Guest appearance - what to wear to all the weddings of the year

As the Royal wedding approaches, Fashion Editor Stephanie Smith asks four Yorkshire special occasion experts what the best-dressed guests will be wearing this year.

Meghan Markle is no slouch when it comes to stepping out in style. She is an accomplished special occasion dresser, favouring simple lines and a monochromatic palette, as seen here with Prince Harry at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in March this year. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Meghan Markle is no slouch when it comes to stepping out in style. She is an accomplished special occasion dresser, favouring simple lines and a monochromatic palette, as seen here with Prince Harry at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in March this year. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

We can’t wait to see the dress, obviously. When Meghan marries Harry next weekend, she and her entire bridal look will be the main attraction, following months of fevered speculation about the shade (she’s been married before, you know), the style, the jewels and, of course, the designer.

But many of us will also be more than a little interested to see what everyone else chooses to wear for this Wedding of the Year. As an early-season nuptial celebration, and one certain to feature a cast of dozens and dozens of high-profile, glamorous guests of all ages, it offers the perfect opportunity for the rest of us mere mortals to see what’s in, what works, and what really doesn’t. Plus those statement, talking point outfits (please don’t disappoint us, Beatrice and Eugenie).

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With all this in mind, we asked four of Yorkshire’s top special occasion stores for their advice on what seriously stylish guests should wear to this year’s weddings.

Pale blue/silver melange lurex tweed jacket and dress with dropped waist and metallic trim, around £800, at Helen Sykes Fashions in Leeds.

Natalie Jackson, Helen Sykes Fashions in Leeds: “This year’s colour palette for occasionwear is based around understated soft pastels in beautiful shades of oyster, pink and pale blue, with a twist of the metallic tones of silver greys and rose gold.

“The styles are very simple yet stunning, with neat fitted jackets or tailored coats, and structured knee-length shift dresses that really flatter the figure and show off the waist.

“We have also seen a strong return of the flared calf-length ’50s skirt shape with pockets detailing. Popular fabrics include pearlescent brocades, silk crepes and cotton tweeds with a hint of satin, lace and appliqué trims.

“For the Royal wedding, we would always recommend a hat that covers the head, nothing too garish, but that complements the style of suit chosen. It is always better to go for understated chic for such an occasion. Less is more.”

Yellow Cabotine dress, £335, at Snooty Frox of Harrogate.

Gini Palm, owner at Julie Fitzmaurice in Harrogate: “There’s very little in the way of a wedding guest outfit rule book (other than no white), so there is relative freedom when it comes to pulling together your outfit.

“This season, spring/summer fashion is brighter than ever with all shades of blues, reds, yellows and the hottest shade of 2018, purple, and all shades of sugared almonds.

“Mid-lengths are still huge this year, while patterns, braids, detailing and vibrant coloured dresses are on-trend. With white off the menu, we recommend experimenting with colour as much as you dare.

“UK spring/summer weather can be a little unpredictable so you might need to think about a statement coat, a beautifully fitted blazer, or a tailored jacket during wedding season.”

SOut of Xile organza dress, £215, and coat, £205; Hands & Looms scarf, £24; Acai golden grass bracelets, large - £22, small - £4.50 each. All at Maude and Tommy in York.

Gini recommends finishing a wedding guest ensemble with a layering piece, such as a pashmina or a bespoke chiffon scarf for the evening (these can be dyed to match in any colour at Julie Fitzmaurice).

And wedges if it’s an outdoor wedding so you don’t sink in the grass and can dance the night away in comfort.

Gini says: “Another tip is to take a pair of sunglasses with you in your clutch. There’s bound to be many photo opportunities outside throughout the day, and with your sunglasses on you’ll look elegant.

“We find keeping things straightforward and simple is always the wisest move. Choose outfit colours which complement your skin tone and never go for something too loud. You can look and feel your best with a simple touch of glamour without stealing the show.”

Italian wool crepe Olivia coat, from £895, and Anna dress, from £995, also available as a single colour. All items are made to measure, sizes 6-28. At Julie Fitzmaurice in Harrogate.

Anne McCrickard, of Maude & Tommy in York: “Great news for this year’s wedding season: Stuffy, matchy-matchy outfits are out and chic guests are embracing a much more relaxed look.

“Along the same lines, there’s a move towards natural fabrics, especially soft linens and crisp cottons. It’s going to make for more creative and chilled out wedding guests.

“Colour is huge this year – we’re stocking lots of prints, alongside toning or clashing block colours. We’re having a wonderful time helping our customers choose fresh combinations of these. It’s fantastic to see them create unique outfits, rather than simply choosing everything from one brand.

“We have some beautiful summer coats, to bridge the seasons or come into their own on chilly days.

“As well as adding a personal touch, scarves are the perfect way of layering up if the weather’s chilly – without adding heaviness to your outfit.

“Buying a wedding outfit is a bit of an investment but choose timeless designs and you’ll be able to wear the pieces over and over again. The move towards a more relaxed look means you can blend the garments into your everyday wardrobe. Wear smart coats with jeans or linen trouser or dresses with leggings and cardies. But whatever you do, wear them.”

Pink jacket with Jackie O collar, 'with '50s style dress in graduated pearlescent brocade with flared dipped hem, £877.95, at Helen Sykes Fashions in Leeds.

Hilary Haresign, owner of Snooty Frox in Harrogate: “Large floral prints are popular again this year, with Fely Campo and Olvi’s lace being seasonal favourites. Lace, as ever, is a favourite – our handmade Olvi’s collection is one of our bestselling brands with styles in both short and full lengths.

“Invest in a wrap to finish off your ensemble, and shield you from the unpredictable British weather.

“Buy an outfit that you can transform from day to night – perhaps a different top/jacket, accessories or shoes. A fresh piece of jewellery is always a good idea.

“To make a statement, there is nothing like a large hat. However, they are not for everyone. A hatinator shows off the face more, as it is worn at an angle and can still give the wow factor.

“Complete your outfit with a fabulous pair of shoes. Use independent boutiques that can provide you with something different. Always stay true to your own style and wear something that reflects your personality.”

Madaraff hat, £22; Just Trade necklace, £18; Ewa i Walla lace sleeves,£55; Out of Xile jacquard coat, £219, and trousers, £129; Corida Knit Designs flower bag, £195. All at Maude and Tommy in York.
Gill Harvey pale blue feather dress, £869, at Snooty Frox of Harrogate.
From the Julie Fitzmaurice Bespoke Collection, double silk palazzo trousers, from £995; French lace ivory top, from £795; French lace ivory jacket, from £995. All at Julie Fitzmaurice in Harrogate.