Deciding what to wear to a wedding can be tricky at the best of times, but throw in some wild weather – courtesy of bone-chilling winter winds and downpours – and dressing to impress gets even harder. Not only do you need to consider the guest dress code, you’ll also need to navigate cold and wet conditions. Still, with a little styling know-how, it’s possible to nab best dressed, no matter the dress code. From a black-tie or cocktail affair to casual nuptials, Westfield has everything you need for the perfect guest fit.
Casual affairs usually encompass low-key venues like the Registry Office, a park or beach or a restaurant. Take cues from the venue and dress to theme – flowy fabrics and Liberty prints for a garden wedding or red and ruffles for a Spanish eatery. The key is never to go too casual. No matter how relaxed you think the couple will be, leave your jeans and short-sleeved shirts at home in favour of something a bit dressier.
Long-sleeved day dresses in vivid colours or jumpsuits make easy options, as does a wool pantsuit with a crisp shirt worn underneath. You might even get away with no jacket – if you’re going this route choose well-cut trousers and pair them with a smart blouse or shirt. If you’re going to be standing on grass or sand, choose chunkier heels so you don’t sink. Going to an outdoor wedding? Patent leather is rain-proof.
Not as formal as black-tie, but still quite dressed up, cocktail is a popular dress code choice. (Top tip: if the invitation doesn’t specify a dress code, the couple will likely expect you to attend in cocktail wear.) Cocktail is a fairly relaxed dress code that falls somewhere between full glam and smart but still comfortable. Because it’s so flexible, it’s a great opportunity to experiment with fashion-forward fits.
Dress or skirt lengths can fall anywhere from above the knee to the floor, giving you lots of options. Even a crop top can work if paired with a longer skirt or high-waisted trousers – take along a jacket in case the temperature dips. A suit and tie paired with a crisp white shirt is another safe option. Accessorise with statement shoes and bags, fun embellished hair clips or even a structured hat if the ceremony is outdoors.
While you’ll never spot ‘fashion forward’ on an invitation, you’ll probably know when some sartorial experimentation is allowed. (Hint: look for an easygoing couple and a fairly relaxed venue.) The golden rule is this: if your style choices might draw attention away from the couple, tone them down. (Red shoe? Yes. A red gown complete with a train? No.) The aim should never be to upstage the bride and groom.
Winter is the perfect time to play with luxe fabrics, so go all out with velvet, silk and faux furs. Try a slouchy suit with a lacy bra underneath, or layer a low-cut dress over a sheer long-sleeved stocking top. If you’d rather play around with standout accessories, adorn yourself with oversized jewellery, a statement clutch or bold hair accessories. (Just stay away from tiaras if you know one of the couple might wear one.)
The most formal wedding guest dress code you’ll come across, black-tie typically requires tuxedos and floor-length gowns. It would be unusual for an invitation not to specify black tie, but if in doubt, the wedding start time and venue can clue you in to how the couple wants their guests to dress. For a dress code this formal, expect an evening event that’s held somewhere like an ornate ballroom or upscale hotel.
Formal dresses should be tea or floor length, but the colour, fabric and glitz factor are up for interpretation. For warmth, try a wool coat or cropped faux fur jacket on top. If you’re keen to wear a classic black tux, show your personality by experimenting with accessories like a cummerbund, braces, waistcoat or bow tie. Dinner jackets in navy or charcoal are also acceptable, but steer clear of white.