Wedding Attire For Men

Deciding what to wear to a wedding can be stressful, especially if you don’t know the proper etiquette. The good news is that you probably already own some or most of the items you need. If not, there are a ton of places to buy or rent from, and breaking down the dress code is the first step to figuring out the perfect attire. Here’s a guide on what to look for in each scenario.

Follow the Dress Code

Most wedding invitations include a dress code for the event—from fancy white tie to casual. If you’re not 100% sure, it’s better to be overdressed instead of underdressed. Let’s break down each category to get a better idea of what to expect.

White Tie Tuxedo by DobellWhite Tie Tuxedo by Dobell ($574 on Dobell)

White Tie

We’re talking the fanciest of fancy here: an evening tailcoat, trousers, and a literal white tie (typically a bow tie). Imagine a tuxedo but even fancier to elevate the drama.

Your accessories should all be white as well: bow tie, vest, wing-collared shirt. Patent leather shoes are also a must. Add some cufflinks and studs and you’re ready to go.

Shawl Collar Tuxedo by The Black TuxShawl Collar Tuxedo by The Black Tux ($149 to rent on The Black Tux)

Black Tie

A step down from white tie is black tie. It’s also very formal, and a tuxedo is required here as well. A black bow tie is best for this dapper look, plus a waistcoat or cummerbund. Finish the look with dark, polished shoes and black dress socks.

Notch Lapel Black Label Slim Fit Tuxedo by Joseph AbboudNotch Lapel Black Label Slim Fit Tuxedo by Joseph Abboud ($599 on Men’s Warehouse)

Black Tie Optional

Still high on the formal dress code list is black tie optional. The name says it all—you can go as fancy as black tie or go with a super-formal suit.

Dark colors are your friend here: navy, gray, and of course black. Just remember that some guests may go to the black-tie level, so it’s up to you if you want to follow suit.

Mid Grey Lazio Suit by Suit SupplyMid Grey Lazio Suit by Suit Supply ($399 on Suit Supply)

Semi Formal

Now we’re heading into a less dressy category, the semiformal. You don’t have to wear a tuxedo, but a suit is a must. A collared shirt with a tie is also highly recommended. If you’re anti-tie, a pocket square can up the ante.

Super Skinny Pique Jersey Blazer by ASOSSuper Skinny Pique Jersey Blazer by ASOS ($64 on ASOS)

Cocktail

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere! Cocktail attire is in between casual daywear and formal evening wear. A suit is recommended, but it doesn’t have to fully match. Play up your look with nice trousers and a different color blazer.

A collared shirt fits best here as well, and you can finally lose the tie. Lace-up shoes or loafers are perfect and avoid sneakers, even if they seem dressy to you.

Slim-Fit Shirt by Hugo BossSlim-Fit Shirt by Hugo Boss ($148 on Macy’s)

Dressy Casual

Another combination of two dress codes is dressy casual attire. Think of what you’d wear to church or in the office.

Shorts and sneakers are still a no, even if they’re a nicer brand or style. Again, a suit or tie aren’t required but a blazer or a nice button-down shirt works fine here.

Men’s Plaid Button-Up Shirt by WranglerMen’s Plaid Button-Up Shirt by Wrangler ($20 on Wrangler)

Casual

We’ve reached the lowest level of formality, but casual still has a few guidelines. We’re still not going to wear shorts, but you can wear nice, darker jeans or khakis.

A button-down or polo works fine as a shirt, and a sport coat is optional. Avoid tennis shoes, but nicer sneakers would be okay to wear. Think relaxed, but not frumpy.

Men walking together outsideCourtesy: hollomen.com

No Dress Code? Consider These Factors

  • Where is the venue (beach, church, garden, barn, etc.)? Each of these locations can still host formal to casual weddings. Laid-back weddings on the beach or in a barn tend to lean towards casual or dressy casual: think a linen suit for the beach or jeans and cowboy boots for the barn.

A church or garden wedding would be a bit dressier; a nice suit with or without a tie should work. Again, if you’re not sure which way to lean, it’s better to dress up than dress down.

  • What season is it? Seasonality definitely plays a factor into what type of attire to wear. Spring and Summer weddings tend to lean towards the dressy casual and cocktail attire. Breathable, lightweight fabrics like cotton, linen and rayon are best.

Fall and Winter weddings are typically more semi formal to formal. Dark colors and warmer fabrics like wool are the way to go.

  • What time is the wedding? Unless the bride and groom specify, this one’s pretty easy to figure out. Daytime weddings are traditionally more casual to dressy-casual, and late evening weddings are more formal.

If the wedding is late afternoon to early evening, cocktail to semi formal attire is your best bet.

  • What’s the wedding theme? Some themes might include nautical, rustic, country, or costume. The theme doesn’t necessarily mean you need to dress to match, but hopefully, a dress code will be provided if you do.

Overall, go with your gut if a dress code isn’t provided. Check out the wedding website or invitation to try and determine the best direction. If you’re still concerned, it’s okay to reach out to the bride and groom to confirm or clarify.

Men's suits hanging in a rowCourtesy: makespace.com

Other Tips

Here are some additional things to consider when planning your wedding guest attire:

  • Nail the fit. Make sure nothing is too tight or too loose. Check the length of your shirt, jacket, and pants. You may need to wear a belt for a better fit. If so, match the color of your shoes.
  • Accessories for men are just as important as they are for women. For a formal wedding, cufflinks and pocket squares are recommended. You can fold your pocket square however you’d like, just make sure a small portion of the fold is showing. If you do wear cufflinks, look for a French cuff shirt. A classic wristwatch is a nice touch as well!
  • When in doubt, choose a white dress shirt. White goes with everything, but be sure to load up the deodorant to avoid sweat stains. Also, make sure the fabric isn’t too thin or tight—you shouldn’t be able to see your undershirt.
  • Don’t experiment with a multi-colored tie or loud pattern. It’s not the place to make a radical fashion statement. Now’s a good time to learn how to properly tie a tie, if you don’t already know how.
  • Don’t upstage the groom or groomsmen. Remember, you’re a guest, not part of the wedding party. Let them shine.
  • Don’t match your date—this isn’t prom. She’s going to look her best no matter what the dress code is, so let her have her moment.
  • Buy or rent early. By shopping early you’ll save money, avoid last-minute stress, and have more time to try things on. This leaves time to exchange or return anything that doesn’t work out.
OnceWed.com

About OnceWed.com

Once Wed was launched in March 2008 to meet a need in the marketplace for an online listing service for second-hand wedding dresses. Within a short time, the company had developed into an online wedding publication and resource to provide newly-engaged brides with inspiration and tools to plan their dream wedding. 

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