Even at the ripe old age of “It’s none of your business,” I still get excited for wedding season each year. At this point, I’ve sat, stood, danced, drank, picked at a piece of chicken, and waved a sparkler at more weddings than I can count. And I’ve loved each one because—what can I say?—I love love and love getting dressed up.
Ask a Clean Person and Style Girlfriend are teaming up this month to bring you the latest on what to wear for spring and summer ... and how to care for your new wardrobe acquisitions. This week: wedding wear.
Whether you get weepy over the romantic optimism of weddings like moi, or have grown cynical about marriage as an oppressive social construct (also me tbh), the odds are, you’re still going to check “yes” on that RSVP when it arrives in the mail. You show up for your friends, family and that random college roommate because that’s the kind of man you are. Even if you’re less enthusiastic than me about dancing to “Shout” with a bunch of geriatrics, here’s a good reason to get excited: You get to wear that suit you look so goddamn great in.
So when that ornate invitation arrives in the mail, printed on stunningly expensive card stock, let your eyes glance over the date and location and zero in on the most crucial info of all: the dress code. From casual all the way to black tie, pride yourself on nailing the vibe. Ahead, I’ve rounded up the slickest, most reliable and downright elegant lewks to make you the best-dressed guest at every wedding this year.
Listen, when the happy couple note that the dress code for their wedding is “casual,” they mean it. No jeans or shorts, but you definitely don’t have to wear a suit (and probably shouldn’t, lest you show up the happy couple). However, a wedding is still a wedding, and honoring the occasion is important. You’ll never feel bad about showing up to a wedding in a smart sport coat.
This affordable jacket from Uniqlo is a great option—you can style it almost any way you want, and you’ll wear it again and again. For a summer wedding, toss it on over a short-sleeve button-down shirt and slim chinos with a great pair of white leather sneakers.
No dress code gets my sartorial engines revving more than “cocktail.” This is basically the same as semi-formal, it just sounds better. To me, a cocktail dress code can be both elegant and playful for guys—it implies stiff drinks and good times on the horizon. So when it comes to your suit, you want the overall impression to be dressy without being rigid.
There are two easy(ish) ways to nail that aesthetic. You can make a “fun” suit feel low-key, by keeping your shirting and accessories more traditional, or you can make a “classic” suit feel more interesting, with a printed shirt and complementary pocket square. The idea is to avoid looking like you just came from a busy day working for The Man, you feel me?
A suit like this one from Topman, with a bold blue-and-white windowpane plaid, is best accompanied by a crisp white shirt. Depending on the time of day and the general vibe of the couple, the tie is optional. In the warmer months, go sockless and switch up your lace-up brogues for a pair of bossy leather tassel loafers. (Please! For me!)
SuitSupply Havana Suit, $598
“Festive” and destination weddings both fall into a sort of wild card category. There are a lot of ways you can go with those dress codes, which will depend most heavily on where the wedding is taking place and the time of day. Both are adjacent to cocktail, but the hosts probably want you to have a little more fun with what you wear. A beach wedding in Florida? Throw on a breezy camp collar or floral shirt with your suit. Nuptials in a rustic ski lodge? Dare to rock the handsome turtleneck-under-suit look.
With summer destination wedding season on the horizon, there’s nothing I love more than seeing a man in a breezy linen suit in a light, sandy color. That guy did not come to play (but he definitely came to dance!). Try adding in a few colorful elements like mint green, lavender, pale sky blue and pink with a suit like this for a fully festive look.
Ah, formal. Anyone else have major high school dance flashbacks when they hear that word? The deal here is, you’ve gotta wear a suit, and it should probably be a classic dark color like navy or charcoal. Again, depending on the destination and the season you might have some flexibility there. But for the sake of helping most of you, let’s assume you’re going to invest in a classic, “wear it year-round anytime you gotta get dressed up” suit. (If there’s an option to wear a tuxedo and you don’t take it, you don’t want to look like the bozo who didn’t read the invitation, right?)
J.Crew changed the game when they introduced the Ludlow suit back in 2008, and it now comes in a variety of cuts, fabrications and fits. (Double breasted! Oxford cloth!) Plus, with their rotating, near-constant promotions, you can probably get a great deal. You can also mix and match their “classic” and “slim” fit Ludlow pants and jackets to jerry rig your perfect fit.
A formal wedding is the time to break out your most sophisticated extras, too. The crispest, cleanest white shirt you own, a jazzy knit tie and some freshly shined leather brogues. And since you’re not basic, a unique, colorful pocket square is a given.
You’ve officially made it to the big leagues: black tie! While this dress code is certainly very fancy and traditional, it doesn’t have to be boring. You’ll find that brands like Bonobos are really expanding the modern tuxedo market with a mix of shiny shawl collars, velvet, and even white dinner jackets. (Swoon central!)
However, if you’re in the market to invest in a tux but don’t want to dip your toe too deep into the trend pool, might I recommend a midnight blue suit? This Italian wool tuxedo hits all the marks of a classic, but in a brilliantly understated but so much better than black hue. With a nice contrasting black peak lapel, it’ll draw eyes around the dance floor, but in all the right ways.