While stag weekend dress codes might range from comedy hats to cocktail dresses depending on the vibe, weddings – despite being celebratory – are slightly more sober affairs when it comes to style.
And as with all momentous occasions, there’s pressure to look your best – whether you simply don’t want to cringe when you look back at photos of the day in the future, or you fancy your chances of charming one of the wedding party.
Deciding what to wear to a wedding is reasonably straightforward if the dress code is strictly black tie, but potentially baffling if there are no such hard and fast sartorial rules.
Not to worry, we’ve compiled a go-to guide brimming with tips and outfit ideas to see your wedding style soar this summer.
Read (And Heed) The Invitation
These aren’t just pretty little pieces of paper, you know. A wedding invitation is your first clue when it comes to pulling together an on-point look for the occasion – so make sure you pore over the details and check to see if the soon to be wed couple have specified a dress code.
“The most important thing to bear in mind when attending a wedding is that you respect the dress code stated on the invitation,” says celebrity stylist Joe Ottaway. “I’d suggest erring on the smart side, too.” Mind this man’s words – his past credits include dressing Jude Law for Kate Moss and Jamie Hince’s summer wedding.
Keep It Personal
Just because a wedding’s dress code is strict, it doesn’t mean you have to shed all personality. “Whether formal or informal, you need to ensure you’re suitably dressed but still remain true to your personal style,” says Jo Harris, General Merchandise Manager for Menswear at Harrods.
Whether it’s a neatly folded printed pocket square or a contrast-soled brogue, remember to customise your look with all-important personal touches.
Never Upstage the Groom
With that said, while ‘doing you’ is sure to win you style points, you’ll want to stop short of stealing the spotlight from the main man. “The most common rule for female wedding guests is to refrain from upstaging the bride – and the same applies to men,” says Tony Cook, Menswear Editor at online luxury retail destination Farfetch.
That means no full-on morning dress for relatively informal weddings and definitely stowing away that neon pink suit for another soirée (or, perhaps more fittingly, a nightclub in Miami).
Review The Venue
And no, we’re not talking TripAdvisor. Before deciding on what to wear to a wedding, it’s worth considering where it’s taking place. For example, if it’s a beach wedding in the Bahamas you’ve got booked in the calendar, then a linen suit, white short-sleeved shirt and woven loafers worn sockless are ideal.
Not so, however, if the nuptials were scheduled for Birmingham, where a look offering more coverage would serve you better.
The Top Three Wedding Looks
Few summer weddings will require you to truss yourself up in a tux, but if you’re attending one that’s taking place in the evening rather than the afternoon, then this is a possibility.
Presuming you’re not part of the wedding party, black tie means a tuxedo. When making the call on whether to buy or hire a tux, consider whether or not you currently have the means to secure yourself something of a decent standard – you’ll definitely get good wear out of it, provided you don’t change in size dramatically.
Colour wise, you have two options: classic black or midnight blue. The former is timeless and fits the dress code exactly but the latter makes for an arguably more interesting option if you think the dress code allows it.
As for accessories, a black bow tie, cummerbund, and a pair of perfectly shined black dress shoes or velvet slippers will round the look out perfectly. Finish off with a white buttonhole pin for a subtle flourish:
- Reiss Mayfair Peak Lapel Tuxedo Black
- Austin Reed Contemporary Fit Peak Lapel Dress Jacket
- John Lewis Marcella Point-collar Classic-fit Dress Shirt White
- Austin Reed Black Self Tie Silk Bow Tie
- Austin Reed Black Silk Cummerbund
- Dunhill Silver-tone Mother Of Pearl Cufflinks
- Austin Reed Black Combination Braces
- White Pocket Square
- Dolce & Gabbana Fringed Silk-jacquard Scarf
- Rolando Sturlini Hi Shine Toe Cap Oxford Shoes
- Churchs Sovereign Embroidered Velvet Slippers
A Two- Or Three-Piece Suit
The ultimate all-rounder. For the vast majority of weddings, a two- or three-piece suit will perfectly satisfy the requirements of the dress code, and they can also be worn several times over provided you switch up your shirt and accessories.
First up, choose the right fabric. As noted previously, lightweight materials like linen, cotton and cotton-linen blends will serve you well for weddings in hotter climes, while Cool Wool and cotton-wool blend styles are preferable if the marriage is taking place somewhere where summer heat is relatively moderate.
For a versatile suit that won’t date any time soon, opt for a colour like cement grey, navy or a summery neutral such as beige or stone. For something that stands out, however, try an all-white suit or something in a richer hue like cobalt or petrol blue.
“Wedding suiting tends to follow the same trends year after year,” says Jo Harris. “However, the summer season allows for some creativity both in terms of colour and fabrication – we’re seeing a surge in interest in suiting that has flashes of colour, whether it’s contrast piping or a patterned inner lining on a blazer.”
Whether you opt for classic or contemporary, layer your suit over a crisp, freshly ironed white or sky blue shirt (long-sleeved unless it’s scorching outside) and team with a complementary coloured lightweight tie (if required), a tonal or printed pocket square and your favourite footwear silhouette – everything goes here, from driving shoes to double-monk straps.
Two-Piece Suits Lookbook
Three-Piece Suits Lookbook
- Suitsupply Lazio Light Brown Plain
- Suitsupply Madison Off White Plain
- Powder Blue Wentworth Basket Weave Slim Fit Suit
- Topman Stone Skinny Fit Suit
- He By Mango Slim-fit Cotton Poplin Suit Blazer
- River Island Suit Jacket In Slim Fit
- T.m.lewin Mills Blue Sharkskin 2-button Slim Fit Suit
- Savile Row Inspired Grey Tailored Fit Suit Including Waistcoat
- Collezione Regular Fit Linen Mix Suit Including Waistcoat
- Reiss Garda Peak Lapel Three Piece Suit Grey
- Silver Grey British Panama Slim Fit Luxury Suit
- Suitsupply Lazio Light Brown Check
For less formal weddings (which is most nowadays), take advantage of a relaxed dress code by switching up your suiting. Again, your key consideration when weighing up potential purchases for a summer wedding should be material.
After choosing your fabric, decide on colours: shades of blue and grey, from dark to light, and softer neutrals like beige, stone and ecru all mix and match well together, while pastel hues like mint, baby blue and pale yellow look great with white.
For a nautical-inspired combination, try a blue/navy single- or double-breasted blazer with a pair of trousers in white/off-white and a white shirt. Or flip the same combination on its head. “We’re seeing a lot of white double-breasted blazers,” says Joe Ottaway. “It’s important to team this with a contrasting trouser to avoid looking too Miami Vice.”
As for the finishing touches – i.e. accessories and footwear – it really depends on the look you are going for, but suffice to say, you should be leaning towards smart-casual rather than formal in this case:
- Burberry London Off-white Double-breasted Linen Blazer
- Suitsupply Washington Blue Plain
- Suitsupply Madison Light Brown Check
- He By Mango Trousers Dublin5
- Reiss Wilson T Slim-fit Tailored Trousers Stone
- Reiss Dean Micro Houndstooth Trousers Black
- He By Mango Printed Interior Cotton Blazer
- River Island Grey Linen Floral Lined Slim Blazer
- Polo Ralph Lauren Sand Slim-fit Linen Blazer
- Reiss Hampton Slim-fit Trousers Seafoam Blue
- Kin By John Lewis Jaspe Slim Fit Suit Trousers Cornflower
- Jil Sander Slim-fit Stretch-cottontrousers
- He By Mango Slim-fit Corduroy Blazer
- He By Mango Linen Blazer
- Reiss Nigel B Contrast Weave Blazer Rose
- Uniqlo Men Slim Fit Chino Flat Front Trousers
- Reiss Shannon T Slim-fit Tailored Trousers Stone
- River Island Blue Slim Suit Trousers
With so many smartphones, DSLRs and even drones snapping you at every opportunity throughout the day, you’ll want to make sure your wedding wear is fully appropriate but thoughtfully individual as well.
So, what’s your ultimate summer wedding look? How do you adhere to a dress code without looking dull and samey?
Comment below to share your tips and thoughts.