Are you getting ready to attend an afternoon fall wedding? You’ve got a lot on your plate—the planning, the invite list, and now the outfit! It can feel like a lot of pressure to find something that’s appropriate for the occasion, but we’re here to help. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite pieces for you to consider when preparing for this special occasion. And don’t forget: when it comes down to it, it’s not about what you wear—it’s about who is in attendance! It’s the start of fall, and you’re getting married. Congratulations! You’ve got a lot to do—not least of which is deciding what to wear. But don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite looks for events that take place in the afternoon, so you can look your best while also staying comfortable.
What to Wear to an Afternoon Fall Wedding
Wearing the right outfit to a wedding is a tricky thing. You want to look like you belong, but not too much—you don’t want to be mistaken for a guest when you’re actually there to make the bride feel like the most beautiful woman in the world.
So how do you know what’s appropriate? And what do you wear if it’s an outdoor fall wedding? If you’ve got a few tips up your sleeve, we’d love to hear them!
As the leaves start to change and fall, we know it’s time to break out our favorite fall outfits for all of the festivities.
Whether you’re attending a family wedding or heading to your best friend’s rehearsal dinner, we’ve got some tips on what to wear for every occasion!
Are you getting married in the summer? Congratulations!
As you’re planning your wedding, we know one of the most important things to consider is what to wear. You want to look great, but still be comfortable as you celebrate with friends and family. And let’s face it: weddings are usually pretty hot, so you don’t want to overheat in a dress made for winter.
We’ve got some ideas for what to wear when it’s warm out—and they don’t all involve tents and chunky sweaters!
When the going gets hot, it’s important to dress for the occasion.
Summer is here, and that means summer weddings are in full swing—and you’re probably going to be invited to one. Whether you’re attending a casual beachside wedding or a star-studded black-tie affair, there are some basic rules of thumb for what to wear that apply no matter what kind of event you’re heading to.
First things first: No matter how much fun you want to have, keep your outfit classy. The last thing you want is for your friends or family members who aren’t familiar with your sense of style and humor to question whether or not they should invite you back next year!
Second: Be comfortable. You’ll be standing around all day in the sun, so make sure whatever shoes or sandals you choose have good support and cushioning so that your feet don’t get tired too quickly.
Third: Think about fabrics! Summer weather can be as unpredictable as it is beautiful, so make sure whatever dress or skirt suits you best can be paired with a jacket or cardigan if it gets chilly at any point during the day (and most likely will).
There’s nothing like an afternoon summer wedding—except maybe an evening summer wedding.
No matter what time of day you’re getting married, though, the weather can be unpredictable. You never know when a summer shower will roll through and ruin your perfect hair and makeup. Or worse: Your dress!
That’s why it’s important to know what to wear to an evening/afternoon summer wedding. We’ve compiled some of our favorite looks here for you so that you can look great on your big day no matter how long or short it is!
What should guests wear to a summer wedding? Dresses in floral prints and bright colors are always a stylish and fun choice for warm-weather weddings. For summer weddings with a formal dress code, guests should consider wearing mid-length to floor-length gowns in light and breathable fabrics.
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If your mailbox is full of save-the-dates and wedding invitations for this summer, you certainly aren’t alone. By now, you probably know that 2022 is the year of the wedding boom; Our data indicates that over 2.6 million couples will get married this year, proving that weddings are back and better than ever. Of course, a majority of those nuptials will take place in the summer, because our insights also show that 80% of all weddings tend to fall between May and October. So, if you find yourself grappling with what to wear to a summer wedding, we’re here to help.
Navigating what to wear to a wedding as a guest can be a challenge in itself—you might find yourself trying to decipher a confusing dress code, or struggling to find outfit options that don’t break the bank. Add in the unpredictable weather patterns that accompany the summer season, and picking an outfit can feel like an impossible task. Not to worry: As your go-to source for all things wedding guest attire, we’ve created this ultimate guide that breaks down what to wear to a summer wedding.
We tapped a handful of style experts to share everything you need to know about summer wedding attire. Read up on the best styles, fabrics and silhouettes for the season, along with expert tips on how to understand the most creative summer wedding guest dress codes. And to make your shopping experience even easier, we’ve also rounded up the best retailers to buy summer wedding guest attire for men and women. Then, once you’re an expert on what to wear to a summer wedding, head over to our roundup of the best summer wedding guest dresses of this year to nail your outfit picks and earn yourself the title of “best dressed guest.”
First things first: Where do you even start when figuring out what to wear to a summer wedding? You might assume that wedding guest attire is synonymous with dark colors and rich fabrics, like silk or velvet—but those are the last things you’d want to wear on a balmy July afternoon. To avoid an unwanted fashion faux pas, here are five things to look for when it comes to picking an outfit for summer nuptials.
Airy Dresses & Skirts
Lightweight, breathable fabrics will be your saving grace when choosing what to wear to a summer wedding, especially when you’re attending a high-end affair in a hot—and potentially humid—climate. “Keep the heat in mind when it comes to dressing for a summer wedding,” suggests Rent the Runway’s Style Director Blaire Walsh. “Wear styles that allow for a bit of a breeze and are lighter in fabric such as printed charmeuse, jersey, crepe, and viscose or polyesters that give off a satin look.”
The formality of the event will typically indicate what silhouette you should opt for. (Think: long skirts and dresses for a formal wedding, or midi and mini skirts for casual and cocktail gatherings.) Beyond that, additional elements like patterns, unique colors and design details will help make your outfit summer-appropriate too. “Wedding guests are leaning into the summer heat by wearing strappy necklines, cutout details, unexpected hemlines, and bold florals,” Walsh adds.
Blended Suit Fabrics
If you’re in the market for formal summer wedding attire, you may need a new suit. To avoid getting too hot in your ensemble, look out for styles that have blended fabrics for added breathability. “Lightweight wool will provide the all-season wear that so many clients are looking for when investing in a suit,” explains Dean Handspiker, Vice President of Retail at Indochino. He notes that, while 100% wool is a reliable choice, a variety of blends are ideal for the summer season. “Wool-linen is a popular choice for our clients because it has the strength and durability of wool, but is blended with linen for a slightly lighter weight and a summer feel without wrinkled creases that may come with a 100% linen option. A wool-silk blend is also a great option, as the softness of silk is ideal for warmer destinations.”
Remember the “hot girl summer” phenomenon of 2021? Well, we have great news: It’s not going away any time soon. In fact, this mentality that centers around confident dressing is going to carry over into summer 2022 as well, especially when it comes to wedding guest attire. “All signs point to 2022 being even sexier than last year, the year of ‘hot girl summer’ that turned into ‘hot girl fall,'” Walsh tells us. “Sexy styles with mini hemlines, deep v-necklines, and fancy cropped sets continue to dominate trends.”
Summer will always be synonymous with bright colors and patterns—but this year, Walsh says that more shoppers are gravitating toward a different color palette. “While color is always on-trend during these months, basic black styles have dropped in popularity, with high shine metallics like gold and silver topping the charts as 2022’s most sought-after shades.”
Although you might assume a shiny dress is better for a winter wedding, consider shaking up tradition this summer. As guests prepare for a return to weddings, opting for an outfit outside of your traditional repertoire will put the fun back in fashion. “A ‘more is more’ attitude prevails when getting dressed up this season,” Walsh adds.
You can’t go wrong with florals when crafting your go-to wedding outfit formula. When choosing what to wear to a summer wedding, consider something like a maxi chiffon dress with a mini floral print for a look that’s fun and flirty. Or, if you tend to take more risks with your style, keep an eye out for oversized or abstract floral prints to make your outfit stand out in a crowd. The same is true of suiting too—look for button-up shirts or pocket squares with vibrant floral motifs to put together an outfit that’s seasonally appropriate.
Perhaps you’re shopping for a suit and don’t want to don a traditional black-and-white look this summer. Instead, Suitsupply Style Expert Marc Harmeling recommends trying something a little more neutral. “Earth tones like beige, light gray and greens are go-to seasonal colors,” he explains. “A natural color palette with beige and brown tones paired with a crisp white shirt freshens up any look.”
For guests looking to push the envelope a little more, Harmeling shares that brighter shades are also going to be big this year. “We’re seeing that pop colors like lilac, green and sky blue are doing really well among our clients.”
How to Decipher Summer Wedding Guest Dress Codes
While rising temps may have you in a more laid-back state of mind, summer wedding attire still has a sense of formality. Key factors such as the location, venue and dress code all indicate exactly what you should wear. But, what happens when the invite says something out of the ordinary, like tropical beach formal or whimsical garden party?
Deciphering summer wedding guest dress codes isn’t for the faint of heart. And, as it turns out, more events are likely going to skew formal in 2022. “After two years of waiting, weddings are back and guests are using events as their time to shine to look and feel their best,” Walsh says of Rent the Runway’s clientele. “With this excitement, the season’s wedding boom has brought on unprecedented demand for our most formal inventory. Utilization of black tie-formality items is up 150% from 2021, the highest it’s been since the 2018 holiday season, clearly indicating that guests want to go all out in show-stopping, high-formality pieces.”
It’s always best to check the couple’s wedding website for dress code details—and if you’re still confused, check out photos of the venue for a better understanding of what the vibe is. (What you wear to an afternoon backyard wedding will be quite different than what you wear to an evening fête at a luxury country club, for example.) For even more help, read up on the most common summer wedding guest attire dress codes below, and follow our style tips to find a great outfit for any occasion.
Formal Summer Wedding Attire
Formal summer wedding attire can encompass both white tie and black tie dress codes. Generally, you can never go wrong with a well-tailored tuxedo or glamorous long gown in material like chiffon or crepe. These days, though, the term “formal attire” can also mean a dress code that’s slightly less formal than black tie or black tie optional. This means that a tuxedo or floor-length gown might not be required, but the event is still formal enough for one to be appropriate. (Pro tip: If you aren’t sure how formal to dress, always choose the more formal option.)
Elements like a high-neckline, one-shoulder sleeve or a printed pocket square can all make your formal outfit great for summer. Elevate your ensemble with accessories like statement earrings, a bold headpiece, or luxe loafers (sans socks!) to complete the look.
Beach Formal Summer Wedding Attire
Choosing what to wear to a summer wedding at the beach or a seaside venue comes with even more factors to consider. Opt for garments made of breathable fabrics and unfussy accessories like flat sandals, sturdy block heels or boat shoes that will stand up to warm weather and uneven terrain. This summer wedding attire also opens up the door to a world of possibilities when it comes to prints; palm patterns, color blocking, oversized florals and rattan textures are all ideal elements of beach formal summer wedding attire. You might even consider wearing white bottoms with a contrasting blazer for the ultimate coastal look, “White pants embody summer and add an elegant touch to any look,” Harmeling suggests. “Pair them with a darker jacket for contrast or a lighter jacket for true beach vibes.”
Cocktail & Semi-Formal Summer Wedding Attire
Depending on the time of the event, you’ll want to dress somewhere between formal and casual for a semi-formal summer wedding. Wear darker, more formal hues for an evening soiree; opt for light colors and fabrics for daytime nuptials. Keep in mind that semi-formal still has the word “formal” in the description, so you’ll still want to look elegant and put together. Sure, you can keep your ball gown or tuxedo at home, but avoid dressing like you’re going to a low-key family barbeque. Breezy midi dresses and suits in alternative colors like dusty blue or forest green are all great options for a summer wedding with this summer dress code.
Casual Summer Wedding Attire
Generally, casual wedding attire means just about anything goes—but denim, shorts and tank tops are probably not appropriate unless they’re specifically noted as acceptable. Regardless of how casual the summer wedding may be, it’s still best to skip the jeans and flip-flops to be sure you’re appropriately dressed for the occasion. For the purposes of wedding wear, assume this dress code means business casual to be on the safe side. Consider something like a jersey mini dress, or chinos and a polo shirt.
In addition to suits and tuxedos, menswear brand Bonobos also offers a variety of outfit selections for less-formal weddings too, like blazers, chinos, button-ups, and colorful printed dress shirts. You’ll even find outfit accessories too, like ties, pocket squares and belts to complete your look.
Given that 2022 is the year of the wedding boom, it may be time to invest in a custom suit you can wear for years—especially if you’re going to be a frequent guest. “This year, the wedding season is going to be bigger than it has ever been, so it’s a great idea to invest in a custom suit for multiple occasions,” Handspiker says. Indochino does just that: The brand, which is accessible online or at select Nordstrom stores across the US, specializes in made-to-measure formal wear at great prices. “In customizing a suit, you get to select all of the details, large and small, such as lapel sizes, personalized lining, monograms, and even button and thread colors,” he adds. “These elements make the suit your own—you won’t see it on anyone else at the event because it was made just for you.”
When you aren’t sure what to wear to a summer wedding, you can’t go wrong with a trip to Nordstrom. The big-box retailer has over 300 locations across the country, which means you’re never too far from a psychical location. But even if shopping online is more your style, you’ll find tons of wedding-worthy outfits for summer weddings, from black tie suits to botanical dress shirts.
Fact: Suits aren’t just for men. This philosophy is at the forefront of SuitShop, a brand that offers accessibly-priced suits and tuxedos for everyone starting at $194. Their styles come in a variety of trendy colors for guests who like to be a little more adventurous with fashion, from dusty blue to burnt orange and rich green. (Psst: They’re also the brand that suited Netflix’s Love Is Blind Season 2 couples on their wedding days!)
Need a wedding suit, pronto? Check out Suitsupply’s diverse collection of both classic and contemporary styles that are simply perfect for guests. And if you’re feeling creative, try taking advantage of the brand’s unique customization program to make your guest attire uniquely your own. “A great option for personalizing is our Custom Made Program, through which you can design your own suit from scratch,” Harmeling explains. “Ultimately, the best advice is tailored to the individual, so, when needed, you can also book an appointment with one of our style advisors in your nearest Suitsupply store.”
Where to Buy Summer Wedding Guest Attire for Women
Guest wearing light blue dress at summer wedding
Lauren Dobish Photography
Instead of frantically Googling “what to wear to a summer wedding” days before your event, try browsing these five retailers ahead of time to find the trendiest summer wedding guest attire for women.
Abercrombie & Fitch
If it seems like everyone online is raving about the renaissance of Abercrombie & Fitch, we’re here to say the hype is justified. The buzzy retailer is no longer what it once was back in your middle school days. Now, A&F is proving to be a go-to destination for wedding guests looking for great attire without breaking the bank. (There is a reason we collaborated with them on a Best Dressed Guest collection, after all.)
Rent the Runway
Amid the year of the wedding boom, it just might not be feasible to buy all of your wedding guest outfits—and that’s exactly why Rent the Runway will be your best friend. “Fashion shouldn’t come at the expense of your entire wallet, especially when attending back-to-back weddings,” Walsh says. “Not only is renting budget-friendly but it’s also a more sustainable approach to getting dressed. With nearly 800 designers, renters gain access to the ultimate shared designer closet with endless options to choose from starting at $30 for a 4-day rental.”
What to Wear to an Afternoon Wedding
A wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and you want to look like the best version of yourself. But it’s hard to know what that means!
If you’re like most people, you probably haven’t been to many weddings. And if you have, your vision for what’s appropriate probably comes from watching other people who look nothing like you. That’s why we created this guide: to give you some guidance on what to wear so that when you show up at a wedding, you can feel comfortable, confident, and ready to make it an awesome day for everyone involved.
There are only a few things more important than a wedding, and one of them is your outfit.
Weddings are an opportunity to shine—which is why it’s so important to get it right.
It’s not just about looking great, though. Your dress can be a statement about what you stand for, who you are as a person, or even what you want your future to look like. It’s like wearing a billboard on your chest (or back).
So how do you make sure that billboard is as effective as possible? By doing some research and making smart decisions!
For the daytime wedding, think dressy or semi-formal attire. This is the time to wear a nice colorful dress or suit. Wear pumps or dressy flats. If this is for a summer or late spring wedding, you may wear nice sandals but never flip flops, unless it’s an ultra-casual beach wedding.
WEDDING GUEST ATTIRE GUIDELINES
A visual guide of what to wear to every kind of wedding!
WHAT TO WEAR TO A WEDDING
Wedding guest attire guidelines can be tricky, but we’ll decode the dress codes for what to wear to a casual wedding, a beach wedding, a semi-formal wedding, and the most formal events.
When your next wedding invitation arrives, guests typically get all the details of who, when, and where – but the specifics of the other “w”s–namely, what to wear to a wedding are sometimes left for guests to interpret between the lines.
A VISUAL GUIDE: WEDDING DRESS CODES DECODED
WHY FOLLOW THE WEDDING DRESS CODE?
It is a sign of respect for the couple and the event to get dressed up for a wedding, and your attire should always be respectful, conservative, and appropriate. But keep in mind, the rules of etiquette were designed to help one feel more at ease and comfortable in all social situations. So simply remember your cheerful presence at the wedding is what counts here, and you’re likely to have a good time no matter what you decide to wear.
WEDDING GUEST ATTIRE GUIDELINES FOR ANY TYPE OF WEDDING
BEFORE 4 PM
In general, daytime weddings are more casual, so lighter fabrics, festive colors, and less-formal attire is the rule.
For women, a nice daytime dress, skirt, top, or jumpsuit are good choices.
For men, a well-tailored suit in a mid-to-dark neutral color like gray, blue, or charcoal is appropriate.
AFTER 4 PM
In the case of evening weddings, more formal styles, longer dresses, and gowns special occasion fabrics are appropriate for women
Men should wear darker suits in navy, black, gray.
Although sometimes a white dinner jacket or suit in a fun color can work too! We go into deep detail in our wedding attire style boards
Above all, the wearer should also always chose something that fits with one’s own personal style as well as the requested dress code.
WHAT NEVER TO WEAR TO A WEDDING
JEANS, HATS, NON-COLLARED SHIRTS
The standard rules of being well-dressed for a wedding still apply, so just like a restaurant or private club, the warning of ripped jeans, baseball hats, and non-collared shirts aren’t appropriate –unless it’s at the request of the couple that you dress down. (You may be asking, do people really wear that? But I have been to weddings where I have seen all of these things recently so I have edited this post just to address this!)
WHITE OR OFF-WHITE
Please don’t wear white or off-white dresses or anything that could perhaps photograph as white. Head- to-toe white suits or jumpsuits are also off-limits, too. Pale pastels like the palest blues, greens, yellows, grays, nudes, and blushes all have a tendency to look lighter than they are in photos. A white wrap or sweater to throw on if you get chilly is generally fine, especially if it’s after the ceremony. Prints with some white elements are ok but just be sure the colors are much more predominant than any white background. We wrote a whole post about wearing white to a wedding, but we’re sure you get it — please, just don’t!
ANYTHING TOO REVEALING OR TOO SHORT
And of course, don’t wear anything too short or revealing, and don’t look unkempt or wrinkled. If you have to fight with your outfit to keep parts of your body you’d rather not show, it might not be the right choice.
ANYTHING TOO FORMAL OR GLAMOUROUS FOR THE REQUESTED DRESS CODE
This means, that if it’s a casual outdoor wedding, it’s not the time to break out your favorite super glam sequin maxi dress or the tux you still have from your own wedding. You never want to outshine the couple. Try to read the tone of the invitation to get a glimpse into the style of the wedding.
THE WEDDING PARTY COLORS AND STYLES
It’s sometimes hard to know this, but sometimes you can guess at a potential color scheme from the invitation and other elements. It’s not the end of the world, but it can be awkward if you’re wearing exactly the same outfit as the wedding party. For instance if you wear a suit like the groomsmen and the same color tie – you will probably get mistaken as one of the gang. For women, we think it’s really hard to completely avoid most bridesmaid dress colors because popular colors blue, pink, and green make great colors for wedding guest dresses too. However, if you know for sure what the color scheme is or what style of dress the bridesmaids are wearing, try to avoid coming too close to that style and color with your own attire.
HEAD TO TOE BLACK, (BUT NOT FOR THE REASON YOU THINK!)
It’s more than ok to wear a black dress to a wedding in my book, in fact, it’s pretty common! However, dressing in a non-festive black outfit–for instance, a very simple work-type black sheath dress or a black shirt and pants is a bad idea. Why? Because usually, a tasteful all-black outfit is the uniform of choice for the catering staff, photographers, DJ, and other vendors who are working the event. You don’t want to have to spend the reception explaining you’re a guest – so add a little bit of color and sparkle to your outfit.
RED – IN SOME CASES
We think burgundy and berry reds are perfect and very tasteful colors to wear to a wedding. However, some of the more fiery red dresses with a hot orange hue to them can be a little attention-grabbing, especially if the dress or suit itself makes a huge statement with its general silhouette. We still love them and even recommend some of them in our posts, but in some cultural areas of the US, and perhaps some couples see a red dress as a no-no. We leave this to your judgment on your personal feeling on whether red would be festive or offensive in your own situation. Here are more details on red dresses you can wear to a wedding!
Even after those general wedding guest attire guidelines, there can still be many gray areas. We’ll go into much more detail about wedding dress codes below!
Quickly find attire for your next wedding by dress code, or read below for the guidelines of what to wear!
Dressy Casual Semi Formal Formal or Black Tie
Winter Summer Spring Fall
Daytime Afternoon Evening Semi Formal Evening Formal
WHAT TO WEAR TO A DAYTIME WEDDING
If both the wedding ceremony and reception will start and end before 5, it’s a daytime wedding! Morning or early afternoon weddings are usually slightly more casual. (But if your invite still requests formal attire, then certainly defer to that! )
In general, lighter colors and more casual styles and fabrics like floral prints, soft chiffons, and even cotton will work for daytime casual or dressy casual weddings. Here’s a bit more decoding the daytime dress code.
WHAT IS CASUAL WEDDING ATTIRE?
While this type of dressing sounds the most relaxed, it can also be the most open-ended, and, therefore, sometimes the most mystifying! The venue may help you better determine the best level of formality –or lack thereof. Usually, this casual style is reserved for a morning or daytime wedding in an outdoor or informal venue.
For Women: A skirt and top or nice pants with a pretty top, and a casual sundress or casual cocktail would certainly be appropriate.
For Men: If it’s a very casual event, just a nice collared or button-down shirt in a short or long sleeve, worn with a tie, and some dress pants might suffice. However, unless it’s a casual outdoor wedding or a beach wedding, usually a little more formality is good. If you’re sure it’s casual enough that a full suit isn’t required, try a navy or subtly patterned blazer and dress pants with a crisp collared shirt with no tie, or if you forgo that tie, vest, and shirt can work. After all, it’s a wedding, and still calls for a little more formality. So err on the side of being overdressed; it’s easy enough to take off the tie or blazer if you feel like you’ve gone overboard.
For the Feet: Heeled or structured sandals (not flip-flops) for footwear for women are fine, and dress shoe like a loafer or similar style would be nice for men. Sneakers or sneaker-like shoes should be avoided.
What not to wear: jeans, tank tops, t-shirts, stretchy pants, cargo shorts, flip-flops, and athletic clothing would still be a poor choice, unless specifically approved.
It is almost always better to err slightly on the side of being overdressed, so dress as you would for meeting with clients in a business casual setting. And, if you accidentally go dressed too casually, as long as you have a smile on and your best manners, you’ll probably be just fine. Find a casual wedding look, and check out The Wedding Guest Boutique
BEACH WEDDING ATTIRE (CASUAL AND FORMAL)
This style of wedding sounds soothing and peaceful at first, but can be very intimidating to dress for. Again, let the venue, weather, season, and time of day be your guide. Are you headed to the local State Beach at sunset for an informal exchange of vows, or are you going to be at a four-star hotel’s private beach club, with elegant cabanas and white-gloved waiters surrounding you?
If it’s the former, wearing approximately the same thing as a casual wedding – but with a beachy twist and beach-appropriate fabrics should be fine.
Women can also wear a beachy look with a linen or cotton shirt and nice pants, or a pretty, light, flowy skirt, tunic dress, or casual sundress.
Men can wear a festive linen shirt, a cotton short-sleeved shirt or button-down, or a tasteful tropical printed shirt. I’d pair this with dress pants in linen, cotton, or twill, or – if you have the knees, socks, and courage for it– Bermuda shorts.
If it’s a more formal venue, women can wear a sundress, a casual maxi dress, or beachy-but-elegant skirt and top, and make the look a little bit dressier with some dazzling accessories.
At a more formal beach affair, men’s shirts should be of elegant linen or crisp cotton. A summer suit or sport coat in madras or seersucker or linen would fit well here. A tie is not required, but some of the lovely preppy or beachy print ties would certainly look wonderful, just be sure to wear them with a shirt with a full-length sleeve.
Because of the sand, you’ll want to wear flat shoes with some grip in case there’s a slippery rock step or two for you to navigate. Or, be prepared to swap out your heels for some flip flops, and then change back if you find yourself on solid ground again.
Find attire for a beach wedding guest, or check out The Wedding Guest Boutique
This designation is a bit of a contradiction but if you combine elements that are a little bit dressy with casual you should be just fine.
For instance, a cotton dress in a formal cut will work, or a chiffon dress made in a casual style would also be fine. Overall, I take this dressing designation to mean more festive, elegant attire. Casual fabrics like cotton or knits are acceptable here if the overall style of dress is correct. The time of day and venue again will be a good guide here. If it’s daytime, then a sundress would be fine. If it’s evening, then wear cocktail attire in darker, richer colors, and fabrics like silk or satin in a casual length and cut. Make it dressy with more accessories and a simple dress. Find a Dressy Casual look or check out The Wedding Guest Dress Boutique
WHAT IS A SEMI-FORMAL WEDDING DRESS CODE?
A semi-formal dress is an evening style of dress with formal fabrics like a satin, chiffon, silk, and a bit of beading. A rich fabric like velvet or velveteen in the winter months would also be very nice.
Generally, the dress length would be cocktail length—in other words, just above, or at the knee; or a little longer. A tea-length, midi length, or a longer, ankle-skimming hemline–like a maxi dress would also be perfect, as long as it is not an overly formal silhouette or material–save those ball gown style dresses for the fully formal wedding invites you receive!
Find a Semi-Formal look or check out The Wedding Guest Dress Boutique
Black tie optional dress code, is formal but with the option of black tie. I would assume that the wedding party will be wearing tuxedos and formal attire, but the guests need not exactly meet that level of formality.
For the women, a dressy cocktail dress, jumpsuit or sleek pantsuit, or a long formal dress or long skirt and top is appropriate for black-tie optional attire. You can see more details below in Black Tie required.
For male guests, you have easy access to a tuxedo, by all means, wear black tie. However, there will be probably many other men in a dark suit and dark tie or bow tie and these gentlemen will look just as elegant and appropriate as the dapper tuxedo-wearing folks. Find a Black Tie Optional look or Find a black tie optional wedding guest dress.
FORMAL ATTIRE FOR A WEDDING
Formal attire, to me, is nearly the same as black tie optional, but I also think this implies slightly less pressure for the men to wear a tuxedo. A dark navy or black suit, and crisp white shirt, with a dark, or neutral tie is appropriate here. Look at Formal Styling ideas or find a formal dress for a wedding,
Women should wear an elegant cocktail dress or full-length dress, and beautiful real jewelry or costume jewelry. Sparkling accessories are encouraged for formal events!
A BLACK TIE WEDDING DRESS CODE
This one clears up any ambiguity for the men. In this case, a tuxedo in a dark color is in order with the other elements: either vest, or cummerbund, or suspenders, and appropriate bow tie or tie. In some cases, a well-cut black suit and black tie will do!
Women should generally wear a full-length gown for black tie dress codes, but those rules are changing. Many styles of types of mid-length, cocktail, or tiered skirt length are usually appropriate if the material, cut, or embellishment is highly formal. A long or ball gown style skirt paired with a dressy top is also a great look.
If dresses aren’t your thing, a formal pantsuit or women’s style tuxedo or formal jumpsuit is also appropriate, especially if a skirt or gown isn’t part of your personal style.
If you know it’s a very formal event, to be truly correct, full-length is the standard. Find a Black Tie Look or check out The Wedding Guest Dress Boutique
FAVORITE FORMAL LOOKS
WHITE TIE DRESS
This is the most formal type of wedding, so you should adhere to the rules on this one. I had to consult Emily Post again on this since these types of weddings are rare in my life.
Women should wear a floor-length, formal evening gown (No knee-length dresses here!)
Men should wear a tailcoat with a white vest, white shirt, and tie with white gloves (gray is an acceptable choice as well), and fine black shoes without laces. Find a White Tie Look
CULTURAL ATTIRE AT A WEDDING
If the wedding party will be wearing some sort of cultural dress that is not your own culture–for instance, kilts or saris you could wear something that might complement those other guests’ styles, as long as you are sure you are not appropriating cultural dress.
For instance, if you know the groomsmen will be wearing kilts, perhaps wearing a tie with a bit of plaid is a way to join in, without upstaging the attire of the wedding party or misappropriating cultural dress.
If your own religion or heritage states that you wear a certain type of dress to an occasion, as long as you’re sure it’s in keeping with the event and won’t cause offense or detract from the event, then I’m sure most couples would welcome this expression of respect and festivity. I’m eager to hear first-hand stories on cultural dress, so if anyone has experience here, please let me know.
GETTING MORE INFORMATION ON WHAT TO WEAR IF THE WEDDING INVITATION IS VAGUE
If the invitation is vague, and there’s no wedding website, getting more information on what to wear can also be gleaned from the wedding party. They are likely to know the attire in advance.
I would avoid asking couple getting married about the dress code unless you are already in frequent communication. Please especially don’t ask the couple for details within a few days of the wedding. The couple has so much going on already! One of the roles of the wedding party is to support and attend to other details –like assisting guests with questions like this!
HOW TO FIND OUT THE WEDDING DRESS CODE
If you know a member of the wedding party, ask them about the dress code. Attending the showers, and bachelorette parties, are good avenues for getting in touch with the bridal party. Asking someone in the wedding party about what to wear, also help to ensure you pick a dress that is complementary to the wedding theme. It will also help you avoid wearing a dress that is similar to the wedding party. It’s an easy mistake to make since many guests and bridesmaids shop at similar stores.
If you don’t know the couple — perhaps you are a date of a friend — then you might call the venue or check their Instagram of other weddings to see what type of dress is appropriate. Sticking with a classic semi-formal look is usually a good rule!