Wedding Dress Code for Men: What You Should and Shouldn’t Wear

Have you ever had a moment of fear when you get invited to the wedding of a person you don’t really know? When you do not know what to wear, or how formal the occasion will be? Too much and you risk upstaging the groom, but being too casual could make you look like you have not been invited.

Once you know the formality level of the wedding, you then have the daunting task of deciding what to wear. However, you need not have fear, because we have done the work for you. Read on to find our guide to wedding dress code.

Finding the Wedding Dress Code

The code of dress at a wedding is dictated by a number of factors. First, you should be able to gauge the level of formality at the wedding judging by the setting and schedule. You could also simply ask the bride and groom, depending on how well you are acquainted.

Once you have the level of formality, you should see what time of day the wedding is at. Will it just be in the day, at night, or will it have a fun evening party? Finally, think about the weather and climate at the time.

Once you have these factors in place, you should be able to judge the type of wedding taking place. We have divided them into six types of formal occasions so you can select the correct wedding attire.

Black Tie

A black-tie wedding does not really allow you much room for individuality or customization. In addition, if the couple set the guidelines as being this formal, they probably want you to stick with the traditional tuxedo and black tie combo. The biggest choice you will have is to opt for a standard tie or bow tie.

If you do change the color of the suit, keep it as dark as possible. The almost black grey color scheme and midnight blue can be good substitutes if you must have something a little different. You will also need a good pair of black leather shoes.

Finally, you need a collared, formal dress shirt. You may add textured shirts, as long as you keep them white.

Don’t go for any other, light colors in the jacket, especially white or cream. These variations are reserved for the groom, who needs to stand out amongst the crowd. If you do want to add some variation, think about accessorizing with your tie pin or a pair of cufflinks.


Formal wedding attire differs from the black tie in that you no longer need a tuxedo but need to remain smart and suited. You have more room for maneuver with colors but try to stay dark. Charcoal grey, black, and dark blue all remain in place.

You also have more room to move with the tie choice. You are not expected to wear a bow tie, but you may if you wish. Stick with a collared dress shirt.

This time, however, you may bend a little on the color choice in the shirt. Pinstripe patterned and pastel shirts can be chosen depending upon the theme and venue of the wedding. For some great ideas, check out the Art of the Gentleman wedding attire catalog here.

Shoes should remain formal, though you may switch to darker shades of brown and reds depending on your suit choice. Keep the suit as one block of color, so don’t opt for one type of trousers with a different color dinner jacket.


Cocktail remains smart and formal, but with the added bonus of being able to ditch the dark suits and go for something more fashionable. You can keep the chic but start to mix up colors and patterns for the big day.

Remain with a suit but opt for something a little more ‘out there’. Try different jackets and blazers, ideal for ditching if you decide to go drinking and dancing in the evening. A tie can be optional, but it is better to take one, judge the mood, then take it off later if you decide against it.

Cocktail attire is the middle ground of formality. Avoid going too formal by wearing the tuxedo, but don’t go too casual by wearing jeans and sportswear. Avoid any clothing with huge logos, sports clothing, rip, and tears, as they will look too casual.


The dreaded ‘smart casual’ look is not one place or another, and everyone carries a different definition of it. That makes it one of the hardest looks to judge, so do your research by calling around to friends and family to see what they are wearing.

In many circumstances, it is better to appear overdressed at a wedding than under. Don’t wear open-toed shoes, flip flops, or sandals, and avoid t-shirts. While you most definitely don’t need a tie, you may still want to carry one just in case you miss judge the dress code and need to slip it on.

Apart from that, you can keep the whole thing quite relaxed. Chinos and smart slacks will be excellent for this occasion. With the shirt, you can really choose to let your individuality shine. Mix colors and patterns and see what works best for you.


The tropical look is strictly reserved for really hot, beach type affairs. You may get invited to a wedding abroad, or it may be in the height of summer. At this type of wedding, the main focus is on comfort.

The tan or khaki suit is a staple of beach weddings. They are light, airy, and can also keep you looking formal. You may want to keep a formal shoe with them or aim for a lighter, deck style shoe.

If you do not want to wear the same as everyone else, then try a light blue or grey suit. Linen fabric can keep the whole thing cool, and you can combine it with an open shirt.

Stick to What you Know

Finally, when choosing what to wear in the parameters of the wedding dress code, stick to what you know. If you look good in a grey suit, go for it. A wedding is not a time to experiment with styles and looks, but to stay smart and classy using what you know will work.

If you enjoyed our helpful fashion guide for weddings, then you will love the rest of our blog. We have everything from fashion tips to grooming. Browse our articles today and let us help you look even smarter this season!