There’s a time in everyone’s life that’s essentially a never-ending stream of weddings. At first, this period of nuptials just sounds like fun and games and open bars, but then you reach the hard part: the dress code.
Figuring out what you’re going to wear to a wedding has always been tough for guys. But now it’s arguably even tougher for modern young men who work in casual offices, and only rocked a suit-and-tie one time for that job interview. There’s a wide range of wedding dress codes, from casual to beach to formal, and on top of fitting the code, you want a unique, festive look (that might catch the bridesmaid’s attention). And besides the vague clause on the invitation, you don’t get much direction. If you’re in need of a little clarification, read on.
When dressing for a wedding, the most basic question is formality. There’s really only four levels of dress: black/white tie, formal, semi-formal and casual. Besides black or white tie (which strictly requires a full-on tuxedo), those dress codes can be disguised as terms like “beach attire” or “cocktail.” To help decode these invitations and help you pick out a killer wedding get-up, we created an outfit guide for six different wedding dress codes. Check them out below, and if you don’t have the pieces mentioned for the upcoming party, click the links to pick up our recommendations.
1. SUMMER WEDDING
Summer weddings at barns, parks, estates and so on are very popular, and very tricky to dress for. You’ll see some guys going more professional with a classic navy business suit, but in 2019, we suggest having a little more fun with it. This light purple suit from Topman ($195 plus $85 for the pants) offers a more festive, summery look that’s sure to get a few compliments. If there isn’t much guidance from the invitation, lean towards formal with a fun tie (knit for extra trendiness, $25), a pair of dress shoes like these $80 monk clasps (sans socks) and this premium, crisp-as-heck white dress shirt from Hugo Boss ($155).
2. BEACH WEDDING
Beach weddings are a blessing. They come with one of the most casual dress codes, and you have some flexibility to put your own spin on an outfit. However, there’s one go-to look that never fails at summer events like beach weddings: the linen suit. It’s lightweight, comfortable and just the right amount of casual to wear for the whole weekend – from drinks at the resort to the ceremony on the beach. We like this one from Club Monaco ($420 with the pants) because it’s smart, not too saggy, and very reasonably priced. Continue the vibe with a pair of loafers, a short-sleeve button-up, and of course, don’t forget movie-star level sunglasses.
3. FORMAL WEDDING
If the invitation simply says formal, stick to the classics. This is a relatively conservative middle ground between cocktail attire and full-on black tie. While this may sound boring (and it can be), the fun is in looking as sharp and sophisticated as humanly possible. The first thing you’ll need is a killer dark suit in black or navy. This piece is worthy of a few extra bones because a classic dark suit will come in handy for business meetings, date night and any other dressy event in the future. We like this one from designer Hugo Boss because it’s high-end, but not too pricey at $650. Then, you’ll need a fancy white dress shirt ($240), a classy tie like this one from Drake’s ($155) and no-nonsense lace-up shoes ($99).
A formal wedding doesn’t have to be boring either. Stick with the classic black or navy suit, then play around with the accessories, saying picking up a brown belt, a fun printed tie or a pocket square to add some personality to your look.
4. SEMI-FORMAL WEDDING
Semi-formal wedding attire (a.k.a. cocktail attire) is the same basic structure as formal with a suit, tie, dress shoes, and dress shirt, but you have much more liberty with each. The idea here is well-dressed, but individual and modern. Try a checkered suit to jazz it up, or break out that trusty navy Hugo Boss suit we mentioned above, only this time, wear it with a light pink or blue dress shirt (this one from Nordstrom is on sale for $35.90), an eye-catching tie ($79.50), and monk clasps or loafers (for extra pizazz, throw on some fun socks too).
5. DAYTIME WEDDING
A wedding’s time of day plays a role in your attire. If it’s a daytime wedding, incorporate some light colors and playful patterns into a semi-formal framework. Suit and tie are highly recommended, but go for a light, daytime suit like this one from H&M (very well-priced at $70 for the blazer and $35 for the trousers), a classic dress shirt (we like white or light blue), and a pop-of-color tie ($125).
6. WINTER WEDDING
Most people don’t choose to get married in the cold months, but it does happen. This poses both a warmth problem and style conundrum, as winter fashion isn’t always very festive. The solution? A snazzy three-piece suit like this one from Boss (on sale for $665). Finish it off with a white or blue dress shirt, a tie that’s unique but not too flashy, and dark lace-up shoes ($98). And if it’s really cold or rainy, be sure to have an appropriate overcoat as well (this one from H&M is well-priced at just $149).