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Remember the joy you felt mere weeks ago when your social calendar didn’t consist exclusively of weddings? When you could go to your wardrobe, throw on a short-sleeved shirt, a pair of shorts, and walk out knowing you're dressed the part? Well, that era is officially over, and now in addition to the pile of invites steadily coming through your letterbox, you’ve also been hit with a wave of massive uncertainty over what the heck you wear to a wedding in Ibiza one weekend and one in a barn in the English countryside the next. The short answer is not the same thing. Weddings aren’t a one-outfit-fits-all sort of event, and the soon-to-be newlyweds have spent all of their non-working hours fretting over every last detail of their big day, so the least you can do is show up looking appropriate. That means no arriving at the event in your work suit. Your cousin, brother-in-law, old flatmate, or colleague deserve more from you at their wedding.
Fortunately, most wedding invites will advise you on dress codes. Unfortunately, it can be headache-inducing deciphering what they actually mean, especially considering how much wedding attire has evolved over the past few decades. As much as it pains your mother to admit it, you don’t have to wear the standard suit to every ceremony. In some cases, you don’t have to wear a suit at all (more about that later). The biggest considerations are setting, weather, and your own comfort – there’s no point in showing up to a wedding in a suit that looks incredible but feels restrictive. So we’re here to help advise you on the right attire for every type of wedding on your calendar this summer, so you can focus your attention on the important stuff, like tearing up the dance floor.
The setting: Churches, storied museums, a stretch tent on the grounds of some palatial estate.
The vibe: You’ll usually find a string quartet perched in some leafy corner and a team of well-postured individuals serving trays of hard-to-pronounce finger foods. Essentially, the vibe is fancy AF.
The attire: When it comes to traditional weddings, stylist Alexander McCalla advises you to stick to the dress code. “There’s not much room for straying from a traditional suit,” he says. “What you can do is play with summer-ready patterns, like linen and linen blends. It’s also best to stick to lighter colours, such as neutral and tans, in the warmer months.” If you do decide to go a bit darker, Alexander recommends a cobalt blue as opposed to black or dark grey. You can also add some interest with a fun patterned tie, as long as you keep the rest of your look smart. “If you opt for a pocket square, choose a simple white style that only sticks out a bit,” he says. And when it comes to footwear, you should keep things traditional with a pair of brown brogues or derbies.
The setting: The Italian Riviera, the beaches of Ibiza, or a vineyard in the South of France (if you’re lucky).
The vibe: You’re mingling with well-dressed foreigners, you’re sipping finely aged wine, and you’re seriously considering quitting your job to run your own vineyard.
The attire: Most destination weddings take place in some sweltering locale, so in addition to looking smart, you also want to choose breathable pieces. “If you’re sweating too much, you’re not going to look great, regardless of how nice your suit is,” Alexander says. If you do opt to wear a jacket, stick to lightweight linens and unstructured silhouettes, or choose to forgo a jacket altogether. Since weddings in a vineyard or 17th-century chateau are inherently more stylish, you’ll want to find ways to elevate your look. Alexander recommends springing for a more fashion-forward double-breasted blazer and pairing it with a cool Cuban collar or grandad collar shirt. “Seersucker is a great shirting choice for summer, as it’s more breathable,” he says. You can also add elevated detailing through accessories, like tortoiseshell sunglasses, a leather band watch, or a colourful, patterned pocket square to add a bit of flair to your look.
The setting: A rustic barn, the bride’s parents’ back garden, or the local registry office.
The vibe: You’ll likely find yourself amongst a smaller crowd, so the setting will feel more intimate and laid-back. No one is fussed about wearing a three-piece suit or minds using a paper napkin.
The attire: Before getting ready for a casual wedding, make sure the dress code truly is laid-back (as some barn weddings can be deceivingly fancy). If this is the case, you should proceed to dress how you typically would in summer, but be more considerate with your choices. “The rule of thumb is if you opt for smarter trousers, you should dress down the rest of your outfit,” Alexander says. “Throw on a patterned or striped short-sleeve shirt and a pair of white minimal trainers.” If you decide to wear shorts, and we’d advise getting the bride and groom’s blessing to do so beforehand, then dress up the rest of your look with a long-sleeved button-down (or a solid-coloured Cuban collar shirt) and a pair of smart loafers. “You can also elevate a pair of shorts with an unstructured linen blazer,” he says. “It makes it cool, breathable, but still smart.”
Words: Allison Pavlick
Photography: Mark Sanders
Styling: Alexander McCalla