How to Dress for Weddings: A Guide to Men’s & Women’s Formal Style

What to wear to weddings
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* Wedding season is officially underway and will continue through fall
* Wedding guest attire can be tricky, especially if you have multiple receptions this summer
 * Here’s a complete wedding guest guide for men and women

If the wedding invitations keep coming, and you’re running out of things to wear, don’t wing it. We’ve got the complete guide to formal attire for men and women. Find out how to dress and shop your favorite looks below.

Time to Suit Up

When it comes to formal events, you don’t have to go all out on a tuxedo. Unless the invitation specifies “black tie,” a simple two-button suit in blue, gray or black should suffice. Choose a pattern that you like, but keep in mind that most men only wear suits a few times a year–so avoid anything too flashy. Macy’s always has a great selection of classic suits, and they’re often marked down. Just be sure to order your new suit well in advance so that you have time for tailoring once it arrives.

mens suits macys Image courtesy Macy’s

HUGO BOSS Blue Chambray Suit ($695.00)MICHAEL MICHAEL KORS Gray Sharkskin Peak Lapel Suit ($650.00) | CALVIN KLEIN Black Solid Modern-Fit Suit ($650.00) | Shop Suits at the Macy’s Men’s Store


Shirts, Ties & Double Windsors

When it comes to dressing up, a white shirt is the way to go. Depending upon the situation, you may have some wiggle room, but remember that you want the suit and tie to do the talking. Check out the selection from Nordstrom’s house brands. They’re moderately priced and high quality. You also need to learn the double windsor knot. It’s fuller shape takes you from the nines to the tens.

nordstrom men shirt tie Image courtesy Nordstrom

NORDSTROM MEN”S SHOP Classic Fit Non-Iron Solid Dress Shirt ($39.00) | Ties From Top Left Clockwise: THE TIE BAR ‘Crystal Wave’ Silk & Linen Plaid Tie ($19.00) | THE TIE BAR ‘Bison’ Silk Plaid Tie ($19.00) | JOHN W. NORDSTROM ‘Grayson Mini’ Silk Tie ($89.50) | THE TIE BAR Dot Silk Tie ($19.00) | Shop All Norstrom Dress Shirts | Shop All Norstrom Ties


Shoes & Belts

It should go without saying, but it so often doesn’t: don’t wear a casual belt and shoes. Nothing will wreck an upscale ensemble like a low-brow shoe and belt combo. Choose a reversible leather dress belt (black/brown) so that you only need one belt for either color theme. Cole Haan shoes are always a smart choice, as they offer durability, comfort and classic style that you’ll be able to wear for years.

mens shoes belt formal Image courtesy Amazon

COLE HAAN Lenox Hill Cap Oxford ($77.53+) | BELTOX FINE Reversible Dress Belt ($36.00) | Shop All Amazon Dress Shoes | Shop All Amazon Dress Belts


Tie Clips, Cuff Links & Watches

French cuff shirts have fallen by the wayside in recent years; along with them have gone cuff links. There’s no proscription against either, so if you like the look, rock it. Just remember when accessorizing for formal events that the general rule is that a man should wear no more than five extra pieces; your belt and wedding ring count. That leaves just enough room for two cuff links and a watch–or two cuff links and a tie clip– but not all of them together.

tie clips cuff links watch Images courtesy Amazon & SSENSE

MEN’S COLLECTIONS Set of Four Modern Tie Clips ($29.95) | IKE BEHAR Mother of Pearl, Onyx & Tiger Eye Stone Cufflinks ($42.80) | UNIFORM WARES Silver Linked M37 Watch ($525.00) | Shop All Amazon Tie Clips & Cuff Links | Shop All SSENSE Watches


Finding a Dress

Rather than chase trends based on what you glean from red carpet coverage, learn what works for your body shape. If you’re not certain, check this tool from Nordstrom; it lists the basic body shapes and gives recommendations for dress silhouettes to complement your figure. For example, smart solutions for troublesome midsections (a common issue) include low cut busts, high waistlines and slit skirts, all present in the Plunging V-Neck Chiffon Gown from Lulus (Far left, $84.00).

A-lines such as the Fit & Flare Midi Dress by Adelyn Rae (Center, $128.00) are smart both for women who want to de-emphasize pear figures and women with straight hips who want to create some curves. Finally, the Ted Baker London Akva Kensington Floral Body-Con Dress (Far right, $295.00) flatters any woman’s curves with a body-hugging fit and comfortable stretch. Floral at the front and back, it uses solid black contrast to slim your figure.

womens dresses Image courtesy Nordstrom

LULUS Plunging V-Neck Chiffon Gown ($84.00) | ADELYN RAE Fit & Flare Midi Dress ($128.00) | TED BAKER LONDON Akva Kensington Floral Body-Con Dress ($295.00) | Shop All Nordstrom Dresses


Choosing Shoes

It’s always smart to keep classic silhouettes in basic black for times when you just can’t find a match. While there’s no hard and fast rule about shoes, it’s good to keep in mind that the more open the shoe, the more low-key the look becomes–strappy sandals offer the most casual style, while peep toe offers a compromise and traditional point toe pumps offer the most formal aesthetic.

black high heels Image courtesy Bloomingdale’s

STUART WEITZMAN Nudistsong Ankle Strap High Heel Sandals ($398.00) | COLE HAAN Hellen Grand Open Toe High Heel Pumps ($150.00)CHARLES DAVID Genesis Leather Pointed Toe High Heel Pumps ($259.00) | Shop All Bloomingdale’s Pumps


Bring the Best Bag

Your handbag does more than store the essentials; it also adds your unique twist. Choose a clutch with rich texture or a unique pattern. It should make a subtle statement without sacrificing versatility. Formal occasions only come a few times each year, so you should pick a bag that you can carry any time you want, rather than having to save it for ritzy nights out.

clutch bags Image courtesy Macy’s

VINCE CAMUTO Zana Clutch ($158.00) | BRAHMIN Melbourne Kayla Clutch ($125.00) | MICHAEL MICHAEL KORS Bedford Large Zip Clutch ($98.00) | Shop All Macys Clutches & Evening Bags


Finding Fine Jewelry

As with your clutch selection, your fine jewelry should find a place in everyday situations such as work and date night. Rose gold and diamonds are always a smart choice. When accessorizing your formal looks, keep in mind that less is more and wear pieces that complement your ensemble. Earrings are always a must, but if your dress has embellishment or detailing along the neckline, opt for a bracelet and ring set instead of a necklace. Likewise, if you’re wearing a bolero over a low cut dress, a bracelet may be superfluous, but a necklace is much-needed. 

rose gold jewelry Image courtesy Amazon

AMAZON COLLECTION 10k Rose Gold Morganite & Diamond Accented 3-Stone Pendant Necklace ($115.05)DAZZLING ROCK COLLECTION 10K Rose Gold Halo Stud Earrings ($381.50) | AMAZON COLLECTION 10k Rose Gold Woven Diamond Ring ($258.99) | RHYTHM & MUSE Diamond Bangle Adjustable Infinity Bracelet ($99.00) | Shop All Amazon Rose Gold Fine Jewlery

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