Suited and Booted

You would think men would have an easier task of choosing what to wear to a wedding than women.  After all, most men have a suit lurking in the back of the wardrobe, so dusting it off for the odd wedding or funeral takes five minutes. Chuck on an office shirt, grab a tie and run a duster over your work shoes and there you have it – the perfect wedding guest outfit.


Wrong! Oh, so wrong.

The best clue as to what is appropriate to wear to the next wedding on your calendar is in the wording of the invitation, so read on to find out what each dress code means, and what shoes you need to complete the look.

Black Tie

This is usually the most formal of wedding styles and requires the male guest to wear a black tuxedo, a black bow tie (yes, black tie means bow tie), and either a black cummerbund or black waistcoat. There really is only one colour shoe to wear at a black-tie wedding, and that is black. To really complete the look, opt for a patent leather formal shoe, such as the Barker Dominic.

Formal or Black Tie Optional

Either of these on the invitation denotes a slightly less rigid dress code than the clear cut ‘Black Tie’.  Although a tuxedo is still acceptable (and if you have one, why not?), you could also wear a formal dark suit, which should be teamed with a white shirt, and a conservative tie.  As for shoes, if your suit is black you should still choose a black shoe, but can be slightly less formal in style, so a timeless black brogue will complement your outfit perfectly.

However, at a formal wedding, you are not just restricted to a black suit – any dark colour is acceptable, so you might opt for navy, for example. This widens your choice of shoe, as black, brown, or burgundy all look good with navy. Can’t quite make up your mind? Then go for this burgundy and black Barker Dartford, adding a twist of colour to your ensemble.

Semi-Formal, or Dressy Casual

Trying to decipher wedding attire can be a minefield, but when the invitation asks for semi-formal you are simply being asked to wear a suit and tie. The deciding factors should be what time of year the wedding is being held, and also the time of day. So if for example, the wedding is being held in the summer you could choose a lighter coloured suit, whereas if it is a winter wedding you should opt for darker colours. The season will also dictate the material – a wool suit is perfect for December, but a linen suit will keep you looking and feeling cool in the sunshine.

As far as shoes go, unless your suit is very light in colour (i.e. beige or white), black is a safe bet. For navy or dark grey you can also add burgundy into the mix.  A navy suit can also carry off brown shoes very well, and as the suit is not quite as formal as the previous ones, you have many more styles to choose from.  Add some detail with a pair of brown loafers, but take note that loafers are usually worn without socks, so are probably more suited to a spring or summer wedding. 


Don’t take this too literally! Unless the bride or groom states otherwise, it is not appropriate to wear shorts (unless it is a beach wedding), jeans, or combat trousers to a wedding! Casual attire, for a man, will normally consist of smart trousers, a shirt, and a jacket or jumper, (depending on the time of year). Ties are usually optional, so erring on the side of caution is advised. Wear one to be safe, as it takes two seconds to remove it if no one else is wearing one.

Shoes should again complement your trousers, as far as colour goes, but with a casual attire code, it is perfectly acceptable to wear a style which is much more relaxed. For a summer wedding on a beach, a good boat shoe can hit exactly the right balance between smart and casual.

Linda Firth, style expert for the blog added, “Good shoes are the foundation of every outfit – no matter how great your suit is, if your shoes are below par the entire package is ruined. So put as much thought into buying the right shoes as you do into your suit – remember, quality shoes can last many years, so choose wisely.”

As Hardy Amies once said:

“It is totally impossible to be well-dressed in cheap shoes.”