6 Things You Should Never, Ever Wear to a Wedding

posted: 05/31/16
by: Katie Morton
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  • Image Credit: iStock

    Rules of Wedding Dress Codes

    Fashion today is a form of self-expression. The hard-and-fast rules of yesteryear no longer apply! Your mother may have had to match her handbag to her shoes and her dress and retire all white clothes after Labor Day, but you can throw those guidelines out the window!

    There is, of course, one exception to that: clear rules of fashion still apply when you're a guest at a wedding. Nuptial rules of etiquette dictate that certain fashion choices are frowned upon, both out of respect for the bride and her family. So if you're invited to an upcoming wedding, be sure to avoid these styles (and simultaneously avoid a fashion faux pas).

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    Rule 1: Thou Shall Not Wear White

    Some may argue that this rule is antiquated and old-fashioned, but the majority of fashion experts still concur that wearing white to a wedding is still a no-no. The issue here is obvious--the bride will (likely) be dressed in white. If you're also wearing a white dress, you risk being mistaken for the bride.

    Even if your most liberal relaxed bride gives you a pass for a white dress, you risk getting the side eye from older guests. Tread carefully with colors such as ivory and champagne as well -- there's a full color wheel of other options to choose from, use it!

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    Rule 2: Thou Shall Not Dress for the Club

    A wedding is a sacred occasion. The bride and grooms' families are there to celebrate their blessed union, not a free open bar and never-ending tequila shots. Even if there's an epic party planned for the reception, honor the occasion and dress with a modicum of respect and restraint.

    Save the skin-tight, cleavage-baring, thigh-high outfits for the bachelorette party. That's not to say you need to dress as though you're Maria headed back to the convent, simply exercise a little restraint.

    A good rule of thumb is the rule of one: Are you showing leg? They you don't need to show cleavage. Rocking a lower neckline, then don't flash too much thigh. It's all about balance. Besides, you'll have a lot more fun on the dance floor if you're not desperately yanking your hemline back in place every ten minutes.

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    Rule 3: Thou Shall Respect the Religion

    Wedding ceremonies often take place in a house of worship. Some of these will have certain rules about covering your arms or shoulders.

    If you're not sure, then it's never a bad idea to have a pashmina or a shawl to cover a bare-on-top dress, like the look below (from Nordstrom). Strapless or spaghetti straps are fine at the reception, but be sure to bring a wrap just in case the venue for the ceremony dictates such formalities.

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    Rule 4: Thou Shall Not Ignore the Dress Code

    Generally, the invitation will indicate if black-tie is requested. If not, then you'll need to rely on word-of-mouth--if there's any question, there's no shame in checking in with the brides' family on what the dress code is for the event. A simple email or text can clarify and make sure you're dressed with confidence.

    A black-tie wedding calls for a longer hemline and more elaborate hair and make-up. You may still elect to wear a cocktail length gown, but you'll want to ensure that the fabric is evening appropriate, rather than casual. Beading, sequins and embellished gowns are all appropriate for a black-tie or evening affair.

    If there's no dress code indicated, then you can't go wrong with a tasteful summer dress. If you still have doubts, it's better to err on the side of formality. Being slightly overdressed is always better than being underdressed. Got questions? Check out our fashion experts' suggestions for popular wedding dress codes.

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    Rule 5: Thou Shall Not Wear Denim

    We don't care how casual the wedding is -- jeans (no matter how expensive) are never the right call for wedding attire. If it's a casual outdoor wedding, try a sundress or a maxi skirt and tank top. Even if you're invited to a best friend's city hall affair, try black cropped pants or a patterned jumpsuit. Trust me, we love our dark skinny jeans as much as the next fashionista, but save them for work, the weekend, or any other event.

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    Rule 6: Thou Shall Not Upstage the Bride

    Leave the tiaras, over-done sparkles, feathers and costume-like gowns at home! If one's eye would immediately go to your outfit in a group photo of a hundred wedding guests, then it's time to rethink your attire. When in doubt, think tasteful, classic and elegant (versus "I wonder what Britney Spears would wear?").

    Most weddings are semi-formal events, by default. If you're stumped on what to wear, revert to elegant, well-tailored cocktail attire--you'll be dressed appropriately and feel beautiful!