Dressing to impress, contrary to popular belief, has nothing to do with the people in the room. Choosing the ideal formal outfit starts with how the clothes make you feel. If you feel like a total badass, the impressing will follow suit (pun intended).
Other than, perhaps, not wearing an all-white gown to a wedding, you need not concern yourself with traditional rules of dress when crafting an eye-catching formal look. Dress codes may be helpful to some, but for others, they can be limiting, especially for party-goers seeking gender-neutral outfits.
That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to gender-neutral formal wear. Ahead, find everything you need to design looks that show off your full spectrum of androgynous fashion.
How to Find the Right Wedding Attire for You
When it comes to dressing for a wedding, having a clear vision of your options is the first step. Like paint pigments on a palette, we fashion artists must understand the tools at our disposal to create our formal masterpieces.
From a seemingly endless number of styles—blazers, pants, skirts, dresses—how does one decide?
Hint: It has everything to do with the colors, prints, styles, and silhouettes that you naturally gravitate toward. (And maybe some that you’ve always wanted to try.)
So as you explore the tips below, forget gender norms and discover outfits that resonate with you the most. And if they all speak to you, then we love a maximalist moment at a formal affair.
Tip #1: Go for Bold with a Pop of Color
What’s cooler than a perfectly tailored suit? A perfectly tailored suit in chili red, obviously.
More often than not, formal events are those occasions when the majority of folks are going to pull their black wedding suits out of the closet and look, well—the same as every other guest.
While there’s nothing wrong with a classic midnight black or a calming neutral tone, if you’re feeling emboldened for your particular festivity, a pop of color is a marvelous way to liven things up.
If your personality sings in vibrant colors, try out a full-colored suit or brightly-dyed dress. Or, for a more subdued look, hint at a splash of color underneath a neutral blazer coat.
Tip #2: Rock a Bold Print
Nothing gets the conversation flowing at a cocktail hour like the tiny anchors on a person’s pants or the smattering of comets and stars on a fellow guest’s dinner jacket. (Let the astrological discussions commence.)
Give ‘em a peek of your personality in an interesting print, including but not limited to:
- Art deco designs
- Bird-themed brilliance
- Lovely leaves (plant people, unite!)
- Belle Epoque era poppies
Your inner introvert will thank you for fueling your conversational prowess.
Tip #3: Make Magic with a Distinctive Material
Or how about more than one material? Because the only thing better than a daring velvet suit is a head-turning velvet-and-leather two-piece.
Mixing textures and textiles is a great way to create a gender-neutral formal outfit. And make no mistake: Lace isn’t reserved for femme-only looks.
Instead of the basic formal wear in chiffon, break up your look with a top, dress, or skirt in an unexpected material like:
- Vegan leather
Satin, velvet, and silk work wonders for more formal affairs like galas or black-tie weddings. On the other hand, you might choose vegan leather or wool for a less formal winter wedding or cozy cocktail party.
Tip #4: Reimagine a Clothing Item into Something New
When Yves Saint Laurent debuted the iconic “Le Smoking” jacket in 1968, they broke down barriers and blew minds because no major label had ever designed a tuxedo suit for women before.
Today, we invite you to honor that same genderblending spirit and take it a step further—by not only embracing your masc, femme, and everything in between—but by rethinking how clothing is meant to be worn.
That double-breasted vest? What a great cocktail dress. That oversized blazer? Wear it off the shoulders to achieve a relaxed runway vibe. Changing up how you wear what you wear is a cool way to achieve new shapes and styles.
Tip #5: Accessorize Without Limits
There’s no reason bowties should be reserved for any one person. Be it a pocket square or paper fan, a fedora or a fanny pack, accessories have more to do with the wearer’s intention than anything else.
Reach for the unexpected with items like a:
- Collar-clip necklace
- Leather harness
- Patterned corset
While fancier affairs may call more for jewelry or corsets, a more casual event, like a destination, may be the perfect opportunity to rock a fanny pack with a pantsuit.
3 Gender-Neutral Formal Wear Ideas
Now that we’ve covered essential details, it’s time to put everything together to create an utterly badass gender neutral wedding outfit. Below, we’re sharing three ideas to get your creativity flowing. Remember, these are just starting points—it’s totally fine to take some pointers while discarding those that don’t suit you.
For the Casual Wedding: The Short and Suit Combo
Casual weddings invite a little bit more wiggle room into the outfit choices (and out on the dance floor, too). This is a bold summery look is fit for occasions such as:
- Beach weddings
- Garden parties
- Outdoor bridal showers
Here’s how to achieve the look:
- Link up a blazer with a complementary pair of shorts. Try to find shorts on the longer side to make sure you can comfortably tear up the dance floor later on.
- Choose a shirt featuring complementary colors, a fun print, or an interesting texture. Add a collar clip or leather harness for some extra dimension.
- Finish the vibe with a clutch purse and shoes that command the room. If the wedding is ultra casual, go ahead and rock those sneakers.
For the Semi-Formal Wedding: The Best Vest
Vests are a staple in the gender nonconformist’s wardrobe because they offer structure and sophistication. Plus, they can be dressed up or down. So for a semi-formal wedding, turn to a trusty vest to achieve a classy yet relaxed look.
Here’s how to do it:
- Find yourself a pair of wide-legged trousers that make you feel like a million bucks. The wide leg keeps things easy-breezy so you can strut through the party in style.
- For a more relaxed vibe, don the vest sans shirt underneath. For a more formal look, dress it up with a collared shirt under the vest.
- Add a pair of white sneakers, a hat, or a loose-fitting tie—whatever accessories float your boat work well here.
For the Black-Tie Wedding: Classy in a Corset
A look made popular by influencers from Beyoncé to Bretman Rock, the corset brings both Regency Era classiness and a splash of contemporary finesse.
Corsets can help add visual interest to an outfit while still feeling incredibly classy and upscale. What used to be a subtle undergarment (check out the corset history rundown) has taken the fashion world by storm in our current culture. For a gala-worthy look, opt for classic black. If you’re dining with a more eclectic crowd, you may choose a corset with a pop of color or pattern.
Here’s what you need:
- Layer your corset over a long-sleeved button-up shirt with a collar. A basic white shirt here always looks fresh, but you can also experiment with different shirt materials like satin.
- If you’d like a bit more coverage or you’re headed to a wintertime wedding, layer a blazer or shacket over top and add a pair of neutral trousers.
- Accessorize with necklaces, belt chains, and earrings to elevate the final look.
Where Can I Find Gender-Neutral Wedding Outfits?
Believe it or not, gender-neutral styles for formal wear are closer than you think. The foundation of an impeccable gender-neutral formal outfit may even be hanging in your closet at this very moment.
Start by assessing the clothing you have already. Do you have a button-up shirt that you keep on rotation? There are plenty of ways to build on that and formalize it. Got a blazer you’ve been dying to wear? Use this event as that opportunity.
To build on your look, find clothing brands that share your values. You may be surprised to find that brands, now more than ever, are offering gender-neutral clothing that span a range between casual and formal. When you buy from value-driven brands, you’ll also fill your closet with the latest looks.
Find Gender-Neutral Formal Wear at WILDFANG
Spoiler alert: You can also find gender-neutral formal wear here at WILDFANG. From prom attire to wedding looks, we’d love to help you discover a formal outfit that makes you feel confident and is designed to fit your unique, one-of-a-kind self. Our collection of blazers, button-ups, vests, trousers, unique dresses, and more are ready to help you look and feel your best at your next event.
Born in Portland, OR, we were tired of the lack of fashion that should embrace masc, femme, and everything in between. So we built WILDFANG. We champion inclusivity, diversity, climate neutrality, and empowering a better world through fashion.
Ready to empower your wardrobe? Shop our collection today.
Vogue. 20 Sleek Takes on Fashion’s Most Iconic Suit. https://www.vogue.com/article/le-smoking-suit-runway-ysl
Fashionista. Ask An Expert: How Do I Style A Corset Top? https://fashionista.com/2022/07/shop-how-to-style-corset-tops-dresses