Once you stray outside your basic black tie or cocktail​​, dressing for a wedding starts getting complicated. That’s when you can get everything from a tux to chinos in the men’s gallery – even jeans on a bad day.

And if you’re female, it’s even worse because you’ve got so many more options than the fellas and that goes for shoes as well.

If you know the bride well, that helps because you can ask probing questions. But if not, you could be in all sorts of trouble – especially if you get the shoes wrong. Nobody wants to be stranded in the middle of a paddock in a pair of six-inch platform heels.

Here are three handy tips for deconstructing modern wedding dress codes, plus some thoughts on how to look fabulous if you’re plus sized without swathing yourself in yards of fabric and swamping your figure:

  1. The semi-formal wedding – This means leave the gowns at home. We’re looking for cocktail length hemlines in chiffon, silk or taffeta or a dressy suit with minimal beading (you don’t want to be confused for the MOTB). If in doubt, opt for the dress over the suit. Your choice of shoes can make or break the outfit. Higher heels will up the ante so save them for a day/night or indoor event.

    The Semi-formal wedding calls for pared back style and elegant accessories

  2. The beach wedding – Unless the bride specifies that everyone should wear white, you probably shouldn’t regardless of what those Pinterest photo shoots say about beach weddings. You can certainly get away with a caftan if you’re aiming for comfort (dress it up with metallic accessories) or wear a tropical print dress for a relaxed take on a more formal look.

    A beach wedding needn’t be a sea of billowing white silk…

  3. The dressy daytime wedding – Fabric is key to making this look work. Cotton is out but chiffon, linen and silk are in. Work it with playful prints and in season colours like citrus and teal.

    A dressy daytime wedding is all about playful styles in chiffons and silks.

  4. Dressing plus size sassy – Contrary to much of the fashion available in larger sizes, you don’t need to drown in fabric. Show of your best bits with a sweetheart neckline, cinched waist or asymmetrical hemline  or side split that makes the most of your shapely legs. Finding great styles can be difficult but there are a few stores around that know how to do this well. Set off the look with a statement heel.

    Express yourself in gorgeous cuts that show off your curves and don’t swamp your figure.