As the most single girl in the office, it was the obvious choice that I write with authority about wedding guest attire. No, the irony is not lost. But, like Katherine Heigl in 27 Dresses, I’ve put aside my own relationship woes to celebrate the happy unions of others. And most importantly, to do it in style.
Along with Bellinis, budding blooms and bare legs, May brings with it a plethora of invites to events that celebrate everlasting love. It’s wedding season, and you have nothing to wear? Fret not, we’re decoding the most common invite dress-codes and giving you all the outfit inspo you need to be the best dressed guest.
- White Tie
Likely the least common wedding dress code, but nonetheless still relevant, white tie is as formal as it gets. Standard procedure calls for a maxi gown and accompanying heels. In this instance, it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed, so don’t fear opting for a formal style. Dress like you are going to meet the President, except the president is actually your old friend Sally from college who is now marrying the love of her life aka Trent, the guy that lived three doors down from you in the dorms, in a classy sunset wedding.
Don’t let the thought of formalwear intimidate you. Instead take inspiration from your favorite runway looks. The catwalks at Valentino, Giambiattista and Dior are laden each season with tulle, embroidery and floor-grazing hemlines. Opt for a gown with a dark floral motif, (the investment will carry you from season to season with ease) that is both feminine and sophisticated. Light, flowy textures are ideal for summer seasons and a dark color scheme feels just right for nighttime. Finish the look with a simple platform sandal and a flute of champagne.
A garden wedding is exactly as it sounds – in a garden. The most idealistic of summer weddings, this is usually set outdoors, weather permitting. For those who love a good theme party, run with it. Up the feminine ante and deck yourself in dainty flowers to compliment your setting. The only rule: no flower crowns. Yet, your look need not be overly saccharine; if you go for florals, avoid the frills.
Get creative with your ensemble and forgo the typical dress option. A two-piece co-ord is an excellent and super flattering choice. Pick a top that hugs the body and a full skirt that cinches in at the waist. It both compliments your curves and shows that you’re not afraid to take a risk. Pro-tip: you’ll avoid looking too dolled up and sinking into the grass when donning a flat sandal.
Cocktail, also known as semi-formal, is the hybrid of wedding guest dressing. Yes, you can go long, but avoid beading and embellishment. Want to wear something short? Sure, just make sure it has some bling. A cocktail reception is just as it sounds, best served chilled and with a hemline that falls mid-calf. You can’t go wrong with a sophisticated midi.
Your choice of dress should feel playful and flirty. Keep in mind the fine line between too-tight bodycon ready for the club and dull secretary afraid of showing skin. Pick a midi dress with one of these accents: bold color, off-the-shoulder neckline or subtle embellishments. Your choice should feel grown up, yet fun (fyi nothing that you could see yourself rocking on NYE). Footwear should be simple and complimentary.
Woman Cold-shoulder Ruffled Metallic Fil Coupé Silk-blend Chiffon Gown Gold Size 12
Easy, breezy, beautiful, beach wedding. We all have that one friend who insists upon throwing a destination wedding on some tiny island in the Caribbean. Which is great, but it can also be expensive. Before getting hung up on the cost, look at a destination wedding as a long weekend getaway that you otherwise might not take. There are pros and cons, tbh, but go ahead and be a glass-half-full kind of girl.
Keeping in mind the aforementioned cost, it only seems natural (and fiscally responsible) to keep your wedding guest attire simple. A beach wedding just screams effortless minimalism, so you are in luck! Your locale will likely be warm and humid, so fabrics like linen and silk, that would in any other environment wrinkle, are both chic and climate controlled. Choose silhouettes with minimal designs in vivid hues; a body hugging midi dress or even a chic, color-blocked jumpsuit will fit the bill. You can’t go wrong with a chic block-heeled mule, both simple and sand proof.
5. Black Tie
Glam, glam, glam. Black tie, like its counterpart White Tie, is ultra formal. But, we think it’s a little more fun. Yes, standard rulebooks say you should wear a gown, but have we ever listened to the rules? Have fun with formality and choose an elegant style that allows for dazzlingly adventurous accessories. Think Oscars red carpet with a little bit of Studio 54 disco.
Before you commit to something ankle-length, know that you can also get away with a short dress, as long as it doesn’t fall shorter than above the knee. If the look says opulent elegance, you will be golden. We love experimenting with textures and shapes in monochrome colorways; sequins and feathers are a go-to. Pick a dress in a muted hue that has embellished accents and pair it with a shoe that is equally sparkling. You will be sure to dazzle on the dance floor.
Your best friend’s getting married at City Hall? This one’s gonna be fun… A casual wedding is great, because it offers you the most flexibility with dress code. Dying to wear that slinky slip dress with a sharp-shouldered blazer? Go for it. That new powder pink power suit you impulse bought but have yet to wear? Now is your chance! Casual is code for comfortable, so dress in what makes you feel most confident without any guilt.
While the bride and groom forgo a traditional wedding, we suggest you hop on the bandwagon and wear something unexpected. We love a good summer suit for extreme outfit versatility. As an investment, a two-piece gives you outfit mileage from season to season. And depending on the weather, you can stay buttoned up in a chic blazer and ankle-tapered pants, or casually toss aside your jacket revealing a slip of a lacey cami hidden underneath. Go for materials that are breathable – cotton, linen, silk – over weighty wool. A 90’s-inspired sandal in bright, optic white tops off the look and is city slicker approved.