We all have to walk that fine line when it comes to deciding what to wear to a wedding: You want to look striking, somewhat fun, but still appropriate. You want to be remembered for the right reasons, even if it isn't your day whatsoever. Well, there are some basic ground rules worth referencing before rushing to the big day in a floral-print panic. We've covered the official dressing dos and don'ts of formalwear so that you can be the best dressed guest at all manner of nuptials and high-society soirées—with zero wardrobe stresses.
So whether you have a city wedding to attend, a religious ceremony to consider carefully or you just don't want to have a miffed bride on your hands (no white lace, okay?), this is a good place to start. We can all lose our heads when a swanky event comes a-knocking, but it's really just a case of being fully prepared for every eventuality—and learning from some of our own fashion faux pas. Those strappy stilettos looked great in the store, yes, but were they really cut out for a marquee reception in a field? Not so much. Click through to read the nine must-know rules for what to wear to a wedding when you're just not sure.
#1: A dress is a safe go-to.
If you're struggling to compile the perfect trousers, top and jacket combination with ease, then simply reach for one of your trusty statement dresses. Add heels and a slick of lipstick. Perfection.
#2: Avoid short hemlines.
It's not only about respect for the bride, but it's also a lesser-known fact that longer hemlines are conservatively sexy—especially irregular hemlines that give a peekaboo flash of leg when the woman is in motion. Err on the classy side and go long.
#3: Try boldly coloured lace.
White lace and cream embroidery are major no-nos when attending a wedding as a guest. Leave that to the bridal party. Instead go for sequins, coloured lace and clever textural layering.
#4: It's okay to wear black.
The modern world has ushered in many wonderful changes: iPhones, Headspace, hashtags, Voga and the acceptance of wearing black at weddings and baptisms. Black once was the mark of doom and gloom, but now it's a tone for the chic urbanites. Wear it to weddings, and wear it with aplomb!
#5: Always carry a small bag for your essentials.
Large tote bags and cumbersome shoulder bags don't ooze "special occasion"; rather, they make it look like you're going on a daylong trek across the urban jungle. Go minimal, and head out to the wedding with a micro or clutch bag, and cut loose from your heavy accessories for a day. Think of it as a handbag detox.
#6: Wear heels you can walk in ALL day.
There's nothing worse than climbing into a pair of heels only to find that you are limping across the dance floor a mere few hours later. Find the comfy elevated shoes that will party harder than all your other footwear.
#7: Wear sleeves or bring a cover-up for religious ceremonies.
There are lots of religious wedding ceremonies that may take place in sacred spaces that require a respectful covered-up dress code. Think royal enclosure at Ascot, and wear thick straps, take a generous silk scarf to drape across your décolletage or wear sleeves to nail the issue in one.
#8. Check with the bride if you're not sure.
The Street Pie
If you're not sure about your outfit and there isn't a clear dress code, it's always a good idea to check with the bride. Pro tip: Make sure it's at least a couple weeks before the big day, as the bride will most likely have bigger things on her mind the days running up to the wedding and will not appreciate a text hours before she's about to walk down the aisle. And if you're still not sure, stick with a suit, jumpsuit or classic wedding-guest dress.
#9: It's still not okay to wear white.
Despite the changes in formal dressing over the past few years, and with many brides opting to go for non-white or cream wedding dresses, that doesn't necessarily mean you should turn up in a floor-length white number. Debrett's wedding guide still says it's a no-no. You can, however, choose white add-ons, but if you're really not sure and still want to make an impact with your outfit, choose standout accessories that won't make it look like you're trying to overshadow the bride.
Opening Image: @_jeanettemadsen_
This post was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.