What to Wear to a Wedding, According to Every Dress Code

When attending a wedding as a guest, there are some rules that are a given. You’ll always want to skip white, avoid anything too casual, and adhere to the dress code. But those traditional rules don’t cover all the ins and outs of what to wear to a wedding. To get some further insight, I chatted with NYC-based stylist Allison Bornstein, whose "look good, feel good” fashion motto always takes a chic yet real-life approach to getting dressed up. Last year, I was actually able to test-drive her styling advice firsthand during one of her in-demand FaceTime styling sessions, and I wholly trust her advice.

Ahead, Bornstein is sharing her top tips on what to wear to a wedding and what is worth skipping—culled from years of advising her clients and testing out looks herself. If you’re like me and need some reminders on how to get dressed up for a wedding, she has some really great suggestions here.

Skip: High Heels

Wear: Flats or Kitten Heels

"I would skip any high heels or thin stilettos. They aren't comfortable, and no one can enjoy themselves when their feet hurt," Bornstein explains. Instead, she suggests more practical footwear.

"I recommend wearing a chic flat or kitten heel with a dress. I think a shorter heel can be so sexy and also adds a modern feel. An elegant flat also can feel really unexpected. Maybe something with a pointed toe or a little embellishment?"


(Image credit: @chrissyford)

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Skip: Buying a New Head-to-Toe Look

Wear: Pieces From Your Closet

Bornstein warns against buying a totally new look. "I think sometimes we will shop for an event and not for our lives, and therefore, we end up with dresses and shoes that we will only wear once," she says.

What to do instead? Shop your closet. "I think that wearing something that you have and not buying everything new is key. I think we feel most confident when we feel like ourselves," Bornstein explains. "Creating and cultivating personal style is all about rewearing and restyling especially for events. I will often go for a slip dress that I can also wear casual or dress up a more casual dress with a fancy shoe and great jewelry."


(Image credit: @youngfrankk)

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Skip: Anything Too Fussy

Wear: Comfortable Pieces

Anything that is too fussy is worth skipping, according to Bornstein. "I have experience with this. I once wore a really tight dress to my best friend's wedding and the entire night had to fuss with my dress and constantly pull it up while I was dancing," she explains, "It wasn't ideal."

Instead, find something that feels comfortable and is easy to wear. "They say confidence is the sexiest thing a woman can wear, and I think we are able to stand tall and have fun when we are wearing something that doesn't require too much fussing or thought," Bornstein explains. "You don't want to be messing with bra straps or pulling up your Skims the entire party!"


(Image credit: @reformation)

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Next, I'm Attending 22 Weddings This Year—These Are the 6 Dress Trends I'm Wearing

Associate Director, Special Projects

Kristen Nichols is the Associate Director, Special Projects at Who What Wear with over a decade of experience in fashion, editorial, and publishing. She oversees luxury content and wedding features, and covers fashion within the luxury market, runway reporting, shopping features, trends, and interviews with leading industry experts. She also contributes to podcast recordings, social media, and branded content initiatives. Kristen has worked with brands including Prada, Chanel, MyTheresa, and Luisa Via Roma, and rising designers such as Refine and Tove, and her style has been featured in publications including Vogue.com, Vogue France, WWD, and the CFDA. Before Who What Wear, Kristen began her career at Rodarte, where she worked on assistant styling, photo shoots, and runway shows, and at Allure, where she moved into print and digital editorial. She graduated from the University of Southern California, where she studied art history and business, and currently lives in New York.