It can be tricky to know what to wear to a wedding as a guest because the meaning of certain dress codes change overtime. I’m going to take you through the stylish ways to dress for a wedding, that'll make other guests jealous of you.
1. Smart Casual or Beach Casual
When you’re jetting off to a wedding, you’re most likely going somewhere warm. Smart casual or beach casual is the most appropriate for this type of wedding. You still want to look well put together so I suggest wearing suit separates to the wedding. Go for slim fits which will make you look neater. You could wear a pair of navy dress trousers with a grey linen blazer and a light blue dress shirt or Oxford shirt. A vertically striped shirt, like the one below is another option. Although, I’d add a navy or grey blazer to the look.
Just remember to tuck the shirt in. Linen is a great fabric to keep you cool so keep it mind when choosing blazers, shirts and trousers for weddings away. Cotton and silk tie blends look great in warm weather if you choose to wear a tie. You can make your look more formal by adding a cotton or linen pocket square which should complement your tie (if you’re wearing one) and shirt. A linen or cotton suit is also appropriate and can be worn with a lightweight cotton dress shirt or Oxford shirt.
Brown loafers are a great option for keeping your feet cool, while still looking smart, I’d recommend a suede pair. It’s up to you whether or not you want to go for a pair with tassels or not. Wear the loafers with invisible socks if it's very warm to avoid smelly feet. I’d recommend SuitSupply as it has a plethora of trousers, shirts and blazers to choice from that would be perfect for a wedding in the sun.
Go for a wool suit during colder months as it’ll keep you warm as apposed to a cotton suit, which is more appropriate for cooler months. I’d choose a shade of navy, black or grey as you don’t want to go over the top as it’ll look like you’re trying to upstage the bride and groom. Don’t be that guy. If you choose to wear a pinstripe suit, make sure the stripes are toned down because you don’t want to look like you came straight from a meeting. A peaked lapel jacket would be more appropriate than a notch lapel as its more formal.
A double breasted waistcoat, like the one below is formal enough for the occasion and if you get to warm you’ll still look smart without the jacket. White is the best option for shirt colours as it’ll go with black, navy or grey suits. Light blue is another solid option. Your waistcoat should cover your trouser's waistband and should fit comfortably on you, with no ruffles. If the waistcoat fits well on you the arm holes should be in line with your arm pits. Leave the bottom button of your waistcoat unfastened for stylistic purposes.
A tie is a must, silk preferably. Knitted ties can add texture to your look and always look good. Burgundy and light blue knitted ties look great with a navy suits. If you go for a patterned tie, make sure it complements your attire and isn’t too brash. A cotton or silk pocket square will make your suit look even smarter. Don’t make the mistake of matching the pattern of the pocket square with your tie. It looks awful. Make sure the colours on your tie and pocket square complement each other as well as their textures. T.M.Lewin has some nice three piece suits that are worth checking out. Black Oxford shoes are the best option for black, navy and grey suits. Burgundy Oxfords can be worn with navy suits as well. The puff fold can be seen below which is a pretty casual pocket square fold.
3. Black Tie or Formal Dress
If the dress code is formal it means black tie. Formal dress used to mean white tie and black tie used to be semi-formal but times have changed and black tie is now considered formal too. White tie is one step up from black tie but if the invite says formal stick to black tie. When dressing for a black tie wedding make sure your dress shirt has a turn down collar. Wing tip collars are only for white tie affairs. So, a bow tie is essential, don’t wear a neck tie. Your dinner/tuxedo jacket should have peak or shawl lapels made from satin which will create a contrast from the main fabric of the jacket. Obviously, go with a white tuxedo shirt and wear it with cuff links. Make sure it’s not baggy.
A white linen pocket square is essential to this look, use the Presidential fold (shown below) as it’s the most formal fold. A waistcoat is optional and if you decide to wear one, I’d advice it to be double breasted as it’s more formal than single breasted. If the dress code is, 'black tie optional', it means you can either wear a tux or go semi-formal. If you choose the semi-formal look go for a conservative suit colour like navy, black or charcoal.
A midnight blue dinner jacket is a great stylish alternative to the usual black jacket. A white dinner jacket is another option for the summer. When it comes to footwear, opt for black Oxfords, patent black ones will add extra class to your look. I’d recommend this jacket from SuitSupply. Your socks should be black, charcoal or navy and ideally be wool. They should be long enough so that they hit the start of your calf because it doesn’t look great when you see socks that are too short on someone wearing a tuxedo. You shouldn’t wear a belt with black tie, instead go for suspenders which will top the stylish and sophisticated look off.
4. Morning Dress
These type of weddings take place in the morning (surprise, surprise) and are most common in the UK. It's the most formal dress code out of the other three mentioned above. The Royal Family tend to have morning weddings and you should take inspiration from David Beckham’s attire, when he attended Harry & Megan’s wedding.
You need to wear a morning coat in either black or grey. It should have tails on it. A morning coat is different from a tailcoat as it is single breasted and only has one button on it. Tailcoats are worn for white tie events and are double breasted. The morning coat should be accompanied with a white dress shirt with a turned down collar and a double cuffs. The lapel needs to be peaked. A double breasted waistcoat should be worn with the attire. The waistcoat should be light grey if your morning coat is black, as it’ll create some contrast between the two pieces. A silk tie is essential, I’d recommend a light pink or light blue one. The Windsor knot is a formal, smart knot that reflects the occasion and should be used. Your trousers should be black or charcoal with stripes. Oxford shoes are the only appropriate shoe for the look.
I’d recommend renting a morning suit or borrowing one before buying one as the chances are you won’t get much use out of it. Marks & Spencer and Moss Bros. do however offer morning suits.
I hope this guide has helped you to get a better understanding on wedding dress codes so you'll be one of the best dressed at future nuptials, behind the bride and groom of course.