Men’s Dress Code and Etiquette for Weddings and Special Occasions

Weddings and other special occasions provide an opportunity to look your best. Whether you will be attending with a date you’d much like to impress, or are hoping to meet new people, your clothing, personal hygiene, and etiquette are all important for your success.

A sharp, well-dressed man is very attractive. Consider how you feel when you see a woman in a pretty dress. She may be lovely in jogging pants, but when she dresses in her finest she becomes even more exciting and attractive. The same holds true for how women view men. When you make the effort to look fantastic, women will notice.

The Suit Jacket:

A well-fitting jacket is essential. If you can be custom-fitted, do so. If you are buying “off the rack”, there are a few things to keep in mind when selecting your suit. While there are many different patterns and colors available, charcoal or gray are always the safest bets for almost any semi-formal occasions. Your sleeves should allow for about a half inch (1.3 cm) of your dress shirt cuffs to show. Some suggest that the length of the jacket should be at your fingertips and others to the thumb. Either is acceptable. Shoulders must fit well. Shoulder pads or seams should not extend beyond the width of your shoulders.

The Suit Pants:

The waist should come all the way to the waist, not the hips. You should be able to easily slide a finger comfortably between your waist and the pants. Avoid pants that are pleated in the front, especially if you are short. Avoid cuffs, and allow the pant legs to just touch your shoelaces.

The Shirt:

The shirt should complement the color of the suit, and should be lighter in color than your jacket and pants. The neck of the shirt when buttoned should not be tight against your neck, but do not go more than the width of your finger wider. Wear an undershirt, especially if you are prone towards sweating.

The Tie:

Your tie should be the same width as your jacket lapel, and darker than your shirt. If you wear a tie bar, it should be shorter than the width of your tie. Your tie should just reach your waistband in length, or be slightly above. Your tie is the part of your outfit which, while keeping the previous rules in mind, allows you to express your own sense of style and personality. A great tie can make the whole suit.

The Accessories:

Your belt should match your shoes. When you sit, your socks should be long enough so that your legs do not show. A jacket pocket square, if used, should match the tie or the jacket. If your suit has a matching vest, you should always leave the bottom button undone.

The Hygiene:

  • When preparing to attend an event, be sure to have had a recent haircut. Even if you have a longer hairstyle, a trim of the ends can make a huge difference as it makes you look younger and cleaner.
  • Pay attention to shaving or grooming facial hair. Even if you wear a beard or mustache, a trim will freshen your appearance.
  • Smell nice, but don’t over-do it. No one should be able to smell your cologne unless they are close to you. Use cologne or aftershave in a matching scent to your antiperspirant, or go with an unscented variety. Women love a man who smells great, and it is actually quite important, but clashing or over-powering scents can push people away.

mens-dress-codeThe Etiquette:

  • Always unbutton your jacket before sitting.
  • Always pull out a chair for a woman sitting next to you, and wait for her to sit before being seated.
  • Simple manners such as “Please” and “Thank you” cannot be overstated. Use them.
  • Smile and make eye contact.
  • If there is a dinner and there are multiple fancy utensils, start with the outermost utensils and work your way in.
  • At a semi-formal occasion while it is respectable to have a drink or two, do not become intoxicated. Staying in control shows maturity and is sexy.
  • If there is dancing, ask someone to dance politely. If you aren’t a good dancer, wait for a slow song to ask. Simply making the effort to try is attractive.
  • To begin a conversation, focus on asking questions about the other person. Steer clear of personal questions at first. Ask about job, school, who they know at the event, or if they are having a good time. Listen to the answers completely before asking follow-up “getting to know you” questions. Be well-spoken. For an important event, be sure to brush up on your grammar if you need, as that is key to sounding intelligent.

Most importantly, be yourself and have fun!