Frock Advisor: beautiful wedding belles
Your fashion questions answered by Lennon Courtney
Photograph: Getty Images
A trickle of wedding invitations heralds the start of the season . I always think I’m the perfectly presented guest, until the photographic evidence lands to contradict my smugness . How does one crack the wedding guest dress code?
There are so many reasons to be happy when you peel open that heavy-gauge envelope – and as many to make you spiral into despair.
Of course you’re thrilled that your family/friends/associates are publicly announcing their everlasting love and commitment to each other in the eyes of the church/State/shaman. And yet, you can’t help but think about yourself – how much it’s all going to cost, the weekend lost in a castle an hour from an urban centre, and what the bloody hell you’re going to wear.
There are a few basic principles for wedding guest etiquette: no punching and no white.
Did we say no white? Let us place a caveat on that. If your invitation is to a second marriage, as so many magical everlasting unions are these days, the ancient sanctity of virginity is null and void. Just steer clear of embellishment and make your statement sleek and clean, like at UK designer Ralph Russo. Create contrast with colour in accessories, and of course, with white, the choice is yours. This way you are making it clear that you’re not jockeying for position, merely stating your fashion credentials.
The key to getting the mood of your look right is to really think about the type of event that the loving couple are planning, and their idea of success. Working backwards from there lifts you out of your inherent self-obsession and into a realm where you can aim to delight your hosts and present yourself as a walking homage to the spirit of their love. You are your own message of love to them, and delivering a message without assessing the audience is like sending a love letter that starts with “To whom it may concern”.
In other words, read the invitation. If the wedding is barefoot on the beach, perhaps a fascinator and Louboutins are not the way to go. If they request black-tie formality, row in. They want you to make the effort so their vision of perfection is realised.
As a general rule, trends that nod to romance work well at weddings: pastels, florals, silks and, of course, dresses. Full skirted, rosebud embellished loveliness; once more Ralph Russo is a perfect case in point. While harking back to classic romantic motifs is a definite winning strategy, full tilt modernism is a worthy alternative. King of the frock, Roland Mouret, will guarantee head turning effect and a tiny acceptable whiff of upstaging – what can we say, fashion is a battlefield, and all’s fair in love and war.
If the event is relatively formal, do wear a hat – it signifies your commitment, plus there are more milliners per square kilometre in this country than there are Paddy Powers, and that’s a lot of hungry mouths to feed. Rising superstar Martha Lynn is amassing a cult following and is well worth a look.
Plan your outfit to co-ordinate but not to match in a fascistic way. Mothers of the bride often fall foul of the shoe and bag “set”; instead, there should be a nonchalance and gentle tonal integration to your choice of accessories.
Whether it’s dove-grey footwear from LK Bennett or an adorable clutch bag from Red Ruby Rouge, those accessories can work very hard for you. They could even potentially allow you to “weddingise” an existing look, saving you money and guaranteeing an outfit in which you will feel comfortable.
Don’t be tempted to road-test a style that you wouldn’t wear under normal circumstances because, although love conquers all, no woman over 40 should be seen in public in a baby-doll dress.
For more sartorial advice, see frockadvisor.com