How To Dress For A Summer Wedding
Warm days and long nights can only mean one thing – wedding season is upon us.
When it comes to picking an outfit for a friend or relative’s big day, it’s hard for a woman to get it wrong. All she needs to do is pick a dress – typically a figure-flattering A-line number featuring this season’s must-have print – that adheres to the following guidelines: nothing white, too low-cut or short. A cardigan, courts and fascinator/wide-brimmed hat are typically added as finishing touches.
For men, it’s a totally different ball game. For decades we’ve been socialised into thinking that a dark suit, understated tie and starched white shirt should be the go-to pieces. Though this is fine, if a little predictable for a winter event, a summer do offers more opportunity to showcase your individuality.
FashionBeans’ definitive guide to dressing for different wedding ceremonies will ensure that your RSVP is sent with confidence, not dread. By planning ahead and shopping smart, you’ll save time and stress, and may even add a couple of new versatile pieces to your wardrobe…
The City Wedding
When imagining a city wedding, it’s hard not to think of the iconic moment when Prince William nervously stepped out of his Bentley by the steps of Westminster Abbey back in April 2012. Though your mate might not be marrying Kate Middleton, nor wearing a red and gold Irish Guards mounted officer’s uniform before a billion eyes, it’s still important to make an effort to create an ensemble that looks sharp and refined.
Dressing for a city service is relatively easy because you should simply be looking to transform a timeless base with more adventurous accessories. Start by selecting a classic blue or grey suit in a mid-weight material – this type of fabric offers versatility that lighter versions can’t. A subtle checked version is not out of the question, so long as it doesn’t make too much of a statement – you don’t want to overshadow the groom’s big day. However, leave pinstripes for the office.
Key brands to consider include the usual mid-priced go-tos – Suitsupply, Reiss, Charles Tyrwhitt, T.M.Lewin and J.Crew – along with a couple of high street names: M&S and Next. The craftsmanship and quality of the fabric for the price is often unbeatable (try Marks’ Savile Row-inspired collection), while a good tailor will take care of any final alterations.
The jacket can be left off if the venue’s uncomfortably toasty – this is where a three-piece really comes into its own – or can provide a much-appreciated extra layer if the air-con is set a little too high.
- T.m.lewin Franklin Blue Check 1-button Slim Fit Suit
- Reiss Cheshire Peak Lapel Suit Navy
- Next Blue Suit: Jacket
- J.crew Prince Of Wales Check Wool And Linen-blend Suit Jacket
- Grey Canning Glen Check Slim Fit Business Suit
- La Spalla Blue Plain
- Pure New Wool 2 Button Checked Suit Including Waistcoat
- Reiss Garda Peak Lapel Three-piece Suit Grey
- Reiss Hector Two-piece Check Suit Grey
Stick to long-sleeved cotton Oxford or poplin shirts. White is completely timeless and can be matched with any colour tie, but for a subtle burst of colour, try a sky blue, pink, mint green or lavender version.
A rounded collar can be a great alternative to regular pointed designs while a collar bar makes an understated and chic statement (just make sure you don’t over-accessorise your entire ensemble).
- Reiss Oxford Shirt With Collar Bar
- Minimum Oxford Shirt
- Reiss Navigator Non-stretch Poplin Shirt
- Kilgour Blue Cotton-poplin Shirt
- Daniel Hechter Lilac Poplin Shirt
- T.m.lewin London Super Fitted White Round Cutaway Collar Shirt
In terms of footwear, classic lace-up silhouettes are a fail-safe option, and the majority will already have a suitable pair they can use in their wardrobe.
If you’re in search of something different, monk-straps offer a modern alternative to Derby and Oxford styles and look just as refined when paired with sharply-cut tailoring. Try Loake, O’Keeffe, Church’s, Paul Smith and Mr Hare.
- Reiss Nash Toe Cap Oxford Shoes Dark Brown
- Rolando Sturlini Toe Cap With Brogue Detailing Shoes
- He By Mango Leather Oxford Shoes
- Churchs Tokyo Leather Monk-strap Shoes
- Reiss Foster Single Monk Strap Shoes Ox Blood
- Okeeffe Manach Hand-polished Leather Monk-strap Shoes
The Finishing Touches
When it comes to your choice of tie, feel free to experiment with both colour and pattern – this is where you can really individualise your look from the rest of the guests.
Our guide to shirt and tie combinations will ensure your colour matching is on point, while brands such as T.M.Lewin, Reiss, Drakes, Marwood London, Brooks Brothers and Charvet offer a selection of high quality contemporary ties that will slot straight into your formal wardrobe.
Finish this polished ensemble off with a natty pocket square in a nonchalant puff fold, which is more playful than square or point folds and subconsciously shows you have come to celebrate.
- Reiss Abyss Chain Print Silk Pocket Square Cherry
- Drakes Printed Cotton Pocket Square
- He By Mango Printed Pocket Square
- Marwood Patterned Woven-silk Tie
- Drakes Patterned Silk Tie
- Reiss Dino Polka Dot Jacquard Silk Tie Pink
The Country Wedding
Fruit-filled jugs of Pimm’s, the smell of a suckling pig roasting above a glowing open fire and uninterrupted views of rolling hills are just some of the many perks of being invited to a wedding in the British countryside. Be it in Kent, the Lake District or Cotswolds, services and receptions held in idyllic locations like these tend to have a more relaxed feel, meaning a suit isn’t necessarily required.
Blazers and sports coats achieve the right balance between smart and casual and will provide warmth long after the late afternoon sun has gone down. Block shades of blue, burgundy or cream are undeniably dapper and can be incorporated into any smart-casual wardrobe after the big day.
For a heritage feel, consider Earth tones, herringbone/check styles or, if the weather is inclement, a tweed-blend version.
- Asos Slim Fit Blazer In Cotton
- Topman Premium Navy Checked Tweed Suit Jacket
- Topman Teal Textured Blazer
- River Island Light Brown Herringbone Blazer
- Topman Brown Twist Donegal Blazer
- River Island Brown Animal Collar Pin Wool Blazer
- New Look Charcoal Check Wool Blazer
- Reiss Brookville B Crosshatch Weave Blazer Red
- Gucci Dylan 60s Two-button Blazer 181960
If you’re planning to make a statement on top, be advised that legwear should remain neutral. Tailored trousers and well-cut chinos in a navy or beige hues are rural wedding-appropriate choices that will help anchor any statement jacket.
Recommended brands include Massimo Dutti, Suitsupply, Reiss, Jaeger and Jigsaw:
- He By Mango Classic-fit Suit Trousers
- Incotex Slim-fit Herringbone Cotton-blend Trousers
- Asos Skinny Fit Smart Trousers In Cotton Sateen
- Reiss Fairline T Wool Mix Formal Trousers Light Grey
- Next Brown Regular Fit Plain Front Trousers
- Reiss Aspley Lightweight Formal Trousers Stone
The Finishing Touches
Accessories can add a playful twist at this type of occasion. With belts, favour plaited or two-tone leather styles over traditional designs, with key brands including Anderson’s, HE By Mango, Paul Smith and Reiss.
Depending on how twee you’re feeling, a bow tie can also be considered instead of a tie – Marwood London, Turnbull & Asser and Ted Baker all deliver a high quality, quirky selection that are sure to help you stand out from the crowd.
- Woolfrey Plait Belt
- Andersons Brown 3.5cm Burnished Woven-leather Belt
- Corneliani Woven Leather Belt
- Turnbull & Asser Taz Polka-dot Silk Bow Tie
- Reiss Exmouth Linen Woven Tie Sage
- Brioni Knitted Silk Tie
In the unwelcome event of rain or mud, footwear ideally needs to be waterproof. Durable leather brogue boots are a solid and smart choice that ooze heritage appeal, while loafers and traditional brogues are much more appropriate when the sun is shining.
Traditional Northampton-based shoemakers are not only particularly apt for quintessential British events such as this, but they also deliver some of the finest shoes on the market. Try Grenson, Joseph Cheaney & Sons, John Lobb, Barker, Crockett & Jones and Loake.
Just remember to spritz suede shoes with a protective spray to stop the onset of unwanted marks.
- Grenson Stanley Brogues
- Grenson Stanley Suede And Pebbled Leather Wingtip Brogues
- Grenson Fred Textured-leather Brogue Boots
- Loake Mullligan – Lace-up Boots – Brown
- John Lobb Lopez Leather Penny Loafers
- Okeeffe Excalibur Suede Tassel Loafers
The Wedding Abroad
Thanks to our rather unpredictable and often depressing climate, there’s been a rise in the number of couples ditching the UK to tie the knot abroad.
Promising hours of sunshine and a laid-back atmosphere, it comes as no surprise that places such as the South of France, Croatia and Italy have all become popular wedding destinations. Careful planning beforehand is advisable though – it’s highly unlikely you’ll find a Zara in an ancient town when you realise you’ve left something at home.
A humid climate calls for shirts made of a lightweight linen or cotton-blends. White is advisable for many reasons: it’s smart, offers the possibility of making a statement with other items of clothing, doesn’t show creases as badly as darker shades and, perhaps most importantly, will keep you cooler in the midday sun.
- Reiss Drone Linen Short Sleeve Shirt White
- Uniqlo Men Premium Linen Long Sleeve Shirt
- Faconnable Linen Shirt
Heavily present at Hackett, Richard James, Spencer Hart and Hentsch Man’s London Collections: Men SS14 presentations, it’s clear colourful chinos are going to be big news this summer. Is there a better time for embracing the trend than during a jolly overseas? From mint green and sunshine yellow to soft lavender and duck egg blue, it’s impossible to find a pair that doesn’t pair well with a white shirt.
Key labels to consider include affordable trend-led brands such as Topman, ASOS and River Island, along with preppy specialists like Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and J.Crew.
- Topman Auburn Orange Skinny Chinos
- River Island Red Skinny Chino Trousers
- J.crew Broken In Slim-fit Brushed-cotton Chinos
- Reiss Sunset Relaxed-fit Trousers Mint
- Asos Slim Chinos
- Asos Skinny Chinos
Weather permitting, you could potentially add a breathable linen or cotton-blend blazer into the mix. Again, with such a statement bottom half it is important to use your jacket as an anchor.
All-white looks and neutral palettes are trending for SS14, which means shades of cream and off-white can be used to great effect, while light blue and grey will slot seamlessly into any warm-weather wardrobe.
Key brands for lightweight blazers include UNIQLO, HE By Mango, Austin Reed, Reiss and Suitsupply.
- He By Mango Cotton Canvas Blazer
- Uniqlo Men Cord Lane Slim Fit Jacket
- He By Mango Herringbone Linen Blazer
- He By Mango Washed Cotton Blazer
- Uniqlo Men Linen Cotton Slim Fit Jacket
- Reiss Nassau B Three Button Textured Blazer Light Blue
Sunglasses are a staple on any sunny break but play it safe for the drinks reception after the vows have been exchanged – ageless aviator frames won’t command unwanted attention. After all, it’s okay to hide a hangover behind plastic-rimmed Cutler & Gross shades at breakfast the following morning.
- Ray-ban Aviator Sunglasses
- L.g.r Massawa Acetate Aviator Sunglasses
- Ray-ban Liteforce Polarised Aviator Sunglasses
- Illesteva Leonard 2 Blue Sunglasses
- Cutler And Gross Round-frame Acetate Sunglasses
- Thierry Lasry Mastery Acetate Sunglasses 191788
Research the venue before making a final decision on footwear. Suede loafers or drivers will make strolling across cobbles comfortable with their strong rubber soles, while deck shoes and espadrilles (opt for a luxe pair) have long been associated with sandy beachside surfaces.
Consider Sperry, Tod’s, Car Shoe, Castaner, Rivieras, Ted Baker and ALDO.
- Sperry Top-sider Authentic Original Suede Boat Shoes
- Sperry Topsider Canvas Boat Shoes
- Rivieras Rubber-soled Raffia Slip-on Shoes
- Tods Gommino Suede Driving Shoes
- Asos Tassel Loafers In Suede
- He By Mango Contrast Sole Suede Loafers
When dressing for any wedding it’s important to bear in mind the location, weather and dress code. You want to appear well-dressed and understated, rather than trying your utmost to steal attention away from the bride and groom. After all, good manners and social decorum are both key components of the modern gentleman.
Make sure you let us know what type of weddings you will be attending this year and the outfits you are considering wearing to them in the comments section…