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Decoding the Dress Code: What to Wear to a Wedding

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What to Wear to a Wedding - Decoding the Dress Code

It’s the time of year when your mailbox starts to fill up with invitations to weddings. If you’re wondering what to wear to a wedding, you’re not alone. For a lot of guys dressing up is an activity that is reserved for going to work or a job interview or going to court or some other daunting occasion. Attending a wedding is one of the few times you get to dress to the nines to celebrate.

At first, it sounds good, but then the dread sets in. You saved the date and now your buddy’s wedding is fast approaching. You’ve secured a date to bring to the wedding, you’ve chosen the chicken or the fish from the reception menu, you’ve gotten the happy couple a gift and you’re all set to go. Except you still don’t know what to wear to a wedding. You look at your closet and no wedding suits jump out at you.

What is usually a simple task—picking out what you’re going to wear—now seems like the most complicated challenge of your life. Does this go with that? Will it all match? Am I committing any fashion faux pas? Will I be comfortable in this? Will this draw too much attention to my rather rusty moves when I hit the dance floor at the reception? Suddenly, what was supposed to be a fun time has become a terrifying set of decisions about what to wear to a wedding.

We’re here to help you take the teeth out of this monster. You’ll find plenty on the pages of The Compass to guide you through putting together the best outfit. But before you worry about making sure the items of your outfit match each other, make sure your outfit matches the wedding dress code.

Any wedding invitation worth its weight in salt will include a dress code intended to guide you on what to wear. But the phrases used on invitations aren’t always that helpful. Here’s how to decode the wedding dress code:

What to Wear to a Black Tie Wedding

Getting a black tie wedding invitation is like getting the teacher’s edition of the textbook. You’ve got all the answers right in front of you. You don’t have to wonder what kind of getup to wear. Your choices are narrowed significantly. You can rent a wedding tux, and look like you’re the kind of guy who wears other people’s clothes. Or you could get yourself a tuxedo (and stamp your ticket to Grown Man City). If you choose the latter (and we believe you should choose the latter even if you don’t get a wedding tuxedo from us), it doesn’t get more traditionally classy than a Black Peak Lapel Tuxedo that fits you like a dream. Not only is this a great wedding tuxedo, but it’ll work for any black tie event.

What to Wear to a Black Tie Wedding

What to Wear to a Black Tie Optional Wedding

This is, perhaps, the most versatile kind of invitation for the stylish man. The hosts are essentially saying “smoke ‘em if you got ‘em,” to all of the tuxedo owners out there receiving the invitation. On the flip side, if you’re lacking in the tux department, you can wear a your sharpest suit and tie combination and you’ll be good to go. In the spirit of a loosened up black tie look, we suggest going with a dinner jacket and formal trousers combination for a black tie optional wedding. This combo not only looks great, but it also pretty much ensures that you won’t be wearing the same thing as the groom or groomsmen (who will likely be in full tuxedos).

What to Wear to a Black Tie Optional Wedding


What to Wear to a Cocktail Attire Wedding

Cocktail attire, also known as semi-formal, means wedding suits and ties are appropriate. What are wedding suits? Perhaps they’re easier to define by what they aren’t. Wedding suits aren’t business suits. So put away the dark pinstripes and banker suits. You’re not going to a board meeting. Instead opt for a suit that’s a little lighter, if it’s a daytime wedding, or one that’s dark but has a subtle touch of sheen if it’s an evening affair. That’s why we love sharkskin for wedding suits. This medium gray one works day and night and always looks sharp.

What to Wear to a Cocktail Attire Wedding

What to Wear to A Beach Wedding

Lots of beach weddings are pretty casual affairs. For those, consider the casual wedding look below. But as beach/destination weddings become more popular, the words “beach formal” are starting to show up on wedding invitations. That means a suit and tie are still appropriate. But don’t sweat it…literally. Wear a lightweight wool/linen combo to for the ultimate in warm weather style. We like a light khaki suit for this look because it says summer without being too casual.
What to Wear to a Beach Wedding


What to Wear to A Rustic Wedding

A country wedding, also known as a rustic wedding, may not seem like the kind of place where you would find a lot of “wedding suits” but a suit may be just what the doctor ordered. The trick is to go a little more rugged with a tougher fabric like this Tobacco Brown that’s infused with linen. This color, with it’s rich and earthy tone, is right at home in the kinds of quaint country environments that many couples are choosing to exchange vows in these days.

What to Wear to a Rustic Wedding

What to Wear to A Casual Wedding

You may read “casual” and think anything goes, but deep down you know that’s not the case. You wouldn’t show up in, say, ripped jeans, a T-shirt and a baseball cap. Casual, when it comes to a wedding means you can skip the full suit but you should still be in a collared shirt and a pair of neutral chinos that fit well. You can skip the tie (and the socks too if it’s warm enough) but we suggest you wear a blazer, like this light blue one, to add some color to your look.

What to Wear to a Casual Wedding

We’ve got your back…

Still not sure what to wear to a wedding? Are you attending a wedding with a dress code we haven’t covered here?

If you’d like more one-on-one advice about what to wear to a wedding, the Black Lapel stylists can make personal recommendations and, if necessary, guide you through the process of choosing and getting a custom made outfit.

Email us at concierge@blacklapel.com.
And, as always, to discuss this article just leave a comment below.

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