I've often found myself locked in some shaky department store dressing room when I hear something like the following conversation taking place right outside my door:
"Do you think this will work for the wedding on Saturday?"
"I have no idea, but it seems like it might be a bit casual."
"I'm just worried about the little white hearts on the edging. I don't know if it's too much white for a wedding."
It's a conversation that many of us have as we stare hopelessly into the full-length mirror in the days leading up to someone else's impending nuptials, especially if we don't go to weddings often. Most guests stress more than they have to, but here's a quick guide if you're still not sure about your outfit for someone's big day:
1. Wearing "White"
If you're wearing a dress, but you're not sure if the color counts as white, you might want to find something else. It doesn't matter if the tag says "off-white" or "bone" or "antique," you're still going to look like you wore a white dress to a wedding, and that's been a no-no since white became "it" in wedding wear. It's probably the only wedding fashion rule every other guest is sure to know about - so why risk looking like you missed the memo and you're trying to upstage the bride?
If you're wearing white pants with a navy top, or white pumps, or a white clutch, or a patterned dress with white flowers on it, you're totally fine. No one is expecting you do ignore the shade entirely, and no one is going to side-eye your fashion choices if you're wearing nice white pants with a yellow blouse and navy pumps.
2. The Invitation
For guests who are biting their nails about the formality of the wedding and the accompanying dress code, your first clue is the invitation (or Save-the-Date, if your hosts chose to use them). While most brides won't come right out and say how you should dress right on the invite, the formality of the paper goods sent to your house are an adequate marker for how formal the event will be. Also, snoop around on their wedding website and find a few links to the ceremony and reception spaces. If the wedding is in a swanky hotel at 8pm on a Saturday, you'll probably dress a little differently than a Tuesday afternoon backyard BBQ.
3. It Never Hurts to Ask
There's probably no reason to bother the couple themselves about your selected wedding outfit (the bride is probably a little busy with her own), but if you're close with a family member or member of the bridal party, think about shooting them an email with a picture of your dress or outfit. This is a good way to find out if your outfit is shooting up any red flags that you may have missed, like you've accidentally selected something very similar to a bridesmaid dress, or plan on wearing shoes that will not be conducive to the wedding environment. Hopefully they'll include any hazardous terrain warnings on their wedding website, but it never hurts to check!