It’s the age-old question, and a controversial one at that- can you wear a black dress to a wedding?
Fashion experts have different opinions about this. Stylist Hannah Eichler says to steer clear of black for weddings unless the invite specifies ‘black tie’. Showing up to a wedding in black can be seen as somber and the color is still associated with funerals and bad luck.
Etiquette expert Diane Gottsman disagrees slightly, though. According to her, wearing a black dress to a formal or evening wedding is not a fashion faux pas. But if it’s something more festive and colorful, black may not be the best option.
In short, fashion experts agree that a black dress has its place in a wedding. But you have to consider the dress code, the venue and the timing of the wedding. For instance, if the dress code says ‘black or white tie’, by all means feel free to wear a black gown. A flowy black maxi can also be appropriate when the dress code is semi-formal or formal.
As for venues, you would be wrong to wear a black maxi to a beach summer wedding. I recently attended a spring wedding in Nantucket, and I can tell you a black dress would have been out of place there. This isn’t the case with New York weddings as I see people wearing black all the time.
That said, you can still wear a black maxi dress casually to a wedding if you know how to style it. The secret is to ensure the outfit looks bright and festive, and not like you are going to a funeral. This is where colorful and bright accessories will come in handy.
While this article is about wearing a black maxi to a wedding, the tips here apply to any formal event, not just weddings.
Is It Okay to Wear a Maxi Dress to a Wedding?
Color black aside, is it okay to wear a maxi dress to a wedding or a formal event? Absolutely.
Maxi dresses are elegant and appropriate enough to rock to a wedding, and all you have to do is accessorize. If the dress code is casual, choose a flowy but elegant maxi. For black tie events, do a black gown with heels instead.
What you wear with the maxi will determine whether the outfit is perfect for a wedding or a beach. Again, you must add appropriate bright colors and elegant elements to make the dress stand out.
How to Accessorize a Black Maxi Dress for a Wedding
I have this classic but plain black maxi dress I bought last year on Amazon. It has a nice flattering design with a cinched-in waist, wide straps and a beautiful neckline. I wear it a lot because it’s so comfy and absorbent during summer, yet warm enough for cold weather.
But the dress is also very elegant, and I’ve worn it to multiple events. So here are 4 simple ways I have styled it, three of which were for a wedding.
How to Accessorize a Black Maxi Dress for a Summer Wedding
1. A Simple Wrap, Beaded Clutch and Strappy Heels for Summer
It is one of the best looks I’ve pulled off so far, and it was perfect for a summer wedding in Los Angeles. The bright, simple wrap around my shoulders adds warmth and elegance that took no effort, while the beaded clutch takes this look over the fashion edge. You can do this with a pashmina or a shawl as well.
And since the wrap and the clutch bring the element of color, I keep the shoes black, yet classy. Choose simple earrings and a chain that matches the wrap, and adorn your fingers with rings.
2. Brown Braided Heels and Clutch
Sometimes a maxi dress doesn’t need anything on it to look fabulous, and this dress is one of those. All you need is to add colors and textures on other parts of the body to tone down the attention on the dress.
In this case, I chose brown braided heels, which are such a fun trend right now and a matching clutch. It’s a simple, yet elegant look for an outdoor summer wedding, and a pair of statement earrings will tie it all together.
If your dress is not cinched in like mine, get a nice brown belt to go with the whole shebang.
How to Accessorize a Black Maxi Dress for a Winter Wedding
1. Cropped Jacket and a Colorful Clutch
A black maxi is quite appropriate when it’s a little chilly and gloomy. Your mission here is to brighten it up with something like a white, brown or beige crop jacket, statement jewelry and a colorful clutch.
The jacket will add warmth both literally and figuratively to the outfit, while the clutch makes everything more wedding appropriate. And because we have so much color already, keep the shoes toned down but elegant. Try semi-closed platforms, heel pumps or Mary Janes to keep your feet warm.
3. Military Jacket and Chunky Sandals
The ideal cover for any maxi is a denim jacket paired with some metallic sandals or sneakers. But since this is an event and it’s winter season, I went with a warm and casual military jacket, dainty jewelry pieces and wide strap sandals. It’s amazing how green contrasts with black, and you can finish the look with a dark embellished clutch.
Dressing up and accessorizing a black maxi dress for a wedding is simple, but you must have the right dress. I find that flowy dresses are easy to style with outer garments, but if you want to wear the dress as is, choose something that’s a statement on its own.
Think about unique elements such as pleats, high low design, bareback, off-shoulder and even ruffles. When the dress is fun enough on its own, the accessories and shoes will only be the cherry on top.
Generally, you can wear a black maxi to a wedding if the dress code and venue allow. The secret is to style and accessorize the dress so it doesn’t look sad or dull anymore. Of course, it would also help to know if the couple is superstitious about such things.
The accessories you choose to wear with a black maxi depend on the weather. If it’s hot and lively, wear a simple bright wrap or pashmina over the dress and pair that with open heels or sandals. When it’s cold, go for a bright crop jacket or a military jacket to add warmth and style.