Think Outside the LBD With These 9 Formal Wedding Outfit Ideas
No, you don't have to wear an evening gown.
Formal wedding attire is far less complicated than its more — and less — casual counterparts. Despite there being just one rung between black-tie attire and formal attire on the wedding dress code ladder, there's way more fun and freedom to be had when dressing up for a formal wedding. You're not limited to floor-length gowns, you can show off some skin, and fashion-forward dressing is acceptable.
Formal can still be tricky because, by and large, the code is more of a vibe than a checklist. You'll want to channel big fancy energy, but aside from keeping dresses or skirts below the knee, there aren't many restrictions. Instead, let your sense of taste be your guide, and when in doubt, aim for more rather than less. Elevated is the safest way to style yourself for a wedding with a formal dress code.
If you're still stuck, fill up your fashion inspiration tank with these nine fun and fresh formal wedding dress ideas.
A Flirty Floor-Length Gown
Likely the first formal wedding dress outfit idea that comes to mind for most of us, a floor-length gown is always a safe bet for a wedding that requires more elevating outfits. However, that doesn't mean you have to play it safe. Rather than solid colors or floral print, try opting for a gown that exudes youthful fun through appliques, sequins, and beading.
Shop Similar: Needle & Thread Floral Diamond Ruffle Gown, $589
A Midi Skirt And Statement Top
What is the difference between a black tie and a formal wedding? Ankle. According to experts, a formal wedding dress code means you can show off some ankle skin, and there's no classier way to do that than with a full midi- or tea-length skirt, a pair of gorgeous pumps, and a statement top to keep things chic and tie the whole look together.
Shop Similar: Sachin & Babi Leighton Pleated Circle-Cut Skirt, $295, and Club L London Ivey One Shoulder Feather Top, $120
A Chic Suit
A wedding invitation specifying formal attire doesn't automatically translate to "see you in a dress!" You can wear a chic suit and still meet formal dress code expectations. We think wide-leg trousers are among the most elevated and elegant options available. However, we won't say no to cigarette pants if they happen to also be impeccably tailored.
Shop Similar: Amanda Uprichard Jane Blazer, $290 and Everlane The High-Way Drape Pant, $128
A Luxe Midi Dress
If floor-skimming hemlines aren't for you, you can still appease the dress code of a formal wedding while staying true to your personal style. An impeccably-fitted midi dress (when in doubt, stop in to see a seamstress or tailor) in a luxe fabric also gets the formalwear job done. Embellishments like beading can elevate a midi dress to meet formal dress code expectations and then some.
Shop Similar: Pamella Roland Beaded Off-The-Shoulder Illusion Midi Dress w/ Feather Trim, $5,225
A Short Sleeve Gown
You might not think of short sleeves as anything but casual, but paired with a long hemline and exciting textile, they can be transformed into a major fashion moment. Look for all-over sequins or hand-embroidered details for a short sleeve gown that's both elegant and elevated.
Shop Similar: Mac Duggal Short Sleeve Ombre Sequined Evening Gown, $698
A Sharp Jumpsuit
Another option for those who don't keep dresses in their closets, a jumpsuit in silk or chiffon is a great outfit choice for a formal wedding. Be sure to choose one with a fit that skews relaxed since anything skin-tight tends to read more casual than formal.
Shop Similar: A.L.C. Kieran II Tailored Wide-Leg Jumpsuit, $486 (Originally 695)
A Romantic Off-The-Shoulder Dress
Formal weddings call for a bit of drama, and nothing says drama like a romantic dress. Floral patterns work well here, as do puff sleeves and off-the-shoulder necklines.
Shop Similar: Selkie The Romantics Gown, $399
A Fringe-Forward Gown
A formal wedding dress code doesn't mean you have to play it safe. You can adhere to wedding attire restrictions and still live it up by turning up the volume with exciting details like head-to-toe fringe.
Shop Similar: No Pisa La Gramma Lucero Dress, $904
A Silk Tea-Length Dress
If comfort is a top priority for you, we recommend a tea-length silk dress and a pair of killer pumps as your go-to formal wedding outfit. Not only will the fabric keep you cool through the ceremony and reception, but thoughtful and cohesive accessories will have you on the wedding's best-dressed guest shortlist in no time.
Shop Similar: Jason Wu Cap-Sleeve Pleated Midi Dress, $1,595
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