If you’ve been invited to a wedding and are wondering what you have in your closet that’s actually acceptable attire, you’re not alone. Many male wedding guests face this dilemma, particularly those who aren’t used to dressing up.
Chinos may seem like a great option for a wedding — it’s better than wearing jeans, right? But can you wear chinos to a wedding? Is it appropriate?
Maybe. To learn more about what to wear as a wedding guest — and when you can wear chinos with confidence — it’s important to learn about the different wedding dress codes and what type of attire is expected for each one.
Can You Wear Chinos to a Wedding? Understanding Dress Codes
Chinos are a great option for some weddings, but they won’t work for every style of ceremony and reception. And that’s why knowing the dress code is key to choosing an appropriate outfit. Our overview of the six main wedding dress codes will help you figure out when you can wear chinos and when you can’t.
Just like the name implies, you’ll quite literally need to wear a white bow tie along with an evening tailcoat and trousers. Your ensemble should also include a white vest and wing-collar shirt as well as black patent leather shoes, studs and cufflinks. While very few weddings are white tie these days, here’s an example, should you need it.
For a black tie event, you’ll need to channel your inner James Bond by wearing a tuxedo. While tuxedos come in many color and pattern options, a black tie wedding isn’t the place to choose something wild. Traditional black is always a safe choice.
Along with the suit, you’ll wear a black bow tie and a white shirt with French cuffs, black dress shoes and black dress socks. You may also want to wear a waistcoat or cummerbund and top off your look with a pocket square.
These tuxes will have you looking both stylish and appropriate.
Formal (or black tie optional)
A black tie optional wedding may give you more leeway in the outfit you choose but, remember, it is still very formal. And that means either wearing a traditional tux or a formal suit in a dark color such as black, navy, or charcoal. Here are three great options for a formal wedding.
A semi-formal wedding may be more casual than a black tie affair, but you’ll still need to wear a suit and tie with a collared shirt, dress shoes and dress socks. You do have more color choice for a semi-formal wedding, however. In the cooler weather, stick to darker colors and heavier fabrics but you can opt for tan or light gray for a spring or summer wedding.
If you don’t have a suit (and can’t afford to buy one), you can wear dressy chinos with a sport coat, button-down shirt and a tie.
Need some examples? These ensembles are perfect for a semi-formal ceremony.
Don’t be fooled by the word ‘casual’ here. Instead, take your cue from the word ‘dressy.’ While you don’t have to wear a formal suit, trousers or dressy chinos with a blazer and nice button-down or pull-over top is required. If you’re wearing a collared shirt, it wouldn’t hurt to wear a tie, either. Finish off the look with dress shoes and socks that match your pants.
Need some inspiration? These looks are perfect for a dressy casual wedding.
Wedding casual isn’t the same thing as your typical casual attire. Jeans, shorts and athletic wear are all hugely inappropriate for most casual weddings. Opt instead for a pair of chinos with a button-down shirt or a nice polo. If it’s cool out, you can top off your outfit with a sport coat. Your shoes should be at least a little bit dressy such as a pair of slip-on loafers. Sneakers (with a few exceptions), running shoes and sandals have no place at a wedding.
What to Wear When No Dress Code is Stated
Now that you have the lowdown on wedding formality levels, let’s talk about how to dress if your invitation doesn’t request a particular dress code.
Wearing a suit is a pretty safe option, but you can often determine exactly what type of attire is expected just by reading the time of day and location stated on your invitation. Want to know more? Let’s dive in.
Morning and afternoon weddings are usually more relaxed than evening ceremonies, but that doesn’t mean you should dress too casually. It’s typically best to don either a suit or chinos and a blazer to avoid being under-dressed. You should only wear casual clothing if your invitation specifically asks you to.
If your heart is set on wearing chinos, here are three ways to make it work for a daytime wedding from semi-formal to down to casual.
Most evening weddings are either black tie, formal or semi-formal. And, because they are more formal than daytime ceremonies, a suit and tie or a tuxedo will be required — no exceptions.
These wedding-appropriate outfits will ensure you’re ready for an evening ceremony.
If you’re attending a wedding at a church, it means you’re wearing a suit or a pair of trousers with a blazer. And don’t forget the tie. Your outfit should also include a pair of dress shoes and dress socks that match your trousers. The only exception to the rule is if you’re attending a black tie evening wedding. In that case, a tux will be required.
These outfits are perfect for a church wedding.
A beach wedding doesn’t mean you get to wear shorts. If it’s a formal beach ceremony, a linen suit is ideal. If it’s not formal, stick with light-weight chinos and a button-down or polo shirt and match them with a polished but less formal shoe that will work well on sand. A deck shoe is a great option here as is a pair of solid-color, neutral slip-on Vans — just don’t wear sandals.
These outfits will keep you cool and comfortable and yet are still wedding-appropriate.
You’ll still need to suit up for a garden wedding, but you can definitely have some fun with color. You can wear a suit or trousers with a blazer and add some color with your tie and pocket square, or you can even go with a less traditionally hued suit jacket or dress shirt. Make sure your shoes are dressy and well polished and don’t forget to match your dress socks with your pants.
These looks are all fun and playful, yet still wedding appropriate.
A country wedding isn’t always a super casual one but, in most cases, a pair of nice chinos will work well for a daytime affair. Be sure to wear a crisp button-down and sport coat or vest for a dressy casual wedding and throw in a tie if it’s semi-formal. If the wedding is more laid-back, you can opt for a polo shirt instead, however, if it’s a formal wedding, a suit will be required.
These outfits will all work well for country nuptials.