Unless you’ve been living in isolation since birth, you’ve likely heard the age-old rule: never wear white to a wedding.
But does that rule still apply to modern weddings? Can you wear variations of white like cream?
Cream is a lovely hue that represents warmth, comfort and humility. It can look rich and elegant or sleek and modern depending on how it’s worn and how it’s accessorized. As a neutral, it is very versatile and looks lovely with most other colors. As an added bonus, it looks great in every season: bright and airy in the summer and rich and warm in the winter.
If you love the richness the color cream has to offer, we’re right there with you. But can you wear cream to a wedding? Read on to learn how to wear this lovely hue without offending the bride.
Can You Wear Cream to a Wedding?
Avoiding white, ivory and cream clothing has long been THE rule all wedding guests were expected to follow. But, like most rules from years gone by, it has become a bit outdated.
Etiquette experts at the Emily Post Institute now say wearing white — and all of its variations such as cream — to a wedding is perfectly acceptable as long as your outfit doesn’t look like a wedding dress or compete with the bride’s gown in any way.
With shades of white, such as cream, back on the table for wedding attire, you will have a lot more choice when shopping for an outfit to wear to a wedding. That said, there are still some essential etiquette rules every wedding guest should keep in mind when buying an outfit. Read on to learn what you can and can’t wear as a wedding guest.
What is the Difference Between Cream and White? And Which is More Flattering?
White is the ultimate neutral because it has no shade of any other color in it. Cream, essentially, is white with a hint of yellow, making it a much warmer shade than pure, bright white. Considered a shade of white, cream can also be described as off-white, eggshell, ivory and vanilla.
The real difference comes when they are placed against your skin. To determine which hue is best for your skin tone, check the veins at your wrist. If they are blue or even appear purple, then you have cool skin and look better in warmer hues like cream than is stark white.
If the veins are greenish, then you have warm undertones and would look better in white. If you can’t determine the color, you are blessed with neutral skin and can wear just about any shade of white you choose.
Understanding Dress Codes
If you love the color cream and are looking for a stylish yet appropriate way to wear it to a wedding, we’ve got you covered.
Before you start shopping, one of the first things you need to determine is the wedding’s dress code. With appropriate attire ranging anywhere from an evening gown to a sundress, knowing where your outfit should fall on the formality scale is absolutely essential.
Here are the six main dress codes you can expect to see on an invitation.
White tie wedding
A white tie wedding is the most formal of all the dress codes. It calls for a floor-length evening dress — no exceptions. Focus on choosing a gown that is elegant rather than sexy with a moderate to modest neckline, modest side slits and figure-skimming rather than figure-hugging fabrics.
When choosing a cream dress for a white tie wedding, it’s essential that your dress not look bridal in any way. That means avoiding lace, excessive beading or sequins and strapless styles because many wedding dresses have at least one if not all of these features. This dress, for instance, would be an inappropriate choice. Although it’s not a wedding dress, it could easily be mistaken for one.
Black tie wedding
While not as strict as white tie weddings, you can wear a traditional evening gown if that is your preference. A formal tea length, midi or even a high-low hemline (as long as it remains below the knee) are also appropriate for black tie affairs.
Like white tie weddings, you should avoid wearing head-to-toe cream as well as pass on bridal details like lace and beading. If you have your heart set on a strapless dress, one like this where cream is the background color, is perfect.
Formal (or black tie optional) wedding
Again, female guests will be able to choose between a floor-length evening gown or a cocktail dress. A formal (rather than black tie) wedding, means you can wear a shorter dress. If you opt for a short cocktail dress, make sure it is no more than a few inches above the knee.
Even if you opt for a short dress, you can still run the risk of looking bridal if you choose one in solid cream. A dress like this with its moss green print would be a better option.
This dress code is not only the most popular for weddings today, it also gives you the widest range of wardrobe options. A cocktail dress, garden party dress, a dress and jacket ensemble, a jumpsuit or a fancy pantsuit are all acceptable choices for this style of wedding.
When wearing cream, make sure it is an accent or background color. This floral dress, for instance, does have a lot of cream, but the subtle floral print is what draws the eye.
Dressy casual weddings
A bit more relaxed than semi-formal, this is probably the second most 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. If you prefer pants, a jumpsuit or pantsuit are also acceptable.
Despite the more casual wardrobe, we still advise against a solid cream dress like this one in favor of a pretty patterned dress with cream as a background color.
One of the best things about a casual wedding is that you likely won’t have to go shopping. Chances are, you’ll already have something in your closet that would work. A cute sundress, a maxi dress, a skirt and top or a jumpsuit are all good choices. Even though this dress code is relaxed, being neat and stylish are still important.
A casual wedding often means the bride won’t be wearing a traditional dress and may, instead, wear a lace maxi dress or a creamy boho dress with filmy layers like this. And that means you need to be very careful when deciding on an outfit. The best way to avoid accidentally competing with the bride is to avoid wearing solid cream.
What to Wear When No Dress Code is Stated
Now that you know the ins and outs of wedding dress code styles, it’s time to focus on how you can wear cream successfully as a wedding guest even if your invite didn’t state a dress code.
Opting for a knee-length cocktail dress is a pretty safe choice, but it’s even safer to take your outfit cue from your invitation. Time of day and reception location often give you all the clues you need to pick proper attire.
Here are some key outfit etiquette rules to keep in mind so you can look your best.
Daytime weddings — anything hosted before 6 p.m. — are rarely formal with most brides opting for a semi-formal or dressy casual celebration. Casual is also an option, but this style tends to be reserved for a backyard barbecue or another laid-back type of reception.
If your invitation doesn’t indicate a dress code, being overdressed in semi-formal attire is always better than being undressed in a casual sundress and sandals. A dress or skirt and top with dressy heels or flats is always a good choice as is an elegant pantsuit or jumpsuit.
A daytime wedding guest outfit is rarely in danger of being mistaken for a bridal dress, but you still should avoid head-to-toe cream.
Here are some cute ways to incorporate cream into your daytime wedding attire:
Semi-formal daytime wedding attire:
Dressy casual daytime wedding attire:
Casual daytime wedding attire:
Evening weddings are almost always more formal than daytime celebrations — and that means elevating the elegance of your outfit. White tie, black tie, formal (black tie optional) or semi-formal are the usual dress codes for evening with black tie optional and semi-formal being the most popular.
An evening gown is an absolute must for a white tie event, but you can get away with a fancy cocktail dress for any of the other dress codes. If you aren’t a dress person, you can wear a formal jumpsuit or a women’s tuxedo.
When no dress code is stated on your invite, your best bet is to wear either a fancy cocktail dress that is knee-length or lower or a formal jumpsuit. Typically couples expecting guests to wear white tie or black tie will say so on the invitation.
When choosing a cream-colored dress, ensure your gown won’t compete with the bride’s dress in any way and that includes avoiding outfits that are too revealing. That means no plunging necklines, high side slits or super short hemlines.
While knee length or below is best, you can wear a shorter dress to a formal or semi-formal wedding, but it should be longer than your fingertips when you hold your arms straight down at your sides. You should also avoid short, tight skirts because they will hitch up an extra few inches when you sit down.
Here are some great examples of wedding-appropriate cream outfits for each dress code.
White tie evening wedding attire:
Black tie evening wedding attire:
Formal evening wedding attire:
Semi-formal evening wedding attire:
Church weddings are all about elegance and modesty. Plunging necklines, skin tight fabrics and skirts shorter than an inch or two above the knee are all frowned on.
If you’re attending a ceremony at a Catholic church, sleeveless dresses are also a major faux pas. Either opt for sleeves or cover your shoulders with a cardigan or jacket. While not all churches are as strict, it’s always better to wear a conservative outfit that won’t offend anyone.
Dressy casual church wedding attire can consist of a sundress, a maxi dress or a skirt and blouse while semi-formal ceremonies require a cocktail dress, garden party dress or a fancy skirt and top. Formal weddings will require you to wear a cocktail dress or an evening dress.
Here are some great outfit examples to serve as inspiration.
A beach ceremony is always more laid-back than a more traditional ceremony. In most cases a beach wedding will have either a dressy casual or a casual dress code. If none is stated on your invitation, it’s best to stick with the more formal of the two.
With a beach ceremony, the bride may not wear a traditional wedding dress, so make sure your maxi dress or sundress is not solid cream. By opting for a fun print, it won’t look like you’re trying to steal the bride’s thunder.
Here are some lovely examples to have you ceremony-ready.
A garden wedding is a time to break out your most feminine floral prints. Typically semi-formal or dressy casual, look for a lady-like dress with pretty florals or another cheerful pattern.
You can’t go wrong with a knee-length cream dress with a subtle or bold pattern and a pair of heels or wedges.
Here are some good examples to get you started.
Country doesn’t equal casual. At least not where weddings are concerned. While you might be tempted to put on a pair of jeans or a denim skirt, resist the urge. Whether the ceremony is being held outdoors or in a barn, the dress code will still likely be semi-formal or dressy casual.
Even if it is casual, stick to a pretty floral, lace or gingham dress. Just be sure not to dress in solid cream. It should be a background or accent color only.
Here are some great examples of country wedding garb:
Cream Wedding Attire FAQ
Are you thinking of wearing cream to a wedding? Here is everything you need to know not only on how to choose the right outfit but on how to accessorize your look flawlessly.
What colors go well with cream clothing?
As a neutral, cream looks amazing with most colors but is particularly lovely with pastels. It pairs well with warm, bright colors like red and orange as well as with the cooler hues of blue, green and purple and also looks fab with neutrals such as brown, gray and black.
The only colors to avoid with cream are light tan, beige and champagne simply because the lack of contrast between the shades will make your outfit appear dull and drabby.
What color of shoes go with a cream dress?
If you’re thinking of wearing cream shoes to go with your dress, think again. Wearing cream shoes with a cream dress at a wedding is way too much of a good thing. Nude or metallic footwear is a better choice and will look fabulous with almost any outfit. Nude is ideal for daytime ceremonies and metallics are perfect for evening weddings.
If you’re not a fan of neutrals, color is fine too; in fact, almost any color of shoe will work with cream. If you’re wearing a floral dress, finding heels that match one of the flower’s shades will really make that color pop on your dress.
What color of pantyhose should I wear with a cream dress?
While pantyhose and stockings were considered uncool for a number of years, that simply is not the case anymore thanks, in large part, to Princess Kate. She always looks incredibly stylish and sophisticated with her sheer hose.
And, really, she has the right idea. Not only do sheer nude hose give the illusion of a bare leg, they also hide flaws and keep your feet protected from blisters. If you’re wearing a black and cream dress, sheer black hose always looks extremely elegant.
Bare legs are simply too informal for most weddings. Unless you’re attending a super casual wedding on the beach or at someone’s home, or are wearing a long dress that completely covers your legs, sheer stockings are a must.