May 23, 2013

Style Etiquette: Summer Weddings

For whatever reason, a lot of people like to get married in the heat of summer, which means you will likely attend at least one summer wedding at some point. As with any wedding, the invitation is the most important key to how you should dress. It should go without saying that, if there is a dress code stated, please follow it. For general tips on common dress codes, check out my other Style Etiquette posts here, herehere, and here.

If you snag an invitation to a more casual summer nuptial (as in not a formal event), you have quite a few options to flex your sartorial muscles. The first thing you will want to do is avoid the wool, if at all possible. Few things reflect a man’s mastery of style better than dressing appropriately, both for an occasion and the season. When you need to don a suit during the summer, go with a cotton or linen. Not only will it help keep you from melting in the heat, it will also make your look a little more unique.

In recent years, khaki has become the go-to summer suiting color and with good reason. It is neutral, versatile, and the lighter shade makes it a little more laid back, which is perfect for summer. Navy is another good cotton option for much the same reason, but it gives you a more classic look.

If you opt for the linen route, whatever you do, avoid white. It is my strong opinion that only the bride should wear white to a wedding (if she chooses to do so), plus everyone’s first thought for a summer wedding is almost always white linen. Be unexpected and go with a light grey or navy.

There is a third option that needs discussing – seersucker. There is a lot more to seersucker than just blue and white stripes. If you know the atmosphere of the wedding will accommodate it, try a khaki stripe instead of the usual fare. Seersucker fabrics come in solid, stripes, and even gingham so with a little legwork you can find a unique suit that will keep you feeling cool and looking dapper.

For shirts, I’ve found it’s best to keep things simple. A nice white shirt will make anything else you wear look good, so don’t complicate things with colors or patterns. This will remove the worry of coordinating your tie and has the added benefit of keeping you from showing anyone up. The goal is to make the wedding party (and your date) look good by not sticking out, which can be a tough balance to master. If you don't want to wear a white shirt, or shouldn't because of your complexion, go with a pale hue to keep that understated look in a more flattering manner.

Accessories are where you can really get to have some fun. Depending on the formality, time, and location of the event your options are virtually limitless with the potential combinations of neckwear, pocket squares, and cufflinks. Summer is a great time to venture into bowties and they do have a formal pedigree, which makes them ideal for a wedding. The added benefit of a bowtie is you can untie it if the reception gets crazy. This will serve the twofold purpose of looking cool and showing that you know how to tie a bowtie. Whether you choose necktie or bowtie, silk or cotton pocket square, it’s best to keep the colors and prints reigned in a bit. Remember, you don’t want to draw undue attention because of your fashion choices.

Summer weddings can be a lot of fun and can give you the chance to break out of the wool suit grind. Whatever you decide to wear, keep in mind that you are a guest to a very important occasion. Dressing appropriately will get you noticed for the right reasons but remember that fit is more important than fashion. If you only have a nice grey wool suit, but it fits you perfectly, embrace it, because nothing makes you look better than clothes that fit.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

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