Weddings are fun. Aren’t they?

The only challenging part about them is to decipher the dress code.

Do you know a woman spends 17 minutes a day debating what outfit to wear? According to results from a study at DailyMail, women spend more than four days a year or almost six months between the ages of 18 and 60.

Undoubtedly, the time increases when you’re wondering what to wear to a wedding—no matter whether you are a man or woman!

However, dress codes help set the whole vibe of the soiree. They have been in the picture for years to guide you on what to wear to different events. But what if you are still unsure what to pick and avoid?

Let’s understand with an example. Suppose you are invited to a wedding that has a “dressy casual” dress code. You are expected to worry too much about finding a perfect wedding dress to match the code.

But what on earth exactly is a dressy casual ensemble?

Don’t get confused or intimidated by the term; we are here to clarify everything for you.

Keep scrolling through the post to understand the term and learn more about wedding attire and dress codes.

WHAT IT MEANS BY DRESSY CASUAL?

It describes the overall aesthetic of a person attending-not all the way formal, but please don’t wear jeans or shorts to the wedding.

Most of the time, this dress code is considered for daytime events. Simply put, the earlier the wedding reception, the less formal the attire. So you can’t roll up in your favorite jeans or sweatpants, and you don’t have to squeeze yourself into a corseted gown or tux.

Thus, it is best to stick to the formal side of the spectrum for a later evening or a night event.

A dressy casual dress code is about finding the happy medium rather than screaming style and glamor.

You can find the term “dressy casual” in different ways on the invite, as some choose to mention smart casual, upscale casual, or fancy casual—but they all generally mean the same.

If nothing specific is stated on the invite, then allow the time of the day, season, and location of the wedding to guide your style choice.

DRESSY CASUAL ATTIRE GUIDE FOR WOMEN

Women have many choices compared to men, especially when following the dressy, casual outfit code. Let’s divide it into three prime categories:

Clothing

We can always discuss the best ways to strike a balance between formality and casualness, but what about the things we should never do?

  • Throw the idea of wearing t-shirts, low-cut tops, crop tops, jeans, and shorts out of the window. They are too casual for a dressy casual look.
  • Similarly, avoid picking cocktail dresses. They are undoubtedly very beautiful but don’t fall into the dressy casual category.

Keeping these outfit ideas to avoid in mind, picking up on what to wear to a wedding gets clear. Here are some ideas for you.

  • Sundresses or day dresses : Wearing a day dress or sundress could work for summer events, but you must be careful about the prints and patterns you pick. For inspiration, have a look at this beautiful look of Kate Middleton.
  • Kate Middleton

  • Jumpsuit : Jumpsuits could be an interesting choice for women who want to avoid wearing a skirt or dress. Although they might be a little formal, playing with the designs and pants can differentiate them well for all the dress codes. For reference, Lily Collins from ‘Emily In Paris” rocked an elegant number anyone can pull up to any dressy casual summer wedding.
  • Lily Collins from ‘Emily In Paris'

  • Midi Skirt : You can pair an excellent blouse or lace top with your midi skirt and heeled footwear to create an understated look. For reference, you can style your look like Kristin Davis from “Sex in the City”.
  • Kristin Davis from 'Sex in the City'

  • Two-Piece Ensemble : Two-piece or breezy co-ord sets are the trend of the year. They create a very put-together dressier yet casual look. With a pair of nice stilettos, this could be an excellent choice for sure. Take inspiration from Lovi Poe, an actress from the Netflix series “Season”. She ditched the typical dress and instead donned a cute two-piece ensemble.
  • An actress from the Netflix series 'Season'

    PHOTO BY INSTAGRAM/LOVIPOE

Shoes

An elegant pair of heels with straps or flats is usually an excellent choice, especially when you are trying to strike the right balance between formal and informal.

Shoes

Accessories

Make sure to maintain the subtleness of your outfit while accessorizing it. Don’t go overboard, as it could clash with the dressy casual theme of the wedding.

  • Choose dainty jewelry pieces, be it earrings, necklaces, or bracelets.
  • necklace

  • Try styling a scarf with your semi-formal wedding attire.
  • Women wearing Scarf

  • Don’t forget to carry a cute and subtle clutch bag with the outfit to complete the whole look. However, make sure it is not blingy to maintain the ensemble balance.

     Women standing with a cute and subtle clutch bag

DRESSY CASUAL ATTIRE GUIDE FOR MEN

Now that we have talked about women, why not move forward with the dressy casual outfit category for men?

Here’s what to wear to a wedding guide for men:

1. Top Wear

First, avoid going too casual, like no T-shirts with words, insignias, or cartoons. These options are way too casual to sync with the “dressy” part of the dress code and must be avoided.

A nice dress shirt with a subtle day-color blazer is just perfect for stepping into the venue. You can even stick to the shirt only if the event is during the peak summer.

Take inspiration from the very hot Jacob Elordi; his style is just impeccable.

Jacob Elordi

2. Bottom Wear

Wearing shorts, three-quarter length trousers, and ripped jeans shouldn’t even pop into your head while trying to figure out the definition of dressy casual for a man.

Pick an elegant pair of trousers in general or in khaki or linen material; all these options would do. Slacks could do as they are just the right amount of formal to be dressy.

See how flawlessly Nick Jonas is donning these beige pants with a double-breasted suit. It has a simple and impactful monochromatic look that is perfect to take inspiration from.

Simple and impactful monochromatic look

3. Shoes

Loafers are undoubtedly the most suitable footwear option for these events.

A tricky option is the Oxfords, as the dress shoes in Oxford might not work, but Oxford sneakers might. They seem to be truly designed with the semi-formal or dressy casual dress code in mind.

Shoes

OTHER DRESS CODES FOR WEDDING GUESTS: EXPLAINED

1. White Tie: Most Formal

The white-tie events are the events with the most formal dress code. These are pretty uncommon types of weddings, but if you are invited to such an event, you need to prepare yourself to bring your A-game ahead.

If you have an opportunity to pretend you’re royalty for an evening, women should either wear an elaborate floor-length ballgown, a sheath or an A-line dress with high heels and opulent jewelry.

Conversely, men must wear a clean and crisp formal white shirt, a black tuxedo with a tailcoat, a white vest, and a white bowtie. Black patent leather shoes (opera shoes) complete the look.

Queen Letizia of Spain with her then-fiancé

Courtesy Of Pop Sugar
Queen Letizia of Spain with her then-fiancé, Felipe of Spain, as an attendee at the wedding of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Mary Donaldson in Copenhagen.

2. Black Tie: A Step Down For White Tie

Black-tie affairs are the second most formal event, typically held in the evening. If a wedding invite requests that you dress up according to the black-tie code, you must be your most sophisticated self.

Men must wear a tuxedo with a black tie or a bow tie with a white formal tux shirt. If you want, you can complete the look with a vest.

Women here have the opportunity to get dressed in a floor-length wedding guest gown in satin, crepe, chiffon or silk while accessorizing with refined jewelry such as pearls or diamonds. Wearing heels is recommended, but dressy flats are your best choice if you want to be comfortable.

A pic of Cindy Crawford and her husband Rande Gerber

(Image credit: Getty Images)
Cindy Crawford and her husband Rande Gerber attend the wedding party for the wedding of George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin on September 27, 2014, in Venice, Italy

3. Formal Or Black-Tie Optional: Slightly Less Formal Than Black-Tie

The black tie optional dress code might seem a little confusing. However, it’s quite easy to dress up for it. This code allows you to be flexible with your outfit choices.

Although it is still formal, men here are not required to wear a tuxedo (if you want, you can wear a dark suit). Women in this dress code are accepted to wear floor-length gowns or dressy cocktail dresses. However, the dress has to be subtle and non-revealing.

4. Cocktail: Small Step Above Semi-Formal

The best way to dress up for a cocktail party is to be slightly less formal than a formal event.

This dress code gives you an opportunity to be yourself without having to adhere to any particular color or style requirements.

For women, a stunning yet elegant cocktail dress is ideal for this occasion, while men can opt for a tailored suit or a dressy blazer paired with trousers

Mark Zuckerburg, accompanied by his pretty wife Priscilla Chan

Pic Courtesy- TOI
Mark, accompanied by his pretty wife Priscilla Chan for the Cocktail party of Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant in India.

5. Casual: Outdoor Or Beach Event

A relevant factor to consider while picking an outfit for the beach wedding is the weather.

A linen shirt or any soft button-down with linen pants or khakis is perfect for male attendees. Women can wear a lovely summer dress or a printed flowy skirt to maintain the vibe.

However, the key is to maintain the balance between not getting overdressed and dressing down since you would still be at a wedding.

Try opting for an outfit that won’t show sweat, especially if it is a hot day.

Pic Courtesy – John Legend Instagram
Chrissy Teigen, a Sports Illustrated model, and her husband, John Legend, attended a casual outdoor wedding in Utah.

6. Festive: Leverages Fun and Playful Accessories

It’s pretty much a new dress code for weddings that people have started adapting to make their day more memorable.

Festive outfit requirement calls for being playful and colorful with the attire.

There are so many ideas for putting together an outfit for the same. For instance, women can play with silhouettes, colors, and prints. On the other hand, men can pull out their funky shoes, socks, or ties to match the vibe.

EmRata attended Marc Jacobs and Charly Defrancesco’s wedding in a silky, high-shine yellow dress in April 2019

Pic Courtesy – British Vogue
EmRata attended Marc Jacobs and Charly Defrancesco’s wedding in a silky, high-shine yellow dress in April 2019.

7. Theme Setup: Take A Hint From The Mentioned Theme

Having a theme for a celebration means tons of opportunities to have fun with.

Use your creative skills to put together an inspiration board and, finally, an ensemble according to the theme.

If you don’t know what to do or are in the midst of a decision, you can get guidance from the mood boards online or your favorite celebrities.

Paloma is wearing a vintage Issey Miyake look

Pic Courtesy – Instagram/ @archivevintage
Paloma is wearing a vintage Issey Miyake look sourced from Archive for friend Lauren Rodriguez’s wedding in May 2022 (the perfect inspiration for a vintage theme wedding).

8. No Code: Experiment Yourself

There is probably nothing more stressful than figuring out what to wear to a wedding as the attendee, if there is no dress code at all.

The best way to consult the host is to understand their expectations or gather information on what your friends are wearing. At least, if your decision was wrong, you wouldn’t be the only one standing out from the rest of the crowd.

COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN DRESSING UP FOR A WEDDING AS A GUEST

If you are the one who doesn’t know the answer to the question – “What should I not wear to a wedding as a guest?”, proceed to find out so that you don’t make the same mistakes:

Wearing White

  • It is one of the basic rules that every guest must know that you, in no case, wear the color “white.”
  • White color outfits are strictly reserved for the bride!
  • It won’t harm you to avoid light-tone ensembles like light beige, blush, or light silver.
  • However, if the dress code suggests you wear it, then, of course, you must adhere to the request.

Not Adhering To The Dress Code

  • The couple usually mentions the dress code in the invite as they wish to set a tone and formal index of the wedding.
  • You, as a guest, must adhere to their request, as nothing would be worse than showing up at the event without wearing the appropriate attire.
  • It will make it different from the crowd, and you’ll most likely feel uncomfortable during the entire ceremony.
  • If you are confused about what to wear, you must always ask the couple or someone from their family to help you with the outfit choice.

Wearing Disgraceful Or Flashy Attire

  • Some wedding events, like cocktail parties or day festivities, call for a little skin show, but it is best not to go overboard.
  • Sequins, animal prints, and other over-the-top designs are fun for a night out but not the right choice for a wedding.
  • If you have only a few dress options per the dress code, then it is safe to stick to the modest one, especially for the ceremony.
  • Dressing up as you like is fine, but in no case should you be the centre of focus other than the bride.

Not Dressing Up As Per The Season

  • Always pick your outfit after knowing the weather forecast to avoid uncomfortable situations.
  • Stick to an outfit that is both suitable for the season and the setting of the nuptials.
  • Choose Breezy, comfortable attire for summer and layered clothing for winter weddings.

Not Picking Up The Right Undergarment

  • If you dread being in the typical Marilyn Monroe moment or a potential slip of nudity, you must wear the proper undergarments for your attire.
  • Pick the right color, style, and pattern for the undergarments to make your outfit look seamless and stay comfortable during all hours.

ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR ATTENDEES

Consider The Time Of The Day

  • The timing of the event provides information regarding the requirement to dress up formally or informally.
  • Allows you to plan your comfort accordingly. For instance, if the event is late in the evening during winter, then you probably need layers to keep you warm.

Find Out About The Venue

  • The venue’s ambiance sets the tone for how dressy you should be for the wedding
  • Also, your choice of footwear could vary, based on the venue. For instance, stilettos won’t be a great match for the outdoor settings.

Check With The Couple

  • If you have any questions, what so ever, make sure to contact the couple or their family to avoid any outfit mistake.
  • Getting guidance about the unique dress codes would also help you to make the right decision.

Now that you understand what to wear and when to wear it, there’s just one more thing to do: get dressed and have a great time!

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