Has a wedding invite ever left you clueless about what to wear? Fear not, the info you need is likely there—you just have to know how to interpret the dress code wording. Whether it's , white tie or something in between, here's a cheat sheet for deciding what to wear.
Once you know the basics, it's time to put together your outfit. Even if you have something appropriate in your closet already, a shopping trip never hurts. (Store employees can answer any lingering wedding fashion questions you have.) That doesn't mean you need to spend big on wedding guest attire, though. Consider renting your ensemble from a site like Rent the Runway, which lets you search its inventory of designer items by various dress codes.
This is the most formal of all wedding dress codes (think state dinners and the Oscars).
A long black jacket with tails, a white pique vest and a bow tie. Formal black shoes and even white gloves are appropriate.
A formal, full-length ball gown. Glamorous makeup and dramatic jewelry and hair are appropriate.
This is theand usually means the wedding is an evening affair.
A tuxedo. A black bow tie, cummerbund and patent leather shoes are also suggested.
A chic cocktail dress or a long evening gown. The couple, wedding party or close friends can help answer questions about the appropriate dress length.
Formal wedding attire can encompass black tie and/or white tie. Men can never go wrong with a well-tailored tuxedo, and women will always look glamorous in a gown. Some brides and grooms these days use the term "formal attire" to mean something slightly less formal than black tie. This means that a tuxedo might not be required for the menfolk, but the event is still formal enough for one to be appropriate.
If you aren't sure how formal to dress, always choose the more formal option. You never want to be underdressed at a wedding. Plus,there are small ways you can deformalize if you feel overdressed. For example, men can take off a bow tie or cummerbund.
A tuxedo or formal dark suit and tie.
A long evening dress, dressy suit or formal cocktail-length dress.
Get the full scoop on black tie optional weddings.
This is slightly less formal than black tie and black tie optional, which means no tux required for men and no floor-length gown required for women (unless you'd like to wear a long dress, which is popular for winter wedding attire).
A suit and tie. Lean toward darker hues in chillier months, and feel free to opt for lighter grays or blues in warmer weather.
A cocktail dress or dressy suit or jumpsuit.
See our favorite cocktail dresses for wedding guests.
This suggests an elegant beach wedding—so dress to impress, but also(sun, sand and water). Anything you'd wear to a nice restaurant on a summer night is appropriate.
A summer suit with a linen shirt (no ties required), linen pants (or khakis) and sandals.
A formal summer sundress at tea or knee length with flat sandals. Makeup and hair can be natural.
Get more beach wedding fashion inspiration.
Depending on the time of the event, you'll want to dress somewhere. Wear darker, more formal hues for an evening fete; opt for light colors and fabrics for a daytime wedding.
Keep in mind that semi-formal still has the word "formal" in the description. You still want to look elegant and sophisticated. Sure, women don't need to wear ballgowns and the gents can keep their tuxedos in the closet, but don't dress like you're going to a casual family barbeque.
DO NOT wear shorts, sneakers or polos. No jeans or t-shirts. (Dressy jeans do not count as semi-formal wear.) This is your relative or friend's special day. Dress to impress.
A suit and tie, dark or light depending on the season and time of day. A dinner jacket and slacks can also work. Consider adding a little flair with an elegant pocket square or wristwatch.
A cocktail dress or a dressy skirt and top. A well-tailored pantsuit or a dressy jumpsuit paired with tasteful jewelry is also an excellent option for a semi-formal wedding.
Generally, casual means anything goes—but jeans, shorts and tank tops are probably not appropriate unless they're specifically noted as acceptable. For the purposes of wedding wear, assume business casual to be on the safe side.
Dress pants with a button-down shirt or polo.
A summer sundress or a skirt or pants with a nice blouse. Makeup and hair can be natural.