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Dress codes

How to dress for tricky weddings

How to dress for tricky weddings

Nothing reveals the holes in your wardrobe quite like wedding season. Nuptials are too celebratory for your work clothes and too smart for your weekend things. You need to dress up, but not so far that you’ll outshine the groom or spend the day in discomfort. “The most important thing is sticking to the dress code,” says Thread stylist Freddie Kemp. “You want to look good, but not stand out for the wrong reasons.”

How simple that is depends on the invitation. If it says, “Suits”, then you’re good in a navy two-piece with a colourful tie and pocket square. If it’s “Morning dress”, then get to a rental tailor. But what if the happy couple want you to wear, “Cocktail funky”? Or “Dress to impress”? What if the wedding’s on a beach? What if there’s no dress code at all?

“Ambiguous or difficult dress codes are one of the trickiest things about dressing for weddings,” says Freddie. “But that are some consistent things that you want to achieve with any wedding outfit, no matter the venue or dress code. You can use those to build something appropriate, even in trickier situations.”

The big one is not dressing like you do every other day of the year. “It should be eye-catching, considered and lend itself to compliments,” says Freddie. Which doesn’t mean ‘garish’; rather, it should look like you’ve put more effort in and tailored your outfit to this particular day. “You don't want everyone to see you how they always see you. It's a chance to show some personality and when done well, you'll feel amazing.”

The fourth-in-a-row wedding

Photographed: Marks & Spencer rasberry linen-blend jacket (£139)T.M. Lewin shirt (£44.95)Hardy Amies camel chinos (£115)Moss London tie (£20)

At a certain point in life, it seems like you’re at a wedding every weekend. Which is lovely – a free party with friends is never a bad thing – but it can mean you end up wearing the same clothes time and again. “This look pushes the boat out and will add colours to your wardrobe that you might not normally opt for,” says Freddie. “But at a wedding, they feel appropriate because they have a really summery, celebratory feel.”

The easiest way to wear punchy colours is to anchor them with something neutral. “Let the jacket do the talking,” says Freddie. “The other colours in this look are staples. If you want to add a bold colour or style, it's best to try with one garment and keep the others simple.” To make sure the blazer complements, rather than clashing, it’s vital you keep your tones consistent. “The red is soft, the blue is textured and the chinos are on the paler side of stone.”

Finally, fit. “It’s important you make sure the fit’s spot on,” says Freddie. With statement-making clothes, there’s less leeway for error, so get the sleeves and waist of the blazer tailored if necessary. “You should also opt for slimmer trousers, as the look is quite contemporary.”

The how-is-it-this-hot wedding

Photographed: Marks & Spencer linen popover shirt (£35)Jigsaw flyweight trousers (£150)G.H. Bass suede loafers (£125)Nixon watch (£100)

Any invitation that involves a flight is particularly exciting. But in the rush to book hotels, a lot of guys forget that their standby blue suit won’t cut it when it’s 30 degrees in the shade. “Look for very lightweight fabrics and pale colours to keep you as cool as possible,” says Freddie. “The key thing is breathability, otherwise you’ll get heat stroke before they’ve got to the vows.”

But hot weather doesn’t have to mean super-casual. This is only a touch removed from a standard shirt-and-tailored-trousers look, only without the tie and blazer. “It’s smart enough for the occasion, but also appropriate to the climate,” says Freddie. Loose fits will make sure tailoring doesn’t feel oppressive – the more space between clothes and skin, the more room air has to circulate. “It also allows you to roll the trousers at the ankle. This can be a style feature guys are afraid of, but it's perfect for a wedding abroad, especially if it involves time on the beach.”

If you want to add a jacket, make sure it’s unstructured or you’ll undo all your keep-cool work. But a better option might be to take a bag. “A smart tote is perfect for carrying your essentials,” says Freddie. “You don't want to rely on your trouser pockets to hold everything or they’ll bulge and ruin the silhouette of this look.”

The no-dress-code wedding

Photographed: Hardy Amies blue linen blazer (£260); Sunspel pale blue polo shirt (£85)Orlebar Brown striped trousers (£195)T.M. Lewin white pocket square (£20)

If you’re truly worried about getting the dress code wrong – and there’s no hint on the invitation – just ask. Your hosts would rather you looked the part than turned up and ruined their wedding photos. But if that feels like an imposition, then go for what we think of ‘classic-with-a-twist’.

“This look has smart-casual written all over it,” says Freddie. “So you’ll never be over- or under-dressed, no matter what everyone else is wearing.” It’s particularly good if the weather behaves, as the colours look great in the sunshine. Going tie-less might feel a touch too dressed down, but odds are that if there’s no dress code demanded, the whole vibe will veer casual.

“This is a fairly bold style – which is good for weddings – but to pull it off, keep it tonal,” says Freddie. By sticking to all-blue, striped trousers feel like less of a statement, but you still look unique. “The pocket square is important, because white breaks up the blues and creates a link with the stripes in your trousers.”