{FOFool Proof Outfits} for a non-traditional afternoon wedding

“The lower-key wedding, if still a bit unexpected, is having a moment” according to a recent article in The New York Times which goes on to say that “the backyard is the new ballroom.” But whether you’re a guest at an afternoon wedding in a backyard, art gallery, beer garden, or barn, some general rules still apply.

“With less traditional weddings becoming more popular, there’s a lot of confusion around wedding attire these days,” says FOF Karen Hughes, an image consultant. Her company called StyleYOUniversity, is based in Atlanta. Read Karen’s tip sheet below, then take a look at her FOFoolproof outfit for weddings at non-traditional venues.

Karen’s tips:
1. Steer clear of denim unless specified on the invitation.
2. Going hose-less is acceptable with this caveat: If you are going to wear sandals or open toe shoes with no hosiery, please make sure that your toes are polished and feet groomed.
3. Make sure the heels on your shoes are not worn off so you aren’t clicking up the aisle or sidewalk
4. No flip flops unless stated on the invitation.
5. Linen is a nice touch for a summer wedding. It shouldn’t be cheaply made linen that looks right out of the dryer. (You can tell!)
6. Dressy pants and colorful patterns are nice but if it is a formal wedding steer clear. Formal events usually dictate less color and less pattern.
7. Ditch your everyday satchel in favor of a nice, simple clutch

“Remember it is about celebrating a momentous event in the lives of two people,” says Karen. “It’s not purely about your comfort.”

See Karen’s 3 FOFoolproof outfits for non-traditional weddings:


“I had a client call me because she was invited to a barn wedding,” says Karen. “She had a pair of red cowboy boots and asked if she should wear them. I said, ‘Why not? Just don’t wear jeans. I pulled this Banana Republic dress for her and accessorized with a Western inspired belt, gold cutout earrings and a shawl in case it got chilly.”

Heritage Ikat Print Dress, $79.99 from Banana Republic; Madison Women’s Cowboy Boots, $153.98 from Hat Country; Fishnet Tights in “Sable,” $11 from Nordstrom; Laurent Gandini Bisanzio 9-karat rose gold rock crystal earrings, $1,725 from Net-a-porter.com  (“Save” version: Pretty cut out drop earrings, $9 from Dorothy Perkins); Ananda Design Orchid Wrap Camel, $179 from boticca.com (“Save” version: Echo Design Women’s Architectural Wrap in Camel Heather, $38.99 from Amazon)

“A Beer Garden is a more boisterous type of atmosphere. Things may get a little crazy if you know what I mean!  This type of wedding will be loud and festive, not calm and delicate. Since the venue dictates the dress code, your fabrics and prints can be a bit more dramatic and fun.”

Merrifield Dress, $128 from Jackwills.comKnitted Shrug, $77 from John Lewis; Evan Clutch, $98 from Banana Republic; Harbordale Wedge Sandal, $118 from Sperry Top-Sider; Cassandra earrings, $395 from DANNIJO (“Save” version: Anna’s Chunky Blue, Red & Aqua Stone Teardrop Earrings, $28.95 from Fantasyjewelrybox.com)


“At a beach wedding, the wind will probably be blowing off the ocean and the spirit will be lilting.  Things just feel a bit more delicate and floaty on the beach.  Let the colors of the ocean guide you too.  It’s all about the sensory perception of your surroundings–taking that, and making an event-appropriate outfit.”

Chanel vintage off the shoulder blouse, $1,360 from farfetch.com (“Save” version: Candela Clara Top, $154 from ShopBop.com); Dolce & Gabbana printed skirt, $2,050 from farfetch.com (“Save” version: labworks Illusion Maxi Skirt, $39.99 from Target, also available in Petite and Plus-Size); Sabine 3-tassel link necklace, $18 from piperlime.gap.com; Charlotte Olympia Pandora Bamboo Box Clutch, $995 from kirnazabete.com (“Save” version: Vintage Straw Clutch, $43 from Etsy.com); Balenciaga Criss-Cross Apricot platform wedges, $765 from gordonstuart.com (“Save version: Seychelles Women’s Memories of You Wedge Espadrille $66.88-109.99 from Amazon.com); YSL “Rouge Per Couture – 36” Lipstick, $34 from Barneys New York; 14K Gold Filigree Heart Earrings, $298 from JewelryZen (“Save” version: Crystal Filigree Drop Earrings, $10 from JCPenney.); Victoria Beckham Granny Cat Sunglasses, $534 from Boutique1 (“Save” version: Cat Eye Sunglasses, $89 from Ralph Lauren)

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  • dbbie

    I loved your advise for how to dress. I even like the outfits you picked out. I might have worn these if I was say still in my 30’s but this is a website for women who are 50+. I don’t ever want to see a 50 year old women in a strapless short sundress and high heels. I don’t care how good she looks some things just aren’t fitting. Don’t even get me started on the off the shoulder number I’ll just say if someone over 50 wore that to my families beach wedding I would be scared someone might drown her or at least send her for a mental evaluation. Next time you publish this article please make you advise after #7 your headline. More people need to read this if nothing else.

  • Eileen

    What would be appropriate to wear to Wedding in Jacksonhole Wyo. in Sept, wedding is in the Mountains overlooking Tetons and reception in a outdoor Tepee setting. ( I am the mother of the bride) 25 ppl attending wedding..