Wedding guest: What to wear?


If the dress code is casual you can actually wear exactly what you want. Normally, this type of dress code refers to styling that is comfortable and informal while still looking like you’ve made an effort. So when we say, you can wear exactly what you want you should take it with a pinch of salt. Save the tracksuit for the couch at home and do one better than that. 

Women can choose anything from sundresses and skirts to jeans and shorts. Men usually go for khakis or nice jeans as well as plain t-shirts or a casual button down. If opting for a t-shirt, avoid any with slogans or print. 

There’s no limit for shoes for either men or women, so most go for loafers, sneakers or sandals.

Wedding Guest: What To Wear?


Business casual

Business casual is what you’d normally wear to an office. Men typically go for khakis and some sort of shirt with a collar – you can go for a classical shirt or a polo shirt. For shoes, you can no longer opt for sneakers and will be limited to dress shoes or loafers. 

Women normally chose to wear dress pants, khakis or a skirt accompanied by a blouse of your choice. If you want to insert some of your personality into this look, you can dress up with accessories or jewelry as you please. For shoes, women can go for loafers, ballet flats or heels.

Important! If you wear a shirt and or khakis, remember to iron or steam out any wrinkles. This instantly makes you look sharper and more put together.


Smart casual & Dressy casual

Smart casual is the combination of casual and business casual. This means that men can choose to wear crisp jeans instead of khakis but in that case it’s a good idea to perhaps pair them with a blazer to make sure the smart element is still present in the outfit. As a man, you can also wear vests and ties for a different look. 

Women more often than not opt for slacks or a skirt, but just like for men, you can choose to wear jeans as long as they’re nice and not super worn in. If you opt for jeans, it’s a good idea to dress it up with a collared shirt or a blazer. If you choose slacks or a skirt you can choose any nice blouse and won’t be limited to a shirt in the same way. 

Shoe wise, you have the same options as with business casual.

The key words to go for when it comes to smart casual are sharp, stylish and put together.

Business & Informal

Do not be mistaken: Informal does not mean casual! Business and informal is slightly more sophisticated than smart casual and will likely require a suit and tie or a dress, depending on gender. 

When it comes to suits, the color doesn’t matter but you should go for something that matches the vibe of the event. The most normal colors are black, navy, gray or brown. Once again, men are limited to loafers or dress shoes. 

Women will normally opt for a dress for this occasion. You shouldn’t choose something too short as the name still states “business”. The go to for many will most likely be a corporate dress in the same colors as the men’s suits with some sort of sleeve as well. If you don’t like dresses you can also as a woman choose to wear a suit. For shoes, you can choose a heel as low or high as you like. If you like to stand out and show a bit more of yourself in the way you dress, this is a good opportunity to wear some great accessories or a nice handbag.

This guide is about the differences between dress codes, but it sprung from it being wedding season and the struggles one can face when being handed an invitation. Semi-formal, cocktail and black tie are three of the most common dress codes used for weddings, so this is where you pay attention.


Semi-formal is fancier than business attire. This means that men should definitely wear a dark suit and a tie as well as dress shoes. One simple guideline to have in mind is that the more formal a dress code is, the less wiggle room you have to choose. This especially goes for men. 

If the wedding invitation says semi-formal, it’s the perfect time to whip out your little black dress. Most women will go for a short dress, but remember to not go too short – it’s still a formal event. If you don’t like dresses or want to stand out, you can also choose dressy separates, perhaps a nice two-piece. 

If you choose a simple dress, you can easily dress it up with sparkly jewelry or nice hair accessories.


Cocktail attire is the balance between formal and casual wear, between day and night. The best way to explain cocktail wear is probably this: It merges the silhouette of a garden party dress with the extravagance of a formal gown. 

As a woman, you should choose between a knee-length, tea-length or midi dress. Cocktail does not mean full length or mini. The most important thing to remember is that the longer the dress, the less formal the material should be to balance it out. If the event is during the day, you can choose lighter colors just like you should opt for darker colors in the evening. If you’re not sure what to wear, a simple black dress will always be a winner. 

For shoes, women should always opt for heels or formal flats. 

It’s easy for men: A suit and tie. Just like the color of the women’s dresses, you can choose lighter hues for day events but should stick to darker colors for evenings. Cocktail attire requires dress shoes. 

Black tie (optional) & Formal

We’re finishing this guide with a bang and this requires you to pull out all the stops. 

For black tie or formal wear, men will need to wear a tuxedo with all that comes with it – vest, cummerbun, cufflinks, bow tie and so forth. If the invitation however says black tie optional, you can also wear a white suit with a white shirt and tie.

Women should opt for a floor-length evening dress. If you choose to wear something not floor-length you can choose more formal materials to better stay within the dress code. 

Heels and dress shoes are a must. 

Written by Alberte Gram
Alberte Gram is a fashion writer based in London.
The people pictured are not associated with The Archive
or The Vintage Bar, and do not endorse the products shown.