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The 5 Worst Things to Wear to an Outdoor Wedding

There's a lot to consider in order to look and feel your best, stylists say.

No matter the time of year or type of venue, finding an incredible wedding guest outfit can be a challenge. You want to be formal but not extravagant, and, of course, you want to feel your best in whatever you choose. An outdoor venue adds an extra layer to your considerations. If it's sweltering, you'll need something that helps you beat the heat—or, at the very least, doesn't show every single sweat stain. Plus, there are other natural elements: wind, uneven ground, and bugs, to name a few. To make your shopping trip easier, we compiled a handy list of the worst things to wear to an outdoor wedding. Whether they're dress code faux pas or something that will likely cause you discomfort, these are the things stylists say to pass on.

RELATED: 8 Colors You Should Never Wear to a Wedding (And It's Not Just White).

Synthetic Materials


If you're attending an outdoor wedding, you'll want to choose an outfit that protects you from sweat stains. To do that, avoid synthetic materials like polyester, rayon, and viscose, says Kendra Sharpe, a personal stylist based in North Carolina.

"These aren't breathable fabrics," says Sharpe. "They trap heat and make you sweat, especially in the summer months." In addition, these fabrics are also often thin enough to show that sweat easily. Silk is another fabric that might show sweat stains fast, though it's actually quite breathable.

Instead, stick to fabrics like linen, cotton, or other natural fibers. They'll keep you cool, dry quickly, and likely fit the vibe of a breezy outdoor wedding.

RELATED: 5 Wedding Guest Rules You Have to Follow—And 5 to Ignore.


woman wearing black dress

Outdoor weddings tend to have an airier aesthetic, and dresses in black or with sequins or flashy patterns might be too overbearing.

"For outdoor weddings, it's best to keep things simple: If you wear a pattern, make it a floral or something that matches the season or venue," says Sharpe. "Listen to what the invite says as far as formal or semi-formal and plan your outfit accordingly."

The only exception to the black rule is if you're wearing pants and a shirt. "For any wedding attendees who are wearing dress shirts and not wearing a vest or jacket, colored fabrics show sweat like crazy in the summer or any season where it's hot," says Elizabeth Raley, owner and photographer at Elope Savannah, who almost exclusively shoots outdoor weddings. "White is the way to go—or black."

RELATED: The 8 Worst Wedding Gifts You Can Give, Etiquette Experts Say.



You might be attending an outdoor wedding on the beach, but that doesn't mean you should bring your enormous sun hat with you.

"Big hats can be distracting," says Sharpe. "They can also be an eye sore in photos or distort the views of other guests." If you need extra protection from the sun, accept that you might need to sit in the back row.

Another thing to consider is the wind: Your hat could get swept up at an inopportune moment, disrupting a key moment or getting lost forever. Raley notes this also happens with veils on brides.

"The wind or breeze can blow it away, and veils can become a nightmare for a photographer who has to spend half their time fixing a veil instead of taking photos," she says. If it can happen to the bride, it can happen to anyone!

RELATED: 6 Best Things to Wear to a Wedding If You're Over 60, Stylists Say.



Long-sleeve, floor-length gowns—or dresses that have either element—are a non-starter for outdoor weddings in the summer.

"Something floor-length is more formal and can be hot," says Sharpe. "Keeping things short can help keep you cool." A midi-length dress, or a style that has a cooling slit or is made from a natural material, can also work.

If your outdoor wedding is in the fall, though, a long-sleeve or long dress is great. "You'll most likely go for a longer dress or pants to keep warm," says Sharpe.

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A woman is sitting on a sofa, in front of her several pairs of fashionable high heels shoes in different colors and styles.
guenterguni / iStock

You've heard it before, but we'll say it again: Stiletto heels won't be comfortable during an outdoor wedding, no matter how adept you are at walking in them.

Raley says it's one of the biggest concerns she has when shooting outdoor weddings. "I would suggest never wearing heels if you know you're going to have to walk on the grass at all—and obviously, the beach," she says. "The happier people are, the better they will look!"

And no one looks their best when hobbling around in an unsteady shoe. As an alternative, Sharpe suggests a sandal, wedge, espadrille, or block heel.

Juliana LaBianca
Juliana is an experienced features editor and writer. Read more
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