In this article, our fashion writer Erin Siqueira shares some of her thoughts and strategies for approaches to fashion for weddings, you can work with her on personal styling consulting as she provides that service to her clients.
Decoding the Dress Codes
I wanted to write this article for everyone that will be attending weddings and are a little apprehensive about the fashion side of them. This guide will help you embrace wedding outfit shopping and hopefully relieve the stress sometimes associated with it. I’ll be showing you where and what you can get from shops ranging from vintage + consignment to big shops like Nordstrom and Holt Renfrew. Like I typically do, I will be sure to include options for all budgets, as well as all styles and sizes.
Summer and Fall are typically the busiest time for weddings. It can be stressful finding something to wear that is both to your liking and abides by the dress code of that wedding ceremony/event.
Here is a simple breakdown of the most basic dress codes. The three most common dress codes I believe are Black Tie-Formal, Cocktail-Semi Formal, and then casual-which can include weddings for example on beaches and farms etc.
The formal attire dress code entails the gentleman to wear a full suit, and in an even more formal version, a full tuxedo which includes the coat tails. A tuxedo includes a different dress shirt, characterized by a pleated front section called a bib. Tuxedos are also worn with bowties instead of ties. The shoes for the tuxedo again are most often black, and patent leather. When shopping for the shoe style, the most typical are oxfords. The other shoe style options you have are court shoes and loafers.
Semi-formal / casual
This dress code allows you have a bit more freedom as to what you decide works best for you, the wedding, and your date if you have one. Most often you will still need a button-up, and slacks, but for casual, you might be able to omit the suit jacket and instead go with a smart sports jacket. If warm weather, negate the jacket and make sure your shirt and slacks are at least wrinkle-free.
Where to Shop
It is typically more difficult for men to find the right measurements and fabric in thrift stores or consignment, nevertheless still quite possible. Some of the easiest items to find are dress pants, suit jackets and button-up shirts. If the event is semi-formal or casual, you will be much more likely to find something at Value Village or Salvation Army. The items or times that are harder to shop at a second-hand store will be if you need a specific dress code with a matching three-piece suit, as well as shoes.
For shopping in a high street store or department store, my suggestions are Harry Rosen, Indochino, RW&CO, Nordstrom and Holt Renfrew, These, stores offer a wide selection with various price points, and provide every piece of your wedding attire down to the socks. Most of the stated stores offer tailoring, as well as custom suits which help immensely since no one is the same size.
Black Tie / Formal
The ladies have more room to choose their styles as the dress code just entails a long gown, that, you guessed it, looks formal and dressy. The fabrics of these gowns can be silk, velvet, organza, or crepe to name a few. The fabrics that are best kept for more casual events are the crisp cotton, linen, and rayon types. Floor-length dresses can be an exciting thing to shop for whether it be at a vintage store or an expensive department store. You can show off your legs with a high slit, show off your back with a backless dress, or any style that makes you feel confident and happy.
Ladies, when it comes to shoes, be mindful of the venue. Even though you might be attending a black-tie/ formal event, if the wedding events are on or around unpaved ground or grass, try to avoid stiletto heels. The chances of getting a heel stuck or just taking off your heels completely will be much higher if stilettos are worn. One major thing anyone going to a wedding should know is to avoid white/ cream, champagne, and all those very light colors that could potentially clash with the bride. Also, be wary of the wedding party’s color palette out of courtesy. End of the day just ask the bride what to avoid because she will most definitely tell you what is acceptable to her.
Where to shop for consignment/ vintage wedding guest dresses
A few of my most frequented shops are Hunter and Hare, and Wild Honey goods. Hunter and Hare is a curated consignment shop that offers a great seasonal selection of pieces fit to wear to any dress code wedding you are attending. With separated sections for short dresses, long dresses, and also color-coded racks, they make it easy for you to shop. They have a range of high street, boutique, and designer items. Be sure to check both locations and their online shop.
Wild Honey is a local vintage shop bringing in an extensive inventory of unique vintage pieces for everyone and every size. Their shop curates’ one-of-a-kind pieces that aren’t found in any other shop on the lower mainland, ensuring that you will be the only one showing up to the event in that outfit. Their online store offers a wide variety of styles and options, as well as their more curated North Vancouver studio.
For this article, I want to focus on their unique vintage dresses and skirts. Their selection is perfect if you are wanting an option that is both expressive of your style, as well as part of the slow fashion/ eco-friendly movement. Because of the large inventory and the wide range of styles, there is a piece for everyone. This includes more conservative style choices and for your most fearless style icon.
New High Street and Designer Choices
The place that most would think of when they start their wedding event outfit shopping is usually the Mall. Frequented stores that have a wide range of Black Tie to Casual options are Nordstrom, Holt Renfrew, and Aritzia. I would like to open your eyes to the other options that have a wonderful selection as well.
The first shop that I would like to highlight is Ever New Melbourne. Their selection is perfect for a one-stop shop for events. Their items follow the season’s best color and style options and are at the mid-price point. Simons has a lovely section of higher price points- black tie pieces sure to wow the crowd, as well as their other in-house brands to cover any occasion. Dynamite, H&M, and Banana Republic offer a better range of semi-formal and casual guest wear. In all, there are many options, so choose which store suits your style and needs and visit those first.
There is an extensive list of online website options from around the world. My favorite is Hello Molly as they have an extremely large inventory. There are thousands of different styles, colors, cuts, and fabrics. They also feature sections for bridal parties, wedding guests, and brides themselves. If you have an exact image in your head of what you want to wear and are finding that the local shops don’t have it, I highly suggest this site. They have measurements of the models that are in each photo so one can easily see and compare what their measurements are against it. Not to mention a size guide with the different international sizing charts as well. Bec and Bridge, as well as Fox Maiden, have gorgeous dresses, many suitable for black tie and semi-formal. Their curated drops feature luxurious silks, crepes, and intricate detailing. Revolve also has a large selection of options for all event dress codes, all price points, and all sizes.