How to Dress Like a Gentleman This Wedding Season

Morning Suit Wedding Photo

Summer approaches, and at a certain stage of our lives, we start to get invitations through the post, booking up our weekends for the season. Wedding season is here. 

Every invitation is different, but dress codes tend to fall with in a fairly small window. Here we highlight the most common dress codes and how to navigate them:

  • Common Dress Codes & Colour Combinations
  • Groom Tie & Pocket Square Recommendations
  • Bespoke Wedding Pocket Squares
  • Choosing Your Accessories

Common Dress Codes

Morning Suit

Top hat, tails, waistcoat, white shirt, flower and/or pocket square

Grey Fox Morning Suit

If there is one golden rule for wedding attire, it's this: unless you have been explicitly asked to do so, do not arrive in a morning suit. Instruction for morning suits must come directly from the bride and groom.

Accessories for morning suits should be in keeping with the formality of the dress code, so a smart woven silk tie will be perfect, and for an extra flourish, you can add tie pin. 

Pocket squares are a very popular choice with morning suits, and the more traditional will opt for a white or off-white pocket square. The wedding party may choose to wear a buttonhole, or boutonnière, and these tend to be either white or green, and often in keeping with the colour scheme for the wedding. An understated buttonhole for a guest is acceptable. 

If you do choose to wear both a pocket square and button hole, the colours should complement each other, and not clash. 

Black Tie
Black, midnight blue or white tuxedo, black tie or bowtie, cufflinks, white shirt, pocket square

Tuxedo Pocket Square

Black tie as a dress code is a wise and practical choice. Dinner jackets, or tuxedos, are easy to come by and can either be purchased for future events or rented for the occasion. 

For black-tie weddings, bow ties are the only option, with the most popular choices coming down to silk or velvet. This choice comes down to personal preference, but we particularly like the look and texture of a velvet bow tie. In terms of colours, black is classic, but you can also choose to match your bow tie to the colour of your jacket. As a further point of note, although wearing a white jacket to black tie is perfectly acceptable, do not also pair it with a white bow tie. A white bow tie is specifically reserved for 'white tie' events, which are another level of formality up the scale from black tie.

Traditionally, bow ties should be hand tied, but that being said, a good quality pre-tied bowtie will look totally convincing and, the majority of people do tend to plump for this option. 

Grooms are advised to choose between the classic black or midnight blue tuxedo. A white jacket is suitable for more tropical climes and leather shoes with a high-gloss finish is a must for all black tie occasions, weddings or otherwise. You can also choose to mix and match black or white jackets with the contrasting colour trousers.

Black tie - black jacket with white trousers
A neat and simple way of personalising the black tie is with a pocket square. It is more than acceptable to add a touch of colour and pattern, in fact, we would encourage it, as this is the one area with black tie that you can demonstrate a bit of personality. When everyone is dressed the same, it is always nice to be the one demonstrating that little extra touch of flair. 

For a black jacket, a square with some red in it such as our Major Pierson Pocket Square below always looks good, while yellow is also an excellent choice when looking to create a bit of contrast.

Can you where a coloured pocket square with black tie?

Casual or No Stated Dress Code
Non-black suit, coloured or patterned shirt, optional tie, pocket square

While the words "casual dress" can be open to interpretation, we recommend playing it safe. Stick to a brown shoe; leather, suede, velvet - as you prefer. But a brown shoe will match well with almost any reasonably smart non-black suit.

Aside from this, feel free to find light, fun, spring or summer colours - light pinks and blues work well below the waist. When paired with darker blues and lighter brown, checked or blocked, such trousers are practically failsafe, even for conservative dressers.

In this setting, a combination of blazer or sports coat and crisp pair of new chinos is a failsafe outfit. A look that is the quintessential definition of smart casual, and if you get the colour and pattern combinations just right, you will give off an aura of effortless style. 

Our recommendation would be to go for a tie, it might be "casual", but you are still attending a wedding. If the jacket is a light block colour, feel free to push the boundaries and select a tie with a bit more life. If the jacket is patterned, you may want to keep the tie muted, however, a patterned tie is fine as long as it is a different pattern style to the jacket such as the image on the left. 

A casual dress code leaves the door wide open for your pocket square choices. We recommend that you choose a colour from your jacket or shirt, and complement, or match that colour with your pocket square to ensure that your colours do not clash.  

Beach
Light fabrics, light colours, optional tie, block t-shirts & blazer, hats & pocket squares

With beach weddings continuing to rise in popularity, the main thing to know here is to dress lightly. Both in density of fabric and colour. A crisply ironed linen shirt is recommended, especially if you’re somewhere blisteringly hot.

You’ll still require a jacket and we’d point to seersucker, a light cotton that still has enough weight to look ceremonial, and feel free to go for bright colours.

Summer wedding jacket
Seersucker jacket 

Hats are a good idea too, cream fedoras and trilbies are both practical and stylish if you're prepared to stretch the budget a little. If a good quality hat is beyond the purse, then it’s better left alone on this occasion.

Finally, go with a lightly coloured or contrasting pocket square, and ideally be bold with your fold!

Choosing Your Accessories

There are a number of different accessories that make up a wedding outfit, be they groom or guests. Below we outline those that are likely to catch the eye, and how to wear with panache.  

Pocket Squares
For a wedding, the most popular pocket squares tend to be silk, which have both an illustrious feel and make for bold colours or patterns in wedding photos. You can see our full collection here: Silk Pocket Squares.

A key element of choosing a pocket square is the size. We advocate a size of at least 40cm x 40cm, which ensures that there is enough bulk that the square sits firmly in the pocket all day. Anything smaller and you will likely spend the day fishing your pocket square out of the bottom of your pocket.  

Another aspect to consider is the ‘bleed’ of the pocket square. This is how well the colour, print or pattern bleeds through to the opposite side of the square. Not a trivial point when you want it to look fantastic when folded in your pocket for those close up wedding shots.

All our squares are printed with the utmost care, which results in truly remarkable levels of detail on both sides of the pocket square. Faces, objects and colours are sharp and well defined to give a truly stunning finish. 

Finally, finish is key. A nice plump hand rolled edge is the only option for a silk or wool/silk pocket squares. Not only the hallmark of an exceptional product, but it gives extra weight to the corners to allow for different types of folds.

Wedding pocket square
Wedding squares

Ties
When choosing a tie one of the key things to consider is the texture. For morning coats, we would recommend a silk tie to complement the jacket, whereas for more casual textured jackets such as sports coats and blazers a more textured wool or wool blend tie combines beautifully. 

For the blade itself, 8cm is a traditional width that will never be out of fashion. In the below images the most formal tie combination is on the left with a silk tie, through to a wool blend and sports coats on the right.

Boutonnières
For that delicate flourish to an outfit, many men will opt for a boutonnière, or button hole, on more formal occasions.

A button hole is typically a floral decoration of a single flower or bud that is displayed upon the lapel of a tuxedo or suit jacket. White or green blooms are often used for morning suits and black tie, while for less formal occasions more colourful and exotic flowers allow for a little extra dash of excitement. Once a staple of gentlemanly attire, boutonnières are more often than not now reserved for special occasions for which formal wear is expected.

Wedding Boutonnières
Should you wear a Boutonnière at a wedding

Traditionally, a boutonnière is worn pushed through the lapel buttonhole and the stem held in place using a loop or pin at the back of the lapel. However, more recently we often find the lapel is made without the reverse loop as required.

Generally, though it should still hold your light flower in place for the period of a single event and can always be pinned to the back although do be aware that continued pinning could eventually damage the cloth or silk facing.

Lapel Pins
Lapel pins, hugely popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, have seen a resurgence in recent years. They more often than not consist of precious metal and gemstones with rare examples from the likes of Cartier and Faberge being sold at auction for thousands of pounds.

Despite having a much higher base value than a boutonnière, it is often a much more subtle addition, adding a single pearl or emerald in an 18ct gold mount to your lapel.


Wedding lapel pin

Groom Tie & Pocket Square Recommendations

With a more formal wedding setting, for the groom and wedding party we would recommend a classic combination of one colour silk tie and white or lightly patterned pocket square. 

In terms of co-ordinating the groomsman, here the groom has two options. He can either choose to have the same combinations of tie and pocket square for all the wedding party, or can have an offset, where the groomsmen have either a different pocket square or tie from the groom. In our experience, the most popular combination is to have matching pocket squares for the full wedding party, with the groom having a different coloured tie, but there are no set rules around this. 

Formal Wedding
Below are two of our most popular pocket squares for formal weddings. Firstly, La Ceremonie Pocket Square designed by London artist Fab Gorjian, while the classic Paisley below is our White and Ivory Persian Paisley Pocket Square produced in collaboration with the V&A.

La Ceremonie
La Ceremonie Jacket Shot 
White and Ivory Pocket Square
Jacket Shot 

Casual Wedding
For the more casual wedding, we would suggest going for a square with a bit more colour. Below are two of our favourites for the groom looking to add a pop of colour. The two squares below have the added lustre of being painted by two masters, firstly Canaletto with, Venice: The Basin of San Marco on Ascension Day, and Rubens with The Medici Cycle: The Triumph of Juliers.

Bespoke Pocket Squares

For the truly unique offering on the wedding day, a bespoke pocket square is a one-of-a-kind product that can be an extra special touch on the big day. Bespoke squares can be created from paintings or photographs and start from £175.

For bespoke enquiries please contact us on bespoke@rampleyandco.com.

Bespoke pocket square wedding