What to Wear to a Summer Wedding: Our Men’s Guide

We celebrate weddings in many ways—large, intimate, destination, indoor, outdoor and now, virtual. Not to worry though—socially distanced weddings filled with safety protocols can be just as fashionable as ever. But the main question men will be asking is what to wear to a summer wedding this year.

What are traditional wedding dress codes?

No matter the season, the invitation will tell you what to wear to a summer wedding. Below are some of the traditional dress codes that you may see on your invite:

White tie

It’s exactly how it sounds. This look is the top level of formal and pairs a white bow tie with a tuxedo complete with tails and a white waistcoat. Some even take it a step further and wear white gloves—the epitome of elegance.

Black tie

Again, exactly how it sounds but this time, the tuxedo is standard, with no tails, accompanied by a black bow tie and black leather shoes. You may also see the term black tie optional, which simply means that you can swap the tuxedo for a standard dark suit. 

Semi-formal

You may remember this from your senior prom. Instead of a tux, this attire opts for a classic suit and tie. Although there is room for different color and footwear options, you should still wear a collared shirt. 

Cocktail attire

Think of this as the 50-yard-line of formal and casual. It’s still a suit, but with room for mixing and matching to combine suit separates with fun details like color and print. Feel free to leave the tie at home, but always go for a collared shirt to keep it classy.

Beach or tropical

More than likely, this dress code can still take the form of a suit, but constructed of light, breathable fabrics and colors. Are the temperatures high without shade? Ditch the blazer and wear a linen collared shirt in a statement print, like a bold summer floral. Add footwear that you can rock sockless, or go barefoot, as sand doesn’t mix well with dress shoes. 

Unconventional

Many weddings have themes that present a unique dress code. In our current times, virtual weddings may fall within this category. Review the invite to better understand whether it includes a specific dress code or instead opts for an “anything goes” type of celebration. 

Don’t see the dress code on the invite? As a rule, it’s better to be overdressed instead of underdressed. If you can’t receive clarification, arriving at a wedding with an elevated look is always preferable to not meeting the style standard—err on the side of sophisticated. 

What do you wear to a summer wedding in 2021?

Now that we know the general rules for wedding attire for men, we have a full breakdown of what to wear to a summer wedding. Taking into consideration high temperatures and 2021 spring trends, there are many ways that you can put a summer spin on wedding attire. 

Let’s start with a little bending of the rules. While black tie and white tie are very specific wedding dress codes, there is wiggle room for summer tuxedo hues. As a guest, you can opt for navy or grey instead of black. For a bit of flair, explore different patterns and colors for bow ties and pocket squares. Add a pop-of-color or non-traditional finish, like velvet, with your footwear. Try swapping out the traditional tuxedo for a dinner jacket and complementing pants, rather than a full matching set. A summer vibe enables you to express your style in your own unique way.

Wait, what is a dinner jacket? A dinner jacket is similar to a tuxedo jacket, however, it varies in color from the bottoms you pair with it. This type of jacket deviates from the traditional black tuxedo jacket and can be made in bright colors, extravagant patterns and lush textures, enabling you to personalize your summer wedding ensemble. 

When it comes to summer weddings in 2021, safety is all-important. Incorporate your masks and face shields into your summer wedding look by wearing options with complementary colors and patterns to complete your 2021 summer wedding outfit. On the fabric front, Johns Hopkins Medicine recommends face masks made of two layers of thickly woven, cotton materials.

When attending a summer wedding virtually, focus on the shirt and blazer combo. Find your best suit jacket and best-fitting shirt that showcases vivid color or print. Add your favorite pocket square and tie, and you are all set to watch the nuptials in style. Best part of a virtual wedding? You can keep it comfortable on the bottom with a pair of joggers. We won’t tell, we promise. If the attire is casual, focus on the shirt without the blazer. You can’t go wrong with a piece that you feel good in and looks great on-camera.    

What is the best color to wear to a summer wedding?

Summer is known for its fun hues, but when it comes to color, look for these trends when deciding what to wear to a summer wedding. Depending on the specific wedding attire requirements—this is the time to explore all spectrums of the color palette. From bold tones to pastel colors for a soft feel, use color strategically to achieve a fresh look that will wow any wedding you attend. 

But is it ok to wear black to a summer wedding? Absolutely. A black and white combo is timeless and can be worn in any season. Is color not your thing? Instead of exploring color, play with fabrication and lighten the look with airy fabrics. Linen, seersucker and chambray are breathable options sure to keep you cool and won’t compromise the appearance of your summer suit. 

Bringing a date to the summer soiree? Coordinate your colors to complement each other’s summer wedding looks. Don’t go all the way twinsies, from neutral to pastel. Find a palette that makes both of your looks shine.     

What should you not wear to a wedding?

We have talked about what to wear to a summer wedding, but what should men not wear? Unless specified or virtually permitted, stay away from athleisure pieces. While a sweatsuit is technically a suit, it’s not the right one for a wedding. Denim is also typically a no-no for summer wedding attire. Stay clear of jackets, jeans or anything denim related for your summer wedding looks. 

While we are a fan of bold head-to-toe print, your job as a guest is to support the union and not be the focal point. The same is said for white or cream. These designated colors are for the people at the altar and not the people in the crowd. A white or cream dress shirt? Yes. A full white or cream ensemble, unless requested of the guests in the invite, no. Subtle patterns and lighter colors like pastels are a great focus for your summer wedding looks.  

What do you wear to a casual summer wedding?

In our unprecedented times, casual has taken on a whole new meaning. Most of us haven’t had a reason to dress up in months, so what does this mean when deciding what to wear to a summer wedding? The best way to assemble a casual summer wedding ensemble is to find out everything you can about the wedding structure and plan accordingly. 

Is it outside? On the beach? Or virtual? The answers to these questions will help you put together an easygoing look that is perfect for the occasion. Laid-back trousers paired with a crisp white sneaker and a linen sport coat is a balanced approach for a casual day of celebration. Crisp loafers or brogues are also fantastic shoe options for your casual summer wedding outfits.

And now, for the age-old question: can a man wear shorts to a summer wedding? Yes, without a doubt. If the wedding attire permits, structured shorts can be an option for your summer wedding outfit. Look for Bermuda length options in light fabrics and colors that complement a relaxed sportcoat. For even more informal ceremonies, opt for shorts with a nautical striped shirt and a pair of elevated deck shoes with a complementing belt to pull together the effortless look.

Summer is right around the corner, and you are more than prepared for all of the wedding invites that are on the way. Need some key summer pieces to celebrate in style? Take your style quiz and ask your style expert to find the perfect elevated pieces for your summer wedding outfits. We will send five pieces for you to try on at home. Shipping and returns are always free.   

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