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Is It Okay To Wear Black To A Wedding

If you’re anything like me, receiving a wedding invite in the mail fills you with equal parts excitement and dread. Weddings are fun, especially once you’re past the present buying, travel planning stage.

Then you eventually have to tackle the impossible question: what do I wear? The two biggest wedding outfit faux-pas have always been “do not wear white” and “do not wear black”. But the latter rule seems to be going out of style these days, as more and more wedding guests arrive in little black dresses. Are rules made to be broken, or is this still a line that shouldn’t be crossed?

Honestly, it depends who you ask. Researching the opinion of countless fashion bloggers and stylists, many caution against wearing black to a wedding.

Black is traditionally bad luck, and it also seems like a passive aggressive way to protest the wedding, as you’re in stark contrast to the bride’s white wedding dress. But others say that wearing black to a wedding is no longer a total disaster, as long as you play it safe.

Thinking about wearing black to the next wedding you’re attending?

Follow these easy steps:

1.  Don’t upstage the bride

You should always keep the bride in mind when dressing for her wedding. If you’re going to wear black (or any color of dress for that matter), your focus should be on the the cut, fit, and material of the dress. So nothing skintight, skimpy, see-through, bare-backed, or plunging. Nothing that shows your underwear. Nothing floor-length. And please, no lace!

2.  Follow the dress code

If it’s a black tie affair, then by all means, you should feel free to wear black. In these situations it’s definitely more important to make sure you are dressed appropriately than focusing on what color you’re wearing. Country clubs and churches? Hemline should be knee-length or longer. Beach wedding? Something fun and floaty. And if you’re going to wear black, take this advice from fashionista Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis, who wears black dresses only if she styles them with pops of color, stating: “Weddings are celebrations. Should a celebration not look bright and cheerful?”

3.  Check the venue

This advice goes hand-in-hand with the dress code. If you’re going to be at the beach at midday, black is going to get very warm, and you don’t want to be wearing full-sleeves either. The opposite would be true of a church, where you want to make sure your appropriately covered up (no exposed chests, backs, thighs, strapless dresses, or cut-off sleeves) and you might want to skip the black entirely.

wear black to a wedding

4.  Consider the season

Seasonal weddings can give you a clue as to whether or not black would be appropriate. For Spring and Summer weddings, black will make you look somber, even if you do wear bright accessories. But it’s more acceptable to wear darker colors for Fall and Winter weddings, like grey, navy blue, and yes, even black. You should also take the time of the wedding into account. Black dresses should be skipped for day-time affairs, but evening receptions are perfectly acceptable places to wear black.

5.  Ask the bride

Each couple is different, and may follow different traditions at their wedding. If you’re afraid you might offend the newlyweds, it’s always better to ask the bride if a black dress is okay than show up and be that guest.

Good rules to follow for all weddings? No leather, leopard or animal print, neons, or anything transparent. And do try not to match the color scheme, if you can help it. You don’t want to blend in with the surroundings, but you also don’t want to look like you’ve invited yourself to join the wedding party. If all else fails, follow this fabulous advice from Oscar Wilde: “If one is to behave badly, it is better to be bad in a becoming dress.”

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