SUMMER DRESS CODES DECODED

Can I wear black to a wedding?

And what happens if it’s cold? Frankie Graddon shares her failsafe summer-wedding dressing guide

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By Frankie Graddon on

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Everybody loves a good wedding, right? Friends, music, open bar (hopefully). Of course, the one potential downside – other than a hangover – is the wardrobe dilemma. What should I wear? Is it going to cost me a fortune? Do I have to buy a clutch bag?

As previously discussed on The Pool, a great wedding outfit need not cost an arm and a leg. Plus, with a whole host of versatile occasionwear options available this season, the emphasis is very much on wear once, wear twice, then carry on wearing. Still, there are some wedding-guest-dressing pitfalls that require navigating. So, with that in mind, here’s my summer wedding dress code cheat sheet.

What do I wear if I don’t do dresses?

When talk turns to wedding-guest outfits, it tends to be about dresses or skirts. But if you’re not a huge fan of either, things can get a little tricky. However, there are alternatives. Trouser suits are having a real moment this spring, with plenty of bright jackets and matching trousers around. If this all sounds too formal, then try a flowy pyjama-style suit. However, by far and away my favourite non-dress option is a jumpsuit. An all-in-one, instant outfit, there are lots of styles to choose from, depending on your preference. I love this navy, wrap, cropped number with orange detailing. Add fancy flats/a pair of heels and off you trot.

Is it OK to wear black?

I’ve been asked this question a lot recently and, after consulting my fellow fashion-editor friends, the answer is a resounding yes (FYI, white is still a no). It’s practical (what red wine spill?), goes with everything and the chances are, if you buy a dress in black, you will wear it again and again. However, to avoid black looking sombre, I would advise going for something printed – a floral, a stripe or this season’s polka dots. This black dotty dress would look great with a pair of colourful earrings (more on those later) and you can always further brighten things up with some lipstick or nail polish.  

What happens if it’s cold?

Here’s the thing about weddings – they aren’t always that sunny. While summer dos are often equated with balmy afternoons, sipping a glass of fizz, the reality can look more like soggy fascinators in a cold marquee. In the event that the big day is on the chilly side, you will need a cover-up. Boleros are so 2002 and don’t even get me started on pashminas. To avoid all cover-up naffness, your best bet is to go for a blazer. Structured or loose-fit – whatever floats your boat. I’ve found this slouchy, blush number with little ties on the sleeves. It also comes in black (see point above).

Do I have to have a clutch bag?

If the thought of spending the day with a miniature bag tucked into your armpit is less than appealing, then I suggest you give clutch bags a wide berth. Though common wedding-day attire, I personally find a bag without straps supremely irritating. What do you do with it when you want to dance? Or have a wee? Instead, I shall be plumping for a sweet basket bag that comes with both top handles and a longer shoulder strap.

Can I wear comfortable shoes?

A wedding isn’t a wedding until you’ve danced into the small hours and sung Bon Jovi at the top of your lungs. But if there’s one thing that can kill the mood, it’s sore feet. After treading on a shard of champagne flute, I have vowed to never wedding-dance barefoot again, so comfortable shoes are a must. Fancy flats are always a great option and there are plenty around, from slides to slip-ons to posh slippers. If you want a bit of height, then have a look at these slingbacks, which come with very danceable 3in cone heels.

Have I got to wear floral?

While floral print is one of spring/summer's forever trends, it is certainly not for everyone. Though the shops are currently packed with the stuff, there are plenty of wedding-appropriate alternatives. We’ve already discussed polka dots –  this season’s hero print – but if these aren’t for you, then try something in block colour. Yellow, green, hot pink and cobalt are all winners, but I think this russet 70s-style wrap dress is the ultimate find. Wear it with the above cream courts and some tortoiseshell earrings.

What do I do about accessories?

Wedding accessories are a minefield. Hats! Corsages! Fascinators! Wraps! Christ. Unless the dress code stipulates any of the former, my advice would be to back away from the traditional accoutrements and go for a pair of statement earrings instead. Inexpensive but impactful, a jazzy pair of earrings will add pizzazz to almost any outfit. While beads and tassels feel suitably summery, graphic shapes have a stylish, contemporary feel.

Click here for the Wedding wardrobe dilemma edit

@frankiegraddon

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