Black tie. Black tie optional. White tie. Semi-formal. Casual. Country chic. Garden party. Your closet may be packed with clothes, but it seems like you never have exactly the right outfit to wear to a wedding, depending on what’s “suggested” on the invite. With wedding season almost upon us, it’s the perfect time to shop for something new. But what’s in store?
Erica Jensen, owner of Helen Ainson in Darien, notes that Pantone’s color of the year is always a big trend, and this year’s color is “Greenery,” she reports. “We’re seeing a lot of different shades of green. … Greenery is a bright, fresh green, but turquoise and teal are also great choices, and complement virtually every [skin tone].”
The store carries long gowns, short cocktail and strapless dresses, and sleeves in a variety of lengths and fabrics. “When a customer comes in and needs a dress or gown for a wedding, we begin to ask questions,” Erica explains. “It depends upon what day, the time of day, and the location of the wedding and reception, as well as whether or not the invitation states black tie, black tie optional, cocktail attire, or no mention of attire.”
Customarily, Saturday later afternoon going into the evening is the most formal time, according to Erica, while Friday nights and Sunday weddings are usually a bit less formal. “If the wedding is being held at a hotel in New York City, however, people dress more formally than they do at a country club in Connecticut or on a beach in the Bahamas or on a ranch out West,” she notes.
Andrew Mitchell Namdar, chief marketing officer and vice president of e-commerce for Mitchells of Westport, believes that confidence is key when dressing for a special occasion like a wedding. “Whether it’s your own wedding or if you’re going as a guest, if you feel great you will have a great time,” he says.
At Mitchells, customers will be choosing prints like florals to wear to this spring and summer’s weddings and receptions. “We also love a sculptural solid gown for a more formal affair,” Andrew explains, “and metallic accessories go with almost anything and can elevate any look to be party-ready.”
For men, a light-colored suit or sportcoat is appropriate for a more casual affair, according to Andrew, while for a more formal occasion, a dark suit or tuxedo is standard.
If the wedding invitation says black tie, a chic cocktail dress or a long evening gown in a dark, neutral color like brown or black would be appropriate, according to theknot.com, and the bride, wedding party, or friends can help answer questions about the appropriate dress length. For a formal or black tie optional affair, a long dress, a dressy suit, or a formal cocktail-length dress in a dark, neutral tone like brown, gray or black is suitable.
One bridal trend that often takes a back seat to the bride’s dress is the mother-of-the-bride’s dress. Some brides choose the dress they would like their mother to wear, in order to coordinate with the wedding’s color and design schemes, while others let Mom choose what she likes.
The mother of the bride can never be wrong in the amount of formality she chooses, and both she and the mother of the groom can wear a long dress almost any day and location, Jensen states. “The mother — and her daughter — set the tone of dressiness, and the mother of the groom is supposed to follow their lead,” she says. “Women tend to look taller and thinner in a long gown compared to cocktail length, so when considering all the photographs that will be taken and looked at over the years, many moms choose long. Our goal is to have each mom looking like a million dollars, so as to complement her beautiful daughter or son on their very special day.”