Wedding Style

The Lady’s Maid’s Guide to Wedding Style

If you are one of the lucky ones who have received an invitation to the Royal wedding, you are probably busy planning your outfit for the big day. Dressing up in the daytime can be tricky for some – especially for a formal wedding in church in the presence of royalty! The dress code on the royal wedding invitation states: “Uniform, Morning Coat or Lounge Suit, Day Dress with Hat”. Now, the first choice is obviously only an option if you are in the armed forces – this is not a fancy dress event! Morning coat refers to the jacket (black/grey, single-breasted with tails) that men wear if they are adopting “Morning dress”, which is the smartest form of day attire and traditional for weddings. For women, the equivalent of a morning suit would be a smart day dress with hat, as stated on the invitation. 

When planning an outfit for a formal day event, you want to go for a more colour coordinated and polished look. You don’t necessarily have to wear one colour head to toe (although this always looks very elegant); you could wear varying shades of one colour, e.g. a coral dress with peachy accessories, or you could wear one colour in the dress and a complementary colour in the accessories.

I’ve styled some outfits below-featuring dress coats, dresses with jackets for a more formal look, and dresses for a more youthful look. If you are on the hunt for an occasion hat, I have compiled a list of some of my favourite milliners here. Remember to start looking early: if you want a bespoke hat or a hat dyed to match your dress colour, these can take up to six weeks to make – especially at busy times of the year such as before a royal wedding! 

Dress coats

If you are a royal style watcher like me, you may have noticed that dress coats are often worn by the royals to formal church events, including weddings. In effect, the outer coat becomes the dress and is a good option for the Mother of the Bride/Mother of the Groom or those looking for a more formal, smart and stylish look. They can either be worn alone or with a shift dress underneath. There are not too many on the high street, but I’ve pictured my top picks below from Bruce by Bruce Oldfield and Goat Fashion. On a higher budget, my favourites are Claire Mischevani and Suzannah.

Dress coats like this Trapeze line gold jacquard coat from Suzannah are a good option for the Mother of the Bride/Mother of the Groom. I’ve matched it with a rose/gold shift dress from Phase Eight and a blush floral headpiece from John Lewis. You could also wear the dress alone for a more youthful look, or wear a wide-brimmed hat with the coat for a more formal look.

From Left: Gold jacquard dress coat, £1,350, Suzannah; Rhea lace shift dress, £225, Phase Eight; Belle blush headpiece, £135, John Lewis; Cecilia pink jacquard clutch, £105, L.K. Bennett; double drop pearl Earrings, £149, A B Davis; Tisha heels, £120, Boden.

Pastel shades are great for spring/summer weddings – I love the delicate ice blue colour of this chic Fairfax coat and matching Francine tunic dress by Goat Fashion. I’ve pictured matching hats from Whiteley and Vixen Millinery, and accessories from Dune London.

From top left: Aqua hat, £250, Vixen Millinery; Francine tunic dress in ice blue, £460, Goat Fashion; pill box hat, £116.95, Whiteley; diamond and pearl drop earrings, £420, London Road Jewellery; Breeana pale blue satin shoes, Dune London; Edwardian diamond brooch, £1,275, The Antique Jewellery Company; pale blue satin clutch, £60, Dune London; Fairfax coat, £690, Goat Fashion.

This floral jacquard dress coat from Bruce by Bruce Oldfield is a more affordable Mother of the Bride option. I’ve matched it with two sets of accessories: one silver and one bluebell blue. The silver upturn disc hat is by Vixen Millinery; the bluebell oval disc feather hat is John Lewis.

Silver accessoriessilver disc hat, £225, Vixen Millinery; grey satin clutch, £60, Dune London; white/grey pearl earrings, £395, Georg Jenson; grey suede heels, £60, Dune London.

Bluebell blue accessoriesoval disc feather hat, £130, John Lewis; powder blue clutch, £195, L.K. Bennett; blue topaz/diamond earrings, £395, London Road; Fern powder blue suede heels, £195, L.K. Bennett.

Claire Mischevani is one of my favourite designers for occasion daywear. I’ve pictured below a lemon yellow coat dress from her latest collection, matching it with an ivory headpiece from Philip Treacy and shimmery gold accessories.

Lemon yellow dress coat (made to order), Claire Mischevani; ivory headpiece, £1,250, Philip Treacy; pearl and diamond earrings, Kiki McDonough; Sissi gold clutch, £175, L.K. Bennett; metallic ivory courts, £119, Phase Eight.

Two-piece outfit – dress and jacket

This is a slightly more youthful look than the dress coat but still has a formal appearance. Often the dress will be sleeveless, so a good option for those who want to keep their arms covered for church but strip off a bit at the party afterwards! The first look is all about the beautiful asymmetric floral ribbon cornflower blue Philip Treacy headpiece. I’ve matched it with a china blue dress/jacket from Gina Bacconi, made of a delicate mesh covered in sequins, to add a bit of sparkle to the day. The duck egg blue suede accessories are by Emmy London.


Blue headpiece, £1,199, Philip Treacy; pearl and diamond earrings, $1,890, Maison Birks; Vera china blue lace dress and jacket, £360, Gina Bacconi; Natasha pale blue suede clutch, £350, Emmy London; Olivia duck egg blue suede court shoes, £395, Emmy London.

Coral is a great spring/summer colour if pastels are not your thing. Pictured below is a coral pink dress and matching jacket by Damsel in a Dress with a rose and peony button headpiece from Juliette Botterill Millinery, nude accessories, and Trapeze pearl earrings from Claudia Bradby.

Floral head piece, £450, Juliette Botterill; pink shift dress, £110, Damsel in a Dress; pink jacket, £129, Damsel in a Dress; Nina box clutch, £78, L.K. Bennett; Fern nude leather courts, £195, L.K. Bennett; Trapeze pearl earrings, £70, Claudia Bradby.

If you have picked out a brightly coloured dress, an ivory cropped jacket like this one from Coast always works quite well to smarten it up for church weddings. I’ve matched this emerald green dress from Self Portrait with a striking Volute headpiece from Camilla Rose Millinery and jade green suede accessories from Dune London.


Floral lace one-shoulder dress, £320, Self Portrait; notch detail ivory jacket, £99, Coast; Volute headpiece, £350, Camilla Rose Millinery; green suede clutch, £60, Dune London; green suede court shoes, £70, Dune London; emerald glass drop earrings, $70, Kendra Scott.


My favoured choice for formal daywear is a dress with sleeves – it’s a more youthful option and you don’t have to bother covering up your arms with a jacket if it’s a church wedding. I love the ditsy floral blue pattern of this dress with silver ruffled cuffs and hem by The Vampire’s Wife. I’ve teamed it with a silver/blue hat by Jane Taylor Millinery, pale blue court shoes by Ted Baker, clutch from Phase Eight and grey double pearl earrings by Claudia Bradby.

Silver percher hat, £1,303, Jane Taylor Millinery; ditsy floral dress, £830, The Vampire’s Wife; cornflower blue clutch, £69, Phase Eight; pale blue Savio court shoes, £140, Ted Baker; grey double pearl earrings, £85, Claudia Bradby.

This blush dress by Claire Mischevani has elegant applique and jewelling detail, giving it a glamorous edge. I’ve matched it with a blush hat from Lock & Co, a blush pink bag from Dune London and rose gold T-bar shoes from Dune.

Wonderland blush percher hat, £825, Lock & Co.; blush embroidered overly dress, £695, Claire Mischevani; pink double drop pearl earrings, £149, A B Davis; blush pink clutch, £39, Dune London; Denira rose gold T-bar shoes, £55, Dune London.

For a more tailored look I’ve picked out this elegant Hana dress by Beulah London. I love the subtle pleating in this dress; they call it a “hero” garment and hero it is in my book! I’ve matched it with hats by Juliette Botterill and Bundle Maclaren, statement mother of pearl earrings by Olivia Pearl, an ivory clutch with pearl detail from Coast and ivory floral heels from Office.

Juliet rose pink saucer hat, £300, Bundle Maclaren Millinery; Hana pink dress, £420, Beulah London; rose and quill pink percher hat, £510, Juliette Botterill Millinery; Aphrodite statement mother of pearl earrings, £175, Olivia Pearl; Chalia bow ivory clutch, £45, Coast; ivory floral heels, £72, Office.

Alicia Healey is a former royal lady’s maid and author of “Wardrobe Wisdom”, due to be published with The National Trust in September 2018. You can follow The Lady’s Maid’s Looks and get more of her top tips on Instagram and Twitter @theladysmaid and