While every wedding is different, there are certain things that are still inappropriate at any of them. Whether you are a man or a woman dressing appropriately for a wedding can be a struggle. You might wear a uniform or follow an office dress code Monday through Friday, and on the weekend, you like to have a little fun with fashion. However, your friend's wedding is not the place to test drive your new romper or rock those $200 jeans you just splurged on.
After all, what works for a backyard wedding might not be appropriate for a church wedding or vise versa, but there are a few things that should never be worn to any wedding, no matter how formal, informal or uniquely themed it may be.
There are a few gray areas when it comes to appropriate wedding guest attire. Maybe that cocktail dress has a questionable hemline or it might be the same color the bridal party is wearing. There are plenty of clothing options that will turn you into an unintentional eyesore, but you don't have to earn the ire of every couple you know.
Keep in mind that even if it is something that is always in style and looks flattering on almost everybody, there are still certain things that should never be worn to a wedding.
It’s not your wedding, so why are you dressing like a bride? Are you actively attempting to cause anger and anguish? If so, you are certainly going about it the right way. It’s not that you can’t wear any white whatsoever, accents or prints are fine, just stay way from anything overly bridal…especially white lace. A simple, off-white floral print dress or skirt should be fine, but make sure your white outfit of choice is dramatically different from that of the bride. If she's wearing a full-skirted gown, your slender, white evening gown with color accents shouldn't pose much of a problem. If she's wearing a simple dress pick another color. Even if you look your best in white, you won't care what color you're wearing when she's staring daggers into your eyes instead of saying "I do.”
A Pants Suit
You're going to a wedding, not an office meeting. Drop your business persona and show your style in anything that would look out of place with a coffee stain. This is a celebration of two people choosing to unite their lives together forever, so the least you can do is find something that isn't stuffy and businessy. We don’t just mean just your standard black or charcoal suit. This applies to pretty pastel skirt-jacket combinations as well. They work for a dinner event, but they really set the wrong tone for a wedding. If even Hillary Clinton can take a day away from her standard pants suit to wear a vibrant dress on Chelsea's big day, then you can do it too.
Sweats of Any Kind
It doesn’t matter if you have legally changed your name to Juicy Couture, loungewear is never appropriate attire for a wedding. Not even a little bit. Not even at the end because you are cold and your dress is strapless. Plan ahead. Bring a real jacket, wrap or cute sweater.
Wearing your favorite hoodie from college that you keep in your trunk for emergencies is simply disrespectful. The happy couple have hired someone to take professional photographs of their special day. The last thing that they want to see in those photos is you skulking around in some worn out workout gear.
Bra Revealing Attire
This isn’t brunch with your friends. This is a wedding. There is nothing wrong with bras. They are not shameful in any way. However, they are underwear and this is a wedding. Exposing your underwear is really not the best idea, so find something that will keep your straps hidden away. The same does for men. Wear a belt and show a little class.
Unless you are invited to a black tie event or you have been asked to be in the wedding party, you should not be wearing a white dinner jacket. Just as it is in bad taste to upstage the bride, you shouldn't go out of your way to one-up the groom. Although it's doubtful he'll run into a closet and weep or complain about you to all his friends if you show up looking better than he does, it's just not polite. Our suggestion would be to dress down in a nice suit or sport coat and leave the James Bond super-suit to the man saying "I do.”
Anything Loud or Garish
Whoa, glamazon! It's a wedding, not a burlesque show. Tone down the makeup to be a well-groomed guest. After all, people are there to look at the bride, not your obnoxious hat/dress/purse/shoes/eye shadow. Donning loud or garish apparel and accessories is a surprisingly common method of women who simply want to upstage the bride. Your outlandish choices might not be directly comparable to the bride's traditional white garb, but everyone, including the new Mrs., will likely take them as a sign of extremely poor taste or a desperate call for attention. You'll get people talking, but you probably won't like what they have to say! So, if you can still see your blush when you turn dim the lights you are getting dangerously close to looking like a drunken clown. That is never a good look on anyone! We recommend you think less contour and more non-tour. Save the body glitter and purple eyelash extensions for another event.
Unless the wedding just happens to be a themed event in Atlantic City, leave the animal print at home. We aren’t restricting your fashion creativity to something as simple as a pink sundress covered in roses. Really! You don’t have to be super girlie if that is not quite your style. Be yourself, just be yourself with the understanding that this day is not all about you and your leopard print mini dress. Remember, all eyes should be on the bride.
Bellbottoms and Other Out Dated Attire
Bellbottoms work well for a stylish night out, but try wearing these wide-legged pants at your college roommate's wedding, and you might as well shake, shake, shake your booty back home for a change of clothes. Disco isn't cool when people say "I do." That's not to say that you can't invoke other styles and eras as appropriate wedding guest garb. A 1960s pencil skirt will allow you to turn heads without causing a distraction, and a dress with an empire waist and cap sleeves will invoke the 1940s without making you look like a has-been. Vintage is in, but remember to adhere to the style of the wedding. Bellbottoms won't fit into even the most casual ceremonies, but a beautiful vintage sundress won't do at a black-tie affair, either.
Never go skimpy at a wedding. Nothing screams "look at me" like a skimpy outfit. Tight, short, and low cut all at the same time is just not appropriate for a wedding. There's nothing wrong with showing off a little leg or décolleté every once in a while, but there's a time and place for such things, and weddings aren't one of them. Its not like you have to shroud yourself in a pastel sack. Sexy elements are find at a wedding just so long as you limit yourself to only one at a time. This way you're not showing off all your assets which can be a surefire way to take away from the couple on their big day.
When it comes to footwear, flip flops are about as casual as it gets. It doesn’t matter if they are made from plastic or rhinestone studded satin, they are still flip flops. Sandals are fine. Flats are even better! There is no rule that insists upon you wearing heels, but flip flops are just not at all appropriate.
Prom is like a pre-wedding for teenage girls. There's food, drink, dancing and after-parties. Also like weddings, it's not out of the ordinary for a well-to-do young lady to spend at least $1,000 or more on a dress she will only wear once. If you still have your prom dress and it's not out of style or too juvenile, slipping it on again for a formal affair might be awfully tempting, even if you're a decade or more out of high school. However, there is a very fine line between donning a vibrantly colored formal evening gown and a white, champagne or blush dress that'll make you look too much like a bride. Use discretion and err on the side of caution. If you are at all unsure, leave the flashy dress back at high school and wear something more elegant and adult.
Tone it down. The bride should not be able to pick you out in every single picture by the distractingly bright color of your dress. This is not the time for lime green, electric blue or hot pink. This is not prom. It is someone else’s wedding, so tone it down. Don’t detract the focus where it needs to be…on the bride.
This is a wedding, not a funeral. Wearing head to toe black is not appropriate. We aren’t saying you can’t wear any black to a wedding, but there are so many other options to choose from. That said, if you insist that black is your only option, please consider livening it up with a print or some really colorful accessories.
Short Sleeved Dress Shirts
Please, unless your name is Dwight and you are going to a wedding in a scene from The Office, put on a shirt with proper sleeves. If you are concerned about getting too hot, you can always roll up your sleeves, but only after dinner. You don’t want to be that guy, the one in all the photos with his tie loosened and his sleeves rolled up all before they happy couple have taken their vows. Dress up a little. We promise it won’t kill you. And no, nice polo shirts are not acceptable attire either.
Guys, we understand. In those hot summer months it just doesn’t seem fair that women get to wear short dresses while men are forced to remain fully clothed in long sleeved shirts and pants. However, shorts are never acceptable wedding attire unless you are the four year old ring bearer.
You would think we wouldn't even have to mention this, but you would be surprised by what attention-seeking guests have tried to pull off. Do not, under any circumstances, wear a tiara to any wedding other than your own. Not only is it disrespectful to the bride, makes you look desperate and utterly ridiculous. This rule, of course, extends to all crowns, ornamental headbands or anything else that could be mistaken for a tiara or any other headpiece a bride might wear.
We know that jeans come in a variety of styles and for some casual weddings people may think that a nicely fitting pair of jeans without any distressing or holes may be fine. They are not. Not even if you dress up the rest of your look. We don't care how casual the wedding is and how laid-back the happy couple may be, wearing jeans and a T-shirt is ever an appropriate option. It doesn't matter if the wedding is on the beach or in a backyard, if you were asked to attend show some respect. Put on a dress or a pair of khakis and a button-up shirt. And to reiterate, don't even think about slipping on a pair of flip-flops. Pumps, heels, flats, loafers, sandals anything else except for plastic footwear. Flip flops and Crocs are a huge wedding no-no. The only possible exception might be if the wedding invitation explicitly states that it is a "flip-flop casual" beach event. That is the only time you may wear them.
Sequins, Glitter, and Sparkle
Unless you are a disco ball, sequins and shiny things should be kept to a minimum. This day isn’t about you. Stop trying to dazzle by being the center of attention. That said, of course, a little bit of glitz and dazzle certainly won’t hurt. Just make sure if is merely an accent and not the whole look.
Not all hats are forbidden, but unless you are a legitimate cowboy attending a country wedding on the family farm, it is unlikely you will ever have cause to wear a hat at a wedding. Baseball caps and beanies have no place whatsoever at a wedding. They are simply too casual. Besides, even if it was appropriate to wear a hat for the occasion, gentlemen remove their hats when heading indoors and that will leave you with a serious case of hat head. This is never a good look on anyone.
Ladies, the hat rule is a bit looser for you, but a good rule of thumb is if you find yourself wondering if your hat is too fancy for this particular wedding then chances are, unless you are British aristocracy, it is. Just do your hair nicely and leave it at that.