Summer Wedding Dress Codes, Decoded

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One of the most challenging parts of attending a wedding is decoding the dress code. How do you really know what to wear to a wedding with a dress code of “black tie optional” versus “semiformal?” Wedding invites come with all different levels of required attire. 

Here is your guide to deciphering what to wear to any wedding this summer, based on its requested dress code. It’s time to retire the suit that’s collecting dust in the back of your closet and invest in a look that is going to make you a best-dressed guest. Warning: Expect future invites.

Black Tie

Formality: A very fancy affair 

What to wear: You are going to need a tuxedo in this situation, and there isn’t much room to play around with what you are going to wear. You will want to stay safe with a tailored black tuxedo with minimal color and a classic bow tie. Opt for a single-breasted jacket for a clean, fuss-free look.

Black Tie Options

Black Tie Optional/Formal

Formality: Still classy, but you don’t have to buy a tux

What to wear: The name says it all: You won’t be forced to wear a tuxedo but you still need a sharp suit and tie. The shirt and tie can be a subtle color, and you can swap the freshly polished black dress shoes for evening loafers.

Black Tie Optional Selects


Formality: What you would wear to an interview or on a really nice date

What to wear: If the wedding starts in the afternoon but goes until late evening hours, you might be facing a cocktail attire dress code. Stick to darker colors and a collared shirt, but don’t be afraid to wear a navy blazer and gray pants. You can, however, have fun with a printed shirt or colored tie.

Cocktail Options

Dressy Casual

Formality: Somewhere between “formal and polished” and “casual and comfortable”

What to wear: Do not forget that this is a wedding, not a casual Friday at the office. This dress code is definitely becoming more popular, but it’s one of the more challenging to decipher. At the very least, you should be wearing dress slacks and a blazer. You don’t need a tie or dress shoes, but don’t wear sneakers or a T-shirt under the blazer.

Dressy Casual Selects

Beach Casual

Formality: You might be at the beach, but you still have to look nice

What to wear: Sorry, but this dress code does not mean flip-flops and jeans. Think a lightweight linen or cotton suitin tan or light blue with shoes you can get sand in but that will also impress your date’s parents.

Beach Casual Options

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