In that regard, and when taken strictly at face value, the archetypical wedding dress code is one that commonly necessitates that a gent sport what is a profoundly regimented (albeit thematically variable) formal uniform whose distinguishing parameters are dictated not only by the intended couple but by the ever-evolving contingent of seemingly conflicting wedding dress codes that — if truth be told — have all but managed to rather complicate and muddle up what was previously a quite straightforward styling landscape.
For you see, and in refering to days of yore, dressing oneself for a wedding was once a rather simple and innocuous endeavour that entailed the wearing of either black or white tie (in addition to formal and morning dress) attire and nothing else.
But as life — in addition to each changing of the generational guard — so often has the tendency of levying upon reality, everything eventually becomes diluted and is altered in one form or another to better suit the times — wedding dress codes having been no exception.
In that regard, this wedding style guide may well provide that precious nugget of wisdom that can assist in the event of sorting out any dress codes conundrums you have been beseeched with erstwhile (hopefully) helping to inspire you forth down a tastefully stylized path that pays the proper due respects to the intended coupling erstwhile positioning you to look your absolute finest this wedding season and beyond.
All that having been said, it often holds true that once a gentleman reaches a specific age — typically ones late 20's — that he will often be inundated by a deluge of wedding invites that will fill his social calendar from spring through winter for years to come — be it from siblings, close friends, distant relatives, casual acquaintances…you name it.
Accordingly, weddings can be viewed as being either luminous, resplendent and joyous affairs at heart or as a seemingly trivial social obligation that is overwrought in personal (and socially reflective) despair whose prevailing demands inflict stress and cause a stir of trepidation alongside a gust of confusion when taking into consideration the dress codes and varied cultural/religious conventions that are entreated upon (and must be followed by) every guest.
But fret not, for you see this feature was fashioned to clear up any residual hang ups or questions you may have in reserve in regards as to what to wear and how to carry youreslf when you are faced with attending an impending nuptial during any one of Mother Nature's four seasons.
But as for that other 5% (and for the sake of alternative options within that 95%), here are six inspirational looks that are suited for a wide spectrum of thematic weddings ranging from those strictly steeped in formal tradition (and held in chapels/thecity) to those set in summer gardens or perhaps even in the rustic countryside.
And, lest you still remain (after taking the following to memory) in doubt as to what to wear, rest assuringly in knowing that you can always fall back upon the classic formal monochrome palette of black and white in dire times of need or confusion.
Nevertheless, lets dive right into exploring the variable cornucopia of dress codes that you may well be met with in the near future shall we…
Become a sartorial chameleon of sorts all the while properly rising to the occasion by leaning upon the universal strengths — and general ease of wear — of aclassic navy two (or perhaps 3) piece suit (also known as the lounge suit) that is sharply cut in a slim, mid-weight (12-14oz.) Birdseye wool for most any wedding eventuality.
Capable of working wonders no matter which of the four wedding seasons is at hand, a clean-lined, ageless number such as that styled above (from Burberry) is a perennial wedding staple steeped in timeless sartorial merit.
Eminently versatile (whether deployed for day or evening affairs) and capable of fulfilling the requirements of nearly any wedding dress code (save white or black tie), it should be your sartorial port of call whenever you are in doubt as to what will be deemed acceptable or for any reception held indoors that is neither black or white tie stipulated.
Characteristically imbued with a distinguishing measure of carefree nonchalance and understated elegance, this streamlined, tonally unified look could not be easier to channel as it is likely that you may well already be in possession of many of its essential components, chiefly amongst them being a variation of its single-breasted, navy 2-piece business-inspired suit.
To that account, I'd advise weighing down said suit with that of a solid pale blue semi-spread collar dress shirt, a slim silk/gabardine blended navy blue tie, cotton/cashmere socks (in which compliment your shirt in hue), and a sleek pair of plain-toed black leather oxfords. As for applying a finishing touch, I've opted here for a conservative trio that consists of two-toned silk polka-dot pocket square, a red carnation boutonniere, and a classyminimalist black leather straped timepiece to round off this simple yet elegant sartorial outlay.
Clean, sharp and considered, it has a enduring appeal, finely tailored eloquence, and a time-tested level of security and assurance that allows it to work anywhere.
ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS: herringbone or double-breasted navy/grey suits
A gentleman's wedding attire should all but guaranteesartorial eloquence be in hand and there is no ensemble (save that of the morning suit & white tie attire) more properly suited to accomplishing such a feat then that of the black tie tuxedo (also known as the dinner jacket).
Epitomizing classic formal elegance at its (commonplace) applicational zenith, it is an ageless workhorse of heightened polish that has a well preserved spirit of aristocratic appeal and opulence tied into its strictly monochromatic underpinnings — namely rich black and midnight blue with fresh accents of white
A truly faultless prevailing vestige of refined dress, the tuxedo is something in which all men look good in and when broken down consists of the following components:
** A single or double-breasted jacket (fully canvassed) with apeak lapel or shawl collar lapels (in contrasting material…often velvet/silk/cashmere/satin); a white French-cuffed cotton dress shirt with a semispread collar (with or without a pleated front bib); a black satin bow-tie; polished patent leather black dress shoes (or velvet/tassel slippers if you prefer), ; black silk ribbed socks; and a pair of single pleated (of flat front) black tuxedo trousers with a satin stripe (with neither turn-ups nor belt loops)
When discussing (wedding) tuxedo palettes, you have essentially two options: classic black or midnight blue. The former is where the dress codes moniker is derived from and is simply timeless in its enduring appeal and endearing application (and the sole choice for many); the latter makes for a more modernly rakish selection for those with an elevated sense of fashionability (although one should inquire unto such matters if you are unsure).
Good (traditional) form would also dictate that you wear acummerbund (of which flatter the tall and slim best) as no classic black-tie look is complete sans its sleek finishing presence as well as a set ofgold or silver cufflinks and perhaps (if the desire beckons) a silk scarf in an ivory hue/subtle polka dot motif to properly round out a look that will (without question) leave a elegantly sophisticated impression upon one-and-all.
ALTERNATIVE ACCESSORY PALETTES: Deep gold, burgundy, dark green, Vatican purple
NEVER WEAR: Button-down collars, brown shoes, suited separates
For just such a laid-back (albeit formal) warm weather affair, I would personally opt for a fresh and playful formal foundation that is built upon crisp and cool whites that are contrasted by warm, varying shades of solid blue/grey as well as softer natural neutrals such as beige, stone and ecru.
Being one of the few wedding dress codes in which one can take sartorial liberties with, why not take full advantage of this wedding rarity by experimenting and mixing and matching said whites as you please with your favourite go-to summer solids and sunburnt pastels (think mint, sky blue and pale peach or pink) to craft ensembles that are both uniquely personal and dress code appropriate.
Personal styling proclivities aside, and in seeing as this is a summer (warm weather) affair, functional sensibility would also dictate that its best you give your heavy wool and cotton formal lounge suits the practical slip in favour of something lighter and eminently more breezy— which in this instance is a suit or blazer crafted from an ultra-breathable linen (7-9oz) , tropical wool, or a super-lightweight cotton (or cotton/linen blend).
Soft (unconstructed) shouldered, single-breasted, and featuring a notched lapel, a linen blend (light blue cotton jersey) fabrication, and appropriately slim and sharply tailored silhouette, this sports coat/blazer is a sartorialist's (versatile) summer wedding dream piece.
Characteristically light, comfortably airy, and undeniably charming, it works best when teamed with some fitted formal white trousers (cotton or a dress chino with a tabbed waist), a white poplin (button-down or pointed) dress shirt, and a pair of (perhaps unexpected) gentlemanly two-toned (white/brown) Spectator brogues in crafting an understatedly poignant, predominately smart-casual look with echoes of French Riviera sophistication running through its threads.
Tastefully top off the entire ensemble with a luxurious white straw panama hat and a cheeky (nuanced) touch of heritage nautical styling courtesy of both the coral-inspired boutonniere and its accompanying cotton/silk sailboat embroidered silk pocket square in order to cut the dashing figure of a gent whose sartorial credentials are beyond reproach.
Taken in as a whole entity, this is a warm weather look that will work for any destination, beach, or nautical summer wedding affair on your calendar without nary a transitional misstep along the path.
NEVER WEAR: sandals, henleys, t-shirts, or jeans (unless otherwise demanded for by themed weddings)
The summer wedding season is often one teaming with vague dress codes that allow for some degree and level of creativity both in terms of colour and fabrication.
And the simplest way to express personality/individuality is by playing with the former while highlighting the latter, which is what this ensemble does so eloquently in a very quite manner through its inclusion of aslim pink gingham (or solid) semi-spread linen/cotton dress shirt that is worn with a harmonious red polka-dot (or striped if you prefer) bow tie that really makes the pink on the shirt pop while keeping the overall look tonally subdued and not to busy so as to attract any unjust attention.
And lest I be remiss in my acute observations, carrying the whole ensemble to the next level is without question the season-ready, half-lined (which is key for warm-weather suiting), cotton chino (tan) suit that is admirably accentuated in a most becoming manner by the understated piece de resistance: the burnished brown leather horsebit loafers.
With all the sartorial fixings of a true southern gentleman in hand, round out the look with a completely appropriate and very charming — as well as heat regulating — woven cotton trilby (or alternatively a porkpie if you prefer), a summer-friendly silk polka dot pocket square, an earthy boutonniere, and a gold-toned distressed leather straped watch.
In its entirety this look embodies the spirit of a sophisticated southern gentleman, albeit with the heightened allure of structured wedding formality to elevate it to the festive occasion. All-in-all, it can be a dependable staple ensemble that will pay dividends in any gent's smart summer wedding rotation.
ALTERNATIVE SUITING: A rakishly suppleseersucker suit if you are daring enough
If a wedding at a grand country manor estate or exclusive country club beckons aim to go a touch above and beyond the usual wedding suspects (solid navy blue & greys) by dipping into the regal checked pattern domain with this smart separate pairing of a charming navy heritage windowpane checked blazer alongside a solid foundation of light grey heather grey flannel trousers and that of a sky blue Bengal striped contrast collared dress shirt (cotton).
Tack on the natty elegance of a richly textured pair of midnight-blue suede loafers replete with rakish red leather tassels (which may seem polarizing but are a cinch to pull off given you have the gravitas to do so) to make a tasteful sartorial statement while adding even further visual contrast (and height) to your look by incorporating a grey (ideally charcoal) felt hat (trilby or fedora) in conjunction with a floral/paisley pocket square in a neutral colour and a laid-back navy knitted tie to add a personal touch to the whole look.
A look surely for less formal weddings (which is most nowadays) and one in which I'd advise you should take full advantage of if presented with the opportunity.
Classic yet fresh, understated and tastefully considered — a true winner at the end of the day that is sure to please and encourage as well as illicit conversations for all the right reasons.
Sporting checked patterns to a wedding requires a confident disposition, an acquired taste, and a sensible touch that toes the line between formal and casual in just such a way that the everything stays looking polished and charming in essence but alludes to a more playful manner resting beyond the immediate surface.
In that regard, you will certainly not miss a beat in opting for a subtle grey/light blue windowpane wool (or flannel) suit for that country set (or heritage-inspired) wedding resting on your social docket.
Rooted in regal tradition, a tonally muted mid-weight wool (12-14oz) suit stands as the epitome of subtly patterned wedding formalwear elegance and is a strong departure from the safer options one is usually accustomed to crossing paths with at the average wedding (see city formal dress code above).
That said, pull it all together by off-setting its busy design with a crispwhite dress shirt and a slim light brown herringbone tie (whose mix of brown strands means that it will complement every other piece very nicely indeed) while adding some flair with a plaid pocket square, a rose gold tweed strapped timepiece, and a pair of leather double-monk strap cap-toe oxfords which combine a suitable level of formality with a bit of sartorial nonchalance in which will work to elevate your formal footwear game amidst a sea of black Oxfords.
By all accounts, what you end up with is a tasteful take on a pattern-clashing heritage look that bridges the classic with the modern; an ensemble that makes the subtlest of sartorial statements in a most becoming (and not spotlight stealing) way .
Contrarily, if a themed country wedding at a farm/mill/barn is in the cards then you could also draw sartorial inspiration from the rural set by opting for some richly textured — and gentlemanly handsome/masculine — tweed.
Either or works and will have you looking like a man whose taste, cultural awareness, and style seem near impeachable in characteristic aura.
Perplexing, infuriating, confusing…the descriptive superlatives that one could spout about are near endless in supply when he is refering to what have become quite (often) vague descriptive outlines as to what is expected of ones attire come the big event.
Having said that, dress codes are nominally intended to be — when taken at face value — helpful in removing any ambiguity as to precisely what to wear but have become rather confounding and frustrating in basic structured nature in the modern age.
Be that as it may, and in any such state of despair, a gent has essentially two options that can solve the issue:
That being said, "what do you do that when you have the faintest idea as to what “cocktail attire” is?" or "what you should wear to a traditional black-tie affair or even a casual summer wedding?" looms largest and must be addressed?
The simple answer: Simply peruse the guide above, wear a navy suit, ask the happy couple to be what it is they desire, or continue reading on below.
With that in mind, do take into consideration while further bearing in mind the following anecdotes as you dutifully prepare for any wedding…
The first step to dressing properly for any wedding lies within the formal wedding invitation as its purpose is to function as — aside from being the invite itself — an initial reference point that outlines what the dress code is as well as its wardrobing parameters. If properly fashioned and written, it should lay out the guidelines as to what is required of you — eliminating any confusion in the process — by expressly waylaying the wardrobing decisions upon you. All that should beleft to your creative fancy should be the individual personalization of (in most instances) your accentuated accessories and likely nothing more save possibly the colour and cut of your formalwear/attire. And, if you are still unsure of the dress code after reading it then — and as noted above — take it upon yourself to ask for clarification. Easy and simple…albeit so carelessly and often overlooked.
2. Add A Touch Of Personal Charm
Just because a wedding’s dress code is strict, that need not mean that you have to dispel the notion of characteristic personalization. For a gentleman this typically falls to experimenting with his accessories and nothing more. So, its best you add a touch of personal panache by incorporating a unique pocket square or a perhaps even a velvet dress slipper and not by sporting that rakish full seersucker suit you have been itching to test drive for ages. This naturally leads into the fact that you should…
3. Never Upstage the Groom (or Bride)
Your sole job as a guest is to contribute to the pomp and circumstance of a wedding by simply attending and bringing a positive (happy) disposition with you. So, dress smart, keep your conversation cordial, and do not — under any circumstances — attempt to attract any undue attention to your immediate person in any event or for any reason as you endeavour to keeping to the sidelines and the spotlight on the intended couple. Why? Because you are there to help frame (and add to) a monumental milestone event between two individuals who are an important part of your life (whether they play a polarizing role or a distant one is irrelevant).
4. Do Consider the Venue & Season (Of The Wedding)
Before deciding upon what to wear to a wedding you plan according while taking into account the venue and season at hand as each will structurally alter and fashionably dictate what is suitably appropriate for the event. For example, anything held outdoors in the spring or summer — say a country or perhaps beach wedding — will require less from you and be knocked down a peg in strict expectation in direct comparison to that of a grand formal spectacle held in a cathedral or traditional chapel. Ditto for the comparative nature of dress codes resting between that of a nautical themed wedding to be held upon a beach and a winter soiree held in the rustic countryside. Point being is that each calls for a uniquely cultivated set of formalwear essentials purposefully chosen to adhere to the needs of each variable occasion at hand.
Not to be forgotten in the shuffle —and critical to maintaining ones comfort level — is that of the season and time of year that the wedding is to take place as both will strongly dictate what type of suited fabrications you should turn your eye to. For summer it is recommended that you consider linen, cotton, tropical wools for suits and (for a tuxedo) a mohair-silk blend that all but promises to keep you looking as sharp as you comfortably feel — which is airy, fresh and sartorially astute. At the other end of the spectrum, a fine mid-weight wool suit, warming corduroy, or a hearty tweed will keep the chills at bay — and your style uncompromised — at any late fall, rustic, or winter ceremony while a resplendent velvet dinner jacket will work wonders when worn to any black-tie affair during the festive (Christmas wedding) season.
Being privy to the specific time of day in which the reception will be held will also pay dividends as different times of the day call for different forms of dress. In this regard, daytime weddings are most often more informal then that of evening ceremonies which (typically) call upon the time-tested tradition of elevated tuxedo-clad formalwear as a nonnegotiable tenet to the proper staging process. Ergo, and with staunch evening wear traditionalists in mind, this alludes to the belief that the wearing of a tuxedo before 5PM is considered a faux pas as is sporting a suit in a lighter hue that rests outside of the blue (navy) and grey palette families for any evening event.
To that account, the colour of your suit is of critical note as any wedding taking place in the evening (or indoors) requires one to (nonegotiably) sport a full three-piece suit (with vest) in a colour that befits that of the night — black, midnight blue, or (on rare occasions) white/burgundy. Contrarily, a daytime affair (and its tendency to lean upon a more smart-casual code) often allows one to tastefully experiment with a varied palette of hues ranging from dark solids and playful pastels to neutral browns (which are otherwise inappropriate for formal evening occasions) and heritage patterns given that any said option resides within the acceptable confines of the stipulated dress code (or theme of the wedding).
KEEP IN MIND: Weddings held indoors/in a chapel (whether during the day or evening) require a gent o sport a FULL SUIT and never that of smart seperates (ie. a sport coat & contrasting pants). And a tie is not optional.
6. The Merits of Simplicity
It often holds true that a man looks his absolute finest when he keeps his look plain/soid, muted in hue and classically simple rather then looking overly trendsetting or distastefully overdone or busy. In that manner, it should come of no surprise that both the traditional black tie tuxedo and crsip navy suit are quintessential failsafe wedding staples that will always win the day over that of anything avant garde or otherwise unproven. Having endured in prominence for a near century with good reason, both are most assuredly universally flattering in cut and styling, flawless in design, and capable of fitting the dress code bill to most any wedding eventuality without fault. Point being: bet on a navy suit (or black tux) when in doubt.
7. Look Sharp + Always Respect The Dress Code
A wedding is no time to sartorially dial it in nor is it an occasion to experiment with your style. On the contrary, you should endeavour to stick to the dress code at hand while having any given outfit tailored to perfection in order to maintain a certain level class before finishing it off with tasteful accentuations that appear completely in sync from head to toe.
Moreover, you should be well groomed — get a haircut a week beforehand, clip your nails, have a wet shave the morning of the wedding, and teeth whitened if you desire — and arrivie with your mental acuity intact and all your faculties churning at full capacity (i.e. do not arrive inebriated in any manner).
Why? Because showing up in a proper suit, tie, and polished shoes is the least you could do. And because ones personal idea of the capricious dictates of smart-casual is not another's…so a gent should always be dressed to impress, albeit in a well considered manner that respects the dress code set forth before him.
8. Fit Is Paramount: Get Everything Tailored & Cut To Perfection
Quite self explanatory but bears repeating nonetheless. Ultimately this means that whether our are investing in a new bespoke suit, one purchased off-the-peg, or just intend on getting an old mainstay nipped and tucked to perfection its best you give your tailor (you do have one don't you?) a ring as he alone has the power to elevate your style — and too properly accentuate your unique silhouette — to otherwise unattainable levels of sartorial eloquence with nothing but the simple magic of his two hands…all of which will be noticed and appreciated at any wedding function by any onlooker.
One would imagine that dressing for a wedding should be a rather simple, carefree and straightforward affair but the continuously evolving complexities of modern life (and all the "unique" dress codes that accompany them) often never allow that to be the case for many amongst us.
And it is with that in mind that I hope that this extensive guide on wedding style, dress codes and proper etiquette has proven useful, helped clear up any glaring concerns you may have had, or (and at the very least) provided a touch of sartorial inspiration for the next festive union resting upon your social calendar.
So, whether it be stylishly navigating through a classic black tie nuptial or perhaps a more informal summer affair, you should now be well equipped with the basic knowledge to decode some of the most common contemporary wedding dress codes erstwhile ably cutting the dashing figure of a properly cultivated modern gentleman no matter the celebratory eventuality.
: FURTHER INSPIRATION :
Just remember to dress well and enjoy yourself as it is not about you but rather about the festive occasion and pending nuptials of another who you hold near-and-dear in your heart!
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Feel free to share your thoughs and musings below if you please and I will reply in turn…
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