How to Dress as a Wedding Guest
As the summer sleepily makes its way in, the number of weddings you’ll be invited to will increase exponentially. Even if you have no plans to marry, or are already happily wedded, you’ll likely find yourself going to several big days over the course of the year.
What's the wedding guest dress code for men nowadays? Well, while it is no longer as strict as in the past, you’re still expected to make an effort to fix up and look smarter than you might usually do. For some men, this comes naturally, but for others it can be a minefield. Even if you’re used to dressing smart for work, a wedding is a whole different ball game, and if you're not careful it can look like your Dad has dressed you.
But don’t fret! It’s not as hard as all that, really. As a guest you have a lot more leeway than even the groom, and any effort you put in is sure to be appreciated, both by the happy couple and by your wedding date.
Need a bit of guidance you say? Please read on to find Cravat Club’s guide to dressing well as a wedding guest.
1. Don’t Panic!
While you’re expected to make an effort to elevate your attire in some ways, it’s important you inhabit your clothes and make them look like your own. In fact, this is something of a theme for us when trying to steer men towards more stylish attire - feeling confident in your outfit is very important.
There’s no need to go overboard if you don’t feel like it. A simple and stylish suit, or even an open-necked shirt with a well-chosen accessory is more than enough. That said, a wedding is also a great opportunity to show off that silk scarf or sweet jacket you’ve been desperate to wear. In short, it’s ok to be yourself and show a bit of personality. After all, it’s a celebration! Just remember, don’t give in to novelty, and don’t be swayed by advice from people who pretend to know better than you do. Go with your gut as to what is appropriate for you.
2. Accessories are Key
Accessories are a great way to elevate a smart office outfit into something wedding-appropriate. You’re not an usher or the best man, so you don’t have to worry about matching anyone in particular, but make sure that your outfit has some sort of unity. Try and pick out a colour that contrasts well with your jacket or shirt, and lean on shades that suit your skin tone (see our blog post for more on this subject). You should perhaps avoid anything too brash, although brighter colours are not impossible to pull off if you have enough confidence. You can stick to a classic tie or experiment with cravats and pocket squares to find the perfect combination.
3. A Cravat for Comfort
A cravat is perfect for a wedding, especially a summer one. Soft, breathable, comfortable and stylish, these beautiful silk garments seem made for the task. If you find a tie too restrictive, or too much like work attire, then a cravat or ascot tie is perfect to get you feeling the occasion. A cravat can also be worn in different ways, either higher up on the neck with your shirt buttoned up, or more loosely worn with more of an open neck shirt, whatever suits you best. The more relaxed rules for guests also mean that a cravat is the perfect way to show off your individuality. Versatile, stylish and luxurious, we like them so much, we named our company for them!
While our woven cravats are a touch of luxury in cooler climes, we recommend our printed silk cravats for a summer wedding, especially if you’re jetting off to a glamorous locale. Beach wedding, you say? Or an Italian wedding in Tuscany or Florence? The perfect excuse.
4. A Silk Scarf to Turn Heads
Opulent and confident, a silk scarf is a great way to add some swagger to an outfit. A simple, plain coloured shirt, or even a jacket and t-shirt combo is elevated by this incredibly confident garment. If you’re planning on walking tall in one of these, we think it wise to keep the rest of your outfit very simple - it would be very easy to overdo it if you try to cram in too many colours and patterns when you’re already donning something of a statement piece anyway. A scarf like this is sure to be a talking point, and can be a great ice breaker between you and the other guests. It’s a case of “look the part, be the part” with this one.
5. A Pocket Square Punches Above its Weight
Whether you’re a traditionalist or a young firebrand, a pocket square has its place in almost any wedding outfit. This is somewhere where a little consideration goes a long way. Look at the details in your suit and in your tie, or think about what your wedding date will be wearing. Now we’re not talking matchy-matchy, more of a careful nod to the colour palette you or your partner are already wearing. It also allows you space to be creative with patterns and to play with the colour wheel a little. If you want to be stylish and classy, while not shouting too loud, a discreet pocket square will make you feel that much more chic. What’s more, this kind of attention to detail simply screams “style”, and the reserve demonstrated here will pay off elsewhere in your outfit, allowing you more room to play with other accessories.
Our fabulous multiway pocket squares can be your secret weapon here. Not only do they provide a fantastic flourish to your outfit, they can also be worn in different ways to enhance different outfits. Each pattern is designed to be turned a number of ways for different effects, so by using different areas of the pattern, you have pocket squares in different styles, colours and finishes. If you only have one pocket square, let it be one of these.
6. Don’t Fear The Solo Flight
It happens to the best of us - whatever your plans are, sometimes you’ll just have to attend the wedding alone. Indeed, you may prefer it that way. This is absolutely not a problem, and no reason not to turn up like you mean it. Wear something that makes you look and feel good, and it will definitely be a conversation starter, and might even help you to feel at ease.
Now, it’s not for us to say whether a wedding is a good place to meet people or not, but looking good and having a statement outfit on…well, it couldn’t hurt could it? Even if you’re simply looking to have a good time and relax among friends old and new, dressing as if you’re trying to impress will make you that bit more ready for a party.
7. Don’t Throw Away the Rulebook Entirely
Our focus in this piece has been to put you at ease, to remind you that you can pretty well do what you want with your outfit. To an extent this is of course true. However we’d be remiss if we didn’t put an important caveat to that; don’t suspend all your style rules.
For example, think of your outfit - you don’t want your accessories to clash with this too much. Even if it is a celebration, it’s best to stay away from too many bright colours and loud patterns all at once. Make sure your clothes are clean, ironed and looked after. And for goodness’ sake, choose your shoes carefully - black trainers or brown brogues are probably not the ones here. And remember there is nothing wrong with a well-chosen tie - it will elevate your look and is a subtle classic for almost everything.
Finally, and we say this with the utmost seriousness, do NOT attempt to upstage anyone, be that the groom, your friends or (God forbid!) your date. A big part of men’s style is to look like you know what you’re doing, and these are people you should not be impinging on at a wedding. Remember you’re a guest, and while you’re certainly important, there is a code of sorts to adhere to.
This is something of a potted guide and is not designed to intimidate you. It’s very important that you leave yourself space and time to enjoy the day, and your outfit should be one that is comfortable and versatile enough to allow you to do that. Dress with a light hand, make sure you wear something you enjoy wearing, and don’t torture yourself over it before the big day. Wish the happy couple well and dress with effortless style.
Now it's time to check out our Wedding Season Collection for some style inspiration.