fabric choice, but selecting a dress style that can stand up to the weather is key. Revelry's Harper gown—which comes in 40+ shades—features flutter sleeves and a faux wrap design that will hold up against the wind should the elements crash the event.
What to Look for in Petite Black-Tie Wedding Guest Dresses
Finding the perfect petite dress isn't always easy, and with fewer options out there to choose from, you have to be diligent with your search. The best way to ensure you'll select a style that fits is to compare your measurements to that of the dress. Ideally, you want to find a look that doesn't have to be hemmed or altered, but since most formal gowns require a little tweaking, the closest you can get to your body's dimensions, the better. You can also search for standard-length midi dresses since they're more likely to hit the floor for folks under 5'4.
As for styles and colors, you'll want to consider the season, time, and location of the wedding. Typically, events in the evening are more formal than daytime celebrations. By looking at photos of the venue online, you can get a better understanding of the overarching aesthetic of the celebration. And by leaning into the season of the wedding, you can select colors and fabrics that feel appropriate. For example, you might select a velvet gown in burgundy for a fall wedding or a formal floral maxi dress for spring. In general, though, jewel tones, darker shades, and rich fabrics work well for most black-tie celebrations.
Will I still have to hem my dress if it is petite length?
While a petite-length dress will give you a better chance of avoiding hemming, that doesn't mean it's always the case. Especially if you're under 5'0, petite sizes might still be a little long.
Can I wear a cocktail dress to a back-tie wedding?
In general, shorter dresses aren't appropriate for black-tie weddings. The exception is if you're attending a daytime celebration. Since evening gowns should be reserved for evening celebrations, go with a longer cocktail dress (at or below the knees), a midi dress, or an elegant maxi gown.
How do I accessorize a black-tie wedding guest dress?
Black-tie weddings are your opportunity to wear your best shoes and jewelry. That said, it's good to stick with one or two main accessories, like a pearl necklace or chunky bracelet, to avoid an over-busy look. Shoe-wise, check the venue since outdoor celebrations can have uneven terrain. Lastly, be sure your dress pairs well with a jacket, coat, or shawl if the wedding is taking place in the cooler months.
Is it possible to be too dressed up for a black-tie wedding?
You actually can be too fancy at a black-tie wedding. The key here is wearing a formal gown that won't upstage the bride or look bridal in any way. Avoid huge cutouts, ivory, light gold and light blush hues, head-to-toe crystals, or overly loud embellishments. When in doubt, get approval from a bridesmaid or select a different look.
Why Trust Us
Contributing Expert Writer Rachel Varina is a full-time freelancer with over 10 years of editorial experience and six years of experience in the wedding industry. Her work has been featured in Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, Elite Daily, Betches, Zola, and more.