May 18, 2012


On the first of June, friends of ours are getting married and we are invited. So, obviously, I need a dress. I'd been casually thinking about that little fact before but not that seriously until I realised it was already May...
And then, E. suggested that I might match him....
E. owns only one suit and I don't think he has ever worn the trousers and jacket together yet. In fact, I know he hasn't. I was there when he bought it and it was after the previous three weddings in our circle of friends. 
This one suit is black, a sort of muted, not-entirely-saturated sort of black. You know, it's the kind of black fabric which doesn't match at least half of the other black fabrics you may come across at any given time. And he has two formal shirts to go with it, both of which are in a peculiar blue-ish pale grey. 

I've been pretty good about trying colours lately but to match this outfit... Are you surprised that the only fabrics in my shamefully large stash which were a match for E's suit were some solid black ones? 
I've got some very nice prints, but they all contain either true white or a cream colour or a blue-ish inky black. I also have some really nice fabrics in colours which really suit me quite well, warm mossy green, coral red, certain kinds of blue...
None of the above goes with the suit.

I've made this dress, in a black cotton voile. I'm leaving it to hang for a few days before I hem that half circle skirt. On the one hand, it is nice although it still needs a slip and possibly a crinoline petticoat (which I haven't made yet). On the other, it's black. Unmistakebly so.

I actually bought a wide ribbon which matches the colour of E's shirt but I really don't like the look of it with the dress. It just looks crappy and cheap. 
I'll show you these things on me later, but it rained this afternoon which meant it was too dark to take self-timer pictures, and did I mention needing a slip?
I went to the market today with that shirt in my bag trying to find a non-black fabric which would go with it. I only bought more black and that ribbon...
And I'm already obsessing about fabric. Is a normal cotton too casual for a wedding? 
I should add that we'll just be two among many friends. We're not "those who have been best friends with the happy couple ever since primary school", or anything like that. So, it's very likely no-one will actually pay attention to what I will wear. 
I've never had a lot of ideas about dressing for occasions like this other than 'don't upstage the bride' but I read somewhere that one shouldn't wear black to a wedding unless it's to show disapproval. And I wish them all the best.

Please give me your opinion, dear readers: is it or isn't it OK to wear black to a wedding? Would the black be less obvious if the dress were more of an LBD kind of shape (slim and fitted)? Is it a nice idea for a couple of nearly ten years to have sort-of-matching looks for the occasion? Is it bad to have clashing looks? What would you do?

P.S. E won't wear a tie and pocket squares would look silly without, so there won't be another colour in the details.
P.P.S. Of course I could ask him to buy another shirt but he's only worn one of these once, so it would be a bit of a waste...
P.P.P.S. If I settle on some design and fabric, I should still easily be able to make a dress before the wedding.      


  1. I think black at a wedding is okay in many circumstances. For example, it is more appropriate at an evening, indoor wedding than at a mid-day garden wedding. It's more appropriate if you wear black regularly than if it's a color you're never seen in. It's more appropriate if you lighten it with a different color shoes, cardigan, or accessories (I think you're on to something with the contrasting sash...a big brooch at the waist would be lovely too). I don't think normal cotton is too casual for a summer wedding...the style you've chosen is dressy enough that it elevates the fabric. Can't wait to see it finished!

  2. I've been a lurker on your blog via GoogleReader for the longest. Yes, it's bad manners to wear black to a wedding! The same goes for white. Since E's shirt is silver, you are working with a neutral palette -- this gives you a broad range to complement his look (it is not a requirement to match). As a general rule, the only main thing is to make sure that your outfit matches the formality or casualness level of his outfit.

  3. When I made wedding dresses, a lot of people asked me this question! There seems to be a divided opinion - as evidenced in your first two responses. Personally I think it was inappropriate in past eras, but not today when black is such a basis of a modern wardrobe (it wasn't in the past).
    I agree with Hillary that the style is dressy and with some coloured accessories it will look appropriate for today. However if you still have doubts you are better to err on the side of thoughts are to whip up something in colour - because you can! There are a lot of colours that will tone well with your partner's outfit.

  4. Hi, I've also been a lurker on your blog for quite some time. I enjoy it a lot, especially since I also do not use commercial patterns (I don't always draft from scratch, I often take a mostly well-fitting rtw garment as a starting point). Anyways, I think you should try to go for a color. It'S hard to tell from a photo on the computer, but it seems to me that a saturated blue (or turquoise) would go well with E's ensemble (I'm thinking in the line of that blue knit dress you posted about on April 14th, for example). I think you should aim to go with, rather than to match.

  5. When in doubt, ask the bride. Hearts - SeamstressErin

  6. I'd say that unless it bothers the bride it's OK to wear black these days. I certainly saw a few guests in black at the last wedding I went to, and it didn't seem out of place, nor did anyone comment. As for matching...I don't try to match my partner beyond avoiding really obvious colour clashes. The dress you made looks lovely and I think you're on to something with the pale ribbon idea. Maybe look for a different, heavier, ribbon?

  7. I don't know much about black at a wedding - you'd have to really know the party and type of event. It might be Ok sometimes, and not Ok at other times. Matching, on the other hand, seems a bit silly to me, especially if it is so difficult to directly match your partner's outfit. Wear something pretty and something you'd enjoy wearing, in a color that flatters you, and don't worry too much about matching his black or grey.


  8. One of our wedding guests wore a fitted black matellasse off-the-shoulder sheath dress. She told a really funny story about how, when she got the invite, she asked her husband what she should wear.

    He replied that he wanted to see her in her black dress again.

    She said that one wears black to funerals, not weddings.

    He quipped back, "Not THAT dress." and raised his eyebrows suggestively.

    I didn't mind the black dress one bit. If anyone else was offended, they never told either the wearer or the bride (me). 20+ years later, I still remember the dress and the couple fondly. And my husband and I are still married!

    Go ahead and wear the dress. Then tell your story at the wedding reception.

  9. It's OK to wear black to a European wedding, not a US one, that's why you're getting that diversity of answers :-). I'd wonder about the plain black cotton though, as possibly not formal enough, depending on the general wedding style.
    I also wonder about the necessity of matching. Matching is more obvious when it's a real color, not just black, so to me that'd imply going with the shirt color instead (or making him a shirt to match a colored dress). But there's the problem of the shirt not being a color you look good in, and from pictures we've seen :-) it seems unlikely you would both look good in the same color. And this particular blue grey wouldn't be easy to find.
    How about looking at matching another way? Think of kimono linings, and afterimage colors. This grey/blue looks to me like one of those Japanese noncolors, how about you be the positive of it, ie a vivid orange? Then you'd both look good in your own way and yet you'd look good together, in a more interesting way than being the same.