Wedding dress codes - here's what they mean and what to wear
You know you’re in for a fabulous evening soiree if the wedding invitation explicitly says “black tie” for the dress code.
Originating from British and American conventions for dressing in the nineteenth century, black tie refers to a semi-formal attire for events from 6pm onwards.
Men have it easy—anything from a prototypical tuxedo to a dinner jacket will do. But for women, gowns are a must—which comes with a whole other set of do’s and don’ts, not forgetting decisions that have to be made on the colour, fit and level of extravagance.
We recommend going with a fit that’s most flattering for your body shape and a shade of colour complementary to your skin’s undertone—the same goes for jewellery.
Ladies with cooler (or bluer) skin tones, should opt for silver or white gold jewellery whereas those with warmer undertones will look better with yellow gold accessories.
First things first: Do not turn up to the wedding in a white gown, we’d even advise against a cream-coloured number.
Secondly, no naked dresses à la Beyoncé (and Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian West and the list goes on) at the MET Gala.
Showing a little bit of skin is fine, we encourage it even, but modesty is equally encouraged. After all, as Carolina Herrera once famously said: “You can’t be a fashion icon if you’re not wearing any clothes.”
When it comes to choosing your gown for the evening, keep comfort in mind—you’re going to be doing a lot of sitting and waiting till the ceremonies are over.
Take a style cue from actress Jesseca Liu, whose Star Awards 2019’s appearance was black-tie goals.
Her sleek floor-length gown with cape sleeves emphasised her height and stature with elegance and flair, while S$2 million dollars worth of jewellery from Tiffany & Co. adorned her wrist and neck.
White Tie is the more formal version of the black tie—think Michelle Obama at the White House State Dinner.
Ladies are expected to turn up dressed to the tens in formal floor-length gowns with no exceptions.
Up the ante with sophisticated jewellery, your favourite (and most comfortable) pair of Louboutins and a fabulous yet utilitarian clutch (you’re going to want to bring touch ups and tissues for all the crying you said you wouldn’t do at weddings).
Other than that, the same principles of a black tie event should be applied here. Which means, no naked dresses, no wearing white and definitely no casual wear in any way shape or form.
Take notes from actress Rebecca Lim, who wore a chic and effervescent gown in black by Maison Valentino to the Star Awards 2019. She also wore embellished stiletto-heeled shoes and an elegant pair of earrings. Gorgeous.
It’s actually called semi-formal or casual dressy, but you get the gist. Unlike a black-tie or white-tie event, this dress code isn’t time-specific. So you’d definitely want to take the time of the wedding into consideration and make colour choices accordingly.
We suggest opting for darker hues for evening or night time and lighter, or even pastel hues for day time.
Cocktail dresses, a skirt-and-top combination or a pantsuit would be ideal for this occasion.
If the wedding takes place in the afternoon and leads to a dinner reception in the evening, a cocktail dress would be your best bet.
And depending on the location of the wedding, opt for sensible yet fashionable shoes—especially if it’s outdoors. You wouldn’t want a heel getting stuck in mud or grass, so a gorgeous pair of flats or heeled mules would be perfect for this.
Our favourite #girlboss of Klarra and December cover girl, Beatrice Tan, looked elegantly effortless in this classy nude dress that is versatile enough for an intimate lunch or ballroom dinner.
Casual dress codes are a huge hint that the wedding will most probably be held outdoors, suggesting a more laid-back convention of dressing.
But that doesn’t mean it’s time bust out your Levi’s or jelly sandals—it’s still a wedding and decorum demands a certain level of sophistication. Unless, of course, there’s a footnote in the invitation that says it’s unacceptable, then by all means (but really, don’t).
Our favourite way of approaching this dress code is with a sundress. Or any top and skirt coordinate, really, as long as it’s not blazoned with sequins and metallic beads.
The always chic founder of fashion labels Collate the Label and Our Second Nature, Velda Tan, shows us how its done with this sweet and stylish look of a blush pink pleated midi skirt and white sleeveless turtleneck top. And for a pop of colour, she went with a bright sunny yellow handbag!
This is our personal favourite because everything you’d need to dress up for it is probably already in your closet.
After all, we do live on a tropical island. But be prepared that a tropical wedding will be a hot and humid affair, which calls for moisture wicking fabric choices in dresses and long-lasting humidity-resistant makeup.
Anything from a flowy bohemian dress to a whisper-soft tulle dress is a go—just keep in mind to avoid the colour white and dressing in a manner similar to the bridesmaids.
As for hair, forget about it—pop on a sun hat and call it a day, because honestly, no one would be able to tell if you #wokeuplikethis or took inspiration from Alessandra Ambrosio’s technique for a beachy hairdo in Vogue’s skincare series on YouTube.
We’re loving this bold bohe look from heiress and fashion entrepreneur Arissa Cheo, who contrasted her printed bohe dress with luxe accessories like layered necklaces from Bulgari, and a Chloé handbag.