Wedding Dress Codes Decoded

Shortly after you RSVP to attend a wedding, it’s time to think about what you’re going to wear. If you’re stressed out about interpreting the dress code, we can help with our wedding guest guide. Here are the most common wedding guest dress codes explained so that you arrive appropriately–and stylishly–dressed for the celebration.

White & Black Tie

As the two most formal dress codes, white & black tie require a full length gown. White tie is the more formal of the two and may require long gloves to accompany your gown of choice. Attending a black tie wedding but you’re not a fan of dresses? Elegant pantsuits make the perfect gown alternative. Pair your outfit of choice with stunning jewelry, heels, and an elegant clutch.

Black Tie Optional & Formal

For women, there isn’t a huge jump between black tie and black tie optional, it’s more about the men’s optional attire with this dress code. A floor-length gown, a fancy cocktail dress, or a dressy pantsuit would be appropriate options for this event. Your outfit should have a formal, elegant look to it, and when in doubt go more neutral and formal than colorful and casual.


Cocktail is one of the most popular dress codes and one of the easiest to dress for – all you need is a cocktail dress! Unlike white & black tie, cocktail dresses can range in length from tea, knee, or midi length. The material should feel formal and elegant, not casual. Cocktail does allow for color options, but it’s also the perfect occasion to reach for an LBD. Style your wedding attire with statement accessories and heels.

Semi-Formal & Dressy Casual 

These dress codes allow for more flexibility to wear dressy items that lean a little more casual. You can wear separates or dresses at any hem length (just no ball gowns!) and in more casual materials such as cotton, linen, or knits. Dress up the casual materials with accessories that add a little bit of sparkle and heels. If the wedding is in the evening, darker, richer colors are appropriate whereas lighter, brighter colors are perfect for a daytime event. A sleek jumpsuit also fits perfectly into these dress codes.


Casual weddings are more laid-back in nature, and that includes attire as well. Jeans, shorts, and leggings are not appropriate (unless otherwise specified), but you do have a variety of outfit options to choose from. Styles appropriate for casual weddings include sundresses, midis, casual maxi dresses, as well as a broader range of colors and prints. If you prefer donning separates, style a beautiful blouse with a nice pant or skirt. You can accessorize these styles with wedges or dressy sandals and complimentary accessories.

Tropical & Destination

Weather should play a big part in choosing your outfit for a tropical or destination wedding. Many brides will choose their destination for the scenery so the wedding will likely take place outdoors. When attending a tropical wedding, halters, sleeveless, and sundresses will keep you cool in the seaside weather. During the day, pair your outfit with a sunhat, or if the event is in the evening, opt for a shawl to keep warm in the tropical breeze. The best shoe options for these weddings are dressy sandals, wedges, or block heels to make walking on uneven ground a bit easier.

No Dress Code

When no dress code is listed on the invitation, guests can be left puzzled on where to even start. When in doubt, take a peek at the venue to gauge how formal or informal the event will be. You will also want to take the time of the wedding into consideration as evening weddings tend to be more formal than daytime events. Be sure to speak with your stylist about the event so they can help create a look you will feel comfortable and confident in!

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