Compose a look from different elements in your wardrobe. Photograph by Heng Films on Unsplash
Style Necessary Style

What to wear to a wedding, from black tie to a destination affair

The rules have changed, and options are aplenty. Still, here are a few important nuances to take note of
Monchet Olives | Nov 15 2018

Just in the last month, I have attended six weddings, and there’s three more to go before the year ends. It is the season of tying the knot, after all. And what to wear to which wedding is a hot-button concern again among men who need of a bit of guidance. But one need not excessively worry: the choices for dressing in these occasions have become so varied, and sticking to the traditional suit has become a thing of the past.

The attire in the invite says it all. And when in doubt, ask someone from the wedding party what is acceptable. If it can be helped: never upstage the groom. Below are a few more pointers, as well as ideas, whether you’re attending a swanky dinner reception or a barefoot afternoon beach ceremony.


When the invite calls for black tie

Mr. Tucci in velvet. @pitti_uomo_ on Instagram

We went through this in one of our articles a few weeks back. Always opt to tie your tie—this is key. Clip-ons are for first communicants and you are a grown man.  Opt for a midnight blue shawl collar jacket with black trousers. If you are more daring, wear a white dinner jacket—it creates a sense of polish. I like velvet, but it’s just too hot, even with the A/C on. Finally, wear patent leather shoes. You can go high end at the branded stores, or visit H&M and ZARA, both of which usually carry them for the holidays.

The Barong is perfect for black tie and formal. A nice piƱa barong, with cufflinks, paired with tuxedo pants and patent shoes should do the trick. I have begun to appreciate the elegance of a well made barong. It’s cool, light, and looks wonderful in photos. Cut well, it will be very slimming on the torso.


When the invite says formal

Instead of black, pick grey.

A wedding of this nature means a dark suit and tie. I would avoid a black suit, only because it reminds me of an undertaker. Grey, navy, pinstripe, single or double-breasted are smart options.  For day-time weddings, even those that run up to cocktails, a lighter gray suit is good. Shoes for this is a matter of choice.

Blue suits with maroon shoes are acceptable. They also work well with grey suits. Velvet slippers are popular and are a good option. Belgian moccasins are fine. The best contender, however, is a pair of very buffed laced oxfords that you can wear with knee-length socks. This is most ideal. Keep the socks knee-length or wear none at all. A bit of skin that shows when you cross your legs is a personal pet peeve. I particularly like Prince Harry’s choice of color of late: a bluish grey which seems to do well day and night.  Work with a tailor, and get it right. It won’t break the bank, I assure you.


When the invite says semi-formal

Accessorize accordingly: a pocket square or two (for volume and visual interest), and a pair of shades. @pitti_uomo_ on Instagram

Weddings aren’t what they used to be. A casual wedding calls for a lot of creativity. What drives me batty is when the entourage is made to dress like page boys or drug dealers. Just the other day, while waiting for the wedding we were to attend, I see grown guys leaving in braces, bowties, belts and beige trousers. I just imagined they were delivering the papers. But that being said, go for lighter shades like tan and shades of blue specially if there are activities outdoors. Keep to linen. This where you can invest in pieces and use them in different ways. But please avoid jeans, especially the ripped variety. Wear a nice pair of shades.

Whether its black tie, formal or semi-formal, suits are best accessorized with pocket squares, shirts made for cufflinks, and well-chosen ties. The formal suit requires a nice patterned silk tie, while the semi-formal can be left alone, without a tie at all. But a knitted tie always does the trick.  At the formal and black tie occasions, keep the socks on (although I don’t care and I don’t wear), and for everything else, just be ready to show your mankles!


When it’s a destination wedding

Go light, in both color and material. @orazio_luciano on Instagram

This is where you go floral or white linen. Linen shirts allow you to show off your hard work on those abs and chest. Maybe experiment with a nice hat and a pair of shades. Trousers can be light, not really white (you are not the groom), and footwear can be nice espadrilles (I would avoid flip flops.) One of my favorite looks would be a nice linen double breasted jacket—with no lining—a fitted high collar shirt, knotted cufflinks, and a pair of fitted linen trousers. An ensemble of a good quality pique collar shirt, with a blazer, and striped linen pants are equally acceptable.

Accessories would be a hat, sunglasses, a bandana tied around the neck, and if you’re feeling like a Pitti peacock, a fan—but only in black, please.

Mr. Kraft seems never not reception-ready. @alexander.kraft on Instagram

As someone who has worn suits and blazers most of his professional life, I will always recommend that you prepare your wardrobe by investing with a tailor. Start with a good blue or gray suit, a handsome blazer, and a linen suit too. Although destination weddings are always the easiest to prepare for because there are a lot of choices off the rack.

Remember: a suit, be it for a wedding or a dinner with the boss, is always good to have in your armory. A well-fitting suit speaks a lot about your attention to detail, be it made in Kamuning, or by one of these fly-in tailors.

P.S. Make sure you bring a second handkerchief. We predict a lot of extra sweat.