What To Wear To A Wedding

By now you probably have a stack of summer events you’ve RSVP’d to, from weddings to engagement parties, so now tough part begins, attempting to understanding that dress code and figuring out what the hell to wear. Unfortunately, we live in an age where dress codes have become more and more confusing and unnecessarily complex. But the good news is, I’m here to help you figure it all out and, more importantly, help you out with what to wear.

To begin unraveling what the hell “Beachy Vacation Casual Chic” or “Game Of Thrones-inspired forest semi-formal” really means, it’s important to think about the event and put it in context with four main types of dress code: black tie, formal, semi-formal, and casual. Once you do that, it’s as simple as can be. Stick to the four following examples and dress accordingly.

The Invite Says: Black Tie

The most formal code for obvious reasons, a black tie dress code means tuxedo only.

What To Wear: A tuxedo

This isn’t the place for a suit so embrace your James Bond moment. There are lots of tuxedo options these days, from navy to grey, but if you’re unsure, stick to the classic: black tux, white shirt, black bow tie, and white pocket square you can’t go wrong and provided everything fits properly, you’re going to look amazing.

The Invite Says: Black Tie Optional

Also Known As: Formal

This is the most common type of dress code for evening weddings and, similarly, formal events. You’ll see some people in tuxes but suits will be most common.

What To Wear: A tuxedo or dark suit

By all means, be the best-dressed man in the room and wear a tuxedo, I encourage it. But, a classic dark-colored suit, like charcoal or midnight navy, works equally well. Keep your shirt choice simple and go with white and keep the color in your tie to a minimum. Ideal combos include a white shirt with a simple black, silver, burgundy, or navy tie. I don’t really recommend a ton of patterns or colors here as it’s not really the place.

The Invite Says: Cocktail Attire, Evening Attire or Something with Formal

Also Known As: Semi-Formal

The most common type of dress code, especially for weddings and events in the afternoon or evening.

What To Wear: A suit or blazer with a tie

Depending on the time of the event (day or night) most suit and tie combinations will leave you looking like a sharp-dressed man. Charcoal, Navy, and patterned suits all work for this dress code. If it’s an afternoon or daytime event and outdoors, you could also wear a lightweight cotton suit or blazer combination, especially if it’s going to be hot. Feel free to add a pop of color or print as a personal touch if you’re feeling adventurous. A tie isn’t mandatory, but I always recommend one for events like this.

The Invite Says: Anything with “Resort”, “Beach”, “Garden Party”

Also Known As: Casual

Sure, it’s the broadest category but also potentially the biggest minefield. The most important consideration here is location and time of day. Daytime and beach events are pretty much an open field but I always say ‘dress to impress”.

What To Wear: Dressy Casual Shirts and Pants

Simple cotton, chambray, or linen shirts, chinos, and cotton dress pants work best. For a stylish touch, I recommend throwing on a silk knit tie. For an event that’s slightly more formal, say summer weddings and engagement parties or an evening event, dress up your chinos and shirt with a lightweight cotton or wool blazer and throw on a pair of loafers. You can also feel comfortable wearing all types of colors and patterns here, provided they’re appropriate for the event.

Don’t forget to check out my favorite picks from The Tie Bar to get you ready for wedding season!

Don’t forget to check out all my picks from the video!

Video Picks

Ties from The Tie Bar

Shirts from The Tie Bar

Now that you’ve got your wedding style game plan set to go, all that’s left is to brush up on a few dance moves.

How To Wear Patterned Shirts

Whether you want to level up your business casual and weekend wardrobe or complement dressy looks, the right patterned shirt can do wonders. No matter if I’m dressing my clients formally or casually, I rely on patterned dress shirts to add both style and visual interest to whatever they’re wearing, and I’m going to show you how to do it so you look great – every time.

First, a quick word on formality.  While it’s not a hard and fast rule, in a basic sense, the bigger or bolder the pattern, the less formal the shirt is. For most of you dressing casually or in business casual, you’re home free, most patterns will definitely work. But, for some of you guys that work in more formal office environments or if you’re dressing up for a fancy wedding or evening event, keep in mind that the more subtle patterns will be much more appropriate. So now that we’ve got that established, let’s get some patterns in your life.

Stripes

Stripes can come in all manner of widths, from wide (sometimes known as Bengal stripes), to medium (pencil stripe), to thin (pinstripes) and since they tend to lean a bit more conservative, they’re also an easy place to start if you’re new to the game.

How Best To Wear Striped Shirts

As a general rule, the wider the stripe, the bolder the statement, and just like matching colors, the bolder the choice, the more simply you should approach the rest of your look. For casual and business casual looks, a simple pair of chinos or dark denim is a great option.  I also like stripes when worn with solid-colored or textured suiting and under a solid v-neck sweater with dress pants, denim, or chinos.

Checks

The world of checks is a wide one, but there’s no better way to add some instant personality to your shirt arsenal than with a few carefully chosen checked shirts.  There are many different options available, but, in my opinion, the three with the most versatility and style are windowpane, tattersall, and gingham. Both windowpane and tattersall feature types of graph patterns that can range in size and thickness and gingham goes one step further with a bolder, thicker check pattern that often combines a base color like white and one other color.

How Best To Wear Checked Shirts

As with stripes, the level of statement can vary, but my go-to rule remains, keep the rest of your look simple.  Dark-colored denim, chinos, and dress pants are the ticket, and if you’re going to dress them up, I recommend solid-colored suits and solid or subtle ties. On the tie front, I think geometrically patterned ties can look a bit too matchy-matchy with checked shirts, so be wary. Protip: for a less formal tie option, try a knit tie in a solid, complementing color. The texture and slightly less formal nature of a knit tie work really well with blazers, chinos, and denim for a dressy hybrid that’s great for business casual or a dressed-down Friday.

Geometric and Floral Prints

Now more popular than ever, print shirts are a great way to add a cool, modern edge to your casual looks and even suiting and dress clothes. Small-scale geometric prints are a great place to start if you want to keep it subtle but, I definitely recommend trying a bolder floral print too, it’s an easy, fun way to add a bit of stylish personality to your vibe.

How Best To Wear Geometric and Floral Prints

The printed shirt is all about letting the shirt do the talking, so I highly recommend denim or dark chinos in navy, tan or gray, especially if you’re going with a floral print, and finish with sneakers or loafers (I like driving mocs). Don’t be afraid to dress up a printed shirt too, pair it with a slim dark suit and some penny loafers or dressy leather sneakers for formal-but-not-stuffy settings like a cocktail party, fun summer wedding or night out. For a black belt-level move, try rocking the air tie (top button buttoned, no tie).

Plaids

When you’re talking plaid shirts, usually the pattern involves multiple colors and lines/boxes and the more things happening with the pattern (color, width, etc) the better suited the plaid will be to casual dressing. Be warned, though, it’s a slippery slope to full lumberjack hipster, so chop firewood at your own risk!

How Best To Wear Plaids

Ultimately these patterns are busy, and I recommend keeping plaids casual and subtle, so try them with denim, chinos, and shorts in solid colors, and finish them with shoes like sneakers or chukka boots. You can always “turn down the volume” of a plaid by layering it under a solid-colored sweater, lightweight jacket or pairing it with a dark-colored blazer in dressier situations.

Now that you’ve got some know-how and a few tips in your pocket, have confidence and make these patterns work for you! Your shirt rotation (and your wardrobe in general) are about to get an upgrade.