Semi-Formal Dresses to Wear As a Guest at a Wedding

Written by steve ungrey
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Semi-Formal Dresses to Wear As a Guest at a Wedding
Semi-formal dresses are appropriate for most weddings. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Choosing an outfit for a wedding can frustrating, especially if you are unfamiliar with the location of the venue or you're unsure what semi-formal might mean to the other guests at the event. If the wedding is semi-formal, casual dresses and skirts will not work, and formal dresses will look out of place, too. Wearing an ensemble appropriate for a wedding that suits the location, time of year, your personal style and your need to dance at the reception -- will be easy when you follow the guidelines outlined below for semi-formal weddings.

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Cocktail Dresses

The general rule of thumb for a semi-formal attire pertains to the length of your dress or skirt. If the hem is floor length and the fabric is shiny with embellishments, you are wearing formal attire. For the dress to be semi-formal, it is appropriate to show some of your legs in a shorter dress. Often darker coloured fabrics look more dressy. A dress with a hem that extends down to your ankles or is as high as your knees, are both considered appropriate in terms of length. A cocktail dress is a fun and flirty option for a small celebration or more relaxed social gathering.

Career Dresses

The type of dress you would wear to an office job can also be appropriate for a wedding. Most office-type dresses feature hemlines that are at, or around the knee, which is appropriate for business attire. You can use a little jewellery, perhaps a stylish necklace or earrings, to jazz up the outfit a bit. As far as shoes go, if you want to veer away from the more conservative career attire, a strappy heel or sandal will make your outfit feel more festive. Avoid stuffy attire and hard lines in the silhouette -- opt for more flowy dresses, which will look great on the dance floor.

Dress Suits

Women's pant and skirt suits are formal three-piece suist you would wear to a corporate executive job, but they also work for weddings. Some two-piece suits are simply a dress covered by a jacket, which are also appropriate for indoor weddings or outdoor weddings with slightly colder temperatures. Since the skirt doesn't touch the floor, it is not considered formal and qualifies as a semi-formal outfit. As for pantsuits, men wear pantsuits to weddings as well -- so they would be just as appropriate for a woman.

Strapless Dresses

There's something about the elegance and simplicity of strapless dresses that make them great semi-formal attire for a wedding. Many bridesmaid dresses are strapless because they complement many body shapes. Strapless dresses look best in the summer, when daytime weddings and outdoor celebrations are mostly found, however, with a beautiful wrap, they work for any season.

Dark or Light Colors

Your colour scheme depends on what time of day and year the wedding is held. Avoid darker colours during daytime weddings if they are outdoors. Sunshine on a dark colour absorbs into the clothing and can make you feel uncomfortably warm. Lighter-coloured clothing reflects sunshine and heat away from your body, reducing the likelihood of feeling overheated. Indoor weddings, plus weddings held in non-summer months, are better for wearing darker clothes. Most churches or indoor rooms contain air conditioning, reducing the likelihood of discomfort.

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