Different By Design

Can You Wear White to a Wedding? Wedding Attire Guide

by Kim Izzo


Wedding Attire Guide with Style Expert Alison McGill

Another wedding season is upon us, and now that restrictions are over (thank you!), brides and their well-dressed guests are hitting the social circuit. After two-years of mask-wearing and virtual celebrations it’s no surprise that special events are having a moment as are the dresses and fancy pants we’d stashed away for better times. Now that time has come and at White House Black Market, we are here to provide you with some stylish options and some expert advice on wedding guest fashion.

Meet award-winning editor, writer, and podcast host Alison McGill. She is the former Editor-in-Chief of Canadian magazine Weddingbells, and is a regular contributor to Brides, The Toronto Star, Hello! Canada, and 29Secrets. Alison’s wedding and lifestyle podcast Aisle Seat launched in 2021 and was named one of Brides “12 Best Wedding Podcasts.”

Wedding expert Alison McGill

We sat down with Alison and asked her to dish the secrets to being the best-dressed guest at your best friend’s wedding (or cousins, sisters, co-worker and so on). Here’s what she had to say.

Can you wear white (dress) to a wedding? If so, how?

ALISON MCGILL SAYS: Yes, you can, but there are a few rules and considerations. In fact, more and more couples are hosting an all-white themed wedding knows as a “Celebration En Blanc.” At this style of wedding, everything is themed to the color white, including fashion and all guests are asked to wear the color. This is a super chic wedding style!

If you want to wear white to a non-themed wedding, some things to keep top of mind. Do not wear anything that looks remotely like a wedding dress. That means lace dresses, tulle skirts and anything overly embellished it a no-go. Consider a sleek little white dress for a minimalist approach, a white dress with a classic pattern like polka dots, or a sleek white pant or skirt suit. Accessorize with a pop of fun color for shoes and jewels. Also love a high contrast look mixing white with black shoes and a clutch.

What about dress codes? Creative black tie is a classic puzzler.

Alison says: Creative black tie, what does that even mean?! Again, this is the time to ask the wedding couple questions so you get it right. Black tie and white tie are very close in dress code styles, but white tie is just a little more formal. Do a little research on what that looks like before hitting checkout on your shopping cart. Destinations weddings can be tricky because that adds another layer of guess work to what to wear…now you must not just worry about being party appropriate, but weather appropriate! 

For sun destinations, an easy maxi dress is always a great idea, patterns particularly florals are fresh in 2022. If you are going to Europe, the wedding could be more formal because venues are more formal. As a rule, the venue choice will dictate what you wear to a destination celebration. I do want to say a destination wedding requires special footwear consideration. Heels don’t work on the beach. You may need to build your outfit from the ground up in this case for an oceanfront celebration.

What if there’s no dress code?

Alison says: Rule number one: if unsure, ask! Don’t stress and try and do guess work. This is the best advice when it comes to figuring out what to wear. Call or email the bride or groom, if a very close friend or family relation, send a text. They will be happy to give you the dress code 411!

Are there any specific trends in wedding guest dresses in 2022?

Alison says: People excited to dress up and go to events again. Glamour is trending. That means looks with a little extra fashion flair and dazzle. Bold colors, fun floral prints. Pretty details like ruffles and beautiful necklines. People also want comfort, so breezy silhouettes are favored. One style that is huge for guest dressing (and for brides) is the classic bias-cut slip dress. It’s a style that is easy to wear and is flattering on so many figures.

What about wearing pants? Is that a do or don’t?

Alison says: Yes to pants! A tailored pantsuit is extremely chic and it’s something you will wear again and again as part of your occasion wardrobe. A jumpsuit is also fun choice depending on the style of wedding.

Are there any style faux pas that you should avoid?

Alison says: Never be too casual with your wedding guest look. It’s always better to be a little extra, than not dressed up enough. Life affords us very few opportunities to truly take our fashion game to a fabulous and formal level. Weddings are the time to do just that, especially after we have been rocking such a causal fashion vibe for SO long! Be bold, be glam, and be fabulous!

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