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How to Dress for Summer Weddings

Wedding season is here and if you’re a man of a certain age, and aren’t getting married yourself, then the invitations are likely beginning to flood in. A good invitation should tell you who’s wedding you’re supposed to be attending, when and where it is and, in an ideal world, should give you a decent indication of what you can get away with wearing without sticking out like a sore thumb – unless the sore thumb look is what you’re aiming for, in which case, go nuts. However, as you’re no doubt well aware, having reached an age where your friends are getting hitched – we do not live in an ideal world and more often than not, wedding invitation dress code instructions are more cryptic than the Guardian crossword. ‘More smart than casual’… what does that even mean?

Luckily, to save you confusion, stress and embarrassment – in that exact order – we’ve compiled a small selection of go-to outfits that will ensure you look the part at any and every wedding you grace with your presence this summer.

Navy Three-Piece + Brogues  

As long as your invitation doesn’t say ‘black tie’, the classic navy three piece is a solid choice for almost any wedding. It’s less formal than black, less boring than grey, but smart enough to hold its own at a ‘black tie optional’ wedding. “Navy is a great option for a wedding suit as wearing black to a wedding can come across morbid in my opinion,” says Tom Courcey, editor at online menswear retailer The Idle Man. We’d be inclined to agree with him; navy is a little more fun and if you go for a light enough shade, brown brogues can still be worn. Top it off with a shirt, contrasting tie and pocket square and you’re good to go. Oh, and if you’re worried about upstaging the groom, just drop the waistcoat.

Blazer + Raw Denim Jeans + Derby Brogues  

JEANS?!! TO A WEDDING?!! Yes, that’s right – we’re ripping up the rulebook and setting it alight… well, not really – for the vast majority of weddings, you can only get away with this bold move for the reception. Even then, it may seem unconventional, but done right it looks pretty slick. “Raw denim jeans can work quite well at a reception,” agrees Courcey. “A few rules to adhere to, though: Make sure that they're a well-fitting pair, nothing too slouchy or relaxed and keep the colour dark, almost black. Teamed with a pair of Derby shoes and a structured blazer and you'll be good to go.” If you’re going to go for the denim look, make sure to pick out a contrasting blazer. The darker the denim, the lighter the blazer should be. A khaki or sand-type colour would work well, over a white Oxford shirt – tucked in, of course – and spiced up with a colourful pocket square for a dash of personality.

Light Suit + Brogues  

A light breezy linen suit may only be useful for a couple of days a year in our unpredictable British weather, but when the opportunity to wear it arises you will not regret your purchase. After all, is there anything worse than spending hours getting ready for a wedding only to step out of the front door in your heavy, year-round suit and instantly start sweating like a pig? Not a good look. A light linen suit is smart enough to impress, but relaxed enough to feel comfortable. “Go for a white shirt as blue always looks a bit too much like you're about to step into the office,” advises Courcey. Brown brogues and a nice silver watch will top the look off. “Finally, add a bit of colour into your tie by going to a more eye-catching pink.”

Classic Oxford Shirt + Tailored Chinos + Loafers 

If you’re just attending the reception and it’s a roasting hot summer’s evening, then a white Oxford shirt is the perfect option. Actually, a white Oxford shirt is the perfect option for pretty much everything, but here it has the benefit of being smart, light, comfortable and the right colour to hide any embarrassing sweat patches that might occur. “A white Oxford shirt is a classic and will work in any situation,” Courcey reiterates, “but team it with a pair of tailored chinos instead of just regular ones. Chinos tend to look a little scruffy, so opt for a pair that are more trouser-like in feel and look. Cuff the bottom and sport a pair of brown penny loafers for good measure.”

The Tuxedo  

Last but not least is the nuclear option. If it says ‘black tie’ on that little bit of cardboard, you have nowhere else left to turn. The good news is that a tuxedo is extremely difficult to get wrong and pretty much everyone looks great in one. So, if the stress of picking out an outfit leaves you with a knot in your stomach then this might actually be good news for you. If you’re buying as opposed to hiring, then look at this as an investment and go as classic as it is possible to go. Trends come and go, but a classic tux will last you a lifetime. Opt for a wing or turndown collar and French cuffs on your shirt and team it with some black leather Oxford dress shoes. If you’re hankering after adding some personality it’s best achieved through your cufflinks, braces and pocket square – just make sure that they don’t clash!

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