What’s Appropriate Attire For A Male Wedding Guest?

When you’re attending a wedding as a guest, there are a few do’s and don’ts to look out for. It can all depend on the theme of the wedding, whether it’s a super formal black-tie event or you’ll be sporting casual wedding attire for men. We know that it can be a little confusing to choose between a tuxedo and suit; furthermore, you have to choose between colors, fabrics, patterns and accessories too.  That’s why we’re going to loop you in on exactly what you should wear for the type of wedding you’ll be attending. Whether it’s formal, cocktail or casual, we’re going to put those nerves to rest and ensure you show up looking like a million bucks. 

Black Tie Guest Wedding Attire

Black Tie Guest Wedding Attire
Photo by Victor Rodvang on Unsplash

If the invitation has shown up and your doorstep and it states “black tie” as the dress code, then it’s time to whip out the dressy attire for a day of James Bond swagger. There are still timeless elements of black-tie attire but over the years, certain components have been chopped and changed to provide a modern look.  Let’s take a look at what you should and shouldn’t be doing to avoid a major fashion faux pas. Here’s what you should wear:

  • Black or blue tuxedo: Make sure that you show up rocking either a black or midnight blue tuxedo and if you have to wear another color, try to keep it as lowkey and dark as possible for a wedding. 
  • The right shirt: A collared dress shirt is essential for the black-tie dress code. Under no circumstances should you wear a tee or polo shirt. Go with a classic white collared dress shirt or spice things up a bit and opt for a different colored shirt. 
  • Black leather or patent leather shoes: casual shoes like sneakers, tennis shoes and even boat shoes are a flat out no for a black-tie wedding. Stick to the classics like black patent leather, leather, loafers and even a good pair of suede oxfords. 

What not to do: 

  • Wear light-colored jackets: Showstopping tux jackets and should rightly be reserved for the groom and sometimes even the groomsmen. 
  • Wear florals: That means no floral shirts but most importantly no floral boutonniere because that should be for the groom and his groomsmen. Throw on a stylish tie clip or lapel pin instead.  
  • The most: That’s right, don’t be so extra that you attempt to out-do the bride and groom. It’s their special day, keep it classy, clean and sophisticated by staying in your lane. 

Formal Wedding Attire 

Formal Wedding Attire
Photo by Kats Weil on Unsplash

Photo by Kats Weil on Unsplash When wearing formal wedding attire, the main difference is that you’re not required to wear a tux, like you would for a black-tie dress code.  What to wear: 

  • Dark suits and tuxedos: When that invitation drops and it’s formal wedding attire, you can wear a tux or a dark suit. We suggest suits in black, navy blue, dark grey and even a very dark green suit. 
  • The right tie: A black bow tie isn’t mandatory like it is with a black-tie dress code. Instead, you can choose from a skinny necktie or even a different colored bow tie. 
  • Collared dress shirt: Just like black-tie attire, you need to rock up to the wedding in a collared dress shirt. Feel free to experiment with pastel colors for summer and plaid patterns for a different effect but steer clear of tees and polos. 

Things to avoid: 

  • Mixing and matching suits: For formal wedding attire, you should wear matching suit jackets and pants. The only exception here is if you want to wear a different colored or patterned vest.
  • Casual shoes: Dress shoes are an absolute must for formal wedding attire. 

Cocktail Wedding Attire

If you’ve been invited to a wedding and the invitation states cocktail wedding attire, you can dress down a little and sport more of a chic look. It’s still a wedding, so you don’t want to completely dress down.  What you should wear: 

  • A suit: A tux isn’t required because it’s semi-formal attire but you should definitely still wear a suit. For cocktail attire, we suggest wearing sports jackets, navy blazers and during the summer months, it’s okay to go with lighter colored jackets. 
  • Accessories and gadgets: Oh, that’s right, it’s time to whip out the gadgets and accessories. Feel free to show off your rosewood beads, lapel pins, flamboyant pocket square and sophisticated watch. 

What not to wear: 

  • Jeans: Depending on how lenient the bride and groom are with their Cocktail Wedding dress code could mean that jeans are ruled out. Usually, jeans are not considered cocktail dress and should be saved for more casual events.
  • Black-tie attire: That rules out wearing a tuxedo; a suit will work here and there’s no need to be overly fancy. 

Casual Wedding Attire for Men

The name pretty much gives it away, casual wedding attire for men means that dressing down is acceptable. However, as a sophisticated gentleman, there are still certain limits that you should be mindful of when attending a wedding with a casual dress code.  Here’s what casual clothing you should wear: 

  • Smart pants: They don’t have to be super dressy pants but it doesn’t hurt to wear chinos, slacks or suit pants. If the weather is a little warmer out, don’t be afraid to go with linen trousers. 
  • A splash of color: Feel free to ramp up your outfit by adding pops of color, especially in the spring and summer months. 
  • Patterned shirts: shirts with patterns like check, plaid and stripes should be rocked for a casual wedding. The addition of a shirt with a pattern can make or break an outfit. 

What not to wear: 

  • Tees: The dress code might be casual but a tee is completely out of the equation. Go for a polo shirt or in a warmer climate, go for a loose-fitting cotton shirt.
  • Neckties: There’s no need to wear a necktie unless specifically told to wear one by the groom. Keeping it casual means you can go open-collar and in warmer climates, you’ll most likely want to keep your collar as open as possible. 
  • Flip-flops and sandals: If it’s a wedding on the beach, you can probably get away with flip-flops and sandals but if not, stick to Oxfords, Derbys, double monk strap shoes or loafers.

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