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We’re going to a wedding in China – what should we wear?

The question

I have been invited to a wedding in China that, I am told, is "formal." Does this mean black tie for my husband and a long gown for me or would a business suit and cocktail dress be more fitting?

The answer

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Invitation dress codes can be unnervingly cryptic. Generally, black tie will be spelled out. But in this case, it's not, so your husband should not feel he must don a tux.

Ian Hylton, the creative director for men's wear at Ports 1961 and a Canadian expat living in Xiamen, drew heavily on Chinese traditions at his own recent wedding. His opinion: You will be fine in either a fancy cocktail dress or a long skirt as long as you avoid pairing black and white together, which is considered bad luck. (And avoid red, usually the colour of the bride's gown.)

However, Hylton says, the most important accessory is your hongbao, the envelope full of cash for the newlyweds. Find one that reads "double happiness" in gold characters, he says. It will bode well for all.

Amy Verner is The Globe and Mail's Paris-based style reporter. Have a fashion question? E-mail

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