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05.29.2003: Etiquette Schmetiquette
common-sense manners for real-world living
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continued from page 2

more wedding guest issues ...
Dear Etiquette Counselor:   Help.  My husband gave me a gorgeous formal white suit he wants me to wear to a client’s June wedding? Is that taboo? Also, since the wedding is at 7, does that mean long gown? Thanks.  

A: There are basically three colors that get the traditionalists up in a tizzy when guests show up in said hues: black (equals mourning), red (screams slut), and white (because it’s the color that the bride wears). Thus the reasoning goes. Now, I’m not a traditionalist, and am generally of the opinion that in an ideal world, style of dress should be more important than color when it comes to determining what’s appropriate. As long as the black, red or white outfits in question don’t make the guest look like they’re planning to attend a funeral, walk the streets, or say I do, respectively, I wouldn’t blink an eye at the color.

I, however, am apparently not representative of People. And as long as you’re breaking popularly accepted social rules – no matter how silly – somebody, somewhere, is going to disapprove. If you can live with that, and wear your gorgeous suit with pride, knowing in your heart that the outfit in no way competes with the bride, then by all means, don the suit. You can try to lessen the potential bridal-ness of the outfit by pairing it with a colored blouse, silver (not white) sandals, or colorful accessories. If there’s any doubt in your mind that you can deal with potentially having some of the more conservative folks looking at you aghast, however – or worse yet, the bride herself – it’s always safer to choose an ensemble of a different color. Given the fact that this is a client’s wedding and not a close friend’s or relative’s, I’d tend to err on the conservative side, and save the white suit for another occasion.

As for the question of whether a suit in general would be appropriate to wear to an evening wedding, it’s difficult to say without actually knowing what the suit looks like. Evening weddings are generally more formal affairs, but assuming that the invitation doesn’t explicitly state black tie, a long formal gown is probably not required. As long as the suit is quite formal, and you’re clearly much more dressed-up than you’d be for a day at the office, you’ll probably be all right. 


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