To Wear or Not to Wear

To Wear or Not to Wear

It’s that time, AGAIN! You received another invitation to a friend’s wedding.  The dress code says formal on the invitation, but the wedding is taking place at a Barn. What does this mean? A floor length gown and pumps does not necessarily jive with wooden beams, and rustic vibes…

What is a girl to do???

Never fear, I am here to help you translate dress codes, so you can find the perfect look and be one rockin’ wedding guest! First, let’s start with an overview of the different dress codes you might see on an invite.

White Tie: Most formal of all wedding dress codes: think state dinners and the Oscars. This includes, full evening dress or a dress suit, most formal dress code in Western High Fashion.

Men: Black dress tailcoat over a white starched shirt, white waistcoat, black pleated pants, and a white bow tie. Mother of Pearl accessories, such as cufflinks, are not only appropriate, but encouraged. Formal black shoes and white gloves are appropriate for dancing.

Women: A formal full-length ball gown, glamorous makeup, and dramatic jewelry and hair are appropriate.

Black Tie: Next most formal dress code and usually means the event is an evening affair.

Men: Tuxedo, black bow tie and cummerbund.  

Women: Long dress or evening gown, and at times a dressier style cocktail length dress.

Formal OR Black Tie Optional: Something slightly less formal than Black Tie. Means a tuxedo isn’t required, but is still acceptable.

Men: A tuxedo or formal black suit and tie.

Women: Long evening dress, dressy suit or formal cocktail-length dress.

Cocktail: Slightly less formal than black tie and black tie optional.

Men: Suit and Tie. Lean towards darker hues in chillier months, and feel free to lean toward lighter grays and blues in warmer months.

Women: Cocktail dress, dressy suit or jumpsuit.

Beach Formal: This suggests an elegant beach wedding, so dress to impress and be comfortable for the elements.  Anything you would wear to a nice restaurant in the summer is appropriate.

Men: A summer suit with a linen shirt (no tie required), linen or khaki pants, and sandals.

Women: Formal summer sundress at tea or knee length with flat sandals. Makeup and hair can be more on the natural side.

Semi-Formal or Dressy Casual: You will need to dress somewhere between formal and casual depending on the time of the event. For an evening soiree, wear darker more formal hues and for a daytime wedding opt for lighter colors and fabrics.

Men: Suit and tie – dark or light depending on season and time of day.

Women: Cocktail dress or dressy skirt and top.

Casual: This usually means anything goes, but jeans, shorts, and tank tops are not appropriate unless they’re specifically noted as acceptable. I would recommend to wear more business casual to be on the safe side.

Men: Dress pants, khakis, or nice jeans with a button-down shirt or polo.

Women: Sundress or skirt/pants with a nice blouse. Makeup and hair can be more natural.

Now that we’ve defined these dress codes, let’s talk modifications for Texas weddings. Some dress codes can differ depending on ceremony and reception locations. If it is a church wedding with a reception at the country club or a swanky site, err on the side of caution and dress true to the formality of the dress code. If it is more a rural location with an outdoor ceremony and reception, it would be acceptable for men to wear boots and potentially jeans depending on the timing of the ceremony. If the ceremony is during the day before 7:00 pm, it is traditionally acceptable for it to be slightly on the casual side unless otherwise noted. If the ceremony is 7:00 pm or later, then it will be a more formal occasion.

Things to NEVER wear to a wedding:

Now ladies and gentlemen, LISTEN UP! This part is important! Under no circumstances is athletic wear acceptable attire for a wedding. Not too long ago, I observed a wedding guest wearing Under Armour athletic pants, a polo, and sporty sneakers to an evening wedding. Not only did he look more appropriate for the golf course, but his pants were so tight that his wallet looked incredibly awkward in his pocket!

Other things that are not appropriate to wear for a wedding would include: Men- sneakers, “skinny jeans”, torn jeans, T-shirts that look like a tuxedo (Yes, I have actually seen this too), baseball caps. For the Ladies- Articles of clothing that are way too tight, too low cut, or short are inappropriate. You are witnessing a lifelong commitment two people are making to each other, not a night at the club – focus on that for a moment and determine if your ensemble is appropriately matched. I personally do not view rompers as acceptable wedding wear, but if they fall in to the appropriate length, fit, modest category then I will leave that up to your personal choice.

Once you are appropriately dressed and ready to enjoy the evening with your date or your girlfriends, STOP obsessing or worrying about what other people are wearing or if they followed the rules. You followed the etiquette rules.  You look great! WEAR IT WITH CONFIDENCE and have a fabulous time!