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Bardot Wedding Guest Dress

Wedding Guest Attire: What’s Hot Right Now

Wondering what to buy (or rent) for all those weddings you’ve got to attend? Rent the Runway filled us in on what’s trending in wedding guest fashion.
by Avery Hutchinson
  1. Trends from Rent the Runway

    Rent the Runway dresses and earrings

    If your calendar is filled with friends’ upcoming nuptials, you may have realized half the battle is deciding what to wear. We had a feeling Sarah Tam, SVP of Merchandising and Planning at Rent The Runway, might know a thing or two about dressing wedding guests—and it turns out we were right. We sat down with Tam to get the scoop on the hottest formal wear trends and the one accessory every wedding guest needs.

    Check out her expert tips on what to wear to a wedding plus how to shop the trends, below.

  2. Off The Shoulder Dresses

    Of the shoulder dresses

    Off the shoulder sleeves (also called bardot sleeves) dominated the runways this season for brides and wedding guests alike. “This is one trend that we saw a lot and I personally loved the most!” says Tam. This trend is a must-try if you don’t want to go totally strapless but also want a look with just enough sex appeal.

    FROM LEFT: Prabal Gurung, Orange Zest Dress,$450 rentalRentTheRunway.comKAUFMANFRANCO, Pink Number Six Shift, $200 rental, RentTheRunway.comTibi, Amara Print Off The Shoulder Dress, $100 rental, RentTheRunway.com

  3. Statement Earrings

    Statement Earrings

    When it comes to accessorizing your a formal or semi-formal outfit, you can’t go wrong with a good pair of statement earrings. “Pairing statement earrings with the off-the-shoulder trend is a great way to elongate your neck and show off your shoulders,” says Tam. Pro tip: If you’re opting for particularly long or heavy ones, look for a style with a cushioned clip-on option—your ears will thank you!

    FROM LEFT: Oscar de la Renta, Silver and Green Charm Tassel Earrings, $75 rental, RentTheRunway.comDannijo, Siempre Earrings, $75 rentalRentTheRunway.comLizzie Fortunato, Concho Column Earrings, $50 rentalRentTheRunway.com

  4. Flowing Fabrics and Ruffles

    Flowing Fabrics and Ruffle Dresses and Jumpsuit

    These fluttery trends are just begging to be worn to an outdoor affair. “During the summer, lightweight and flowy fabrics will keep you comfortable in the heat. These fabrics also drape beautifully as ruffles,” says Tam. The bottom line: Not only will you be comfortable sporting these trends but they’re also perfect for outfits with a flirty, feminine vibe.

    FROM LEFT: Temperley London, Etini Ruffle Gown, $350 rentalRentTheRunway.comDEREK LAM, Cloudy Day Dress, $175 rentalRentTheRunway.comJay Godfrey, Red Retro Ruffle Jumpsuit, $75 rental, RentTheRunway.com

  5. Stripes

    Rent the Runway Stipe Dresses

    Sarah and the Rent the Runway team are totally obsessed with striped dresses—no matter their length. “One trend theory we fully support is that stripes are the new all-over patterned dress,” says Tam. “This is a fun way to wear a pattern without going over the top.” It’s well-established a classic striped print is a wardrobe staple, and we’re loving the new variety of color combinations.

    FROM LEFT: Shoshanna, Midnight Kaira Gown, $100 rentalRentTheRunway.comSlate & Willow, Envelope Sheath, $40 rentalRentTheRunway.comBadgley Mischka, Neutral Stripe Gown, $165 rentalRentTheRunway.com

  6. Shades of Pink

    Rent the Runway pink dresses

    Blush and rose gold have been hot for a few seasons, but all variations of pink are going to be hot for spring and summer. “We saw some pink in the Fall, but there we so many different shades of pink this season that will work for all skin tones,” Tam says. The best thing about this hot hue? It can be dressed up or down to suit any occasion.

    FROM LEFT: Temperley London, Midi Belle Dress, $450 rental, RentTheRunway.comJill Jill Stuart, Powder Pop-Over Gown, $80 rentalRentTheRunway.comRebecca Taylor, Fuchsia Flutter Lover Dress,$70 rental, RentTheRunway.com

    Want more seasonal trends? Get more inspo here!

Wedding Guest Style for Her

Getty Images / Jacopo Raule

These days, women have a lot of freedom and almost innumerable options available to them for wedding guest attire. The most important guideline for women is not to wear white, off-white or ivory. This is an old-school rule but it still applies, as you don’t want to outshine the bride on her special day. (The only exception here is when the invite specifically states that it is a “white wedding,” in which case guests are encouraged to wear all-white as well.)

For daytime weddings, remember not to wear black or sequins, as those are colors and details best reserved for evening occasions. (The sparkle will make you look overdressed.)

Even if you’re attending the wedding of a young friend, remember how many wedding guests are older, including the families of the bride and groom — especially those who paid for it. Out of respect for the occasion and those closest to the couple, overly sexy, low-cut, revealing or high-hemmed outfits should be avoided. That’s not to say you can’t look feminine and attractive — just be reasonable. If you have any doubts, consult other guests, friends or your mom for advice. (Most likely, if you have to ask, there’s your answer.)   03 of 08

When Dress Code Is Not Specified

Getty Images

If the invite does not give a dress code, use your best judgement. A cocktail dress, little black dress or even a full-length jumpsuit will work just about anywhere. High heeled pumps or sandals are always a good bet as well. Your shoes have the ability to dress your look way up or way down, so choose a pair of shoes based on the formality of your dress and you’ll achieve the right balance.

Do not bring a large purse to a wedding. Carry a small clutch or a small cross-body bag. Mini bags are on-trend right now, but a classic metallic or satin clutch will never do you wrong. All you need to bring is keys, a credit card and ID, your phone and lipstick — no tote bag required.

No matter what time of day or the vagueness of an invitation, it’s safe to say that jeans or shorts are never appropriate. This is a special occasion and often a religious ceremony, so show respect for the couple by putting in some effort. The venue, time of day and character of the hosts should give you all the clues you need to show up looking fantastic and appropriate.   04 of 08

Wedding Guest Style for Him

 Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling. Getty Images / Michael Kovac

Lucky for you, men, dressing for weddings isn’t particularly difficult. You will always look appropriate in a suit and tie, no matter what. How easy is that?

If you want to get into specifics though, there are some guidelines that men should follow in order to look their best at a wedding. For example, a summer or spring wedding means you can wear a suit (or shirt and chinos for informal daytime) in lighter fabrics and colors. (Think linen and cotton blends.) For fall or winter weddings, you may want to wear a wool or wool-blend suit in a dark color like grey or charcoal.

If the wedding is strictly black tie, stick to a traditional tuxedo and avoid “getting cute” with it. A black bowtie and polished black dress shoes are a must. You may get an invite that suggests “creative black tie” or even something like “Texas Formal,” in which case switch out your dress shoes for black cowboy boots or wear a playful vest under your jacket.

Unless it is a black tie or formal wedding, a navy blue suit is the most tasteful and appropriate option there is. (Do not wear a black suit, as they are reserved for very formal occasions and funerals.) Just make sure it is tailored, and your accessories fit the occasion.

A white shirt and tastefully patterned tie (think subtle stripes or swiss dots) will work for any occasion. Don’t be afraid to add a pocket square or unique cufflinks to add some personality to your look. 05 of 08

Informal Weddings, Daytime and Evening

Getty Images / Jamie McCarthy, Dimitrios Kambouris, Nicholas Hunt

Informal, Daytime: For her, an informal daytime or morning wedding means a sundress, skirt and top or even pants (but no jeans), and no high heels required. For men, slacks or chinos and a shirt (tucked in) works great. Avoid sneakers and opt for oxfords or loafers.

Informal, Evening: For her, an informal evening wedding suggests a dress, and allows for a lot of flexibility. You could wear a maxi dress and flat shoes, or a little black dress and heels. For men, the dress requirements are the same as informal daytime, but you may want to add a jacket; no tie needed. 06 of 08

Semi-Formal Weddings, Daytime and Evening

Getty Images / David M. Benett, Michael Tran, Anthony Harvey

Semi-Formal, Daytime: For women, a semi-formal daytime wedding suggests a cocktail dress and heels or dressy separates. For men, a suit and dress shoes; tie is optional but always looks smart. In the summer months, a light-color or linen suit will work, but go with a heavier fabric for a fall or winter wedding.

Semi-Formal, Evening: For women, a semi-formal daytime wedding suggests a cocktail dress and heels or dressy separates; an LBD is an excellent option. For men, a suit and dress shoes; tie is optional but always looks smart. (If the wedding begins after 6 p.m., definitely wear a tie.) 07 of 08

Formal Weddings: Black Tie and White Tie

Getty Images / WPA Pool

Black Tie Optional: For women, black tie optional weddings mean you can wear either a cocktail dress and heels or a formal dress. (Trendier dressers may opt for a jumpsuit as well.) For men, you have the option of a tuxedo or a dark suit and tie, with black dress shoes.

Black Tie: A black tie wedding requires a formal dress for women, or your dressiest cocktail attire. For men, a tuxedo (or black suit with a black tie) is required.

White Tie: A white tie occasion is the dressiest of them all, and women will want to wear a long, floor-length gown and their best jewelry. White tie attire for men means a tuxedo worn with a white bow tie and vest, the jacket may have tails. Dress shoes should be black patent leather. (Don’t worry, this formal dress is usually reserved for royal ceremonies and debutante balls.) 08 of 08

More Wedding Style Advice…

Getty Images / Rachel Murray

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