A wedding invitation has come in the mail — and now you may be wondering if you have anything in your closet that you can actually wear to such a momentous event.
If so, you’re not alone. Many male wedding guests share the same predicament, particularly those who don’t have a closet full of suits and ties.
Khakis seem like a reasonable option for a wedding — after all, it’s better than showing up in jeans, isn’t it? But can you wear khakis to a wedding?
Sometimes. It all depends upon where the wedding is being held and how formal it is. To learn more about when you can wear khakis and when you can’t, it’s time to delve into the different wedding dress codes and what type of attire is expected for each.
Can You Wear Khakis to a Wedding? Understanding Dress Codes
Khakis can be a great option for a wedding, but they aren’t appropriate for every type of ceremony and reception. That’s why it’s so important to understand the dress code — after all, you won’t want to show up in khakis and a polo shirt if every other male guest is wearing a suit.
Our overview of the six main wedding dress codes will help you choose an outfit with confidence so you can not only look appropriate, but your very best.
The name of this dress code says it all, because you quite literally need to wear a white bow tie along with an evening tailcoat and trousers. A white vest and wing-collar shirt as well as black patent leather shoes, studs and cufflinks are also required.
While it’s pretty unlikely you’ll be invited to a white tie wedding, here’s an example, should you need it.
- White tie attire (featured above)
You’ll need to channel your inner George Clooney for a black tie event; and that means wearing a classic tuxedo. Tuxedos may come in many color and pattern options, but a black tie wedding isn’t the place to express yourself. Traditional black is always your best bet.
Aside from the trousers and jacket, you’ll need a black bow tie, a white shirt with French cuffs, black dress shoes and black dress socks.
Need some inspiration? These tuxes will have you looking debonair.
Formal (or black tie optional)
A black tie optional wedding is a bit more relaxed than black tie, but it’s still very formal. If you don’t want to wear a traditional tuxedo, a two- or three-piece suit in black, navy, or charcoal is also appropriate. Here are three great options for a formal wedding.
You’ll see no sign of a tux at a semi-formal wedding. While it’s definitely much more casual than a black tie affair, you’ll still need to wear a suit and tie with a collared shirt, dress shoes and dress socks.
In the cooler weather, dark suits in heavier fabrics are the way to go. While you can rock navy or charcoal in the summer as well, you also have the option of lighter hues such as tan. If you don’t have a suit, you can get away with wearing dressy khakis with a sport coat, button-down shirt and a tie.
These examples will ensure you look picture perfect for a semi-formal ceremony.
In reality, dressy casual is anything but casual. Instead, focus on the word ‘dressy.’ You don’t have to wear a suit if you don’t want to, but you should show up in trousers or dressy khakis with a blazer and nice button-down or pull-over top.
While you can opt for khakis and a button-down and not raise too many eyebrows, make sure both are of high quality and consider adding a tie to spruce it up a bit.
These looks are all a good starting point.
A casual wedding isn’t the same as other casual events. And that means jeans, shorts and athletic wear are all off the table. Instead, reach for a pair of khakis and either a button-down shirt or a nice polo. If the wedding is in the cooler weather, you can top off your outfit with a sport coat for some extra style and added warmth.
Here’s a few ideas to get you started.
What to Wear When No Dress Code is Stated
With some dress code knowledge under your belt, it’s now time to think about how you should dress if your invitation doesn’t mention a dress code.
Wearing a suit is always a good choice, but it may not be the best one. To determine exactly what you should wear, take a look at the time of day and location listed on your invitation. Those two items can tell you a lot about what you should and shouldn’t wear.
Morning and afternoon ceremonies are typically more relaxed than their evening counterparts, but that doesn’t mean you should dress casually. A suit or khakis and a blazer are good options and will keep you from arriving under-dressed.
You should only wear casual clothing if your invitation specifically asks you to or if the location is a very casual one, such as a backyard wedding followed by a barbecue. If you plan to wear khakis, here are three ways to make it work from semi-formal to casual.
Ceremonies held at 6 p.m. or later are typically black tie, formal or semi-formal. They are always more formal than daytime ceremonies and that means wearing either a suit and tie or a tuxedo is a must.
These three outfits all work for an evening ceremony.
Church weddings typically come with a bit more formality, so donning a suit and tie or a pair of trousers with a blazer and tie is essential. You’ll also need a pair of dress shoes and dress socks that match your trousers. If you’re attending a black tie evening wedding, however, you’ll need to find yourself a tux.
These options run the gamut from black tie to semi-formal and will have you looking your best for a church ceremony.
A beach wedding doesn’t mean you can break out the khaki shorts. Even if it’s not formal, khakis and a button-down or polo shirt is as casual as you should get. If it’s a more formal occasion, a linen suit will keep you nice and cool. Be sure to pair your ensemble with a polished but less formal shoe that will work well on sand.
These outfits are perfect for a wedding on the beach.
A garden wedding is typically an elegant and colorful affair. To match that vibe, a suit or trousers with a blazer is perfect, especially if you can add some color to your outfit with a tie and pocket square. If you’re more daring, you can wear a colorful sport coat or dress shirt. Whichever route you go, ensure your shoes are sleek and well polished and don’t forget to match your dress socks with your pants.
These looks are all colorful and fun, yet still wedding appropriate.
A daytime country wedding is the perfect time to break out the khakis. Paired with a crisp button-down and sport coat or vest, you’ll look great for a dressy casual wedding. To make the look semi-formal appropriate, simply add a tie. If the wedding is more relaxed, a polo shirt is fine.
If, however, the wedding is more formal, you’ll have to leave the khakis behind in favor of a suit. These three outfits are perfect for country nuptials.