You might wear a uniform or follow an office dress code Monday through Friday, and on the weekend, you like to have a little fun with fashion. Your friend's wedding isn't the place to test drive your new romper or rock those $200 jeans you just splurged on. But you already knew that, right?
There are a few gray areas when it comes to appropriate wedding guest attire. Maybe that cocktail dress has a questionable hemline -- or it might be the same color the bridal party is wearing. There are plenty of clothing options that'll turn you into an unintentional eyesore at any union, but you don't have to earn the ire of every bride and groom you know. Just follow this list of 10 things you should never wear to a wedding, and you'll keep receiving those invitations!
It's always in style and looks flattering on almost everybody, but according to some, it should never be worn to a wedding. Up first, find out the dos and don'ts about wearing nature's darkest color to one of life's brightest events.
Yes, tuxedos are black, and you'll almost certainly see an abundance of dark sport coats at any union, but black is traditionally a no-go color at weddings -- especially for women.
Black dresses connote mourning and death for many people, but there's a difference between showing up to your best friend's nuptials in funeral garb and wearing a sleek, little black number to an evening wedding. As long as the dress feels fun and light, regardless of how dark it is, you should be fine. Sequins usually work, as do black cocktail dresses for formal ceremonies. However, if there's even the slightest chance it could fit into a procession for the deceased, put it back on the rack and slip into something more colorful.
Nothing screams "look at me" like a skimpy outfit.
There's nothing wrong with showing off a little leg or décolleté every once in a while, but there's a time and place for such things, and weddings aren't one of them.
No, you're not exactly showing up the bride, but showing off your assets is a surefire way to take away from her big day, so don't do it.
Jeans and a T-shirt
We don't care how casual the wedding is and how laid-back the bride in question might be, attending in jeans and a T-shirt is not an option.
It doesn't matter if it's on the beach, in your mom's backyard, or even if you don't know the couple very well. If you're bothering to show up, the least you can do is throw on a dress or a pair of khakis and a button-up shirt -- again, assuming it's a casual ceremony. Also, just to be clear, don't even think about slipping on a pair of flip-flops. Pumps, heels, flats, loafers and sandals are a go, but plastic footwear is a huge wedding no-no. (Possible exception: If the wedding invite explicitly states that it's a "flip-flop casual" beach event, you may wear them.)
There's only one guy in a penguin suit here today, and it's not you (unless, of course, the ceremony is a black-tie affair, in which case you, the groom, and every other male in attendance is bowtied out).
However, just as it's in bad taste to upstage the bride, you shouldn't go out of your way to one-up the groom. Although it's doubtful he'll run into a closet and weep or complain about you to all his friends if you show up looking better than he does, it's just not polite. Yes, we know you can't do anything to tone down your innate good looks, but the least you can do is dress them down in a sport coat and leave the super-suit to the man saying "I do."
Bellbottoms and Other Dated Attire
Bellbottoms may work for a stylish night out on the town. But try sporting these wide-legged pants at your college roommate's wedding, and you might as well shake, shake, shake your booty back to your place for a change of clothes. Disco isn't cool when people say "I do."
That's not to say that you can't invoke other styles and eras with your wedding guest garb. A 1960s pencil skirt will allow you to turn heads without causing a distraction, and a dress with an empire waist and cap sleeves will invoke the 1940s without making you look like a has-been. Just remember to adhere to the style of the wedding -- we've established that bellbottoms won't fit into even the most casual ceremonies, but a vintage sundress won't do at a black-tie affair, either.
You'd think we wouldn't even have to mention this one, but you'd be surprised by what attention-seeking guests have tried to pull off. So, we'll just state it plainly: Do not, under any circumstances, wear a tiara to any wedding other than your own. Not only is it disrespectful to the bride, it'll just make you look desperate and ridiculous.
This rule, of course, extends to crowns, ornamental headbands or anything else that could be mistaken for a tiara or any other headpiece the bride may choose to wear.
A Prom Dress
Prom is like a pre-wedding for teenage girls. There's food, drink, dancing and after-parties where … well, we won't go there. Also like weddings, it's not out of the ordinary for a well-to-do young lady to drop $1,000 or more on a dress she'll wear only once -- many of which look suspiciously nuptial-ready.
So, if you still have your prom dress and it's not out of style or too juvenile, slipping it on again for a formal affair might be awfully tempting, even if you're a decade or more out of high school. But you have to be careful, as there's a fine line between donning a vibrantly colored formal evening gown and a white, champagne or blush dress that'll make you look too much like a bride. Use discretion and err on the side of caution. If you're at all unsure, leave the flashy dress for the high school kids and wear something more elegant and adult.
You're going to a wedding, not a meeting at the office!
Drop the business persona and show your style in a skirt, dress or any kind of clothing that would look out of place with a coffee stain. This is a celebration of two people choosing to unite their lives together forever, so the least you can do is find something that isn't overly stuffy and businessy to wear. We're not just talking about your standard black or charcoal suit. This rule also applies to pretty pastel skirt-jacket combos. They might work for a dinner event, but they just set the wrong tone for weddings.
Yes, we know some very powerful women frequently wear pantsuits, but even Hillary Clinton wore a vibrant dress on Chelsea's big day, and if she can do it, you can, too.
We'd also advise staying away from businessy accessories -- trade the giant bag or briefcase for a clutch, and don't wear any scarves that scream "I belong in cubicle No. 4!"
Anything Loud or Garish
People are there to look at the bride, not your obnoxious hat/dress/purse/shoes/eye shadow. Donning loud or garish apparel and accessories is a surprisingly common method of wedding-crashing women use to upstage the bride. Your outlandish choices might not be directly comparable to the bride's traditional white garb, but everyone -- including the new Mrs. -- will likely take them as a sign of extremely poor taste or a desperate call for attention. You'll get people talking, but you probably won't like what they have to say!
It's never a good idea to wear anything that could conceivably be mistaken for a wedding dress. But, just like the tradition against wearing black to on the big day, we think this rule can be broken -- if you go about it the right way.
A simple, off-white dress or skirt should be fine, and if you want to be absolutely sure you're not stepping on any perfectly manicured toes, get a glimpse of the bride's dress before the big day. Make sure your white outfit of choice is dramatically different, so if she's wearing a full-skirted gown, your slender, white evening gown shouldn't pose much of a problem. If she's wearing a simple number, though, pick another color. Even if you look your best in white, you won't care what color you're wearing when she's staring daggers into your eyes instead of saying "I do."
How much does it cost to be a bridesmaid? Read about the expenses involved in being a bridesmaid at HowStuffWorks.
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