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What to wear to a summer wedding this year

Embrace avant-garde occasion hats and colourful suiting

Olivia Petter
Wednesday 01 May 2019 12:28 BST
(Rex Features)

It’s a tricky thing, being a wedding guest.

Among the endless list of requirements – buy a present, arrange accommodation, practise your small talk – there’s one obligation that trumps them all in terms of effort: fix up and look sharp.

The rules surrounding wedding guest dressing are as nuanced as they come.

There are some obvious musts – avoiding white is always a good idea – and others that are only acknowledged by serial wedding-goers, such as steering clear of stilettos unless you enjoy the feeling of numbness in your feet.

In the summer, things get even more complicated. Not only do you have to find a sweat-free way to “dress to the nines”, but you have to strike the right balance between playful sunshine garb and formal occasionwear. This forces you to ask difficult questions, such as “Is this wrap dress more ‘I do’ or ‘BBQ?’” and “Does this hat make me look like a chic French woman, or a dishevelled bird?”

It’s no mean feat, so here’s our handy guide to summer wedding guest dressing, with tips from industry experts on the trends and colours you need to know about this season .

The dress

Shrimps, Lucia sequinned floral midi dress: £450, Reformation, Winslow floral-print georgette wrap maxi dress: £325, Galvan, Majorelle gathered floral-print plissé-satin midi dress: £995, Rixo, Coleen Diana Floral V-neck midi dress: £325.

A ubiquitous summertime staple, a silky maxi dress is the perfect companion to any sun-kissed celebration, and weddings are no different. As predictable as it may be, this summer’s wedding guest dresses are bright and floral-heavy, explains Emily Gordon-Smith, director of consumer product at trends intelligence company Stylus. “This year, wedding attire is mirroring key themes from the spring/summer 2019 catwalks,” she tells The Independent, which were awash with sprightly pinks (Erdem, Valentino, Molly Goddard) and beguiling yellows (Moschino, Escada, Boss).

As for patterns, gowns were in full bloom at Carolina Herrera, Paco Rabanne and Preen by Thornton Bregazzi to name but a few. The florals in question aren’t from your average carefully colour-coordinated flowerbed, either. This season’s flower fun packs a punch, with bold, brash and clashing styles creating an intricate visual feast.

Hemlines are a matter of personal preference. While Emmy Scarterfield of wedding boutique, Emmy London tells The Independent that longer length dresses will lead the way this summer, a spokesperson for luxury womenswear label Madderson London warns not to dismiss midi and knee-length styles, all of which can garner a sense of occasion with the addition of special details, such as feature sleeves, flounces or ruffles.

Rixo, Ganni, Galvan and Kitri Studio are all reliable labels for this.

The shoes

Office, sweet heart asymmetric strap sandals: £39, Sophia Webster, Celia platform block-heeled sandals, £595, Mango, wedge braided sandals: £49.99, AlexaChung, Cha-Cha leather sandals: £355.

Your choice of footwear very much depends on the venue, says Robin Weil, founder and CEO of, the UK’s leading wedding planner site.

“The impact of whether the wedding is on sand, grass or concrete will affect the choice of shoes,” he tells The Independent. In other words, if it’s a beach wedding, you probably don’t want to turn up tottering around in spiked stilettos. Nor should you, if you want to be on trend, says Gordon-Smith, who explains that 1990s-inspired styles are set to surge this season – think kitten heels, mules and strappy sandals.

Lalage Beaumont, whose namesake label is famous for its occasionwear, adds that block heels are ideal for a summer wedding. “Chances are, you’ll be standing up for a while, so you will be much more comfortable”.

The hat

John Lewis & Partners, Harper down brim disc occasion hat: £110, Jane Taylor, hydrangea disc: £1,080, Sensi Studio, Grosgrain-trimmed two-tone toquilla straw Panama hat: £145, Jacquemus, Santon wide-brimmed straw hat: £158.

When occasion hats were once considered a sartorial archaism bound to stiff 18th century soirées, the recent resurgence of headwear (sales are up by 250 per cent on luxury online retailer Net-a-Porter in the last year) has brought them back into the spotlight.

But don’t just go for any old saucer, bespoke milliner Jane Taylor insists that finding the right material is key. “Felt is only for the winter and from May onwards, straw or sinamay should be worn,” she tells The Independent.

“You can also wear crepe or hats made from most fabrics all year round.” If you’re cashing in on the floral trend with your outfit, Taylor suggests keeping the hat as simple as possible when it comes to design and colour.

The suit

Les Heroines, The Gladys double-breasted linen-blend canvas blazer: £415, Les Heroines, Bentley cropped grosgrain-trimmed linen-blend canvas slim-leg pants: £240, De La Vali, Dean viscose satin tailored blazer: £545, De La Vali, Sofia viscose satin green mini skirt: £245, Attico, wool-blend gabardine blazer: £975, Attico, wool-blend gabardine tapered pants: £625, Topshop pink suit with linen: £36.

Sharp tailoring was a prominent feature on the spring/summer 2019 catwalks, with eye-popping iterations at Gabriela Hearst, Emporio Armani, Roksanda and perennial souped-up suiters, Gucci. “Coloured trouser suits are a major trend this summer,” says Gordon-Smith. “These soft, mannish two pieces look best in true brights or pastels and can be paired with flats or heels.”

Taylor adds that splashes of pastels, royal blue and coral (Pantone’s colour of 2019) are among the most popular hues for tailored garb this season, with many of the wide-legged options taking their inspiration from 1970’s styles. But don’t let the suiting fun stop there, skirt suits are also making a comeback.

Ibizan-inspired brand De La Vali, for example, has generated a social media storm on Instagram this season with its emerald green satin suit, as recently seen on singer Dua Lipa.

The sustainability

Now you know, where do you go? (Rex Features)

Now you know, where do you go? (Rex Features)

As sustainable fashion continues to occupy an important space in the industry (global shopping platform Lyst has seen a 66 per cent increase in searches for the term since 2018), look to sourcing your wedding season garb in second-hand or vintage outlets where possible, suggests Gordon-Smith.

“Second-hand designer consignment sites such as The Real Real and Vestiaire Collective are great for a more ethical designer buy-in, extending the life cycle of a product rather than buying brand new,” she explains.

Hiring your outfit is another option, with mass and mid-market options such as HIRESTREET, Girl Meets Dress and Hire Studio providing the eco-conscious shopper with ample choice.

Help prevent hay fever symptoms

While spring brings warmer weather it also marks the start of the hay fever season. If you’re one of the 18 million people affected in the UK, it makes sense to try to help prevent the symptoms of hay fever. A single dose of Pirinase Hayfever Relief For Adults 0.05% Nasal Spray in each nostril once a day could help relieve sneezing, a runny nose, nasal congestion, and itchy and watery eyes. Find out more here, or click here to buy online at Waitrose

For the relief of allergy symptoms. Pirinase Allergy 0.05% Nasal Spray contains fluticasone. Always read the label.

Trademarks are owned by or licensed to the GSK group of companies.

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