Dress Codes De-Coded: Wedding Guest Get-ups

September is one of the busiest months for weddings so a quick refresher on what to wear is definitely in order as those ceremonies approach. One universal truth? Jewelry is a great way to bridge the gap in any dress code. Elevate a more casual look, add a demure touch to an edgier outfit, match your style to the wedding theme or bring your style to a more themed look. Plus, it’s easy enough to pack for emergency upgrades if you aren’t sure how formal to go. Below, what to put on for any dress code.




Casual Wedding Attire



Sound simple? Think again–it can often be trickier picking out just the right ensemble for a casual wedding. Some general tips:


Gents: A button down (short sleeves or long) or polo shirt, dress pants or khakis, canvas shoes, boat shoes, or casual loafers. A smart accessory or two, like a bracelet or ring, helps make the look appear polished, not lazy.


Ladies: A nice blouse with a skirt or dress slacks, or a simple dress, like a sundress, shirt dress, or shift dress, that isn’t too short or clingy (just above the knee is about as high as you want to go). Use accessories as your secret weapon–have a few pieces that can be stored in your bag or taken out depending on the other guests. Flats are fine, just no rubber slippers, sneakers, or other casual styles.




Semi-Formal Wedding Attire


One step up from casual. Both of the outfits featured above could probably swing it in this setting, but it’s better to be on the safe side and dress up.


Gents: A suit and tie. You have a bit more freedom with color and texture in this dress code versus formal, but generally speaking stick to lighter shades earlier in the day and darker shades later. Good shoes are a must.


Ladies: A cocktail dress that’s not too short or too tight–anywhere from tea length to just above the knee is fine–or a more casual maxi. Heels are preferred, although you can pull off flats provided they are of exceptional quality. If you’re worried that your dress is perhaps too formal, stick with subtle, classic jewelry, like a tennis bracelet. If you’re worried it’s too casual, go for more sophisticated pieces. Options include a matching set of earrings and necklace, or pearls, which bring instant class to just about any outfit.


Formal/ Black Tie Optional


Formal Wedding Attire



Here’s where things get more serious, and you have to worry less about being overdressed and more about being underdressed.


Gents: A dark suit or a tuxedo, if possible. Shoes, tie, the works. Cuff links make it look like you know your way around formalwear, and other touches, like a ring, further coordinate the look.


Ladies: Long dresses are a go, though shorter styles can work in dressy fabrics and darker hues. Bring back some color–and personality–with gemstone jewelry.


Black Tie


Black Tie Wedding Attire



Break out the fancy stuff– this is the real deal!


Gents: Tux, bow tie, cumberbund, cufflinks, and some well-shined shoes.


Ladies: An evening gown or fancy cocktail dress in dark colors–and plenty of sparkle! Careful  not to compete with the bride, but this is when your sparkliest, most opulent baubles get to come out and play.


White Tie


White Tie Wedding Attire



Congratulations–you’ve been invited to the most formal of all events!


Gents: A tux, tails, white vest, tie–the works. You can even wear gloves, if you’d like.


Ladies: Floor length gown in brown, black, or a very dark neutral color. This is the most formal thing you can possibly go to, so don’t hold back with the jewelry!


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