Gender Non-Conforming Wedding Attire: Outfit Ideas + Dress Code Etiquette

Having a gender non-conforming dress code for your wedding is a great way to make all guests feel welcome and empowered.

By Anni Irish

Gender Non-Conforming Wedding Attire Ideas
Photo by Brianne Emily Photography

The First Look ✨

  • Think about textures, patterns, and accessories and how little details can really make your wedding outfit stand out and also have your personality shine through.
  • There are several things you can do to help make your dress code more inclusive such as using non-gendered language and being open to conversations around the dress code.

When it comes to picking out what to wear for a wedding there is a lot to consider. And often, there will be a dress code for the wedding i.e. casual, black tie optional, cocktail, etc. However vague these kinds of descriptions are, often, there are a lot of gendered elements that are wrapped up in that.

For people who identify as non-binary or LGBTQIA+, and have a more gender non-conforming style, it can sometimes be difficult to know what to wear and to also the best way to communicate that to the people who are getting married. If you find yourself in that position, don't panic. You want to feel comfortable and confident in what you are wearing and also have a great time!

“Start with the pieces you feel the most confident in, then explore how they could be elevated. I'm a firm believer that you can pull off almost any silhouette if it's in the right material—try trading a comfy cotton tee for a luxe silk top or your high-waisted jeans for a badass high-rise trouser, then befriend your local tailor for the dreamiest fit,” said Chole Roach, a Brand Communications Manager at Wildfang, a gender-inclusive fashion brand.

Here are several tips for wedding guests and couples to help everyone get on the same page when it comes to having a gender non-conforming dress code and the best way to approach it.

non conforming dress codes Wilde Scout Photo Co. Photo Credit // Wilde Scout Photo Co.

Gender-Non Conforming Wedding Attire Ideas

There are lots of ways you as Nearlyweds can approach your gender non-conforming wedding look. On your big day, you both want to look your best and there are lots of ways to achieve this.

Mix & Match Traditionally "Gendered" Outfit Pieces

Pants, button-down shirts, ruffled shirts, blazers, skirts, skorts, jumpsuits and more are all different kinds of looks that can be mixed and matched for a wedding. And depending on the kind of event, can also be dressed up or dressed down with the right accessories. “I love mixing and matching traditionally masc & femme elements—think tailored vests over puff-sleeve tops, corset tops with structured trousers, or linen button-downs & flowing skirts (you can play the same game with your accessories). In search of a one-and-done option? Enter the mighty jumpsuit,” said Roach.

Suits

In general, there is a lot of versatility that can be offered in suits. There are many very tailored, put-together outfits that really exist on a spectrum as well in terms of fit and fabric. Some are more fitted while others offer a more loose and airy look, it all depends on what you are going for.

Maybe you want to dress down your suit by wearing a t-shirt instead. A vintage find that has an interesting pattern or texture can also give a suit another dimension.

Shoes

Shoes are another big thing that can really make an outfit. If you have a super dressy look, and want to make it less formal, think about wearing a pair of sneakers. If your look is more casual and you want to dress it up, consider a sleek heel or shoes that have a more put-together look.

Accessories

Accessories are one way to really step up your look. They offer so much versatility and can add a dramatic layer in a really great way. From a well-placed pocket square, necklace, broach, bracelet, hat, or barrett, there are so many ways accessories can dress up (or down) your look.

Try to pick unique items that play on your wedding theme but also capture aspects of your personality in another way. There are lots of ways to think about formal weddings nowadays, and this can be done with specific fabrics you pick out as well as cuts. Flowers and boutiners and other small arrangements can also add a splash of color and fun to a look and also be something unexpected. The most important thing is feeling comfortable and confident in what you are wearing.

Styling Two Dresses or Two Suits Together

You want to dress in a way that feels authentic to you and also makes you look great. For some couples this may mean that both are choosing to wear dresses and/or both choosing to wear suits. However, even if you both are choosing the same kind of look, there are lots of ways to have your personality shine through in the color, fabric, and fit. No two people wear the same look the same way.

Expressing Yourselves Through Color and Fit

You may not want to go with the traditional black tie and white dress scenario. Instead, pick colors you look and feel comfortable in and also really make you feel special. Be a little bold and have fun with your look! Going to a tailor or store that also specializes in gender-neutral looks if one is in your area can also give you more options and can help you really customize your look.

Non conforming dress codes Maya Elaine Photography, LLC Photo Credit // Maya Elaine Photography, LLC

A Guide to Creating Gender Non-Conforming Dress Codes

Today, there are a many ways that people identify when it comes to both gender and sexual identity. As a result, it's important to meet people where they are at and to be respectful and open to things. One great way to help cultivate an inclusive space at your wedding, is to try and use language that reflects this attitude. People who identify as nonbinary for example, identify beyond the idea of what “male” and “female” are and express themselves how they see fit.

Nonbinary is an identity that is part of a larger term that consists of many different genders. One major thing to keep in mind as well is that gender is very different from how someone may present or express themselves. For people who are nonbinary in particular, how they dress is how they communicate their relationship to genders and more.

Use Inclusive Language

Try not to think within a binary and recognize that there are lots of ways that people identify. As a result, having inclusive language for invitations, and general wedding communications is important. Eliminating gendered phrases such as “for the guys” and “for the girls” or “for women” and “for men” is one way to help make everyone feel comfortable. Instead using language such as “for everyone” or for the guests or referring to groups in more gender-neutral ways can help set a tone and also make everyone coming to your wedding feel more comfortable right off the bat.

Asking people what their names and pronouns are gives all guests the chance to share this with you. This also sets a tone and will make guests coming feel comfortable. If you plan on using honorifics or titles on your invitations or paper goods, it's also a good idea to check in with guests about this. Asking how your wedding party members want to present can also inform how you may want to approach the dress code. This conversation can help give you some ideas and also make everyone feel comfortable.

Offer Flexible Attire Options

This same line of thinking also applies to the dress code for the wedding. Offering more options than just “suits” and “dresses” can help make guests feel more welcomed and also let them wear what they would like but also having an outfit that is appropriate for your big day. Terms such as casual and formal can be used to help indicate to your guests what the feel of the event is and help them make the right wardrobe choice.

Also consider having examples of images to help give guests an idea of what you'd like them to wear. Encouraging guests to wear outfits that they feel great about themselves in and having a dress code that is gender-less can help make all guests feel more welcomed and empowered in the process.

For Couples: Communicate with Guests

Remember communication is key especially when you are trying to have a gender non-coforming dress code. This means for the couple getting married and also for their guests coming to the wedding, there are sure to be several conversations about the dress code.

Being open and respectful with one another is important. You may have some guests who are nervous about sharing their concerns about what to wear so listening and hearing them is vital. Try to make yourself available to people to talk as well whether you feel better communicating via email, phone or face to face.

Having some images of what you’d like to see guests in that match the dress code/theme of your wedding can be really helpful. This can give people a visual and also may spark some inspiration in their end if they are putting their look together.

For Guests: Communicate with the Couple

Being invited to a wedding is a big deal as a friend or loved one. While this should be a time to celebrate, for some folx who are non-binary, or identify another way, the invitation can also invoke some panic. Finding an outfit that is gender-neutral can feel stressful and if you need to communicate about this to the wedding hosts, this can also add another layer of complexity to the situation. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t worry.

The good news is, when it comes to fashion today, there really are no rules. And there are lots of ways to put together a look. However, if you are attending a wedding that has a specified dress code, this may feel like a roadblock.

Remember, the dress code for the wedding can help inform guests when it comes to figuring out what to wear but it doesn't have to define it. The dress code provides an outline of what to wear but at the end of the day you want to feel comfortable in the outfit you have on. If you find yourself in this position and are feeling uncertain about the dress code, reaching out to the couple who is getting married is a good idea. This will also give you the opportunity to be open about your situation and discuss the wedding. By speaking directly to the couple who is getting married, you can ask if you have specific questions or want some things clarified about the wedding dress code. Some possible questions to ask are:

  • What are the dress code expectations you have for wedding guests?
  • Can you provide some examples of attire you are hoping guests will wear?
  • How closely do you want guests to follow the dress code?

Also, think about having some images ready of possible outfit options to share. This can help you narrow down what kind of look you are going for and also can give the couple an idea of the direction you are headed in. “Pictures, pictures, pictures! Familiarize yourself with the dress code as specified on the invitation, then share some inspo pics with elements that really inspire you—(silhouettes, fabrics, patterns, etc.). There are so many factors at play when it comes to a wedding outfit (comfort, style, temperature, Electric Slide-ability), so choose a few,” said Roach.

Weddings are a time to celebrate. Having a gender-neutral dress code for your wedding can really help you and your guests feel like their most authentic selves; and in creating a space that is inclusive, this is helping everyone around you to feel empowered and happy on a day that is all about love.

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