Semi Formal is one of the most popular wedding dress codes. It’s fancy enough to give an event an elevated look and feel, but not so fancy that it’s a burden for guests.
Most people enjoy dressing up for Semi Formal events, but it can be tough to decipher exactly what the dress code calls for. After all, nobody likes being under or over dressed. Don’t worry, there’s a lot of flexibility with Semi Formal attire, and you’ll likely see a range of styles at each event.
We’re going to help you plan your next wedding guest outfit by exploring everything you need to know about Semi Formal attire. We’ll share examples for men and women and help with etiquette so your fashion is faux-pas free.
PRO TIP – If you’ve been invited to a wedding with no specified dress code, wearing a Semi Formal outfit is your best bet.
Semi Formal Wedding Attire: What it Means for Guests
Semi Formal attire is an elevated dress code that’s not overly fancy. It’s a more chic version of business or dressy casual, but not quite in the realm of cocktail or black-tie-optional events.
You can buy a new, wedding-ready outfit for the occasion, or pull pieces from your workweek wardrobe and elevate them with stylish accessories.
We’ve included many ideas below, so you’ll see how broad and fun Semi Formal fashion can be.
Semi Formal vs. Formal Attire
What’s the difference between Formal and Semi Formal attire? Formal weddings are also called Black Tie Optional – tuxedos and gowns are acceptable, but suits and cocktail dresses will be more common.
A Semi Formal wedding will feature no gowns or tuxedos. You may see some cocktail dresses and suit-and-tie styles, but there will also be more laid-back looks, like flowy midi dresses and slacks with button-up shirts.
The main difference between Semi Formal and Formal attire is that Semi Formal lacks any tuxedos and gowns and can include a wide range of colors, cuts, and styles.
Semi Formal Wedding Attire for Men
Stylish men love Semi Formal weddings. The range of options allows men to express their unique style through prints and accessories.
The easiest Semi Formal option for men is to wear a suit. You definitely won’t be underdressed, and you can ditch the jacket if you want a more relaxed look as the night goes on.
Wear it with a button-up shirt, an optional tie, oxford shoes, and any personal touches that will make the look your own, like pocket squares, watches, and lapel pins.
Accessorize with shiny cufflinks and tie bars, mix hues and textures, and add trendy details like printed ties or designer sunglasses. This will ensure your typical business attire is elevated to a wedding-worthy look.
Ahead, we’ll outline the best options for each season so you can dress to impress at any wedding.
Fall is one of the prettiest times for weddings, but the weather can be a huge unknown. You may have a sunny, crisp fall day or a downright cold one. Here are a couple of examples of men’s wedding guest outfits that will work well on any type of fall day:
- Try rocking a professor-inspired ensemble with a brown blazer. Tweed material and elbow patches are optional. But if you want a distinctly autumn look, add a plaid waistcoat with a button-up shirt, fitted slacks, and chukka boots.
- Try a dark-colored suit with a jewel-toned shirt and a trendy printed tie. Pair it with oxfords for a classic look that’s easy to create from your existing wardrobe.
If you’re going to a cold-weather wedding, you’ll need to plan your attire accordingly. You may be outdoors for some of the day but then move into a warm and toasty location. Here are a couple of ideas for how to style a Semi Formal look for a winter wedding:
- Wear a wool, tweed, or herringbone blazer for a laid-back look. Pair it with slacks made of a heavy material, a classic white button-up shirt, and an optional printed tie.
- If you want evening-ready attire, wear a dark suit. Classic black or navy is great, but you can also mix it up by wearing burgundy or emerald green. A double-breasted jacket also looks stylish in winter. A tie can add dimension to a dark suit, and boots can give it a trendy edge.
Spring weddings tend to have less formal air, since lighter materials and floral prints are fitting, even for men. Needing a style for this blossoming time of year? Here are a couple of ideas for you:
- A daytime garden wedding could call for a tan or light blue blazer with tan or navy slacks. A crisp white shirt underneath and stylish loafers can elevate the look into Semi-Formal territory, but include a pocket square and/or a bow tie to amp it up even more.
- In the evening, pair a navy suit with a printed button-up shirt and brown loafers or oxfords. Skip the tie or wear one that subtly complements the colors of your shirt.
It can be difficult for men to balance comfort and style for summer weddings. After all, suits can get hot, but you risk looking too casual without them. Here are ideas for how to style a summer wedding guest look:
- Keep things as light and comfortable as possible. Wear a lightweight, light-colored suit or really nice slacks with no jacket at all. A pair of timeless sunglasses and a nice pair of loafers can help the outfit look chic yet relaxed.
- If you are spending much of the wedding indoors, wear a darker suit with no tie. For example, a navy suit and a crisp white shirt. Give your look a summer-inspired flair by wearing a shirt with subtle stripes or adding a floral pocket square.
Semi Formal Wedding Attire for Women
Women can wear a range of outfits to a Semi Formal wedding, depending on the venue and season. But generally, a women’s Semi Formal wedding guest look will feature a shorter hemline (knee or calf length), minimal sparkle, and trendy accessories.
Relaxed cocktail dresses, chic jumpsuits, and sophisticated sundresses may all be at a Semi Formal event. Warm-weather weddings will feature strappy heels or dressy sandals, while ballet flats and nice boots are common when it’s cold outside.
Accessorize with your personal style: earrings, handbags, and necklaces are a way to make your look appear very polished without demanding too much attention.
Ahead we’ll provide examples for each season so you can confidently create your wedding guest look.
Warm, earthy hues or classic jewel tones are ideal for Fall weddings. Sheer sleeves are great for transitional weather, while thicker material and higher necklines are good later in the season.
- Try a high-low floral print dress in muted or deep tones. A nice coat can keep you warm as you arrive, or keep a shawl close by. A leather clutch, high heels, and a simple updo can take a typical floral dress from office attire to Semi Formal chic.
- A cocktail dress with long sleeves is a sophisticated Semi Formal option. Navy or emerald will look a little fancier, while earthy reds and oranges will be more relaxed. Wear brown boots or dressy heels, depending on what looks best with your outfit.
It can be tough to put together a Semi Formal wedding look in winter. So many dresses on the market are glitzy New Year styles. Aim for solid colors with minimal sparkle to keep things at a Semi Formal level. Or elevate your workweek attire by adding metallic accessories and chic heels.
- Find a flowing, satin midi dress or jumpsuit in deep colors like burgundy, emerald, or navy. Dress it up with shiny jewelry and a black clutch, or bring it down a notch with boho earrings and black boots.
- A velvet dress will keep you warm if you’ll be outside for much of the wedding. Bundle up even more with a faux-fur coat and a felt hat. A relaxed afternoon wedding could call for thick leggings to help keep your legs warm, but if it’s a chic city venue, you should go with tights or bare legs instead. A small black shoulder bag, understated jewelry, and a simple updo will look great for a winter wedding.
Spring is one of the most exciting times to do any kind of clothes shopping. Stores come to life with floral prints and pretty pastels, and your biggest challenge will be narrowing down your wedding wardrobe options.
- If you want to land on the more sophisticated side of Semi Formal, go for a solid dress in a light pastel color. Keep the hemline calf-length or shorter to make sure you don’t look too formal, and wear any sleeve style for the weather except for strapless. A floral print shoulder bag will add a soft touch, while luxe jewelry will elevate the look for a nighttime event.
- You can embrace spring’s floral prints for a Semi Formal wedding, just try not to go too bright or include too much white in your outfit. Add a solid blazer or cardigan for a chilly outdoor wedding, and then bring it up a notch with a metallic clutch and heels.
Colors get brighter and prints get more adventurous in summer. After all, it’s the *fun* season, and women’s wedding guest attire often reflects that. Look for modest and stylish sundresses or in various prints. Also, prioritize comfort – you may get hot at these summer weddings, making itchy material or aching feet even more annoying.
- A tiered maxi dress in a floral print is great for warm-weather weddings. Elevate this somewhat casual look by wearing an envelope clutch with a chain shoulder strap and gold hoop earrings.
- A wrap dress is an easy-breezy look for summer weddings, and you can customize how formal you want it. Find one in a solid print and tie it tight for a chic look. Or find a chiffon, floral-print wrap dress and tie it loose for a relaxed, flowy look.
Semi Formal Wedding Attire Based on Time of Day
A Semi Formal dress code can encompass a broad range of looks. If you’re searching for guidance on how to dress for a Semi Formal wedding, consider the time of day.
A daytime wedding will fall on the more casual end of the spectrum, while nighttime calls for a bit more sophistication.
Keep reading to learn more about how the timing of a wedding could dictate your fashion choices.
A daytime wedding will likely begin early to mid afternoon. Even if the party extends into the evening hours, you can still veer toward a more understated Semi Formal look.
As you consider your daytime attire, accessories can really dress an outfit up or down. A shiny watch, polished shoes, or a tailored blazer can elevate weekday work looks into wedding territory. Heels, statement jewelry, and a polished hairstyle can make a summer sundress look chic.
Suits are ok for daytime weddings, but blazers and slacks are more common. Oxford shoes, a leather belt, and stylish sunglasses will add some style to the look.
Women can wear floral jumpsuits or dresses with nice sandals or boots. Layer as needed for the weather, and carry a stylish clutch instead of your everyday handbag.
Nighttime weddings will be a little dressier. To create an evening-ready Semi Formal look, you can either elevate your business casual attire, or dress down cocktail attire. That means adding or removing accessories to reach that perfect balance.
Men may wear a full suit, with or without a tie. Blazers or dinner jackets are also ok for Semi Formal weddings – just dress them up with a nice belt and Oxford shoes.
Women will likely want to don solid prints or more subtle patterns for their attire. Feel free to wear fun colors that aren’t too flashy, and wear your hair down in a relaxed style.
Semi Formal Wedding Guest Attire Based on the Venue
The venue will be another guiding factor in your attire decision. Indoor weddings will typically be more sophisticated, while outdoor weddings will allow a more relaxed look.
Outdoor weddings will also emphasize comfort, since you’ll need to consider the weather and terrain as you plan your outfit.
But each outdoor venue is different too. Ahead, we’ll look at ways you can style your outdoor wedding guest look so you can balance style and comfort.
General Outdoor Weddings
If you’re at an outdoor wedding, you can probably choose floral prints in comfortable fabrics. Wool or velvet is excellent in winter, while linen and cotton will be comfortable in the summer.
Female attire can be a knee-length dress in a fun yet tasteful pattern. Add leggings and boots for a chilly day, or dressy sandals and a statement necklace in the summer.
Men should consider layering by wearing a nice button-up shirt with a blazer and slacks. A pocket square can add a fun, colorful touch, and a tie is optional.
Beach weddings are casual by nature, so this will probably be the least dressy of any Semi Formal look. You’ll likely be hot on the beach and can prioritize your comfort. It’s also a chance to wear bold patterns – everything is more fun on the beach.
Men can wear a linen suit with a lightweight shirt underneath, or a fitted untucked shirt with nice slacks. Sunglasses and boat shoes will bring the entire look together.
Women can wear colorful floral maxi dresses with a wide-brimmed sun hat and strappy sandals or wedges. Find timeless sunglasses and bring a sweater in case the evening turns chilly.
A garden wedding will be a more sophisticated outdoor occasion. Keep comfort in mind but also aim for a refined look.
Men can wear light-colored suits with no ties, or a sports coat with slacks. A floral button-up shirt or tie will give your look a garden-inspired touch, while loafers or boat shoes can lend a casual touch to a dressier suit.
Women should wear well-tailored sundresses or jumpsuits. Muted solid colors or subtle prints will be tasteful but not too formal. Make sure your sandals are really nice, or go for a comfortable heel to make sure your look is polished.
Semi Formal Wedding Attire Etiquette
Many couples choose a Semi Formal dress code to give their guests room to choose their looks. So a lot of styles can fall into this category.
While this is the most ambiguous of wedding dress codes, there are some rules you should follow. These etiquette tips should help you narrow down your attire selection while making sure you have dressed appropriately for such a special occasion:
- You shouldn’t wear jeans, shorts, baseball caps, or t-shirts to a Semi Formal wedding.
- If you’re debating between looks, go for the dressier option. It’s always good to put in the extra effort.
- Avoid white or off-white.
- Keep any sparkle to a minimum. That may mean opting out of that glittering cocktail dress or diamond necklace.
- Avoid revealing clothes or anything that’s at risk for a wardrobe malfunction.
- You don’t have to buy a new outfit to go to a wedding, but consider ways you can accessorize to elevate your favorite dress or suit.
- Don’t go too dark – an all-black outfit could have you looking like a catering staff or DJ. A black suit or cocktail dress could come off as too formal.
- Ask friends or family what they’re wearing to the wedding. This will help ensure your outfit is at the same level as other guests.
- Have fun! Semi Formal wedding attire is a relaxed look with many options, so find something you’re excited to wear.
Look Great and Feel Confident at Semi Formal Weddings
If you’ve been invited to a Semi Formal wedding, consider yourself lucky. You can balance comfort and style, have fun with prints and cuts, and customize your look to your personal taste.
Whether you are shopping for something new or coming up with items from your existing wardrobe, remember that accessorizing is key. The right earrings, belt, sunglasses, and shoes will add wow-factor and a polished edge to any outfit.
So find your favorite colors, your most flattering fits, and your best dancing shoes, and get ready to rock a Semi Formal look that will be perfect for your next wedding.