They say your whole life gets taken over by weddings or baby showers in your thirties—and that couldn’t be more true for this writer. The minute I turned 30 last year, I had a slew of pregnancy and engagement announcements come flooding in from both friends and family members. This summer alone, I have two Canadian weddings back-to-back in July. One is my sister’s wedding, happening back home in northern Ontario (I just so happen to be the man of honor for it). Another is a close college friend’s wedding celebration, happening in picturesque Prince Edward Island.
It’s been a hot minute since I’ve attended a wedding—but now that my friends and relatives are at the age where lifelong commitment no longer seems terrifying, my entire summer is suddenly taken over by them! My main stress isn’t over who to bring as a date, or what to buy from the couple’s registry, however: It’s what to wear.
Dressing for a wedding requires more extensive thought than your typical evening event, after all. There are certain things you can’t wear—bridal white being an obvious one—and other things you shouldn’t wear, like sandals (yes, even if it’s a beach wedding). Couple this with my upcoming weddings being in the summer, where scorching temperatures are an important factor to consider, and finding that comfortable (yet stylish!) look poses a serious challenge.
Luckily, I’ve had months to ponder these sartorial conundrums, so you don’t have to. For any men who are attending weddings this summer, there are certain looks you can always depend on to look perfectly appropriate and dressy—without upstaging the groom. I would know: I’ve spent weeks deep-diving into the world of men’s wedding fashion, trying on different looks in a quest to figure out my own dos and don’ts for wedding guest attire. So, below, see five foolproof options to consider for your next big event. Because who doesn’t want to watch the couple say “I do” in style?
Never doubt the navy suit
A suit is always a foolproof option for a wedding. Since the groom is usually wearing a tuxedo or a black suit, you’ll want to stray away from these super-formal styles. (Let him shine!) Instead, a classic dark navy suit—either single- or double-breasted—will always look elegant and appropriate. Pair it with a white button-up shirt, and black or brown dress shoes. If the wedding venue is outdoors, consider a suit in a lighter fabric (like linen or cotton) to offset the darker colorway. Yes, it will be slightly toasty under the sun: Suck it up, the day’s not about you.
Go light and bright
If you’re worried that a navy suit will be too heavy on the special day, there are lighter, airier suiting options. A breezy seersucker suit will always be a timeless option for a wedding, especially if it’s by the water. An olive or sage green is another contender. A tan or khaki suit, in linen or cotton, is also an excellent option—just make sure the neutral tone is complementary to your skin tone. All of these can be paired with a crisp white button-up shirt: a wedding must.
Consider the short suit
I know what you’re thinking: Shorts, at a wedding? But yes, a shorts suit—a classic blazer paired with shorts instead of trousers—can look super dapper. Sure, it’s a little more youthful and edgy than your standard suit, but the key to pulling it off is simple: It’s all about the proportions and fit. Just ensure your shorts are not too slim, and they must hit knee level. A pleated shorts style looks especially crisp and tailored. Wear it with a solid button-up, tee, or tank, as well as discreet black dress shoes and black socks: The suit is enough of a statement on its own.
Ditch the blazer altogether
If suiting is too stuffy for your liking, you can ditch the blazer for a wedding—but the look requires much more thought. This look would be reserved for a casual or semi-formal dress code: You can wear a pair of pleated dress pants or chinos with a fun, printed button-up shirt. Think: A more elevated version of a top you’d wear on vacation. Floral or tropical prints work especially well for a summer wedding. Just be sure to counter the more casual feel of the shirt with super-sleek accent pieces like a dress shoe, sharp shades, a great timepiece, and a leather belt.
Don’t forget the accessories!
With all these different looks to consider, it’s important not to forget about your accessories. There are certain pieces that will always be a surefire wedding hit. Lace-up oxfords in brown or black leather are a must, as are leather loafers; chunky-soled styles feel especially fresh and modern right now. If your suit is simple, you can have fun with a striped or printed tie, or a button-up shirt with a subtle print on it (don’t go too wild). A great watch, pair of sunglasses, and subtle jewelry (in silver or gold) never hurt either—you can have a little more fun with a summer wedding. Just do like Coco Chanel and remember her tip to always take off one accessory before leaving the house. Simpler is better: All attention should be on the bride and groom!