So what should you be wearing to all these weddings? It can be a little hard to say. Some weddings are more formal, while others are more casual. Sometimes that one friend you always thought was the most laid-back bachelor of the bunch connects with an uptown queen, and before you know it, you receive a wedding invite in calligraphy on gilded stationery. Alternatively, maybe you know a guy who used to be a stiff, cold person until he met someone lively and warm, and you end up at their barefoot beach wedding. The point is, love is strange, and you should be prepared for anything.
In the process of figuring out what kind of wedding you are attending and, by extension, what you should be wearing, a combination of analysis, reconnaissance, and interrogation is necessary.
Analyze the wedding invite: Usually, invitations are clues to the kind of event that is being held via style and time, and if you are lucky, a clearly written dress code. If your invite is handwritten on brown paper with some twine and pine sprigs, it’s probably a more casual mountain forest type of gathering. If it is being held in the morning or early afternoon, that may also be a clue hinting at informality. If your invite is on heavy, high-quality paper with all matching stationery and an RSVP card to be mailed back, it’s likely to be a bit more of a formal occasion. Hopefully, these will come with clearly stated dress code guidelines, but if not, read on!
Run reconnaissance on the location and other invitees: Sometimes the locations speak for themselves; sometimes they don’t. When you have a sense of the setting of this event, you can better prepare for what to wear to fit in. Generally, a hotel ballroom calls for a different outfit than a backyard wedding. However, if that backyard is actually a country club golf course that has been completely booked out, you need to know so you can be ready. If further research is needed, check with other attendees what they are planning to wear. At least then, if you make a mistake, you will all be in it together.
Interrogate the person who invited you: If all else fails, you should have some connection with the people getting married or someone close to them since you were invited to this wedding. Someone will know what is appropriate and what isn’t, so find that person and ask!
These are outfits for the most casual of weddings. Chic rustic barnyards or converted industrial warehouses are places where you can relax a little. A men’s crew-neck top and a blazer with men’s jeans is a nice informal combination. Switch the jeans to chinos if you need a little more formality. If you want to go with something a little more unique, a light-colored collared shirt with a bow tie and suspenders could work really well. Patterns are welcome here. Cowboy boots may also fit right into these types of settings.
The key here is color and material. For a wedding at a beach resort, you may want to go with a cream linen men’s suit over a white collared shirt. Add a pair of sunglasses, and you will look like you belong next to the breaking waves on the private cove. If the wedding is a little more casual, or the weather is a little too hot, go with cream or khaki cotton shorts and roll up the sleeves of that white collared shirt. A brightly colored men’s blazer would also work with this combination. Boat shoes, espadrilles, or even sandals could work here to complete your outfit.
If you like the style of suspenders but need something that is a little more sophisticated, go with a waistcoat and tie. This look can range from a blue-checked collared shirt under a navy tie with a brown waistcoat or a men’s V-neck sweater vest on the informal side to a patterned, stylish addition to a pinstripe suit with a bow tie that looks like it came right out of the 1920s. Add a pair of oxfords, a cane, and a pocket watch, and you are ready to bring the Roaring ’20s to your modern wedding.
No one can forget the ultimate in culture and gentlemanly style: the tuxedo. When a wedding invitation calls for black tie, make sure you either have a tux or know where to get one. If you are borrowing or renting your tux, make sure it fits. The pants should not pool around your ankles nor show your socks while standing. You should be able to cross your arms in the blazer without tearing anything. For a slightly rakish look, forgo your men’s tie and carry your blazer, or complete the image of a wealthy aristocrat with shiny black oxfords.
When you have your wedding case solved, and your outfit is chosen, have a great time on your special occasion!