Can You Wear a Mini-Dress to a Wedding? What About Cut-Outs? We Asked a Stylist
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The other night, my soon-to-be-married best friend and I sat down with a glass of wine, to chat about all things wedding fashion.
We got onto the topic of guest outfits. She was concerned that some people might try to “upstage” her. I told her that that was impossible (I helped her choose her wedding dress, and trust me, she will not be upstaged). But even still, I think this is a common thought among brides-to-be.
It’s like when you throw your first big birthday party as a teenager, and you feel it’s imperative to be the hottest person there. It’s your party, you want everyone to want to kiss you.
With weddings, there’s the added pressure on forever-mantelpiece photos, the emotions that come with making a lifelong decision and all of the traditions we’ve been taught that matter, when it comes to marriage. So, at the very least, you want to be the star of the show — if only for one day.
This got me thinking: what are the official dos and don’ts when it comes to wedding guest attire?
“There are definitely some rules around wedding guest dressing, although these are becoming more relaxed from what they once were,” stylist Kimberley Sara Hunt tells POPSUGAR Australia.
“The main rules that still apply are do not wear white as upstaging/competing with the bride is a big no-no! Another one is to stick to the dress code on the invitation.”
But what if none is given? Reaching out for clarification is your best option, she says.
“Most brides are so excited about the day and envisioning how it will all come together, they will be more than happy to discuss style and outfits with their guests. If in doubt, you can always get in touch with the bridal party for advice too as they will likely have a good understanding of the day and the couple’s expectations.”
Below, we’ve identified five potentially controversial styles to wear to a wedding, with Hunt sharing why you can (or can’t) wear them to a wedding and what to shop instead.
Cut-outs are super on trend right now, especially coming into summer. While I wouldn’t hesitate to wear something with cut-outs to a wedding, I’d probably be pickier about their size and placement. For example, I might check with the bride before wearing this NBD Lotte Gown ($238), given its exposing stomach cut-out and thigh split. Whereas, this Helena Dress in Fuchsia ($599) is less controversial, given its long sleeves and full-skirt coverage, with smaller cut-outs.
“Wearing cut-outs is very much dependent on the theme of the wedding,” Hunt says. “If it is a relaxed setting or cocktail attire, then absolutely go for it! But, if the wedding is more traditional and conservative, you might want to give this a miss.”
Naked or Sheer Dress
Naked (or sheer) dresses are also really trending right now. While fashion is moving towards embracing the parts of women we’ve been taught to hide (such as curves and nipples), does the same apply to the still somewhat traditional setting of a wedding?
Personally, I’m not sure I’d wear a sheer dress to a wedding. As someone with curves and bigger boobs, sheer dresses tend to have a more sexy look on me, and I don’t think I’d feel appropriate at a wedding full of the couple’s family members. Plus, I wouldn’t want to draw the attention away from the bride and groom. However, depending on the wedding and your look, I don’t think it’s necessarily an absolutely not.
“Again, naked or sheer looks are dependent on the theme of the wedding,” says Hunt, “and will be far more suited to an indoor, evening event. Sheer can work when done in a classy and elegant way, but naked dresses — more transparent than a sheer material — are best left for club nights.”
Wearing white or the same colour as the bride is a no-go-there zone, says Hunt. This is because it can be seen as a direct comparison or competition with the bride, which is just not what’s done.
“You should never wear the same colour dress as the bride! While the bride herself might not mind too much, it will likely cause quite a stir and a few comments from other guests,” says Hunt.
“If the bride is wearing traditional white and you want to wear something similar, try opting for something soft without going for white, such as this Long Sleeve V Neck Maxi Dress $30 or this Lee Matthews Didion Dress ($599).”
There always seems to be lots of controversy around wearing black on a wedding day. I asked my mum — who had a super traditional Italian wedding to my dad — why that is.
“Traditionally, wearing black to church signifies mourning,” my mum said.
“It’s the colour of death, what we wear to funerals and memorials. Your wedding day is the opposite — the happiest day of your life! Some people don’t appreciate when guests wear black to their wedding, because they feel it doesn’t signify the happiness of the day.”
But given that some modern brides wear black wedding dresses, and the meaning of marriage has evolved heaps since my parents’ wedding in 1992, maybe wearing black doesn’t hold the same meaning anymore?
I’d personally love to wear black to a wedding, but given my traditional Catholic Italian roots, I’d probably check in with the bride first.
“All black is absolutely okay for a wedding,” Hunt argues. “It’s timeless, chic and elegant. The only time it may not be appropriate is a garden wedding which calls for softer tones, but otherwise, you can’t go wrong with black.”
Either of these Staud Landry Sweetheart-Neckline Strapped Maxi Dress ($341.09) or The Muse Dress ($249.95) would be perfect wedding guest choices.
Mini Dress or Skirt
Mini skirts or dresses are another silently controversial style. While they’re super in right now, is a short hemline appropriate to wear to a wedding?
“There’s no rule that you need to wear a longer hemline,” says Hunt. “Therefore, a mini is absolutely fine, provided it isn’t so short you are risking an upskirt moment!”
“Be conscious of how much dancing you will be doing and try to go for an elegant mid heel or even a flat, like these Plait Slides ($14), a pair of cowboy boots or some cute ballet flats like this Crackle style ($259) from Bared, to steer the mini away from being OTT.”