How to Decode the Dress Code for Every Wedding

Festive? Black tie optional? White tie? So many dress codes and so little time (to figure out what to wear)…

Well, put your wardrobe worries aside because we’re defining all that tricky terminology so you know just what to rock to each and every wedding.

How to Decode the Dress Code for Every Wedding
Photo by Brooke Courtney on Bridal Musings via Loverly.

White Tie
This is by far the most formal attire. Imagine you’re heading to a fancy gala or walking the red carpet at an awards show.
If you’re a gal… A floor length gown. Don’t hold back!
If you’re a guy… A tuxedo jacket with tails, a formal shirt, a black vest, and a bow tie.

Black Tie
This is the most popular pick for a formal wedding. It’s less formal than white tie, but still pretty fancy!
If you’re a gal… A floor-length gown, dressy separates, or a cocktail dress in a formal fabric.
If you’re a guy… A tuxedo, a white dress shirt, a black tie, and a cummerbund.

Black Tie Optional 
Yes, it’s pretty much what it sounds like. You can choose to go black tie, or you’re welcome to keep things a little less formal.
If you’re a gal… A long dress, like a silk maxi (unless you want to go with a glam gown), or a cocktail dress in a formal fabric.
If you’re a guy… A dark suit and tie or a tuxedo.

Cocktail Attire
It’s less formal than black tie, but it’s still far from casual.
If you’re a gal… A cocktail dress, of course!
If you’re a guy… A dark suit (although lighter colors work in the summer) and a tie. But feel free to have a little more fun with your shirt.

Festive Attire
This can be a confusing one… It’s like cocktail attire, but with a little more permission to get creative with it (think bold patterns and colors).
If you’re a gal… A cocktail dress or separated with a touch of flair, and statement-making accessories.
If you’re a guy… A contemporary suit and a snazzy tie. Live it up!

No, it doesn’t mean a t-shirt and jeans. But you can opt for something you’d wear to a nice dinner party or work event.
If you’re a gal… A sundress or laid back maxi dress.
If you’re a guy… Dress pants with a button down shirt and a blazer or jacket. The tie is optional.

Farm Chic
Okay, so we might be jumpin’ the gun on this one. BUT with the popularity of barn and farm weddings on the rise, we thought we better define it too.
If you’re a gal… A sundress and cowboy boots. (you will be stepping in dirt and mud!)
If you’re a guy... Dress pants, and a button down shirt with cowboy boots or less formal shoes. Bonus points if you rock a gingham or vintage floral tie.

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