What to Wear to a Fall Wedding With Any Dress Code

Photo by Jillian Mitchell

Figuring out what to wear to a fall wedding can be tricky—the strapless gowns and backless dresses that wowed in the summer can leave you shivering in the fall, and the soft pastels that were the perfect color in the spring turn gauche as the leaves change. With a new season comes a new style, and we’ve got your guide for what to wear.

For a classic fall look, choose a rich jewel tone like fuchsia, sapphire, or emerald. You can also take color inspiration from the changing color of the leaves and go with an autumn orange, mustard yellow, or deep maroon. For a more muted look, you can choose a charcoal or caramel gown. You can never go wrong with sophisticated black (that's right—you can wear black to a wedding).

To a Formal or Black Tie Fall Wedding

No matter the season, formal is formal. When a fall wedding invitation says “black tie” that means you’re wearing a formal gown or your fanciest cocktail dress. If you choose a sleeveless dress, however, remember to pack pashmina or beaded wrap to stay warm. You can also opt for a long-sleeved gown.

To a Black Tie Optional Fall Wedding

One way to stand out in the sea of formal gowns and cocktail dresses is to incorporate a dramatic accent like feathers. "Feathers are a fun trend I like to pair with classic Manolo Blahnik heels," advises designer Pia Arrobio. Though they can be a bold embellishment, we love them on the hem of a timeless little black dress—for example, the way they're accenting this Alberta Ferretti sheath. This will definitely let your Manolos get some shine. And you can wear your hair down or in an updo as the focal point is all about your curves and legs.

Meet the Expert

Pia Arrobio is the designer behind LPA, the women's clothing label known for its street-ready style with a hint of edge.

To a Semiformal Fall Wedding

Remember the ever-popular maxi dresses from this summer? They were all the rage for beach barbeques, date nights, strolls around the city—a slew of casual occasions where long didn't necessarily mean "formal." A sheath-style dress can be appropriate for a less formal affair as long as the overall look is polished and understated. Look for a long dress without a lot of embellishment, and pick one stand-out accessory, such as a fun necklace or chandelier earring, rather than black tie bling.

If you get cold easily (especially in the fall weather), you can even sneak a pair of footless tights or leggings under your maxi dress for extra warmth—only, of course, if there's no slit in your maxi and it's floor-length.

To a Casual Fall Wedding

While a cocktail dress will be too formal, a classic dress fits the bill perfectly when it comes to fall wedding attire. For guests that want to go in another direction, this might be the time to invest in a classic fitted suit that you can dress up with a sheer camisole.

Accessorizing for a Fall Wedding

Arrobio says dressing for a wedding (whatever the season) is all about blending personal signatures with some fun trends. "I hate feeling like I have to sacrifice personal style at weddings," she said. "Obviously you want to remain classy and respectful, but feel like yourself." Here are some of the ways Arrobio, whose style is based on vintage inspiration, of-the-moment accents, and elegance, suggests making a personal statement with your fall wedding wear.

Go for the drama with statement-making earrings.

Even the simplest ensemble can be uplifted with conversation-starting earrings. Throw on a pair with a simple shift dress and let your accouterments do all the work.

Opt for glitz and glamour with a metallic bag.

Fall and holiday are all about metallics, aren't they? A silver or gold dress might be a bit too much if you're not a daredevil, so Arrobio suggests a bag in a glittering shade.

Toughen up a soft look with a black leather jacket.

We love the balance between soft and tough elements and nothing aids in that mix better than a tried-and-true black leather jacket.

Throw a fur chubby over your shoulders.

With fall comes plummeting temperatures and thus, the need to stay warm. But what do you do when you want your look to get some shine without freezing as a result? That's where a cute, cropped jacket comes into play. It's just the thing to keep the autumnal chill at bay while letting your ensemble play center stage.

Cover your shoulders with a capelet.

Chic and delicate, you'll feel beautiful in a beaded or lacy capelet. Capelets pair nicely with floor-length gowns and add a touch of vintage glamour to any ensemble. Unlike a full-on cape, a cropped and close-fitting capelet can be worn for the duration of the ceremony and reception.

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