Wedding outfits that pack a punch

It might be the bride's big day, but you don't have to fade to grey

Guests are often in the best position to really enjoy a wedding. The bride and groom are too nervous to enjoy themselves; the mums are too worried about their hats to really get into the swing; the bridesmaids are too busy bickering; and the best man is so hungover he doesn't know what day it is. But the guests have no worries and no responsibilities. They can just sit back and enjoy the ride.

The duties of a guest are very simple - turn up on time with a present, enjoy yourself and go home. Of course, this doesn't mean you have carte blanche to do whatever the heck you like. It's still bad form to let your children run wild during the ceremony and heckling the father-of-the-bride during his speech just isn't on (even if your heckle is a darn sight funnier than any of his stories). But apart from being on your best behaviour, you have very little else to worry about. Except - you just knew there had to be a catch somewhere, didn't you? - you have to decide what to wear. And it's not just about buying a drop-dead-gorgeous dress; it's about buying a drop-dead-gorgeous dress that makes you look fabulous but doesn't outshine the bride.

First of all, try to relax and focus on the overall look you want to achieve. Do you want to be coolly chic or dazzlingly done-up to the nines? Hat or no hat? And are you going for eye-popping colour combinations or laid-back neutral simplicity? Trends have changed dramatically in the last 20 years or so, making occasionwear much less formal and much more wearable.

Stylish dresses and contrasting jackets are still extremely popular as they give you the opportunity to dress up or down as the weather (and your mood) dictates on the day.

How bold you go in terms of colour is up to you, but when it comes to fabric its best to opt for something soft and pliable, like a linen-silk mix, a satin crepe or a floaty chiffon, that's going to move with you rather than fight against you.

Trousers are no longer seen as a fashion faux pas (in fact male guests are strongly advised to wear them!). But try not to equate trousers with sloppy, unstructured style. You still need to think carefully about the fit and the fabric, even if it's just so people know you haven't just popped out of the office during your tea-break for the ceremony.

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And finally, try to remember that wedding days are often long days, especially if you are invited to everything from the bride's tearful entry to the church on her father's arm to the groom's drunken exit from the evening reception over his best man's shoulder. Comfort is key if you are going to be one of the best dressed guests on the day, so choose shoes that are flattering rather than ankle-breaking and make sure you can sit down in your fitted dress without it cutting off the circulation to your legs. After all, some might suspect you are trying to steal the bride's thunder if you tumble dramatically down the aisle on your skyscraping heels or keel over at the reception through lack of oxygen and fall face first into the wedding cake.

Apparently, that sort of behaviour is quite often frowned upon.

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