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Breaking Down the Dress Code for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Wedding

What exactly is a "lounge suit," anyway?
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Meghan Markle has been known to bend the royal rules when it comes to her attire, but the dress code for her wedding is strictly by the book: day dresses and hats for the women; and uniforms, morning coats, or lounge suits for the men.

She and her soon-to-be husband Prince Harry spelled it all out in black and white on their invitations, and fortunately for those guests who aren't so well-versed in British weddings (we're looking at you, cast of Suits), etiquette expert Myka Meier is here to break it down, step by step.

Here's what you need to know about the dress code for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding including exactly what is (and what isn't) a lounge coat:

FOR THE LADIES:

Day Dress with Hat


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Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie at the Royal Wedding in 2011.

The Dress

The key to choosing an appropriate dress is to think about the formality of the occasion, says Meier. "The stresser here is that it is a very conservative event," she says. Shoulders should be covered, and dresses should be an appropriate length: either tea length, below the knee, or just slightly above. Guests should also choose a look free of any cut-outs, and sheer details should be limited to the arms. 

Color is also key. Subtle patterns are acceptable, but generally speaking, most people will wear bright, solid shades. "Think about the season," she says. "Color will be highly encouraged." And of course, women shouldn't wear white, or black for that matter. "Black is internationally a color of mourning," she says.

In terms of accessories, guests should keep their handbags small: "It will be very tight seating," Meier says. And shoes should be closed-toe.

The Hat


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The Duchess of Cambridge at Zara Tindall's wedding in 2011.

Perhaps even more important than the dress is the hat. According to Meier, it's a must.

“The bigger, and the more decorated, the more festive. It’s almost like your way of showing your support for the occasion,” she says.

While not specifically mentioned on the invitation, fascinators are okay, but they should make a statement. "It’s got to be over the top, it’s got to be big," Meier says.

FOR THE MEN:

Uniform, Morning Coat or Lounge Suit

Uniform


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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their wedding day in 2011.

If it is appropriate for a guest to wear a uniform, they should. "Any men in the military at any level would be highly encouraged to wear their uniform," Meier tells T&C. "In terms of formality and respect, it’s the top of the top."

The inclusion of this option in the dress code could be an indication that Prince Harry will follow in his brother Prince William's footsteps and wear a uniform on his wedding day.

Morning Coat


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Princes William and Harry wearing morning coats at Pippa Middleton's wedding in 2017.

If a guest is not in the military, Meier recommends they wear a full morning coat, with all its various components. "Most gentlemen will be suited in a morning coat, waist coat, tie, and striped trousers," as is British tradition, Meier says. Princes William and Harry recently wore the whole ensemble at Pippa Middleton's wedding back in 2017.

Lounge Suit

Despite what the name might imply, this isn't a suggestion to wear pajamas. In the U.K., a "lounge suit" is really just a suit, tie, and most likely, a pocket square. 

For guests who choose this option, Meier recommends sticking with a darker color palette. "The darker with a suit for a man, typically the more formal," she says.

She also notes that "the thicker the material for a men's suit, the more formal," so guests should steer clear of light linen, even though May 19 is inching toward summer.

In terms of accessories, hats for men (like the ones often seen at events such as the Royal Ascot) would be "inappropriate," while polished black shoes and an absolute must.

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Furthermore, if you do receive an invite to the wedding of the year, you can expect to receive extra guidance prior to the celebration.

"There will be additional guidance for the attendees," Meier says. "Though we will not see it, there will often be an internal document circulated to give them more information about the dress code."

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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Caroline Hallemann
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