Rhyming aside, many men wonder what is appropriate to wear to a wedding as a guest.

And with good reason.  There is a lot of ambiguity when it comes to guest wedding attire, and many men feel a bit lost in the fashion woods about what to wear.   In some cases the invitation will give you specifics, but more common are the following Dress Codewords to be your guide.

“White Tie” (God forbid) you will be renting (likely the only time in your life you will wear it) a black jacket with “tails” and all the trimmings – white vest, bow tie. Black patent shoes.  Just pick the very best rental place you can find, and insist on tailoring to make it fit you optimally.

“Black Tie” (more common for formal evening weddings) you should BUY (not rent, because this is not high school) a black tuxedo worn with a white tux shirt (this is the one with studs) and optional cummerbund.  Black patent shoes are preferred, but possibly very black, very polished, very un-embellished black dress shoes.

“Formal Attire” or “Black Tie Optional”.  This is how the Bride and Groom let you know the wedding party will be in Tux’s but you don’t have to.  It is still a request to come in your “Sunday best” however.  You may wear a dark suit, white shirt and small patterned tie.  Black leather dress shoes.

“Cocktail Attire” allows for more leeway in your suit – yes, still a suit, but you can wear lighter colors like a Pearl Grey, or a higher Chroma of Blue, or even a small pattern.   Wear a tie, that you probably can take off later.  Brown or Black shoes. Evening events lean toward darker colors, daytime lean toward lighter.

“Semi-Formal” or “Dressy Casual”  allows for more creativity, but both the words Formal and Dressy remind you not to think you can sneak on a tee under your jacket, or dark jeans or Converse.  This designation allows for the option of a suit in most hues and patterns, ditto the shirt, as well as a sportcoat and coordinating dress slacks.  Shoes may be brown, or English Tan.

“Casual” or “Daytime” is your license to wear comfortable casual clothing that is somewhat upscale.  You may even see the words “Smart Casual” to indicate the same thing.  I think every man should own a casual styled blazer, and this would be the time to wear it with dark denim and a patterned shirt.

“Beach Formal” or “Garden Party” requires the purchase (if you don’t own one) of a summer suit.  This would be a linen or cotton blend jacket and trousers in a light weight, and light colored fabric.  Wear a tie (maybe a Vineyard Vine type?) to the wedding, do a quick assessment of the crowd and likely take it off.  No harm in being respectful and erring on the side of formality.  Shoes should be lighter color as well.  Consider your sunglasses, might be time for a new upscale pair?

Your final clues will come from the invitation.  Look at the formality of the invitation, the paper, the font. Does the invitation look and feel like something sent out by the House of Windsor, or printed at Kinko’s?  Second, is the time of day; evening is more formal than daytime.  And third is your knowledge of the couple themselves.  Will they be hoping everyone will dress to impress, or are they quite laid back and just want to party.

PS.  Don’t forget, this is your moment to wear your best watch.  And your French Cuff Shirt with cufflinks!  Have fun with it!

Any questions?  Text me a picture of the invite – I’d be happy to steer you in the right direction!

Ann Lindsay is Suited for Love 

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