If you’re a guy with a lot of wedding invites coming up, you might be scratching your head, wondering what outfits to buy. With all the different wedding dress codes out there today, it can be hard to decode them all. That’s why we spoke to Dustin Sitar, Managing Editor of The Groom Club, on what’s the difference between black tie and black tie optional.
It's all about being set up for success. “Investing in core pieces lets you prepare for all the events,” says Sitar. If you’re worried you’ll have to go out and buy an entirely new wardrobe for every event, think again. Thankfully, many of these pieces are interchangeable and you can repeat outfits without anyone noticing. With Sitar's help, we rounded up the essential pieces men need when preparing for wedding season.
Tuxedo: Bonobos Capstone Italian Wool Tuxedo
Buy it: $278, Bonobos.com
For white tie and black tie weddings, you’ll need a tuxedo. Thankfully, there are more affordable options today than ever before. Bonobos offers a range of quality yet reasonably priced tuxedos in extended sizes. For those that live near a store, you can go in for a personal consultation. Otherwise, you can shop online and enjoy a generous 45-day return window if you need to send it back. If you only need a tux for a one-time event, Sitar recommends renting one. “You should never feel obligated to spend an insane amount of money on a tuxedo,” he says.
Suit: J.Crew Ludlow Slim-Fit Suit Jacket & Pants
Buy it: $675, J.Crew.com
If you have a lot of weddings coming up, Sitar recommends investing in a dark, tailored suit. “The beauty of a dark suit is that it will work for any season, regardless if it’s a winter or summer wedding,” he says. Plus, a suit meets a variety of dress codes, including formal, black tie optional, and cocktail.
Once you have your suit, you can change up your look with different shirts, ties, and cufflinks. This suit from J.Crew comes in both black and dark navy, and features a slim fit for a tailored look. It’s made from Italian wool, which is both breathable and temperature regulating, so you can wear it for the entire ceremony and reception without feeling uncomfortable.
Button Up Shirt: Banana Republic Premium Poplin Dress Shirt
Buy it: $90, BananaRepublic.com
A dress shirt is a staple, whether you are wearing it with a suit or alone with a tie for a semi-formal or casual dressy wedding. When choosing a style, Sitar says to avoid shirts that are too transparent. That’s why we like this shirt from Banana Republic because it features poplin fabric woven from 2-ply yarns, giving it added opacity and a smooth feel against the skin.
Slacks: Canali Wool Flat Front Trousers
Buy it: $395, Nordstrom.com
Similar to a dress shirt, a nice pair of slacks will help you get through wedding season. “You can take the same pair of slacks that you wore to the wedding and wear them again at brunch the next day with a fresh shirt, a more casual pair of shoes, and nobody will notice,” says Sitar. This pair is made from breathable wool and ranges from light to dark shades.
Sweater: Weatherproof Vintage Men's Cotton Cashmere V-Neck Sweater
Buy it: $51, Macy’s.com
Sitar also recommends having an elegant sweater that you can change into after the ceremony during more casual weddings. This simple v neck comes in several colors and is made from cashmere for a luxurious look.
Dress Socks: Dress Socks in Dots
Buy it: $20, J.Crew
Even when you're wearing the same outfit formula to many weddings, you can switch up your look with different socks. “I like to go wild with the socks,” says Sitar. “This lets me show my personality and differentiate between looks.” Even a simple detail, like dots on these dress socks, can add a nice accent to your ensemble.
Tie: Brooks Brothers Dot Rep Tie
Buy it: $99, BrooksBrothers.com
Just like socks, a new tie can change up your entire wedding look. This pure silk design comes in a range of different shades and dots for a pop of color against a more neutral suit.
Dress Shoes: Nordstrom Dax Plain Toe Derby
Buy it: $99, BrooksBrothers.com
Last but not least, you need a comfortable and durable pair of dress shoes. Not only is this pair from Nordstrom under $100 but it comes with a removable insole for maximum support. Available in black, brown, and patent leather, so you can choose the best shade to fit with the wedding venue and dress code.
What to Look for in Wedding Guest Attire for Men
If you’re going to invest in pieces you can wear again and again, you want to buy high quality fabrics. For ties, Sitar recommends silk, like this one from Brooks Brothers, and wool—both fabrics are durable and of high quality. For separates like pants and shirts, you'll want breathable, wrinkle-resistant fabrics. We chose the Canali Wool Flat Front Trouser because it’s made from wool, which is both wrinkle-resistant and temperature regulating.
When it comes to pieces like tuxedos and suits, finding the right fit is extremely important. Ideally, you can get sized in person, but if you have to shop online, Sitar recommends double checking the brand’s size guide and ordering a few sizes to pick the best one. Look for brands with flexible return policies, like Bonobos, so you aren’t stuck with an ill-fitting suit.
How do I pick the right outfit?
Most wedding invitations and websites list the event’s dress code to give you guidance on what to wear. However, if you still have questions, Sitar says you should feel comfortable to double check with the couple.
If you are going to the wedding as a a plus one he suggests going outfit shopping with your date. They can help guide you and ensure your looks somewhat coordinate with each other. “If you're going to be a plus-one and your date is a bridesmaid, it's really important to get it right,” says Sitar.
Can I wear the same outfits to different weddings?
While a female guest may not feel comfortable wearing the same dress for more than one wedding, Sitar says it’s totally fine to wear the same suit or slacks and shirt. “We're not judged and critiqued as much for wearing duplicate outfits,” he says. Switching up the accessories, like your tie or socks, often is enough to make the outfit look new. Another rule of thumb is that it’s always better to overdress than under dress.
What shouldn’t I wear to a wedding?
Regardless of your gender, Sitar gives the same advice to all wedding guests. “Remember, you aren't the star of the show,” says Sitar. “Feel free to show off your personality with accessories, but don’t wear anything that could outshine the bride or groom.”
Meet the Expert
Dustin Sitar is the Managing Editor of The Groom Club, a site providing the groom-to-be with advice that helps them feel more confident & supported through the steps of the wedding planning.
Why Trust Brides
Emily Cieslak is an Assistant Commerce Editor for Brides, covering fashion and beauty. For this story she interviewed Dustin Sitar, Managing Editor of The Groom Club.