Choose the perfect outfit for an outdoor wedding: avoid these style mistakes
No matter the time of year or the type of venue, finding incredible wedding guest attire can be a challenge. You want to be formal but not extravagant and, of course, you want to feel your best in whatever you choose. An outdoor venue adds an extra layer to your considerations. If it's very hot, you'll need something that helps you beat the heat or, at the very least, doesn't show all the sweat stains. In addition, there are other natural elements: wind, uneven ground and insects, to name but a few. To make shopping easier, we've compiled a handy list of the worst things to wear to an outdoor wedding. Whether it's a dress code faux pas or something that will likely cause you discomfort, these are the things stylists say to pass on.
Synthetic fibers won't help you stay cool
If you're attending an outdoor wedding, you'll want to choose an outfit that protects you from sweat stains. To do this, avoid synthetic materials like polyester, rayon and viscose, says Kendra Sharpe, a North Carolina-based personal stylist. “These are not breathable fabrics,” Sharpe explains. “They trap heat and make you sweat, especially during the summer months.” What's more, these fabrics are also often thin enough to show that you sweat easily. Silk is another fabric that can quickly show sweat stains, although it's actually quite breathable. Instead, stick to fabrics like linen, cotton or other natural fibers. They'll keep you cool, dry quickly and are likely to suit the ambience of a windy outdoor wedding.
Simplicity and adaptation to the aesthetics of the venue
Outdoor weddings tend to have a more airy aesthetic, and dresses in black or with sequins or flashy patterns can be too overbearing. “For outdoor weddings, it's best to keep things simple: if you're wearing a pattern, make it floral or something that matches the season or venue,” explains Sharpe. “Listen to what the invitation says as far as formal or semi-formal is concerned and plan your outfit accordingly.” The only exception to the black rule is if you're wearing pants and a shirt. “For all the wedding guests who wear dress shirts and don't wear vests or jackets, colored fabrics show perspiration like crazy in summer or any season when it's hot,” explains Elizabeth Raley, owner and photographer at Fleeing the Savannah, which shoots outdoor weddings almost exclusively. “White is the way to go – or black.”
Forget the giant hat
You may be attending an outdoor wedding on the beach, but that doesn't mean you have to bring your enormous sun hat with you. “Big hats can be distracting,” says Sharpe. “They can also be an eyesore in photos or distort the view of other guests.” If you need extra protection from the sun, accept the fact that you may have to sit in the back row. Another thing to consider is the wind: your hat could be blown off at an inopportune moment, disrupt a key moment or be lost forever. Raley notes that this also happens with veils on brides. “The wind or the breeze can blow it away, and veils can become a nightmare for a photographer who has to spend half his time repairing a veil instead of taking photos,” she says. If it can happen to the bride, it can happen to anyone!
Opt for shorter, lighter dresses
Long-sleeved, floor-length dresses – or dresses that have either element – are not recommended for summer outdoor weddings. “Something floor-length is more formal and can be hot,” explains Sharpe. “Keeping it short can help you stay cool.” A mid-length dress, or a style that has a cooling slit or is made from a natural material, can also work. If your outdoor wedding takes place in autumn, a long or long-sleeved dress is ideal. “You'll probably opt for a longer dress or pants to stay warm,” explains Sharpe.
Say goodbye to stilettos
You've heard it before, but we'll say it again: stilettos won't be comfortable at an outdoor wedding, even if you're adept at walking in them. Raley says this is one of the biggest concerns she has when photographing outdoor weddings. “I'd suggest never wearing heels if you know you're going to have to walk on grass, and obviously on the beach,” she says. “The happier people are, the better they'll look!” And no one looks their best when hobbling around in an unstable shoe. As an alternative, Sharpe suggests a sandal, wedge, espadrille or square heel.