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What to wear when you’re a guest at a wedding – men’s style tips

Your calendar might be starting to fill up with wedding parties. What to wear when you’re a guest? A suit and tie will never be out of place at a wedding, but if you want to look your best and dress appropriately for the season and the wedding, we decipher the dress code for you.

Black or white tie

If the wedding is black tie, that only means one thing – tuxedo. Now, a tuxedo is not another word for a black suit. You could rent a tuxedo, or you could have the exquisite experience of having one made just for you. If you have more than one black tie event a year, it’s certainly worth considering. A matching black bow tie and perfectly polished black shoes are a must, and a white pocket square, cummerbund and vest are optional.

If the invite says black tie optional, that gives you a bit more wiggle room: tuxedo is not a must, but you need to be as formal as possible without having to buy a tuxedo if you don’t already have one.

If you’re lucky enough to be invited to a white tie wedding, this is the kind of event that royals attend, so you must wear your tails, a white pique vest and a white bow tie. And don’t forget the gloves. Now you’re ready for the white tie wedding.

Cocktail

Cocktail as the dress code is an invitation to bring some of your own signature style to your outfit. Have fun, in other words. You could mix and match your trousers and blazer. You still need to wear a shirt, but could do away with the tie. Add some colour, but keep in mind cocktail is an evening theme, so keep it reasonably dark. Match it all with a pair of polished lace-ups or, if you must, a loafer.

Semi-formal

For a semi-formal dress code, you can’t go wrong with a navy blue suit, a subtle patterned shirt and a tastefully printed tie. A pocket square can add a touch of style to the whole outfit. Cufflinks? Yes, weddings are the perfect occasions to bring out your best cufflinks to light.

Smart casual

This has become a very popular dress code for all sorts of events, but in the context of a wedding, taking the style factor up a notch is a good idea. Don’t wear the smart casual you would take to a conference. Take a risk, have some fun, inject a good dose of style to your smart casual – you won’t regret it. A good outfit not only gives you confidence, makes you look great, but it’s also a treat for the whole wedding party to enjoy.

Casual

Even if the invite says casual or informal, don’t reach for your birkenstocks just yet. Weddings are still very special occasions, and casual in this context might not mean what you think. Make an effort to look your best – the general rule is that it’s always better to be a little bit overdressed.

Destination wedding

If you’re having to travel (generally to a beach destination) to a wedding, you still need to dress your best, but keep the terrain, generally sand, in mind. Wear light colours and fabrics, linen and breezy cottons, and shoes that you can wear without socks. An unconstructed linen suit like the one this Zink and Sons client is wearing would make a great (not to mention comfortable) option. Spritz it all up with a tasteful stylish tie or a pocket square, or both.

No or vague dress code

If you’re in doubt and not sure what the dress code means (if the couple got really creative with their invites), or there just isn’t a dress code, then rest assured traditional dress codes still apply. Match your outfit to the location and the time of the day: light or bright linens for a daytime outdoor wedding, dark colours with a fun pocket square to an evening wedding.

Be a good guest

Guests can really make a wedding, so make sure you not only look your best, but you also bring a great attitude to help celebrate the day in the best possible way. As a guest, you have been chosen to share the milestone with the couple, and you have a responsibility to support them and their family in starting their life together with an unforgettable event.

Quick tips

Beyond the dress code, here are some other things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t wear black
  • Make sure that whatever you chose to wear, it fits you to perfection
  • Everything you wear should be in impeccable condition.

If you don’t have your outfit sorted for the weddings coming up in your calendar, come and see us at the Oxford Street shop for some ideas and we’ll be glad to help you.

* The top image features one of our clients in a made-for-him velvet tuxedo in our Oxford Street shop.

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