While winter weddings call for warmth, they need not entail a compromise on style. Whether you’re the groom, best man or a guest, a winter wedding calls for a little forward planning when it comes to your outfit.
Whatever the dress code – black tie, formal, semi-formal or casual - there are a few key areas to address.
Whatever the occasion, cooler weather calls for warmer materials– and a wedding is no exception. While a black tie dress code leaves no room for manoeuvre in what you wear (tuxedo, white shirt with turn-down collar and pleated bib, bow-tie and patent leather shoes or evening slippers), you can, of course, opt for lightweight or heavy fabrics. As it’s winter, we’d recommend the latter.
Don’t be mislead by the name - black tie need no longer necessarily be black; unless it’s a very conservative occasion, you can opt for whatever hue of formalwear you like, such as charcoal or navy. You can even inject a pop of colour into your outfit via your pocket square, so long as it’s silk and coordinates with the rest of your outfit.
If in doubt, though, play it safe and adhere to clothing that is suave, sophisticated and simple.
Well-chosen accessories will set your black tie outfit apart and ensure that you won’t look like a clone, albeit an immaculately dressed one, of every other man at the wedding.
A pair of cufflinks and/or the aforementioned pocket square will give your outfit a dapper finish, while a pair of braces makes a dapper addition to your trousers. A cummerbund (velvet sash worn around the waist), meanwhile, is another optional extra, although they are rarely seen these days.
For the fashion-forward, a silk scarf can make a serious style statement. Plain white is the classic choice, but you can play with discreet pattern and colour — black silk with a geometric print or white polka dots, for example — if you’re feeling more adventurous.
And, finally, don’t overlook the importance of your footwear: for black-tie occasions, patent leather shoes are the gold standard, although you can get away with a pair of highly polished, plain leather Oxfords.
While a linen suit is perfectly season-appropriate during the warmer months, it’s not the most practical option for a winter wedding – not only will it look out of place amongst the heavier fabrics of your fellow guests, but it will also offer little in the way of insulation from the colder weather.
Look, instead, to heavier materials such as wool, cashmere or tweed. The former, in particular, are ideal for a wedding. A high-quality wool suit will provide ample insulation (remember, churches are not exactly renowned for their cosy temperatures) and will wear well, making it an excellent investment.
Pale pastels, cream and beige can work visual wonders in the summer, but winter calls for a more sober approach to your outfit’s colour palette. You’ll never go wrong with a suit in classic charcoal grey or French navy (both of which can be worn at almost every formal occasion), particularly if it’s in heavy cotton or premium quality wool.
Alternatively, consider something a little more expressive than monochrome. Many contemporary tweeds feature an attractive colour accent throughout the fabric, which adds a little personality to the suit. If you choose this option, though, take care to keep your shirt colour restrained so as not to detract from the suit itself.
As with a black tie dress code, cufflinks can elevate a formal shirt from ordinary to extraordinary. Shoes, meanwhile, should be lace-up and highly polished. If you’re wearing a black suit, your shoes should match. Dark brown or burgundy shoes are a stylish alternative if you’re wearing a navy suit, while burgundy shoes can be worn with a charcoal grey suit.
A tasteful balance between smart and casual, a smart casual (or semi-formal) allows plenty of leeway – anything from a sharp suit to a blazer and smart trousers - in what you wear.
When selecting your wedding outfit, start with the blazer (anything from wool, cotton or cashmere to ultra-dapper velvet) and pair it with a pair of subtly contrasting trousers. As the dress code is more relaxed, trousers can be anything from formal styles to more casual options such as fitted chinos.
Feel free to be as expressive as you like – a semi-formal dress code allows for almost every colour imaginable. As a general rule of thumb, though, keep it reasonably light for the daytime and dark for the evening events.
There’s plenty of scope to play with your accessories with a smart casual dress code. Adding a tie and/or waistcoat to your ensemble — which gives an ideal opportunity to inject some colour and pattern — will crank your outfit up a notch in the style stakes.
Irrespective of the dress code, there are a few other minor points to take on-board when dressing for a wedding.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A GREAT FIT
Whether it’s formal, casual or anything in-between, aim for clothing with a natural shoulder line, narrower waist and slim or tapered trouser leg, which will be flattering on most frames. And avail of a tailor to tweak your outfit to ensure an optimum fit. Remember: even the highest quality clothing will not look well if the fit is not perfect.
If you’re attending the wedding with your partner, be sure to take into consideration their outfit, too. That’s not to suggest that the two outfits should be matching; but they should be complementary, rather than clashing.
SET THE STANDARD
It's always better to be overdressed than underdressed. If the dress code states, “Black tie optional", that’s your cue to dust down the tux.
No matter whether you’re the star of the show (the groom), playing a supporting role (best man, usher) or simply part of the ensemble (guest), once you have an immaculate and appropriate outfit sorted, that’s one less thing to worry about. Enjoy the big day!