"Black-Tie Optional" Weddings: Know The Rules So You Can Break Them

                                              Don't be shy! Be brilliant and wear some colors!

                                              Don't be shy! Be brilliant and wear some colors!

Preparing for weddings are difficult whether you’re the groom, bride, best man, or just a witness you should look your best and also be dressed appropriately. How do you tell what’s appropriate, however, when the wedding invitation says: “black-tie optional” or “semi-formal wedding?”

There’s a fine line there, and often times there’s really no right or wrong to these kind of guidelines-- still, you don’t want to be the goof who happens to come dressed inappropriately, like say, if you decided to wear sneakers to the wedding for whatever reason (in which case, sneakers at a wedding are always a “no-go,” unless the happy couple green-lights those kicks specifically. Sorry, to all our sneaker-heads out there!). So, instead of trying to think of what is acceptable at a wedding, think of your general suiting rules and consider how they become common knowledge…

Mainly, there are three central ideas: 1.) what time of day is this wedding, 2.) what season is it in, and 3.) depending on the season and time of day, what colors are associated? These themes, coupled with whether or not the wedding is “black-tie optional” or “semi-formal” (which have nearly identical definitions) will help guide you towards the best and most appropriate outfit without all the jazz of rules and uncertainties.

We’re going to break down the two main different types of semi-formal weddings for you; take a look, peruse on some suave styles, use what works for you, and build on what you think you can make your own:

1.) If the wedding is “black-tie optional,” it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should skip the tie entirely, it means you can be “semi-formal” and you don’t have to wear a tie, but you could. If you’re not one for ties then just let it go; otherwise, you should probably wear a tie. The best part is it doesn’t have to be black. So, if the wedding is during the day, is at a warm location, or is in the spring or summer season, then venture out and steal some style influences from the derby and play with brighter colors, lighter materials, like cotton or linen, wear a floral tie or shirt (why not? It can still be “semi-formal” if you want it to be), and swing with those no-show socks loafers you love so much! Need some inspiration? As always, we got you covered:

                     The Melbourne Derby is a great place to get wedding style influences! 

                     The Melbourne Derby is a great place to get wedding style influences! 

                             The stylish men from Pitti Uomo are bringing out their spring suits! 

                             The stylish men from Pitti Uomo are bringing out their spring suits! 

                                             Linen suits are great for warmer weathers! 

                                             Linen suits are great for warmer weathers! 

                           Take more influences from Pitti Uomo with lighter colors and florals! 

                           Take more influences from Pitti Uomo with lighter colors and florals! 

Don't be shy wear the colors you like, skip the tie you don't, or wear your favorite pocket square!

Don't be shy wear the colors you like, skip the tie you don't, or wear your favorite pocket square!

2.) Is the wedding during the evening or night? Is it at a milder location during the fall or winter? Or do you just want to channel your inner deviousness because… well, again, why not? If so, then experiment with darker, cooler shades, warmer materials like wool or wool cotton, sharper patterns to stay crisp, and stay a crowd pleaser with those essential double monks. Your inner demons have never looked so good while supporting the happy couple:

              "Black-Tie Optional" in the evenings? Mr. Raro is a master at skipping the tie!

              "Black-Tie Optional" in the evenings? Mr. Raro is a master at skipping the tie!

                   Nick Wooster knows patterns like no other! It's modest, yet sharp and clean.

                   Nick Wooster knows patterns like no other! It's modest, yet sharp and clean.

  Reinvent the traditional navy suit with window pane patterns, perfect for weddings and beyond!

  Reinvent the traditional navy suit with window pane patterns, perfect for weddings and beyond!

Remember that what's on your feet matter too! Loafers and double monks are interchangeable for all sorts of seasons depending on the materials they're made of! 

Remember that what's on your feet matter too! Loafers and double monks are interchangeable for all sorts of seasons depending on the materials they're made of! 

Weddings have a ton of unspoken rules, but if you know the rules it’s only a matter of time before you can break them with mastery-- know what works for you and know your surroundings so you can witness that momentous day in peace (while looking debonair of course).

Need more advice and style inspirations on suit textures, colors and patterns, or shoes that could help you for that wedding planning? Check out our individualized links or scroll through our archive here!

 

Hoisum Nguyen

Berkeley, CA