weddings

24 affordable but chic wedding outfits that nail any and every dress code.

So, you’ve got a wedding to go to and have no idea what to wear, huh?

Same.

There’s a lot to consider when navigating wedding dress codes and wedding guest fashion etiquette.

What’s the dress code? What does the dress code… mean? What’s the weather going to be like? What does the bride want? Will you be far too over-dressed and look like you’re wearing your mum’s pearls? Will you be far too under-dressed and like you’re going to a beach shack? Can you wear white???

(You can find out what the people think in the video below, post continues after video.)

Video by MMC

To cut through all the ‘shoulds’ and ‘should nots’, we sought help from three Aussie stylists: Vydia Rishie, Nicole Adolphe and Lana Wilkinson.

Below, we break down exactly what each wedding dress code means and what to wear for each one.

Dress Code: Casual/Smart Casual.

 

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Melbourne-base stylist Rishie told Mamamia, “Neat is definitely the key word when navigating a smart casual dress code. A casual wedding is free rein to keep looks relaxed, but neat.”

“It’s a relaxed vibe,” celebrity stylist and footwear designer Wilkinson added.

“Think things like a nice sundress, a two-piece option, a tailored pant and a silk blouse. It’s a sandal or a heel, but not a sneaker and definitely not thongs, unless it’s a beach wedding.”

What to wear to a casual/smart casual wedding.

Adolphe, Head of Style at THE ICONIC, said while a casual dress code sounds good and like it could mean wedding guests can wear pretty much anything they want, it’s actually a bit more nuanced than that.

“Think smart separates, day dresses and linen (but nothing floor length, metallic or too evening) and with no strict criteria, feel free to let your individual style shine. Just remember it’s still a major no to denim, shorts and tank tops!”

Rishie added, “Take cues from the location and vibe of the bride and groom and opt for a floaty dress or linen shirt paired with an a-line skirt.”

The best bit about dressing for a casual or smart casual wedding is you’ll definitely get wear out of those pieces again. And again. Here are some of our favourite picks below:

AERE Puff Sleeve Crop Top, $79.

AERE Puff Sleeve Crop Top
Image: THE ICONIC.
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AERE Linen Layered Skirt, $119.

AERE Linen Layered Skirt
Image: THE ICONIC.

AERE Square Neck Dress, $99.

AERE Square Neck Dress
Image: THE ICONIC.

Sportsgirl 90's Ditsy Midi Dress, $79.95.

Sportsgirl 90's Ditsy Midi Dress
Image: Sportsgirl.
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Sportsgirl Shirred Bodice Top, $79.95.

Sportsgirl Shirred Bodice TopSportsgirl Shirred Bodice Top
Image: Sportsgirl.

Sportsgirl Floral Wrap Maxi Skirt, $89.95.

Sportsgirl Floral Wrap Maxi Skirt
Image: Sportsgirl.
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Bohemian Traders Gypsy Dress in Bluebird, $149.95.

Bohemian Traders Gypsy Dress in BluebirdBohemian Traders Gypsy Dress in Bluebird
Image: Bohemian Traders.

M&S COLLECTION Floral Print Relaxed Midi Dress, $119.

M&S COLLECTION Floral Print Relaxed Midi Dress
Image: M&S.

Dress Code: Cocktail.

 

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Invited to a cocktail wedding? Chuck on a fun dress.

"One of the most popular dress codes out there, we’ve seen a cocktail theme become the default for almost every social occasion in the diary, including weddings. It allows guests to dress up but means they don’t have to go all out with a traditional black-tie get-up. Cocktail traditionally means a short or midi-length dress that is more dressy than casual," Adolphe said.

Wilkinson also said it's the perfect time to pull out your little black dress and try shorter hemlines, as well as having more fun with cool accessories like statement hair clips and a fun heel.

"Cocktail is when you get to wear all the unsensible things you've wanted to whip out."

What to wear to a cocktail wedding.

For Rishie, cocktail wedding dressing looks like "a playful dress or jumpsuit, bold accessories and cute heels."

"Keep it fun but refined. Not as formal as a gown, but not as casual as a floaty mini either. Cocktail is also the perfect time to stand out with a beautiful tailored suit. A feminine power suit in light tones like pastels and blush pink is a great way to balance fun with femininity."

Wilkinson forecasts lots of gold and a nod to the 80s - think one shoulder items and puffy sleeves - will be on-trend for 2020 weddings along with a great midi dress.

"The great thing about a midi dress is if you've got one you're wearing to the races, you can re-wear those dresses at weddings. If they can have longevity across a number of events, it's better cost-per-wear and drives your dollar further."

Here are some great cocktail dress code options:

Chancery Kate Midi Dress, $119.95.

Chancery Kate Midi Dress
Image: THE ICONIC.
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Cooper St Mila Fitted Mini Dress in Cobalt, $149.95.

Cooper St Mila Fitted Mini Dress in Cobalt
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Sportsgirl Leopard Crinkle Twist Front Top, $59.95.

Sportsgirl Leopard Crinkle Twist Front Top
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Sportsgirl Animal Crinkle Crop Pants, $69.95.

Sportsgirl Animal Crinkle Crop Pants,
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Sportsgirl Satin Stylist Top, $79.95.

Sportsgirl Satin Stylist Top
Image: Sportsgirl.

Sportsgirl Split Satin Midi Skirt, $89.95.

Sportsgirl Split Satin Midi Skirt
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Zara Ruffled Thread Dress, $69.95.

Zara Long Strappy Dress
Image: Zara.

Cooper St Sutton Midi Dress, $189.95.

Cooper St Sutton Midi Dress
Image: Cooper St.

Zara Satin Finish Blazer, $159.

Zara Satin Finish Blazer
Image: Zara.
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Zara Satin Finish Trousers, $99.

Zara Satin Finish Trousers
Image: Zara.

Dress Code: Black Tie.

 

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When it comes to black tie, it’s time to get formal. But all three stylists agreed black tie doesn't always mean black.

"Despite its name, it doesn’t mean you have to wear all black, but it does call for more statement floor-length style dresses," Adolphe said.

Rishie added, "It's a chic dress code so avoid loud colours and patterns and opt for rich hues like burgundy, emerald green, and traditional black. Also, be mindful of showing too much skin at a black-tie wedding."

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What to wear to a black tie wedding.

If you know you have a few black tie weddings to go to, Wilkinson said to invest in one floor-length or midi length dress in a luxe fabric and a subdued tone you'll be able to wear multiple times with different accessories, and hair and makeup.

"People say they can't wear dresses again, but you can. Style it differently with a different shoe, different accessories, and how you do your hair and makeup. Change it up because there's a lot of different things you can do to change the styling of something."

Adolphe added, "Wear something that still makes you feel like yourself (no-one wants to recreate their year 12 formal photos!). For an elegant combo, opt for a simple cut dress and let your accessories do the talking. Try a statement earring or work the fine jewellery trend, which is perfect for adding something extra to your look while still keeping it elegant and understated."

Going to a black tie wedding? Here's some inspiration:

Chancery Harriet Column Gown, $129.95.

Chancery Harriet Column Gown
Image: THE ICONIC.

Cooper St The Luna V-Neck Wrap Dress, $199.95.

Cooper St The Luna V-Neck Wrap Dress
Image: Cooper St.
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BWLDR Charlie Tie Back Jumpsuit, $119.95.

BWLDR Charlie Tie Back Jumpsuit
Image: THE ICONIC.

Zara Halterneck Dress, $159.

Zara Halterneck Dress
Image: Zara.
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Zara Long Strappy Dress, $139.

Zara Long Strappy Dress

Pilgrim Alderidge Midi Dress, $179.95.

Pilgrim Alderidge Midi Dress
Image: THE ICONIC.

Dress Code: White Tie.

 

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White tie is the most formal of all wedding dress codes, but what does that actually mean?

"White tie means it’s time to go all out ladies! Think luxe and polished. Bring out the floor length gowns and statement jewellery and get ready to go glam," Adolphe said.

Wilkinson also recommended leaning on dress hire businesses for white tie gowns if you're not likely to wear them often.

What to wear to a white tie wedding.

Adolphe said white tie is all about luxe fabrics and opulent accessories.

"This is the opportunity to wear a pair of statement heels and bring out embellished, statement accessories to complete your look."

Wilkinson added, "Don't forget about hair and makeup, it's one of the most powerful ways to dress up an outfit. Go all out with your glam."

Here are some white tie dress code options:

Bec + Bridge Classic One Shoulder Dress, $300.

Bec + Bridge Classic One Shoulder Dress
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Bec + Bridge Python L/S Dress, $280.

Bec + Bridge Python L/S Dress
Image: Bec + Bridge.

Zara Limited Edition Sequinned Dress, $259.

Zara Limited Edition Sequinned Dress
Image: Zara.
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Chancery Taylor Multiway Infinity Dress, $139.95.

Chancery Taylor Multiway Infinity Dress
Image: THE ICONIC.

ASOS DESIGN Embroidered Floral and Sequin Maxi Dress, $190.

ASOS DESIGN Embroidered Floral and Sequin Maxi Dress
Image: ASOS.

So, now you what all the different wedding dress codes mean. But above all else, Wilkinson's biggest piece of advice pretty much sums up the key to dressing for a wedding.

"If in doubt, ask the bride."

Do you have any great wedding guest fashion tips? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

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