Have you ever received a wedding invitation in the mail that left you completely clueless about what to wear? Between “black tie optional” and “semiformal,” the language can be tricky to decipher. But we’ve got you covered. Here are the most common wedding-guest dress codes explained so that you arrive appropriately — and stylishly!
This is the most formal of all dress codes (think: White House state dinners).
Ladies: A formal floor-length evening gown.
Men: A tuxedo, a long black jacket with tails, a formal white shirt, white vest and bow tie, white or gray gloves, and black formal shoes.
This is the next most formal wedding dress code, and usually means the wedding is an evening event.
Ladies: You can go a bit dressier and wear a formal floor-length gown, or choose a short, dressy cocktail dress.
Men: A tuxedo. A black bow tie, black vest or cummerbund, and patent leather shoes are also suggested. For summer weddings, a white dinner jacket and black tuxedo trousers are also acceptable.
Semiformal or Dressy Casual
Take your cues from the time of the event: Wear darker, more formal colors for an evening wedding; opt for light colors and fabrics for a daytime event.
Ladies: A cocktail dress or a long, dressy skirt and top.
Men: A suit and tie, dark or light depending on the season and time of day.
This indicates the wedding will likely be held outdoors or on the beach, meaning the event will be much more laid-back, especially when it comes to attire. That said, jeans, shorts, and tank tops are probably not appropriate unless they’re specifically noted as acceptable.
Ladies: A summer sundress is appropriate (just make sure the fabric isn’t overly formal) or a trouser and blouse combo will suffice.
Men: Dress pants or khaki pants with a button-down shirt, tie (though you might be able to get out of wearing a tie), and sport jacket or sweater.