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Guests Can Now Wear White to Weddings, Emily Post Turns Over in Grave

Posted: 04/18/2012 1:10 am

People often ask me: Can guests wear white to a wedding? My response: Why would they want to?

White has long been considered the color of the bride, and yeah, yeah, I know that brides don't always wear white these days and etiquette has gotten more relaxed and blah blah blah.

But seriously, why do guests want to wear white so badly? Just wear some other color. ANY other color.

I bring this up because Peggy Post of the Emily Post Institute recently responded to a question on wedding guests wearing white in The New York Times: A woman had bought a dress with a cream lace overlay on top of a light rose dress and wondered if she could wear it to a wedding. Post told her she could -- and in fact, that she could wear straight up white if she wanted, as long as it didn't look bridal.

I can't imagine Emily would agree.

Before I weigh in, let me say first: The dress sounds lovely. If I owned that dress, I too would be looking for an occasion to wear it. I might even for a millisecond convince myself that maybe it wouldn't be so bad to wear it to a wedding. I mean, there's blush involved, right? It's not just white.

But I wouldn't wear it, and besides the obvious reason (i.e., you shouldn't wear white to weddings), there's another: That dress sounds an awful lot like a modern-day wedding dress. In fact, it's sounds a little like this one.

Short dresses are on the rise. Blush dresses are on the rise. And a primarily cream cocktail dress with pale rose underneath? That's awfully close to bridal territory.

So you may say: Ok, we can't wear pale pinks now? What can we wear?

To which I say (because I'm a big fan of imaginary conversations): Don't be difficult. Wear an all-blush dress if you want. I'm referring to primarily white or cream dresses with very little other color going on.

Now, if you're invited to a wedding specifically requiring black and white attire, Kim Kardashian's most recent one for example, that changes everything. You can wear white, although as always, nothing too bridal. (I'd avoid lace personally. But then, I'd probably go black, just because I'd feel too weird in white at someone's wedding.)

In fact, lately, it's been trendy for bridesmaids to wear white and white-adjacent colors. I get why it's popular -- the whole party looks so ethereal. We probably have the Middletons to thank for this trend with Pippa Middleton being the most famous recent example of a bridesmaid wearing white. No doubt, she looked fantastic. But let's be honest: Didn't she steal the show just a little bit from Kate? I'm not saying Pippa was in the wrong -- she clearly was following her sister's instructions. I'm just saying that it's an example of why we've considered white off-limits for so long. If a bridesmaid or guest wears a white dress that hints at being bridal, she's going to receive some attention she might not otherwise, and that means a little less attention will be paid to the bride.

And honestly, how often does a wedding guest have a legitimate reason to wear a white dress? Aren't most wearing white only because they really, really want to?

Is that ever a good enough reason?

Would you wear white to a wedding as a guest? Vote in my blog's poll!

 

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