Posted on August 01 2019
Summer weddings have our heart. Everything seems more relaxed and sweet from the venue, to the meal and the dress code. But don’t get too lax. Etiquette requires that you still adhere to some sense of decorum so we thought a little refresher course on what to wear to a myriad of different summer weddings would help. We can help break down a few styles to consider so you look in-theme and have a great time (but we can’t help when it comes to small talk with eccentric wedding guests--you’re on your own there).
WHITE TIE WEDDING ATTIRE
The most formal of them all, white tie attire is the pinnacle of dress codes. Women should opt for a floor length gown that brings drama to the scene. Consider an upswept hairdo and the most decadent jewelry is required. Pearls and diamonds reign here so parade around in items that usually remain in the safe.
Lean (way) into lavish pieces with men donning black tailcoats, black pleated pants, a white waistcoat and a white dress shirt with a white bow tie. Bougie it up with a top hat and add a fresh lapel flower for this upscale style.
BLACK TIE WEDDING ATTIRE
Just a step below white, black tie offers all the glamour but think more along the lines of a dark colored tuxedo (usually black), trouser pants, a white dress shirt, suspenders, bowtie and patent leather shoes. Adding a white silk pocket square and personalized cufflinks create a wink of personality here as we want to remain formal, a little James Bond if you will...
Ladies, keep in theme with red carpet looks with long, floor-brushing gowns, long skirts or if you’re a bit of a wild card, a women’s tuxedo-inspired ensemble. Shoulder grazing earrings and status clutches are important pieces here.
FORMAL OR BLACK TIE OPTIONAL WEDDING ATTIRE
Guests can relax a bit here as they do not need to meet the level of formality that the wedding party requires. For the most part, women should stick to full length gowns but the rules here are bending. Some mid-length dresses and longer cocktail frocks can work if the material and mood is still fancy and formal. Ever pair a long tulle skirt with a dressy top? You have room to play like that here.
Men will be in dark suiting choices with dark ties and bow ties. Your most luxe sport coat might do the trick. Adding a colored dress shirt or conversation starter pocket square can be the level of fancy that hits the right note.
COCKTAIL WEDDING ATTIRE
Gentlemen, you can (finally) loosen up. The dress code for cocktail usually features a dark to mid-grey suit but your accessories can lighten the mood. Neckties and bowties can sport subtle patterns and black oxfords are acceptable. Stay safe with a crisp white dress shirt but some striped styles can slip in. You might even consider raiding your closet for a few of your business pieces that you wear to the office.
Cocktail gets creative so women can work with raised hemlines. This offers you room to display luxury footwear so embellished heels come into play. If you’d wear it to an evening affair or party atmosphere, it works. Think above the knee in bold colors and sexy cuts that bare a bit more skin. Stay sophisticated with lavish accessories to keep you in check.
BEACH FORMAL WEDDING ATTIRE
Ladies may wear their most dressy summer pieces in pastel hues and floral prints. Think unfussy structures and light fabrics in linen and cotton-blends for breathability. Popular (yet posh) straw bags and more casual jewelry is acceptable. A brightly colored jumpsuit works and low sandals help as you may be walking through sand.
Here’s where comfort must merge with style. Men, base it on business casual attire so you don’t look too dressy but retain a sense of decorum. Instead of a traditional suit jacket, try a breathable linen-blend blazer with a nautical-inspired striped shirt and linen pants. We’re in summer-central so colored or white jeans work too.
SEMI-FORMAL OR DRESSY CASUAL WEDDING ATTIRE
Decoding for the women means a bit of what we discussed above. If you’d wear it to work on big meeting days or casual Fridays, you can dabble in it here. Separates spring up so layer a shell under a linen blazer with a skirt and statement heels. An animal print dress with gold jewelry keeps you chic as well. A black one piece jumpsuit with heels can handle a blazer or stand alone so that’s a strong style to consider.
It might feel like walking a tightrope, but this genre is one you can navigate with the right tips. For men, the balance is between crisp dress shirts and trouser pants and a patterned dress shirt with khakis or chinos. Seersucker is your friend in the summer so take advantage of this fabric and you’ll always look the part. Slip into moccasin style footwear and have a casual sport coat on hand that can easily be taken off without compromising your look. This is the ideal time to unveil a dress shirt with a little quirk and offbeat print.
CASUAL OR DAYTIME WEDDING ATTIRE
For Him: Restrictions really lessen when it comes to casual and daytime looks. Men can wear polo shirts or long sleeved linen tops with chinos and feel completely appropriate. Add elevated pieces such as a luxury timepiece or oxfords to upgrade the visual. Slim fit pants in colors with white shirts bring a casual but refined appeal.
Females can opt for breezy skirts and tops or dresses that are less structured and more along the lines of maxi dresses or timeless and well-tailored sundresses. Feminine fit and flare dresses work to create an upscale look that’s effortless and easy to pull off. It’s acceptable to add in wedges and barely there sandals that are more relaxed.
TROPICAL OR DESTINATION WEDDING ATTIRE
Embracing the spirit of the warm weather adventure is where ladies can get creative. Tropical prints are a must. Slip dresses and tank dresses keep you cool but also pretty. Certain rompers can add to the casual, vacation vibe. Jewelry can be costume and simple and glossy sandals are your best bet.
When the locale goes tropical and the wedding affords you the opportunity to travel to a special destination, it’s time to have fun. Depending on the formality of the wedding, you can go from a light colored linen suit to breezy linen pants, tropical shirts and luxury leather sandals. It’s (usually) about beating the heat with handsome looks so roll the sleeves on any dress shirt and stick with lighter colored trousers.
We’re sure that your stack of invites at home fall into one or two of these categories. It’s important to remember to enjoy the night and focus on the couple and you can do that by prepping outfits so you feel appropriate, at-home and in the moment. Remember to have fun with it too. Guidelines are great but do put your personal stamp on things. An heirloom pair of cufflinks, a signature scent and a rhinestone-studded hair clip say that you know how the dress code works but also know your distinctive style and how you see the world (and really, how you want the world to see you).
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