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Welcome to wedding season: where the hangovers are real, the dress codes are confusing, and we’re all sweating. As if the uptick in vaguely specific dress code attire hasn’t made finding a wedding guest outfit hard enough, summer weddings also require finding something that’s dress code appropriate while also seasonally appropriate. There’s a lot of “vibe interpreting” required for all these confusing wedding dress codes that, frankly, most of us just aren’t cut out for. So to help guide you on your seemingly treacherous wedding guest outfit search, here are some options based on the different dress codes.
Clearly I need to reevaluate my entire circle of friends because I’ve never attended nor have I even been invited to a white-tie wedding. White-tie dress code is the most formal of them all, requiring floor-length gowns, no exceptions. Your gown should be paired with your most elegant clutch and accessories and, if I were you, I’d take full advantage of the occasion and even add some trendy elbow-length gloves. You can make your gown more seasonally appropriate by choosing summery colors and fabrics.
Personally, this is my favorite wedding dress code out of the ones I’ve attended because I love an excuse to dress up. Black-tie dress code means you can wear a formal gown or elevated jumpsuit, either of which paired back to elegant accessories. Basically, think prom-adjacent attire minus the over-the-top tackiness and vodka-filled water bottles. Similarly as with white-tie, you can make your black-tie ensemble more summer- appropriate with light and bright colors, airy fabrics, and more breathable silhouettes.
Formal or Black-Tie Optional
This dress code can be confusing and definitely requires some of that “vibe interpreting” that I mentioned earlier. Black-tie optional is pretty much equivalent to formal and just means slightly less formal than black-tie. The biggest difference for women’s attire is that a full-length gown isn’t required, but something of the same dressiness “vibe” is still recommended. Basically, if you want to get wild and show your ankles then you have permission to do so but I’d avoid going above the knee for your hemline. Add a summer-feel to your formal look with vibrant summer colors or a lightweight mesh fabric.
Cocktail attire means that women can wear shorter hemlines but still need to look dressy. Long story short, it would be inappropriate to wear a gown but also inappropriate to wear a sundress. I realize that leaves quite a large gamut, but basically just think a specialty mini dress, elevated midi dress, or eloquent jumpsuit. Overall, this dress code does imply a bit more of a flirty and playful vibe, so have fun with it but still look classy. Keep it summer appropriate with shorter hemlines, seasonal colors, or even an elevated floral print.
Semi-Formal or Dressy Casual
Semi-formal or dressy casual might be the most vague of all the dress codes because there are no “hard lines” beyond no sweatpants. Rather, you really have to feel into the vibe of the wedding, so maybe just grab a crystal and the invitation and mediate on it? On second thought, maybe just text a fellow wedding attendee to see what they’re wearing and go from there. At the end of the day, err on the side of being over-dressed rather than under-dressed. Remember, it’s about special event elegance without crossing the line of “fancy.” Vague, I know, so best of luck.
As someone who recently attended a beach formal wedding, my biggest piece of advice is DO NOT underestimate the heat. As someone who also attended said wedding in a long sleeve bridesmaid dress, I’m going to suggest you steer clear of sleeves and any material that could potentially show sweat. Instead, opt for lightweight summery fabrics like linen or gauze. And, if you’re really someone who sweats easily, go for an airy printed maxi to help disguise any possible sweat stains. Oh, and bring a handheld fan, you’ll thank me later.
Daytime or Casual
Covid has made the backyard wedding quite a trend, and given how expensive weddings can get, I definitely see the appeal. Backyard or daytime weddings are usually more casual which means they’re perfect for a breezy sundress, pretty mini dress, or sophisticated set. The only “don’t” here is going too casual or too dressy. Just avoid dressier fabrics, overly casual fabrics, stiletto heels, sneakers…and you should be good to go from there.
Presented by Generation Tux
If you’re in any stage of planning a wedding, you already know that there’s a lot to think about. Even before the pandemic threw a gigantic wrench into everything, wedding planning was a daunting endeavor. You’re probably looking for all the help you can get, but preferably from experts, not your mother-in-law who got married in the ‘80s and thinks she knows everything. Luckily, the experts at Generation Tux gave us their best tips on one of the most important parts of the planning process: figuring out wtf the groom and groomsmen are going to wear.
Do You Actually Want A Tuxedo?
Before you get too deep into the planning process, it’s important to know what you actually want. This might seem obvious, but not all suits are tuxedos, and not all tuxedos are the same. Depending on the other details of your wedding (venue, dress code, general ~vibe~), a tuxedo may or may not be the best way to go. There are some technical differences that make a suit a tux—satin details, no belt loops in the pants, and more formal shirts—but generally tuxedos just feel a bit more formal. You probably know that black-tie = tuxedo (with a black bowtie), but if you’re going with a formal dress code, you could also go for a dark three-piece suit. Or if it’s a more casual cocktail-attire event, you can go for whatever suit you like best. Whatever you choose, tuxedo or not, Generation Tux has you covered.
Know Your Options
Okay, so you decided you want a tuxedo—great! You’re not done with the decisions. If you’re not going strictly black-tie, you can play around with color, whether that means the groom and the groomsmen wearing contrasting colors, or matching accessories (like bowties and pocket squares) with the bridal party. Popular tux colors are gray and blue, and accessories come in every color imaginable. Thankfully, Generation Tux provides free swatches, so you don’t just have to guess which shade of gray will work best with your other wedding details. Aside from color, you can also choose between a few popular lapel styles: notch (the most popular), peak, and shawl. The details may sound small, but you’d be surprised how the little things can change the whole feel of the look. And speaking of little things, don’t forget cufflinks! They’re a great way to tie together the full look, and you can choose whatever you like best.
Comfort & Fit Are Everything
Obviously you want everyone at the wedding to look great, but part of looking good is feeling good, too. For this reason, wool suits are always preferable to polyester, because wool is both more breathable and easier to move around in. The good news is, Generation Tux’s suits and tuxedos are made from high-quality wool, so you’ll be ready to go.
You also have a couple choices when it comes to the fit of your tux. You can choose between slim fit and modern fit, both of which offer a flattering, fitted look, but with a few key differences. The slim fit is cut close to the body, with tapered pants that are perfect if you want to show off stylish accent socks. The modern fit still gives you a fitted look, but with a bit more room around the chest and ankles. There’s no wrong choice, but it’s important to know your options before making a final decision.
Read The Fine Print
In this age of weddings being postponed left and right, you’re probably no stranger to double-checking all your vendor contracts to make sure you’re not missing anything. Suit rental is no different! Generation Tux makes things stress-free by shipping everything out two weeks before the big day, which gives you plenty of time to make any last-minute adjustments. They ship to all 50 states, which is a lifesaver if your wedding party is spread out across the country, and they also offer a free home try-on for the groom so you can make sure everything looks perfect. Their website also has helpful event management tools to keep track of all the steps in the process, so nothing gets lost in the chaos of planning. After the wedding, Generation Tux gives you three days to return your items, and yes, shipping is free in both directions.
Let’s face it: most of us aren’t experts at most phases of planning a wedding, and choosing suits and tuxedos can be a complicated process. But with tons of options and great tools to help along the way, Generation Tux can help make the process a lot less stressful.
Ohhhh wedding season, such a joyful time, so much love, so much happiness—for everyone but you. If weddings weren’t a constant reminder of how single you are, then they sure do remind you of how broke you are. Weddings can be truly, truly annoying, and I say that with all sincerity. People want you to come to their wedding, enjoy how in love THEY are, and spend hundreds on a dress? Ugh, the agony. Still, sometimes weddings can be great. I personally have never met an open bar I didn’t love. The singles table can we a real wild one, and if it’s a black tie wedding, well then, sign me up. Now, quoting Wedding Crashers for the entire ceremony and reception is required, but what’s also required is to have a fabulous dress. I have found some great inexpensive wedding attire that will be sure to turn heads, and hey, maybe you’ll catch the bouquet and you’ll be next! Doubtful, but at least you’ll look good trying.
My inspiration for this dress was Hailee Steinfeld. She wore it in white, but unless you want the bride you actually kill you, I’d stay away from anything white. I wore this dress in green but found the same one in orange. I know what you’re thinking: “I’d really rather not look like a pumpkin while sulking during the first dance,” but I promise you won’t. Orange is great in the summer, especially with a tan.
House of CB Holly orange slit front maxi dress
My next inspiration was Bella Hadid. The dress I’m wearing I found years ago and actually wore it to a prom. Please don’t judge me. I brought it to a tailor and had a slit put in it because I’m an adult now. I found an even better one for you guys! This will surely get the attention of the singles table and probably the creepy uncle at the wedding. Sorry for that.
House of CB Tomasa champagne satin draped maxi dress
Sometimes long dresses aren’t the vibe for a wedding. The dress I’m wearing I bought last summer and it’s sold out. I’m really sorry. I hope you forgive me, because I founder a cheaper one and it’s literally the exact same thing. Black satin always stands out. It says you’re classy but that you’re also here to fuck things up at the cocktail hour. I didn’t have a celebrity inspiration for this dress, but I think it’s perfect summer wedding attire, and in the winter it’s great for holiday parties with tights and pumps.
Lulus one day black satin halter swing dress
My next look was inspired by the new princess. Or Duchess? Whatever. I love the halter look with a top knot. This color is PERFECT for a summer wedding. The material is light, so if you really feel like dancing with the creepy uncle, you’ll be able to really move it. Meghan Markle wore a similar style for her wedding reception, so basically I’m a princess now too.
Missguided blue choker halterneck low back maxi dress
Bella Hadid (Again)
Lastly, I feel like I need to tell you that this dress from House of CB was only $200 and flawless. White is obviously not a color for a wedding , but sometimes summer gala events pop up or maybe you just want to look good going to the grocery store. Who am I to judge? Moral of the story, House of CB has some great affordable dress for whatever you’re doing this summer.
House of CB Merveille white wrap sleeve maxi dress
Images: Haliee Steinfeld, Bella Hadid, Kleinfeld Bridal / Instagram; Maya Media (5)
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