Decoding the Royal Wedding Dress Code

Take note royal wedding guests

Updated 05/02/18

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Let's get real, figuring out what to wear to a wedding isn't easy. But when it comes to royal wedding dress code, there are a few strict rules that every guest MUST follow. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding is less than 17 days away, and if we were on the guest list, we would be freaking out about exactly what to wear right about now. With the help of E! Chief News Correspondent and royal expert, Melanie Bromley, we're breaking down exactly what the royal wedding dress code means, and what we can expect some of the most fashionable guests to be wearing.

"Dress: uniform, morning coat or lounge suit / day dress with hat." That's what Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal wedding invitation calls for from its guests for the daytime ceremony. But what exactly does that mean? We can deduce from Kate and Will's 2011 wedding, that there will be plenty of fascinators on display. "As we have seen from royal weddings of the past, especially when it comes to fascinators, as long as you are dressed formally, anything goes," says Bromley. "I would advise every guest take advantage of the opportunity to don the very British but slightly eccentric tradition," she adds.

For men, it's recommended that if a male attendee is a military member, he wears his uniform—because, really, what's more British than that? Unfortunately though, that leaves little room for reflection of personal style. Therefore, men also have the option of "morning dress," which is somewhat of a tradition when it comes to royal weddings. This attire calls for classic morning coats—those coats with tails seen below on Prince William and Prince Harry at Pippa Middleton's wedding—along with an optional top hat. The invite also gives men the option to wear a "lounge suit," which contrary to what one might think, does not mean a casual suit. It's more akin to a traditional business suit to those across the pond. A classic tailored silhouette in a dark hue would make for a proper and formal choice for the morning wedding.

JUSTIN TALLIS

For women, the hat part is a no-brainer, but what does "day dress" mean exactly? Long hemlines, and modesty are key. A knee-length dress is ideal when it comes to royal weddings, and messing with that hemline could get you some serious glares from her majesty. Bromley also suggests guests take a dressing cue from the Queen herself. "The Queen always dresses in bright colors, it’s how she ensures she can be seen when there are huge crowds of people who have turned up to see her," she says. Wearing something colorful and tailored is a surefire way to please the many cameras that will be not only on the couple but on their guests. "It doesn’t matter how unknown or known the guest is, everyone will be subjected to being broadcast to millions of people around the world as they enter the chapel," adds Bromley.

And while Meghan Markle is the star of the show (we mean this wedding, not Suits), we can't wait to see what the world's most famous sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, will be donning on the big day. Dressing for a wedding a mere weeks after giving birth is hard on anyone, and we bet the Duchess will rely on one of her tried and true designers to create something beautiful, and flattering, for her. "As we have seen from the past, Jenny Packham has all the qualifications for making something fabulous for the future Queen," Bromley agrees.

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And what about the dozens of megawatt celebs who are also well-known for their personal style? From what we saw at Kate and Will's royal affair, famous guests (no matter how stylish) are still subject to the dress code. That doesn't mean they can't show some personality with their outfit choices. For Victoria Beckham, Bromley is sure she'll be in one of her own designs, and as she did at 2011's royal wedding, Posh might let her fascinator do the talking when it comes to fashion. Markle's BFF Priyanka Chopra, who has confirmed she will be present at Windsor Castle on May 19th, will also likely have to done down her usual ultra-glam style. And when all else fails, Bromley suggests everyone plan their fashions for the long haul, "It is going to be a long day though so if they do opt to wear high heels I would suggest they have secret cushions inside for the balls of their feet as there might be a lot of standing about before and after the ceremony."

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Of course, that's just for the ceremony. Guests will have plenty of time to switch things up before the night time celebrations. Want more from Melanie Bromley? She'll be up early for “E! Live From the Royal Wedding," on May 19th starting at 5am ET/2am PT.

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