June 21, 2024


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8 Wedding Dress Codes Explained


If you’re going for something classic and sophisticated, an off-white or cream-colored dinner jacket is a great option. For something modern and elegant, you might choose a burgundy dinner jacket. Or, if you want to get really creative, you could go with velvet or something patterned.

You can also get creative with your accessories. For instance, you could wear bright socks or a personalized pocket square. Play around with different colors, textures, and patterns until you find what works for you.

Try not to go overboard with your choices, though – one or two creative touches should be enough.

4. Cocktail Attire / Semi-Formal

For cocktail attire wedding dress code, wear a dark suit

Men’s wedding cocktail attire is a great balance between elegance and comfort. It’s not as formal as any of the black tie dress codes, but it is still very stylish and sophisticated.

This dress code is most popular at outdoor or evening events with a festive or slightly more relaxed feel. The standard wedding attire includes:

A dark suit, solid color shirt, necktie, pocket square, and a pair of black, brown, or oxblood leather shoes

In terms of the suit, you can’t really go wrong with a dark color like navy blue. However, you should never wear the more formal black suit. Depending on the wedding and venue, you might be able to get away with a boldly patterned tie or colorful socks.

If you want to make a statement, consider swapping out the suit and tie for a sport coat and dress pants. Go with dark, solid colors, especially for evening events. Feel free to wear something textured or patterned, as long as it’s not too overt.

5. Dressy Casual

What to wear to a wedding when it's dressy casual dress code

If you’ve been invited to a wedding with a dressy casual dress code, it might seem like a bit of an oxymoron. But when it comes to weddings, dressy casual doesn’t mean T-shirts, jeans, and sneakers. At the bare minimum, you should wear the following:

Sport coat, dress shirt, nice dress pants or chinos, lace-up shoes or loafers, a pocket square, and an optional tie

Essentially, go for a more business casual style. You can add a few creative touches, such as patterns or colors, but the ultimate ensemble should lean more towards semi-formal than casual.

6. Tropical / Beach

Beach weddings call for lighter colors and fabrics like a khaki cotton suit

It’s not uncommon to find a tropical or beach dress code for summertime or warm weather weddings. When it comes to these types of events, there are two big things to keep in mind regarding your wedding attire.

FURTHER READING: How To Dress for a Summer Wedding (City Edition)

Firstly, opt for lighter colors. This means tan, khaki, white, cream, or royal blue.

Secondly, never underestimate the importance of fabric choice. Chances are, a tropical or beach wedding is going to be hot. So, you’re going to want a fabric that’s light and breathable. Cotton, seersucker, fresco, and linen are all great choices.

Although there are a few more options with these weddings, here are some ideas to help you get started:

– Linen pants and a light-colored dress shirt with flat shoes
– Summer suit with an optional tie (for daytime weddings)
– Tuxedo in the right fabric (for evening weddings)

7. Rustic

Rustic wedding dress code with a tweed blazer

The rustic wedding dress code is quite popular at backyard weddings, outdoor weddings, and certain themed weddings. If you’re lucky, the invitation will clearly indicate what you’re expected to wear at a rustic or other themed wedding. If not, there are a few things to consider when choosing your outfit.

In general, the word “rustic” does imply a more casual style, as well as one with a slightly rugged feel. So, as with the tropical or beach dress code, you’ll want to dress to match the environment.

For example, you could wear a blazer with a dress shirt, dark denim, and boots to a casual rustic wedding. This ensemble isn’t recommended for most weddings, but it can work nicely here.

Another option is to dress in more formal wedding attire. You could still wear a suit, but play into the rustic vibes with your choice of fabric. For instance, if the event takes place on a cool evening in the fall, choose a tweed or flannel suit. Or wear a tweed sport coat with flannel pants.

8. White tie

The only way to do the white tie dress code

And finally, there’s the white tie wedding dress code. Chances are, this is the most formal type of event you’ll ever attend. These weddings are very rare in the modern era, but if there’s a chance of being invited to one, you need to be prepared.

White does not simply mean wearing a white bow tie with your tuxedo. For a proper white tie outfit, you should have the following:

Tailcoat suit or tuxedo: This is different from a regular tuxedo jacket as it’s more formal and expected at white tie events. It should be tailored to your specification.

Wing collar formal shirt: The shirt should be crisp, white, and have a high collar that conceals most of the neck. It should also have cufflinks.

Pants: The best pants are black, high-waisted, and custom-fitted.

Special white waistcoat: You should always wear a full-dress waistcoat. If desired, you can pair it with a dark dress coat.

White tie: A white bow tie is a must, but avoid clip-on ties.

Shoes: For the shoes, go with leather loafers or laced-up shoes with a pair of long black socks.

Dressing for a wedding with no dress code

Although it’s unlikely, there’s a chance that the wedding you’re about to attend won’t mention a dress code. It could be an oversight, but it’s more likely to be a choice on the bride and groom’s part.

If there is no dress code, or if the invitation says “come as you are,” always err on the side of semi-formal. This means a pair of dress pants and a button-down shirt. Go with lighter colors for summer weddings and darker colors for winter weddings.

Bottom Line

Although there are plenty more wedding dress codes out there, each with its own nuances, you should now have a good idea of what to wear for most occasions. Whether you’re attending a formal event or a themed one, start with the basics and go from there. And, as a last resort, ask the bride or groom to clarify what they want their guests to wear.

Different wedding dress codes explained


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