Never wear white to a wedding! If there’s only one rule every wedding guest has likely heard at least once in their lifetime, this is it.
But is this longtime etiquette rule still relevant at modern weddings? Can you wear similar neutrals like beige?
Beige is one of the ultimate neutrals and can be seen on every type of garment from dresses, skirts and trousers to shoes, boots and purses. Often seen as a conservative color, beige traditionally is a symbol of simplicity and comfort. In some cultures, it can even be a symbol of piety.
But can you wear beige to a wedding? Read on to learn how to wear this off-white shade without offending the bride.
What is the Difference Between Beige and White? Which is More Flattering?
Like many other neutral hues, beige is not found on a traditional color wheel because it is a mixture of different shades. Darker beige is typically created by mixing white with brown while pale beige is a combination of white and yellow. While light beige is similar to cream, it has more yellow in it, making it slightly darker.
A true neutral, beige mixes well with virtually any shade on the color wheel, but it can be a hard color for many people to wear. The key to successfully wearing any color is to choose a shade that offers contrast to your skin tone. If your skin tone falls within the beige family, you should avoid it like the plague.
Most ladies with darker skin look fantastic in beige as do fair-skinned women with pink undertones. Ladies with yellow undertones in their skin should avoid beige in favor of cool neutrals like white or taupe.
Can You Wear Beige to a Wedding?
Avoiding any color that closely resembles white, has long been the unspoken etiquette rule all wedding guests have followed. But, over time, etiquette rules have changed and the ‘no white’ rule has been modified significantly.
The Emily Post Institute, the authority on etiquette for weddings, now says wearing white, and similar shades like beige, to a wedding is totally fine — as long as your dress doesn’t look like a wedding gown or steal attention from the bride.
With beige and other similar shades now being fair game for wedding attire, you have a lot more choice when shopping for your wedding guest outfit. Just keep in mind that not every beige dress is created equal and you’ll still need to use common sense when choosing your attire. To learn what you can and can’t wear as a wedding guest, read on!
Understanding Dress Codes
If you’re looking for a stylish yet appropriate way to wear beige to a wedding, you’ve come to the right place.
The first thing to figure out before you hit the mall or head online to dress shop is the wedding’s dress code. Appropriate attire will be different depending upon how formal or casual the wedding is. And that means the right outfit could range anywhere from an evening gown to a sundress.
To ensure you attend weddings properly clothed, read on to learn about the six main wedding dress codes and the attire expected for each.
White tie wedding
The most formal of all the dress codes, a white tie wedding calls for a floor-length evening dress that is elegant rather than sexy. Any dress you choose should have a moderate to modest neckline, modest side slits and figure-skimming rather than skin tight fabrics.
When choosing a beige dress for a white tie wedding, your No. 1 responsibility is to ensure it does not look like a wedding gown. Remember, not every bride wears pure white, so if the bride is wearing a similar shade of off-white as you, she likely won’t be impressed.
To ensure you don’t offend the bride, avoid strapless dresses and pass on any gown with lace, excessive beading or sequins — three of the most common features found on bridal gowns. This dress, although not a wedding gown, could easily pass for one, thanks to its lace-like floral embroidery. That automatically makes it a poor choice for a wedding guest.
Black tie wedding
Not quite as formal as white tie weddings, black tie means you still need to come attired in either a traditional evening gown or a conservative cocktail dress. When choosing a cocktail dress, a formal tea length, midi or even a high-low hemline (as long as it remains below the knee) are all good choices for a black tie dress code.
Like white tie weddings, you should avoid wearing any dress that could be mistaken for a wedding gown. That means no head-to-toe light beige and avoiding lace and a lot of bridal-style beading. If you have your heart set on wearing a strapless dress, one like this, where beige is the background color, is an acceptable choice.
Formal (or black tie optional) wedding
While still formal, most female guests will opt for a cocktail dress over a traditional evening gown. A black tie optional wedding also means you can wear a shorter dress. If you do go for a short dress, make sure it is no more than a few inches above the knee.
Keep in mind, even a short dress can look bridal if you choose one in solid beige. A dress like this, which is a dark beige, bordering on tan, would be a great cocktail option while this evening gown with colorful sequin flowers is perfect for a long dress.
This dress code is not only the most popular at daytime and evening weddings, it’s one of the easiest to accommodate because it offers you a wide range of wardrobe choices. A cocktail dress, garden party dress, a dress and jacket ensemble, a jumpsuit or a fancy pantsuit are all on the table for this style of wedding.
If you choose to wear light beige, make sure it is an accent or background color. This floral dress, for instance, has a light beige background, but the floral print is what everyone will focus on.
Dressy casual weddings
A popular dress code for daytime weddings, a dressy casual event calls for a garden party dress, a semi-casual dress or a skirt and top ensemble. A jumpsuit or pantsuit are good choices for ladies who prefer not to wear a dress or skirt.
While any dress you do choose is very unlikely to look like a wedding dress, we still advise against a solid light beige dress like this one in favor of a dark beige or a patterned dress like this with light beige as a background color.
If you’re attending a casual wedding, you may be lucky enough to already have an appropriate dress or two hanging in your closet. A sundress, a maxi dress, a skirt and top or a jumpsuit all work for a casual wedding. Whatever outfit you choose, just remember that casual should not equal sloppy. It’s still important to look neat and casually elegant.
Another thing to keep in mind with casual weddings is that the bride may not be wearing a traditional wedding dress. Instead, she may wear a pale, lace maxi dress like this or a shorter boho dress with soft, floaty layers. The best way to avoid accidentally looking like the bride is to wear a beige print dress rather than solid beige.
What to Wear When No Dress Code is Stated
The crash course you just had on dress codes will definitely be of help if your wedding invite specifies a dress code. But what if it doesn’t?
When no dress code is stated, wearing a knee-length cocktail dress is almost always a good choice, but you certainly don’t want to show up in a cocktail dress to find everyone else wearing sundresses.
To always look your best, you can take your outfit cue right from your invitation. Time of day and reception location are always the best indicators of what to wear to a wedding. Read on to learn how to decipher dress code, even when none is stated.
Daytime weddings (which means anything hosted before 6 p.m) are almost always more casual than evening weddings. That means semi-formal or dressy casual attire will be your best bet. While casual is also an option, this style tends to be for super laid-back receptions such as backyard parties or barbecues on the beach.
When in doubt, always err on the side of being overdressed in semi-formal attire rather than underdressed in a casual sundress and sandals. While a daytime wedding guest outfit is rarely in danger of being mistaken for a wedding gown, you never know for sure what the bride is wearing. If she has chosen a tea-length dress for instance, you showing up in a light beige cocktail dress with a similar length and style would be incredibly embarrassing.
Here are some cute ways to incorporate beige into your daytime wedding attire:
Semi-formal daytime wedding attire:
Dressy casual daytime wedding attire:
Casual daytime wedding attire:
Weddings hosted at 6 p.m. or later are more formal than daytime ceremonies and typically are black tie optional or semi-formal. Black tie and white tie are also an option, but are less likely if not stated on the invitation. Typically, couples expecting guests to show up in formal evening gowns will say so on the invite.
So, if you receive an invite that doesn’t state a dress code, wearing a cocktail dress that is knee-length or longer is your safest option. Ladies who prefer pants can wear a formal jumpsuit with a pair of heels.
We recommend avoiding a mini dress completely. While an above-the-knee dress is OK, wearing a hemline that hits high on the thigh is not appropriate for a wedding. To determine if your dress is long enough, hold your arms straight down at your sides. If the skirt is longer than your fingertips, then it’s safe to wear. The only exception to that rule is tight skirts. Even if it’s not super short, tighter fitting skirts will ride up when you sit down, so keep slim skirts at knee length or longer.
When choosing a beige dress, make sure your frock is not too light and has few if any bridal-style details like a lot of lace or a heavily beaded bodice.
Here are some great examples of wedding-appropriate beige outfits for each dress code.
White tie evening wedding attire:
Black tie evening wedding attire:
Formal evening wedding attire:
Semi-formal evening wedding attire:
If you’re attending a wedding at a church, think modest yet sophisticated when choosing your dress. Avoid necklines that show cleavage, dresses that are shorter than an inch or two above the knee and skin tight fabrics.
If the ceremony is at a Catholic church, be sure to cover your shoulders either by choosing a dress with sleeves or by wearing a cardigan or blazer over a sleeveless dress. While not all churches have a strict dress code, it’s always better to dress conservatively than to risk offending someone — particularly the bride.
Daytime church weddings are usually semi-formal or dressy casual and require a cocktail dress, garden party dress or a fancy skirt and top. An evening church ceremony will be much more formal and will require you to wear a cocktail dress or an evening dress. Be sure to avoid head-to-toe beige.
Here are some great outfit examples to serve as inspiration.
A beach ceremony comes with a more laid-back vibe — and that translates to a dressy casual or casual dress code. If you’re unsure which dress code to go with, always dress up rather than down. In most cases, you can’t go wrong with a pretty beige maxi dress or sundress, just make sure it’s not lacy or beaded.
You never know if the bride will wear a traditional wedding gown or if she’ll opt for a boho maxi dress with some lace details. If that is the case, you definitely don’t want your dress competing with hers.
Here are some cute examples to have you ceremony-ready.
What could be lovelier than a garden wedding? Filled with flowers and greenery, it is definitely a romantic place to say “I do.” When dressing for such an occasion, think pretty, feminine and colorful.
Semi-formal or dressy casual beige dresses with pretty florals or patterns are lovely for a garden wedding. While we don’t recommend wearing pure beige, choosing a floral dress with a beige background is perfect. If you aren’t a dress person, you can also find floral jumpsuits. Don’t like flowers either? Other colorful patterns also look great as would a colorful blouse with a beige skirt.
Here are some good examples to get you started.
A country wedding may have you thinking about casual attire like jeans or a denim mini but, just because the celebration is rural doesn’t mean you should assume it’s super casual. Outdoor ceremonies and barn receptions can still be semi-formal.
If you’re not sure what to wear, a pretty floral, lace or gingham dress with beige as a secondary color is perfect. If you find a solid light beige dress you love, try pairing it with a colorful cardigan and shoes. If the wedding is on the casual side, a solid beige dress would also look great with a denim jacket and dark brown wedge sandals.
Here are some dresses that are perfect for a country ceremony.
Beige Wedding Attire FAQ
Are you considering wearing beige to a wedding? Here is everything you need to know not only on how to choose the right colors to enhance the color beige, but on how to accessorize your look.
What colors go well with beige clothing?
Beige, a darker shade of white, goes well with virtually any color in the color wheel. While pairing too many shades of beige, tan and white together would be rather drab, it goes particularly well with darker neutral shades like brown and navy.
If you like color, it also looks particularly good with shades of blue and green as well as pink, red and orange. It also works with medium and dark yellow, burgundy, plum and black.
What shoes go well with beige?
Wearing beige shoes with a beige dress at a wedding is not only blah, it’s too much of an off-white color. Instead, opt for dark taupe or brown shoes, which will look great with beige and almost any other color that’s part of your outfit.
Metallic footwear is a perfect choice for evening weddings or you can match your shoes to another color in your outfit. If you’re wearing a floral dress, for instance, finding heels that match one of the flower’s shades will really tie your entire outfit together.
What jewelry color goes with beige?
Because it is a neutral, you can wear pretty much any color of accessories with your outfit. Yellow gold is especially flattering with beige, but white gold or silver also look lovely. If you’re wearing fine jewelry, gemstones in any shade work, but you should try to match them if you’re wearing a dress with a colorful pattern.
If you decide to wear costume jewelry, make sure it is dainty and tasteful so it doesn’t overwhelm the pale, neutral color of your dress.