by S. Charlie Weyman

June is the most popular month for weddings, which means you may have to attend one in the not-so-distant future. Thankfully, as a man, dressing to be a wedding guest is fairly straightforward. Suit, tie, and polished oxfords are standard, but those categories are broad and include some bad ideas. Here are some tips on how to get it right.

The Failsafe. You’ll rarely go wrong with a dark suit, ideally in navy or charcoal (just make sure it fits). Try to stay away from black, however, as it can look too somber. Pair the suit with a white, semi-spread collar shirt, black oxfords, and conservative neckwear. Mid-grey ties in simple check patterns work well (remember, you’re here to celebrate the ties that bind, not ties that blind). Throw a folded, white linen pocket square into your breast pocket and live happily ever after.   

Know the Codes. OK, the failsafe isn’t always failsafe. Always follow the instructions on the invite. If it says “black tie,” wear a tuxedo if you can. If it says “black tie optional,” opt for it. “Cocktail attire” or “formal” means dark suits with white shirts. “Informal” means casual suits and, possibly, no ties (although I recommend showing up with one, just in case). “White tie” means you know some fancy people. If you are in any doubt, ask someone involved with the wedding planning.

Daytime Weddings. If the wedding is being held during the daytime, go one shade lighter for the suit – maybe a dark blue instead of navy, or mid-grey instead of charcoal. Keep the polished oxfords and a white shirt, in order to keep things slightly formal. As a general rule, you’re better off being overdressed than underdressed (although you never want to look more formal than the groom).

Beach or Barn Weddings. If the wedding willingly incorporates sand or hay, propriety is no longer a concern. You could wear a khaki suit, a pair of brown suede shoes, and a slightly more causal tie (perhaps in pink or mid-blue). If it’s hot, try a suit made from a tropical wool or linen blend. Pure linen in this case just wrinkles too much, and as Billy Crystal once said, “it’s better to look good than to feel good.” Are there any words that better describe weddings?

Quality content, like quality clothing, ages well. This article first appeared on the No Man blog in June 2015.