When it comes to getting dressed up for a wedding, there are so many ‘rules’ to follow that most end up being a sea of men in boring grey suits and women in humdrum floral frocks.
But unless you’re at an ultra-conservative church do, most of this so-called protocol is outdated, and actually, pushing the boundaries can pay off style-wise, helping you stand out from the play-it-safe crowd.
Here’s how to (tastefully) break the rules this wedding season...
BE THE BLACK SHEEP
The rule: Don’t wear black
If your everyday wardrobe consists of black, black and more black, don’t think you have to abandon your go-to hue for someone else’s big day - but remember that wearing it head-to-toe in a church is going to look decidedly funereal.
Instead, look for a dress that breaks up the expanse of black with a print or texture - lace is ideal - and add intensely coloured accessories to lift the look.
Blair Strappy Scallop Lace Midi Dress, £139 (LittleBlackDress.co.uk)
Sabrina Dress, £149 (www.damselinadress.co.uk)
Office Ava Knotted Red Suede Sandals, £68 (www.office.co.uk)
FLASH A LITTLE FLESH
The rule: Never wear a crop top
The crucial word here is LITTLE: a V-neck halter crop top and mini skirt are going to attract stares for all the wrong reasons, but a tiny sliver of midriff is acceptable.
That sliver shouldn’t include your belly button, however - pair high-waisted trousers, a pencil or full prom skirt (no shorter than knee-length) with a crop top in a structured fabric, like jacquard.
There are lots of matching co-ords in the shops at the moment that are the perfect proportions, thereby taking out the suitability guesswork.
Miss Selfridge Crop Top, £22; matching Skirt, £25 (available late May; www.missselfridge.com)
Long Tall Sally Lace Look Jacquard Crop Top, £35; matching Skirt, £45; Sweet Pea Nude Leather Lined Heels, £55 (www.longtallsally.com)
Kaleidoscope Sequin Embellished Scalloped Edge Pencil Skirt, £75 (www.kaleidoscope.co.uk)
BE RED-Y FOR ANYTHING
The rule: Don’t wear red
Red used to signify vampish and vulgar, but as long as you don’t turn up in a thigh-slit Jessica Rabbit-esque number, you needn’t worry.
A pretty red lace or modern minimalist dress is totally wedding-appropriate, especially when teamed with more traditional floral footwear. It’s all about balance.
Paisie Asymmetric Dress With Long Overlay, £78 (www.paisie.com)
Little Mistress Tall Coral Crochet And Lace Bodycon Dress, £68 (www.little-mistress.com)
Ted Baker Caleno Multi Floral Print Two Part Sandals, £95 (www.dunelondon.com)
PLAY YOUR STRONG SUIT
The rule: It has to be a dress
‘I’ve got to get a dress for a wedding’, we so often whine, but why not use the occasion to step out of your comfort zone and try a suit?
Tailoring is having a huge fashion moment, so the shops are full of gorgeous floral and pastel two-pieces that you can jazz up with jewellery and heels.
The other advantage of a suit is that you’ll get more post-wedding wear out of the separates, unlike the glitzy gowns that mostly hang unworn in our wardrobes for months (years, even) after the big day.
Brooke Black And Green Floral Print Velvet Blazer, £32; matching Cigarette Trousers, £22; Olia Black Multi Strap Stiletto Heel Shoes, £26 (www.missyempire.com)
Navabi Straight Cut Blazer, £169.99; matching Wide Leg Trousers, £99.99 (www.navabi.co.uk; top and shoes, stylist’s own)
WAVE THE WHITE FLAG
The rule: Don’t wear white
It’s the most contentious etiquette question of all: is it ever OK for a guest to wear white to a wedding?
Modern manners dictate that you can, but with caution.
The key is that it can’t look bridal in any way, so steer well clear of frothy all-white looks, in favour of sharp modern cuts and prints.
Use the 50/50 rule (no more than half of the outfit should be white), and make sure you include a bright jacket or scarf in the mix.
Paisie Assorted Print Drop Hem Shift Dress, £62 (www.paisie.com)
The LBD Rose Dress £120 (LittleBlackDress.co.uk)