I’ll admit, I haven’t always felt like an expert in what to wear to a wedding. When I worked at Saks Fifth Avenue 16 years ago, my well-meaning coworkers convinced me to purchase a beautiful, midi-dress to my then boyfriend’s cousin’s summer wedding. The only problem? It was IVORY. Everything in me said this was the wrong choice and yet, I took their advice rather than trusting my own instincts.
By some miracle, I still received compliments on the dress (from the bride’s friends, no less) and my then-boyfriend still became my current-day husband. So although it wasn’t a complete disaster of an evening, I felt self-conscious the entire night. It’s still my biggest style regret to date. Wedding guest etiquette 101: don’t wear white (or off-white) to a wedding.
In order to help you avoid similar regret or self-doubt over what to wear as a wedding guest, I’ve compiled a complete, personalized guide full of timeless style tips. Whether you’re most concerned about staying true to your signature style, dressing appropriately for the occasion, flattering your body type, or rolling all of these factors into one flawless look for your next formal event, you’ll want to keep reading.
As always, enjoy the following affiliate-link-free images for endless and ongoing outfit inspiration.
Wedding Guest Attire To Suit Your Signature Style
Natural style personalities generally like to keep things low-frills and functional. You want to be able to move comfortably while looking effortlessly stylish all night. So look for simple silhouettes, moveable fabrics, and functional construction details. To finish off your look, keep your makeup minimal and your hair low-maintenance.
If your signature style is classic, your best bets for formal attire include clean lines, timeless silhouettes (think A-line and sheath), and solids. Opt for simple jewelry, understated makeup, and a neat and polished hairstyle.
Channel your inner Grace Kelly and dress yourself up in an elegant, full-length, silk gown for an elegant evening look. Opt for luxe embellishments, delicate draping, and an old Hollywood flair to create a flawless impression.
What better occasion than a wedding to show off your romantic style? If you gravitate toward all things feminine, consider dresses adorned with lace, florals, ruffles, or bows. Delicate details are your ticket to a breathtakingly beautiful look. Sweep your hair into a soft braid or touchable curls for a photo finish.
Let your sultry-side loose with a touchable silk slip, cut-out, or backless dress. My best advice for an appropriately alluring wedding guest look? Less is more. If you opt for a plunging neckline, keep your hemline long. If you want to show a little (or a lot 😉) of leg, opt for more coverage up top. Stand out with just a hint of sex appeal and avoid overshadowing ─or offending─ the bride on her special day.
When you have a creative style, anything goes! Put a unique flair on your wedding guest look with unique patterns, playful styling, vintage details, and unexpected shoes or accessories.
Bold textures, draping, colors, and prints ─oh my! A wedding or formal event is a fabulous opportunity to showcase your dramatic, trendsetting style. Make an entrance with exaggerated silhouettes, highly saturated hues or an eye-catching print, and bold hair and makeup to boot.
Wedding Guest Attire To Fit The Occasion
Black-tie events call for a full-length gown. End of story. Choose a sleek or exaggerated hemline and detailing to suit your personal style and figure (keep reading!).
I love a great midi-dress for formal occasions. This dress length is more approachable than a full-length, black-tie gown, while still elevated from your typical cocktail number. When in doubt, this is a perfect place to land for your next wedding guest dress.
Cocktail parties and weddings are well-matched with dresses that fall at or above the knee, while maintaining a polished and sophisticated feel. You can have a lot of fun with cocktail attire, opting for a vibrant color or embellishments. Just make sure you still feel appropriately dressed up for the occasion.
Semi-formal occasions are the perfect time to wear that stunning jumpsuit you’ve been saving in the back of your closet. You can also slip into a less formal midi or cocktail-length dress that suits your personal style. Effortlessly polished and put together is definitely the vibe for this type of event.
Bring on the cotton! Casual weddings call for easy going and informal attire. Typically, these events happen during daytime hours. So breezy sundresses and boho maxis fit the bill. Whatever makes you feel pretty and put together.
Beach chic. My best recommendation for a formal destination wedding is a soft, flowy maxi or midi number. Opt for a bright color or floral print for a playful (and totally locale appropriate) pop. With beach weddings, you can also have fun with midriff-bearing separates, jumpsuits, and sexy slip dresses. Just be sure to dress your look up with the right jewelry and stick to flat-soled shoes like espadrilles, strappy sandals, or wedges, because… sand. 😉
Wedding Guest Attire To Flatter Your Body Type
If your body’s natural shape resembles a triangle, you’re in good company. I, too, have hips wider than my shoulders. And a helpful way to create balance between our upper and lower bodies is to extend the length of the shoulders visually with puffed, flutter, or off-the-shoulder sleeves. It’s also a good idea to break up the width around your hips using diagonal hemlines, like the Black Halo and Show Me Your Mumu examples above.
If your shoulders are broader than your hips, it’s likely you have an inverted triangle body shape. In this case, you want to add volume to your lower half. Try swing and ball skirts or wearing lighter colors (which generally make backgrounds appear larger) on the bottom. You can also break up the width of your shoulders with halter or deep V necklines and wide straps.
You’ll know your inherent body shape is rectangular if your shoulders and hips are about the same width and your waist is undefined. Often, rectangular figures appear long in the torso. So it’s important to break up that area of your body to create killer proportions and bring definition to your waist. Consider dresses with lots of volume above and/or below the waist to create interest and draw the eye up and down. Or fully embrace your shape and emphasize the long, lean line of your body for a dramatic effect.
Hourglass figures can pull off a wide range of dress silhouettes with ease. But I highly recommend flaunting your perfectly balanced shoulders and hips and defined waist with a simple, body-hugging, waist-accentuating design.
Oval shapes generally have well-balanced shoulders and hips with an undefined or wider abdomen. If this resonates with you, look for empire-waist dresses with full skirts that flow over and flatter your waistline. Flutter or puffed sleeves bring beautiful balance up top and deep V-necklines can help break up the space around your midsection.
So what do you think? Which type of wedding guest dress is perfect for your next event?
If you’re looking for even more personalized recommendations, I invite you to head here next to find out how we can work together one-on-one and ensure you’re always the best dressed guest!
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