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It might seem like black tie or formal weddings might have the toughest dress codes to stick to, but sometimes the more fashion rules, the easier it is to meet wedding guest outfit attire requirements — and vice versa. Outfits for casual weddings, arguably the loosest of wedding dress code styles, can be tricky to nail down. Fortunately, InStyle tapped fashion experts to explain exactly what to wear to a casual wedding.
Ahead, fashion expert Audree Kate López and Muses Kloset creative director and founder Mr. Musebreak down the hard and fast casual wedding dress code rules and serve up outfit options that are fun and fashion-forward, while still checking all the boxes on the casual wedding attire list.
Steer Clear of White
This rule likely goes without saying, but was mentioned first by both of our fashion experts. Muse suggests “staying within the color scheme that the wedding party picked out,” while emphasizing that your casual wedding guest outfit should have “no white of any kind.” Another no-no? Anything too sheer.
Try a Blouse and Trousers
Shop Similar: Anthropologie The Colette Cropped Wide-Leg Pants, $120
While a tasteful pair of jeans might work at the office, they don’t make the cut for a casual wedding. If you have your heart set on pants, go for a pair of tailored trousers instead. If you’re especially drawn to suiting, Muse says a pantsuit is a great casual wedding guest outfit, but also recommends you keep location in mind. While a suit might slay at a courthouse wedding, it might not work for beachy nuptials.
Jump into a Jumpsuit
Shop Similar: Reformation Luna Jumpsuit, $248
If you want the comfort of pants with a bit more fashion energy, López suggests a chic jumpsuit for a casual wedding outfit.
Keep Cutouts Subtle
Shop Similar: Another Girl Black & Lilac Flower Cutout Midi Dress, $101
Cutouts aren’t off-limits at casual weddings, but it’s best to keep them low-key. If you’re on the fence about how much skin to show, López advises thinking of “what you would wear to brunch, a bridal party, a nice picnic or vacation dinner.”
Consider Florals Carefully
Shop Similar: FARM Rio Yellow Summer Garden Sleeveless Maxi Dress, $245
Spring and summer dresses are great options for a casual wedding, but López recommends choosing the color carefully. “A lot of floral summer dresses have a white, cream, or light pink base,” she says, adding that it’s best to “Avoid these because they are still close to white and will read white in photos.”
Play with Prints
Shop Similar: Hunter Bell Walker Dress in Blue Chalk Line, $445
If florals aren’t your thing, consider other fun and bright prints. Gingham, abstract, and plaid patterns are all fair game at a casual wedding. López’s color rule still applies with patterned dresses or skirt sets, so be sure to avoid any print that featuring mostly white, buttery yellow, or pale pink.
Try a Skirt Set
Shop Similar: Saylor Casper Set, $297
Another non-dress option to consider is a skirt set. You can still show some, but not a ton, of skin, and have plenty of hemline options to choose from.
Keep Location in Mind
If you have a number of appropriate looks you’re trying to choose between, Muse says to consider the venue first and foremost. Is it indoors? Outdoors? Both? “Always consider the location and make sure you’re comfortable. There’s no reason to get overheated,” he shares.
Go Breezy, Not Beachy
Shop Similar: Jane Booke Special K Dress in Vine, $950
While lightweight fabrics, twirly skirts, and ruffles are all fair game at casual weddings, Lopez suggests avoiding “anything that reads beach cover-up or nightclub.” For a warm-weather casual wedding, opt for a ‘fit in linen or silk for maximum breathability.
Skip the Sneakers
Shop Similar: Franco Sarto Franco Loran Slide Sandals, $110
Sneakers, even your fanciest designer pair, are another no-no for casual weddings, but you also don’t have to teeter on uncomfortable high heels. A low, comfortable sandal is a great casual wedding option, and perfect for dancing.
Keep Hemlines More Midi Than Mini
Shop Similar: Lilly Pulitzer Feona Dress, $198
Whether you’re wearing a skirt or a dress, keep in mind the hemline. You’re not limited to maxis or even midi lengths, but Lopez does recommend keeping hemlines at the knee or fingertip length when you’re standing up straight.