What's in my closet: Wedding Attire

Happy February, Fashionistas! With Valentine’s Day coming up, I feel it is best to prepare myself for the annual photo flood of engagement rings across all of my social media accounts. With engagements, comes weddings (most of the time). Dressing properly for a wedding can be tricky. There are all sorts of rules and guidelines as to what a person should wear during the time of day, season, and “type” of wedding. And sometimes living in south Mississippi doesn’t help. The ever changing weather is enough to drive a person mad, but I digress. 

With wedding season upon us, I thought it would be best to dedicate this article to proper wedding attire. Again, with all of my pieces, these are my opinion. If you want to wear a palm tree print dress at a high noon wedding, be my guest, but be prepared to feel slightly underdressed.

With that being said, let’s begin…

Casual or Daytime
Generally, casual means anything goes--except jeans, shorts and tanks tops unless they’re specifically noted as acceptable wedding attire by the bride and groom. I don’t know about you guys, but I cringe when I think of someone wearing a tank top to a wedding, but that’s just me. For the sake of not looking like you’re going to the beach or an outdoor concert, I would suggest thinking “business casual” to help ease the pain of trying to find something to wear. Men should try to stick to dress pants with a button-down shirt or polo. As for the ladies, a sundress, skirt, or pants with a nice blouse would suffice. 

Semiformal or Dressy Casual
When my mother first tried to explain dressy casual to me, my head was spinning. Is it dressy? Is it casual? Why does such thing have to exist? Why do people have to make things more complicated than they need to be? Before I could melt down and have a full blown panic attack, she quickly informed me to stay closer to the dressy side of dressy casual. No one likes to be underdressed. Or at least I don’t. Depending on the season and time of day of the event, you’ll want to color coordinate accordingly when it comes to selecting an outfit. Wear darker, more formal hues for an evening wedding, and opt for lighter color and fabrics for a daytime wedding. Men should wear a suit and tie (dark or light depending on time of day) and ladies should wear a cocktail dress or a dressy skirt and top. 

Beach Formal
Yes, such thing exists. The title suggests an elegant beach wedding, so dress to impress, but also dress for the elements (sun, sand, and water). I always try to picture myself dressing up for a fancy dinner on the beach or at a nice restaurant when trying to decide what to wear to a beach formal wedding. For the guys, a summer suit paired with a linen shirt would suffice. I wouldn’t bother with a tie, unless you must. Bow ties are totally acceptable if you can pull them off. For the ladies, a formal sundress at knee length would be ideal. I normally would cringe at the thought of anyone wearing sandals or going barefoot at a wedding, but depending on the location, these get a pass.

Cocktail Attire 
This title is slightly less formal than Black Tie Optional, but you still need to look like you did not just roll out of bed and show up. Men are not required to wear tuxedos, and floor length gowns for the ladies are not required, unless you’d like to wear a long dress, of course. For the guys, darker hues are best for winter months. For Spring and Summer months, opt for lighter blues and grays. For the ladies, a cocktail dress or even a jumpsuit would work. Just make sure you’re not showing too much “up top” or too much leg. 

Formal or Black Tie Optional
If you’re anything like me, you read that as FORMAL. This normally means slightly less formal than Black Tie. Men aren’t required to wear a tuxedo, but it also wouldn’t be frowned upon. As for the ladies, a dressy suit or formal cocktail length dress would suffice, but don’t be afraid to reach for a long evening dress. 

Black Tie
This title normally means the wedding is an evening event and you should dress to impress. For the guys, a tuxedo complete with a bow tie, and patent leather shoes. For the ladies, a long evening gown or a chic cocktail dress. If you find yourself questioning what the appropriate dress length should be, phone a friend in the wedding party or ask a close friend. It never hurts to ask these questions. 

White Tie
This is the fanciest of the fancy. When I hear this title I immediately think of the Oscars or a fancy dinner at the White House. (I’ll pass on the fast food, Mr. Trump.) For the guys, a long black jacket with tails, a vest and a bow tie are a must. Black, formal shoes and white gloves are also appropriate. For the ladies, opt for a full-length formal gown. I would also advise taking it a step further and glamming up your accessories, hair, and makeup. 

Before I bring this article to a close, I would like to throw in a couple of my own guidelines when it comes to wedding attire. When it comes to trying to color coordinate with the rest of the wedding party, I would advise not to. You don’t want to show up and look like a wannabe bridesmaid. When it comes to the color red, try to stay clear of it. I understand wanting to make a statement, but a wedding is not the time to do so. Red tends to be a dramatic color, and you do not want to take the spotlight from the bride. The only time I have ever seen red successfully pulled off was during an evening wedding during the month of December. As far as the color black goes, you can totally wear black to a wedding if it’s done correctly. A black jumpsuit should be avoided for a daytime wedding in Spring, but you can totally get away with it at an evening wedding, depending on the dress stated on the invitation. Should you find yourself in a pickle and the only thing you’ve got is a black dress and you’re scheduled to attend a daytime wedding, try to add some color to it with your accessories. And last but not least, never, and I mean NEVER wear white (or any other close relative to white) to a wedding. Ever. Unless the invitation says to wear white, don’t even look at anything white or anything even remotely close to the color white that may be hanging in your closet. This is a HUGE no-no. Wearing white to a wedding is basically a slap in the face to the bride on her big day. Just don’t do it. 

And there you have it. My guide to proper wedding attire. Should you ever find yourself questioning what to wear to a wedding, I would suggest using phoning a friend. That way, you both can dress somewhat similar and not feel out of place. It never hurts to dress a little fancier, just be sure not to overdo it. 

Carly Hazlip is the Fashion Columnist for Signature Magazine. She promises to dress accordingly if you ever invite her to your wedding.