No matter how many weddings you attend—even if you’re a Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson-tier pro—choosing an outfit never gets easier. While some weddings encourage “dressy casual” (by the way: what does that even mean?), others require a near biblically stringent dress code. But thankfully, you don’t have to memorize an entire compendium of fashion do’s and don’ts; there are certain fashion faux pas that have always existed in the wedding circuit—and always will.
For instance, it has never been acceptable to wear jeans to a wedding, and it never will be. And don’t even think about showing up to the ceremony with a hat on. What follows is a roundup of the 17 outfits you should never, under any circumstances, wear to anyone’s wedding. These rules might not be on the dress code, per se, but that doesn’t mean they’re not applicable. Every thread herein is utterly, totally verboten. And if you want to know what you should wear, check out The Best Men’s Summer Wedding Looks for Every Dress Code.
Dresses and skirts made of fabrics like cotton and terry give off a casual vibe, which is the last thing you want to do at a formal wedding. For an elegant and put-together get-up, Rent the Runway’s SVP of merchandising, Sarah Tam, advises to stick to fabrics with “a little bit of sheen.” As in: “It could have a pattern, like stripes or florals, but you would stay away from more casual fabrics like a cotton blend or a poplin, things that might be more crocheted, that would be geared toward a day wedding.” Oh, and if you plan on doing your own hair for the wedding, make sure to read up on the Healthiest Way to Straighten Your Hair.
Anything with Shades
A pair of nice sunglasses is perfectly acceptable if the wedding is on the beach—but it’s a different story if you’re sporting shades indoors. “If you’re attending a wedding indoors or the sun isn’t out, then sunglasses tend to look a little ridiculous and they should be avoided,” the experts at I Do Take Two noted. If the wedding is outdoors, the blog recommends wearing aviators or wayfarers sans loud patterns.
Animal print dresses are purr-fect for a fiery date night or a Thursday happy hour, but they don’t belong at a formal function. Opting for an animal print can potentially distract people from the bride—plus, as Da Vinci Bridal noted on their blog, the style does not photograph well. “Animal prints don’t go over particularly well in wedding pictures. You can carry your cute little silk leopard print clutch ($99)—but not your canvas leopard hobo bag.”
Anything with a casual watches
A wedding might be the perfect place to rack up thousands of steps on your fitness tracker or Apple Watch, but that bulky piece of hardware is going to look ridiculous juxtaposed with your fancy suit. For a few hours, part with your technology and opt for a nicer watch with a leather band, or just skip the accessory altogether.
Are your friends having their wedding at Coachella? No? Then leave the flower crown at home. It might look adorable, but the ostentatious accessory runs the risk of stealing the spotlight. “When you’re a guest at a wedding, the most important thing to keep in mind is not to upstage or upset the bride,” bridal boutique owner Molly Guy told StyleCaster. “For the love of God, do not wear flowers in your hair.” If you want to accessorize your hair without making yourself the center of attention, try something simple like these gold bumblebee hairpins ($3).
Cutout dresses with deep V necks are great for the club, but they shouldn’t ever be your go-to for someone else’s wedding day. If you do want to show off your stuff, The Knot editor Simone Hill suggests accentuating just one asset so as to avoid looking like a party princess. “[Your outfit] can have one sexy element like a plunging neckline, short hemline, cutout, low back, or a body con fit, but no more than one,” Hill told Bustle.
Suits with Power Ties
Wearing a red tie is a power move when you want to close a business deal or land a new job, but at a wedding, it just looks obnoxious, ostentatious, and out of place. “By wearing a red tie you are implying that you mean business,” writes Sonny Balani at Balani Custom Clothiers. “The red tie is a reaffirmation of strength, authority, and dominance within the professional world.” Is this really the vibe you want to give off when two people are getting married?
Too Many Accessories
Accessories are the essence of a good outfit, but too many bangles or an overwhelming amount of necklaces can ruin a good look. “Wearing too many accessories and trying to apply too many final touches to express your personality is a bad move,” warns wedding blog My Dream Wedding. And yes, this advice applies to men and women alike.
Avoid getting inked up while the wedding planning is in progress—especially if you’re in the bridal party. The last thing a bride-to-be wants is a giant, bright red tattoo tarnishing all of her wedding photos. And if you are going to get a tattoo (which again, we discourage), at least tell the bride and groom so they can prepare the photos accordingly and perhaps even schedule time for a makeup artist to cover it up.
The only thing worse than showing up to a wedding in a tight dress is showing up to a wedding in a tight dress that also doesn’t fit. Nothing that shows your every bulge or hangs off of you like a garbage bag is going to be formal enough for a wedding. As OurWedding puts it: “We’re talking no bulges, folds, or stretched seams.” Make sure you try your outfit on a few weeks before the ceremony to confirm that it still fits well—and if it doesn’t, you’ll still have time to find something else. In fact, this fashion faux pas is among the 20 Things You Should Never Do at Weddings.
Sunburn with Tan Lines
It’s hard to avoid tan lines during the summer, but do your best to try if you have a wedding coming up. You can spend months cobbling together the perfect wedding outfit, and all it takes is one bad sunburn to ruin the entire look. If you do end up soaking too much sun with just days before the ceremony, Glamour suggests using a gradual self tanner like Almay Healthy Glow Foundation ($16) for a “natural-looking” fade.
“Try to go for a more subtle makeup look for a wedding,” suggests the party experts at Shutterfly. Wearing bold makeup makes a statement—a statement that could potentially draw attention away from the people who are being celebrated. Instead, Shutterfly suggests wearing “light neutral tones” and a “light pink lip gloss”—easy enough!
Something Offering Up Too Much Cleavage
You aren’t going to be able to dance the night away when lighting up the dance floor could result in a wardrobe malfunction. “I have spent hours watching guests tugging their dresses down and then adjusting them back up only to have to repeat that over and over again,” wedding expert Susan Southerland wrote in the Huffington Post. “Other guests will notice.” You should flaunt your assess—but there’s a time and place, and it isn’t at a wedding.
No Jeans. Ever. Under Any Circumstances.
Even if the wedding invitation lists the attire as casual, do not—and we repeat, do not—wear jeans. As the bloggers over at Perfect Wedding Guide put it, you should dress for a wedding “like you’re dressing to meet your girlfriend’s parents for the first time or going to church.” Men: If the wedding is casual, opt for a pair of dress pants and a button-down shirt instead of throwing on a pair of distressed jeans—and pair your outfit with these 15 Killer Style Accessories You Never Knew You Needed.
Even if your best friend is having their wedding outdoors, you should never wear a hat that you’d also sport at a baseball game. “Hats, in general are a big no-no for formal occasions like a wedding, and this is especially true for casual hats like baseball caps and beanies,” advises wedding blog I Do Take Two. The wedding experts noted that “fancier hats like a fedora ($64)” can work on occasion, but if the wedding is indoors, this head accessory should be avoided at all costs.
Before you wear a tiara to a wedding, ask yourself these questions: Are you the bride? Is today your day to be the center of attention? Are you a member of the royal family? If you answered no to all of the aforementioned questions, then put the tiara away. One user on Reddit wrote that “wearing [a] tiara would be incredibly disrespectful.” Another user agreed: “If [someone] wears a tiara to your wedding, you’ll wear white to hers!”
This should go without saying, but just in case: Ladies, the only woman wearing white at a wedding should be the bride. “There’s only one scenario in which it’s okay to wear white to a wedding and that’s when the couple asks you to,” wedding planner Leah Weinberg reiterated in Martha Stewart Weddings.
“Clearly the rule of not wearing white to a wedding doesn’t apply to smaller details like white stripes or polka dots ($17), but my rule of thumb is this: If you’re picking an outfit and the question pops into your mind of whether or not this is too much white to wear to a wedding, then don’t wear it.” For more fashion faux pas, check out The 10 Most Outrageous Royal Fashion Choices.
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