Jeans, a timeless staple in fashion, are widely recognized for their versatility across various occasions. While they make for a stylish choice for many events, wearing denim to a wedding has traditionally been considered inappropriate.
Yet, with evolving dress codes like festive, themed, and casual, the distinction of what’s suitable for a wedding has become less clear. For guests with a penchant for personal style and a closet full of denim, is it really taboo to wear jeans on a loved one’s special day? In short, yes—although there are very rare instances where it might be acceptable.
To delve deeper into this topic, we sought advice from an etiquette expert on the appropriateness of wearing jeans to a wedding, and gathered some alternative outfit ideas for wedding guests to consider.
Can You Wear Jeans to a Wedding?
According to Lisa Lyons, an event planner and etiquette advisor, jeans are generally considered inappropriate for weddings due to their casual and informal nature. “Weddings are typically formal or semi-formal events, and wearing jeans may be seen as disrespectful and not in line with the dress code,” she explains.
In most cases, dress code information can be found on the invitation. When planning your outfit, it’s crucial to consult these guidelines for direction. If no dress code details are provided, Lyons advises using the venue and invitation style as clues. “Consider the venue,” she suggests. “If it is at a place like the Ritz Carlton, lean towards more formal attire. If it’s in a barn or backyard, it’s possible the attire is less formal. Similarly, look to the invitations for cues—a formal invitation suite suggests a formal wedding.”
If you’re still unsure about what to wear, seek advice from a friend or family member, and leave the denim behind. “Adhering to the dress code shows respect for the couple and the significance of the occasion,” Lyons emphasizes. “Ignoring a dress code to wear what you prefer is inconsiderate to the couple and their wishes for their wedding day.”
When to Wear Jeans to a Wedding
While there are few instances where wearing denim to a wedding would be deemed appropriate, Lyons does acknowledge that “The only instance in which jeans are acceptable at a wedding is if the invitation specifically says ‘jeans,’ such as in a themed wedding.” For instance, a Western or rustic-themed wedding might provide an opportunity for guests to wear jeans, as these events are typically held outdoors and have a more casual dress code. Sometimes, even the groom might opt for jeans paired with a suit jacket and a cowboy hat, allowing guests to follow suit.
Ultimately, it’s safer to err on the side of caution and opt for attire that aligns with the couple’s preferences for their special day. “Weddings are emotionally and financially significant—they are among the most important days in a couple’s life together,” explains Lyons. “By inviting you as their guest, they are choosing to share this day with you. Respecting the dress code honors the significance of the day and your relationship with the happy couple.”
Appropriate Wedding Outfit Ideas
As mentioned, most weddings call for more formal attire than jeans. If you’re in search of an appropriate ensemble, here are a few ideas to consider:
“For a black-tie wedding, adhere to traditional guidelines,” advises Lyons. Women should opt for floor-length gowns, formal cocktail dresses, or chic pantsuits. Men are typically best suited in tuxedos or, at a minimum, a formal dinner suit.
Formal or Cocktail Attire
Since these dress codes allow for more interpretation, Lyons suggests options like “slacks, flowing trousers, a tailored suit, or a skirt and blouse” for women. For skirts, consider tea-length, knee-length, or midi hemlines for an elegant yet sophisticated look. Men should pair their suits with a dress shirt and tie.
“For a more informal occasion, such as a backyard wedding, lean into linen trousers, khakis, sun dresses, or collared shirts for men,” says Lyons. Women can also enhance their dress with wedges or strappy sandals, along with a few statement jewelry pieces for a relaxed yet refined outcome. Men may choose to forego a tie and suit jacket, but should factor in the season and location.