Here’s What Every Wedding Dress Code Really Means


Choosing the right outfit for a wedding is almost as difficult for guests as it is for the bride! Every wedding has a different vibe, style and dress code. If the wedding is outdoors should you wear a form-fitting or a loose dress? What do you wear to the mysterious black tie optional wedding? Check out our tips below to scout the perfect outfit for every dress code!

White Tie

Unlike black tie white tie is full-on eveningwear. It is the most proper, conservative, and dressy attire you will ever need to wear (but honestly, you’ll probably never have to). Think the royal wedding or state dinners. For men this includes a tuxedo with a long black jacket, tails, a white pique vest, and a bow tie. For women this includes a formal full-length gown. When thinking of what to wear think WWMOW (What would Michelle Obama wear) and you’re sure not make a fashion faux pas.

Black Tie

We’re talking formal dresses and men in tuxes, but keep in mind, we are talking formal not a ball gown or an Oscars dress. For women black tie attire is floor length dresses or elaborate formal cocktail dresses. For shoes, heels are always a good way to go, but if you plan on dancing the night away at the reception think about wearing dressy flats instead. For men black tie means exactly what it is, a tuxedo with a black bow tie. If your SO doesn’t have a tuxedo a nice black suit and black tie will suffice, just make sure he is not wearing khakis or button ups.

Black Tie Optional

Black tie optional is a tricky one because you’re dressing the fine line between black tie and formal. For men, a tuxedo is not required but a dark suit and tie should most likely be worn. For women, a maxi dress, tea length or a tasteful cocktail dress will definitely do he trick.


This one is pretty self explanatory – cocktail attire means dress up to be ready for a fun night ahead! Finally, a dress code that gives you options! With cocktail attire, you are allowed to wear any length of dress you’d like. You can even stray away from tradition and wear a jumpsuit! It’s semi-formal and should be able to look appropriate in the day time and dancing-ready at night! For the men, a suit and tie is just fine. Bottom line is: make sure you feel fun, festive, and worthy of a great party.

Resort Chic

So what is this new dress code attire that everyone keeps talking about? Here’s the skinny on “resort chic” – it’s basically attire for those fun & breezy destination weddings by the water that’s appropriate for the beach while also keeping it very chic. Women can wear a glamorous maxi dress or sundress, don’t be afraid to wear a pop of color or bold print! Shoes should either be wedges or a flat sandal. For the men, pretend you’re in a J.Crew summer magazine spread – a casual button-down shirt, trousers, and a boat shoe is the way to go.

Beach Chic

Beach wedding attire is the most laid back and relaxed attire, but that doesn’t mean you can leave your style at the door. Men can wear light cream or tan colored khakis and button down linen shirts (shoes optional if the ceremony/reception is on the beach). For the ladies, we love light flowing material for the beachy breeze rather than a fabric clings to your body like organza or lace does. Additionally, go for a maxi or midi dress rather than a short dress, because the last thing you need to for a gust of wind to blow and your panties to show! Remember, photographers don’t take breaks!



For a winter wedding, go for long sleeves or short sleeves with a nice wrap to keep warm. After all, it IS winter and the cold can be brutal so steer clear of the short and slinky dresses. As far as color goes, stray away from prints, and go for solid colors like navy blue or black.



Spring is the time for blooming colorful flowers… and dresses! ‘Tis the season to wear prints and pastels. If you want to stray away from a traditional dress, wear separates—we love the look of a top paired with a colorful tulle skirt.



Summer wedding season is the perfect time to wear cute cocktail dresses and light, flowing maxis! Instead of springy prints, go for nice solid summer color like a pastel pink or bright coral. Either choice will look great under the summer sun!



Fall is the “coolest” season there is! Go for tones that compliment the colors of the changing leaves like yellow, tan, or dark greens. The weather will be not too hot and not too cold, allowing you to wear a short cocktail dress or a long sleeved dress comfortably!


General Rules

No matter the dress code, there are some rules that should always be followed!

For men it is fairly simple,

  • Unless specifically noted, do not wear short-sleeved shirts or tee-shirts. You are not going to a luau or tailgate; you are going to a wedding so dress up a little.

For women the guidelines are a little more extensive.

  • Do not wear white! It is not your wedding day, there should only be one woman wearing white and that is the bride.
  • Avoid matching with the bridesmaids. If possible find out what color dress the bridesmaids are wearing so you don’t wear the same color. If you’re not tight enough with the bride to ask, don’t sweat it.
  • Don’t wear something too short, tight, or with a lot of cutouts. You are not going to a club, there’s a time and place for a sexy dress like that but a wedding is not it. Follow the rule of one, one sexy aspect like a low back or low v-neck.
  • Do not wear anything outlandish or crazy. A wedding is not a place to experiment with your fashion choices,. You don’t want to pull focus from the bride and groom, it is not your special day, it’s theirs!
  • If the dress code is not specified, it is always better to be over dressed than under dressed!


  1. Me gustaría saber si tienes IG para solicitarte el permiso para postear este artículo seccionado y darte obviamente tus créditos. Mi cuenta es : @christibabeatrizlares
    Me luce interesante.
    Muchas Gracias


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