Summer weddings are tough.
OK, drinking a bunch of free rosé at a swanky beach-adjacent locale with all your friends (and a bunch of people from college who you never talk to anymore) isn’t that bad, but dressing for the fête can be challenging. For nuptials in colder weather, there’s almost always a strict dress code (and years of experience in covering up). But when the invitation says “Surf Club Chic” or “Garden Party,” we understand if you might need some pointers.
First things first, free your mind from the linen trap. Now let's begin.
A summer suit does not have to be cream-colored linen—unless your name begins with "Baron von" or has a "de" somewhere in the middle and then carry on. There's a good chance that once the dancing, drinking, and eating begins (you do need something to soak up all that rosé), that pristine linen is going to get stained and saggy very quickly. So ditch the linen. Strike it from your repertoire. Instead, reach for a suit in a high-twist gray wool/silk blend, like this one from Ring Jacket ($1,540), that will breathe while also maintaining its structure as you show off those killer moves.
Shoes are an easy way to show some personality without getting too loud about it. An easy option is to sport dark brown or chestnut monk-straps like these John Lobb Phillip II ($1,905)—sans socks, of course. (Here's how to easily pull off that sockless look.) They'll look great with pretty much any pants that aren't black. If you're not at risk of salt water splashing you, it doesn't get much more Italian Riviera than chocolate suede Tod's driving loafers ($445) with a suit. Or heck, some customized Ferragamo driving shoes. Note: This is one of the few occasions in your life where black lace-ups are not an appropriate backup plan.
Basics and Brights
Finding a middle ground between full-on Easter egg and corporate recruiter is the name of the game here. Keep your basics, well, basic—just brighten up the accents. If there's a theme to the wedding, this is where you should bring it in. Less is more, and will carry less risk of you looking like you're wearing a costume.
Your suit, shoes, and shirt should all be colors you'd wear any time of year. The shades of blue, gray, and beige might be a little lighter than what you'd reach for in the fall, but these easy-on-the-eyes hues should anchor your outfit. Save the more adventurous colors for things like ties, socks, and cuff links. A pair of kelly green or canary yellow silk knot cuff links ($9) at your wrist or an intense lilac grenadine tie ($165) around your neck goes a long way.
Embrace Black Tie (if You’re That Lucky)
If you're lucky enough to get invited to a summer wedding where the invitation still reads "Black Tie," thank your lucky stars and try to resist the urge to get "seasonally" creative. The whole point of black tie is that everyone will show up looking at least half-decent and no one has to worry about showboating or looking like a schlub. Forget the ivory dinner jacket and crimson pocket square. Go pure black tie: black jacket, black pants, black bowtie, white pocket square. You get a pass on the cummerbund due to the heat. There are plenty of lightweight tuxes out there, including this number from Burberry London ($1,395), which has a slim shawl lapel and a touch of silk.