What to wear to a wedding
It's no secret that dressing for a wedding generally causes stress levels to sky rocket. No matter how far you plan in advance, a rain storm that you haven't factored in or accidentally turning up in the same printed tea dress as three other guests can put a dampener on the day.
You needn't spent a fortune to look good at the impending series of spring nuptials. According to Lyst, women who have bought a new outfit for a wedding in the past three years spent an average of £98.03, with Self Portrait midi dresses (the guipure-lace style in red was clicked on once every three minutes last month), Reformation and Solace leading the pack.
So, what are the dos and don'ts of wedding guest dressing?
Do plan ahead
''Do your research on the venue if you haven’t been there before,'' says Mark Niemierko, luxury wedding planner, who emphasises the importance of the location and the time of day in deciphering a dress code. ''I think if it’s an evening wedding you should be wearing a long dress, but if it’s before before 2pm then cocktail attire might be more suitable, and if it's on the beach that can really throw it off''.
In a similar vein, it pays to take note of the weather forecast before you meticulously plan your outfit. Always take some sort of cover-up with you - try a mannish blazer layered over a floral midi dress or a fuzzy coat over a slip dress.
Don't wear all white (or all black)
The water here is slightly murky. Pippa Middleton wearing white as maid of honour at the royal wedding has paved the way for white bridesmaids dresses. ''So many bridesmaids now wear white and I think it’s really chic and it works, but some guests have started interpreting that to mean they can too,'' says Niemerko, who is staunchly opposed to guests wearing anything in a similar shade as the bride, be it ivory, cream or off-white. He holds a similar option of guests wearing black: ''I just don't think guests should wear black either.''
Bright colours are a good option for spring and summer weddings, as are florals. Although Lyst has reported a 72% increase in searches for dark florals over the last three months, so if you have a penchant for moodier prints, cast the net wide to avoid finding yourself in the same dress as someone else.
Metallics are also a viable option. And by this we mean less disco (unless the dress code calls for this) and more sumptuous bronze slip dress underneath a tailored jacket or shimmering midi skirt paired with a camisole.
Do travel light
''A clutch is always a chic option,'' says Niemerko, who divulges that if he's ever organsing a wedding with party favours, they will always be handed out at the end of the evening to avoid guests being forced to squeeze them into their inevitably small arm candy. While carrying a clutch bag around with you on a regular evening out can be a bit tedious (where do you put it when you're hitting the dance floor?) a wedding is one of the few occasions when you can leave it on the table without fear of it getting swiped. Alternatively, a mini cross-body (as seen at Valentino, Chanel and Hermès among others) is a very good option.
On the subject of extraneous accessories, are hats a necessity? ''Not many people wear hats anymore, which I think is a shame because they can look quite fabulous,'' says Niemerko.
Don't wear denim
Granted some of us don't like wearing dresses, but this doesn't mean you can shun the black tie dress code in favour of your trusty denim and a blouse. ''I've been quite shocked in the past when guests have turned up in jeans,'' admits Niemierko.
If a flouncy frock isn't for you, then opt for slouchy separates (think wide leg trousers and a silk shirt) or a jumpsuit instead. Alternatively, opt for an A-line skirt. According to Lyst these are outselling their pencil and maxi counterparts 2-to-1, and it's easy so see why given their flattering qualities. ''I think the way Jenna Lyons pairs a fabulous skirt with a jewelled necklace and a shirt is a great source of inspiration for dressing for a wedding,'' says Niemierko.
Do wear a trouser suit
If you're bored of resorting to the same midi dress or pleated skirt, change things up by way of a tailored trouser suit. Not only will you offer a refreshing take on a wedding dress code, but you can also wear the jacket and trousers separately for work as well as to other events, meaning your impromptu purchase won't be wasted. ''I love a woman in tails,'' agrees Niemerko, ''I think it can look incredible.''
Do stay true to your personal style
We're not saying don't think outside the box, but it's worth considering the fact that if you tend not to gravitate towards certain styles or brands, you have probably ruled these out for a reason and forcing yourself to go against your better judgement will only lead to an uncomfortable evening.
''You should already know what suits you,'' says Niemerko, ''Zara and J. Crew are good options, as are the designers at Debenhams and Caroline Herrerra's more affordable CH line,'' he continues, also citing Roland Mouret, Oscar de la Renta and Victoria Beckham as good options for those with a higher budget.
Or buy vintage. Not only will this will eliminate the risk of you turning up in the same outfit as someone else, but there are also some real gems to be uncovered. Head to Lisbon-based online boutique Bird On A Wire, or luxury vintage boutique Open For Vintage for pre-owned buys that are perfect for wedding season.
Do wear comfortable shoes
Gone are the days when guests were scorned for wearing flats. ''There are some really beautiful flat shoes around,'' encourages Niemerko, who cites Charlotte Olympia as a great option for wedding-appropriate shoes that won't cause your lower back to start spasming mid-way through the ceremony.
Although he's not ruling out heels: '''With shoes it’s all about posture and heels give you a good posture and make you walk confidently.'' If you are a heels person or if your outfit calls for a little elevation, opt for block heels or platforms. Both of these are far superior to their pointy cousins in the comfort department, and are more practical for both walking on grass and dancing. If you know you're not going to be trudging through a field any time soon, then a kitten heel is a chic option.