Wedding season is almost upon us, and with it comes the inevitable stress of wedding dress codes. You want to look appropriate but not fuddy-duddy, elegant but not too sultry. Fortunately, few navigate these sartorial waters with as much aplomb as the British royal family, making it the perfect place to look for inspiration. Here, we’ve rounded up some of the most essential lessons the royals can teach us about how to look good at any wedding you attend this season.
Don’t be afraid of the dark.
Some wedding guests worry that wearing dark duds will bring the party down, but there’s a reason black tie and LBDs are considered classically elegant. Dark shades, like this ink ensemble Sophie, Countess of Wessex wore to Princess Eugenie’s wedding in 2018, look timeless and chic no matter the dress code.
Dress the Population Corey Chiffon Fit and Flare Cocktail Dress
Pile on the pearls
There’s rarely a bad time for pearls, but for a wedding they’re especially well placed. Princess Diana wore this pearl choker and earring set to the 1993 wedding of David Armstrong-Jones and Viscount Linley for a polished look.
Brinker & Eliza Khai 24k Gold Plated Freshwater Pearl Drop Earrings
Royals are certainly not afraid of color, so they know the power of a bold, solid hue for a wedding guest ensemble. Look no further than the mother-daughter duo of Sarah, the Duchess of York and Princess Beatrice and the jewel-toned looks they selected for Princess Eugenie’s wedding for inspiration.
When it comes to footwear, pumps are by far the most popular choice for women in the royal family. A touch of lift, a timeless, leg-elongating shape and great versatility make it an ideal choice for any wedding look.
If a darker shade seems too serious for the celebration, take a page from Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall’s book and opt for a soft pastel shade. The muted tones bring a pop of color and lightness that’s particularly suited to warm-weather celebrations, like the May 2006 wedding of Camilla’s daughter, Laura Parker Bowles.
JS Collections Rory Fit and Flare Midi Dress
Make a minimalist statement
Choosing a sleek and simple silhouette, like the navy blue look Meghan Markle wore to Princess Eugenie’s wedding, gives an instant outfit. Keep accessories and embellishments to a minimum for maximum sophistication.
Say “yes” to cream
Fashion rules once dictated that guests should never wear sunglasses for the wedding, but as Princess Anne proved at Lady Rose Windsor’s wedding in 2008, creamy colors can be perfect for attending weddings. weddings, provided you diffuse them with a few touches of color, like these yellow flowers.
Iris open-back floral-print cotton midi shirt dress
Pop on a print
Make a splash, like Kate Middleton did at a friend’s wedding in 2011, with a punchy graphic print in an understated shape, to give a look energy and modernity.
Fascinate with a fascinator
Even if a dramatic topper isn’t quite your style, a smaller, understated fascinator (like the one Queen Elizabeth wore to her son Prince Edward’s wedding to Sophie, Countess of Wessex) adds plenty of pizzazz to a look – and it’s royalty-approved too.
Be the “something blue”
Blue will always be a good choice for wedding attire, and a Wedgewood hue is a particularly sophisticated take on the style. As seen on Princess Eugenie (and her aunt, Sophie, Countess of Wessex in the background) at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, the pale, gray hue has all the polish of a little black dress with a breezier, friendlier air.
Sleeveless Tulip Hem Crepe Dress
Patterns from head to toe
Polka dots were one of Princess Diana’s signature looks, and these all-over spots gave her outfit for Lady Carolyn Herbert and John Warren’s Highclere wedding a positively cheerful air – just the right note to hit the cutest day in someone’s life.
Rebecca Taylor Women’s Polka Dot Dress
Coveted color blocking
Not in a traditional print look? A colorblock style, like the one Meghan Markle wore to Charlie Van Straubenzee’s wedding in 2018, is just as bold, but still sleek.
Stick with a signature style
Coat dresses are one of Kate’s go-to looks, and she saw no reason to stray when choosing a style for Zara Tindall’s 2011 wedding. Take the stress out of choosing a a wedding guest look by leaning into a signature style you already know you’ll feel good in.
Don’t be afraid of accessories
No one pulls off an all-court prop press quite like the Queen. Earrings, three-row pearls, a matching brooch and even a hat: Her Majesty is proof that sometimes more is more.
Crystal and imperfect sapphire brooch
Spruce up your neutrals
Beige has a pretty mundane reputation, but a neutral hue doesn’t have to be dull. In fact, with a touch of embellishment, like the sleeve and belt detailing on the taupe suit Sophie, Countess of Wessex wore to Prince William and Kate’s wedding, an understated color can be a real hit.
Nested wrap jacket and sheath dress
Contrasting color and texture
Want to evoke fun and flying without stealing the scene? A deep hue tempers playful touches, like this voluminous lace dress Princess Beatrice wore to Lady Gabriella Windsor’s wedding in 2019.
Stack your rings
Rings are naturally associated with a wedding day, so piling on several of your favorites, like Meghan Markle did at Princess Eugenie’s wedding, is a nice nod to the big day. Just be sure to keep the rest of your jewelry more understated to avoid the competition.
Angelika Four Point Ring with Pavé Diamonds
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