What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (2024)

In a panic because you’ve been invited to a wedding and no dress code was provided? Well, hold your peace as we explain exactly what you can wear as a guest for a variety of formalities, seasons, and wedding types.

Table of Contents

  1. Determining Expected Formality
  2. Outfit Suggestions By Formality
  3. Do’s and Don’ts for Weddings Without Explicit Dress Codes
  4. Conclusion
  5. Outfit Rundown

A brief note here: Today’s guide is sponsored by the German modern luxury watch brand, NOMOS Glashütte. Nomos has great watches, but we’ll talk more about them later.

Visit the NOMOS Glashütte website

Determining Expected Formality

Ironically, even if no dress code is officially listed, there is often an effective dress code. This will reflect the decorum and mood that the hosts wish to cultivate and, as a good guest, you should meet expectations for that level of decorum to the best of your ability. Fortunately, you can still estimate how casually or formally you’re expected to dress by considering the following factors.

1. Examine the Invitation

Sometimes, the invitation itself offers a clue. If the hosts have taken the trouble to send an invitation that appears more formal and dignified, then it stands to reason that they’ll want their guests to dress in a similar way.

What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (2)
What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (3)

What’s typical of a formal invitation? You can look for things like heavy, off-white card stock; cursive script, especially if it’s embossed or debossed; and elevated verbiage, such as “Mr. and Mrs. Fay humbly request your presence at the marriage of their daughter Daisy, etc.”

Conversely, a wedding decoration that is bold and colorful, fancifully decorated, humorously phrased, such as “Jack and Diane are finally getting hitched,” or transmitted only digitally, such as an email or text, suggests a more laid-back and casual wedding environment.

Of course, you can’t judge a book by its cover or an invitation by its card stock, so let’s delve deeper into the information featured on the invitation.

Many wedding invitations suggest a way to dress that isn’t technically a dress code. For example, you might even see something as abstract as “Dress like the star of your own musical adventure.” The relative implied formality of these suggestions offers a great starting point. For instance, an invitation to “Don your sparkliest and most fun garb” seems to suggest an invitation to dress in a more creative and expressive way. Meanwhile, the more sedate mantra “Dress to impress” implies a more conventional, formal garb.

2. Wedding Location & Time of Day

Where the nuptials are being held should also impact your planned outfit. Upscale hotels, country clubs, ballrooms, historic homes, and places of worship tend to invite a more formal way of dressing. After all, you would typically dress more formally when visiting a fancy club or a dining establishment, and that goes doubly for weddings.

To further emphasize the point on places of worship, in particular, weddings taking place in religious institutions or those officiated by clergy are generally going to require more formal dress. This is because the inclusion of religious rites and elements adds another layer of decorum to the proceedings, which should be reflected in your outfit.

What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (6)

Meanwhile, places like casual restaurants, event halls, breweries, converted barns, and backyards are places where you would expect more casual weddings to be held; thus calling for more casual attire.

We should also note here that destination weddings, especially beach weddings, tend to have their own unique rules. So, peruse our resort attire content if you’re attending one of these.

Beach Formal and Beach Wedding Dress Code

Read the GUIDE

The time of day that the wedding takes place should also factor into your clothing choices. In general, daytime events tend to be more casual than comparable nighttime events because they have a brighter color palette, and you can learn more about how color affects formality in our general guide to the formality scale.

Similarly, events taking place outdoors tend to be more casual than those taking place indoors. This is so that guests have more leeway to select garments and accessories suited to the realities of the weather. This is especially true of weddings taking place in warm or hot weather, allowing guests to take advantage of the colors and patterns often seen in that season and to beat the heat in style.

3. Personalities & Preferences of the Couple

Finally, if you’re good friends with the wedding hosts, you can use your knowledge of them as a couple to understand how it might impact your clothing: if they are generally more formal people, they are more likely to be having a formal wedding. Balancing the considerations we’ve laid out here should help you to determine if how your dressing for this wedding will be more casual, more formal, or somewhere in between.

4. When in Doubt…Ask!

After all this, if you’re still in doubt, you can just ask. If you know the hosts well, at around the same time that you RSVP, you should casually contact them to ask what level of formality they’re expecting. They’ll likely welcome this as it shows that you’re putting in the effort to be respectful of their wishes and, if you don’t feel comfortable asking the hosts yourself, ask the same question to someone else who knows them better, like a member of the wedding party, for example.

Just don’t hold off on this question until the last minute as those involved with the wedding are going to be busy with plenty of other tasks.

What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (8)

Outfit Suggestions By Formality

1. More Formal

First, if all signs point to a more formal wedding, then more formal attire is natural for you, and this level of dressing could also be the right choice if you’re not quite sure what you ought to wear.

While it will be more formal, it will also be less obtrusive and, therefore, less likely to distract from the wedding couple; and at a wedding, it’s better to be inconspicuously overdressed than distractingly underdressed, and that’s exactly what ensembles like this should achieve.

Simply pair a solid or very subtly-patterned dark suit in colors like navy, charcoal gray, or perhaps dark brown with a white shirt or possibly a light blue shirt for a daytime wedding; then add more formal accessories like those in conservative, muted colors featuring small and classically-inspired patterns; and for your footwear, go with derbies or Oxfords in black or very dark brown.

Business formal, co*cktail attire, and semiformal ensembles are all typical of this level of dressing, and we’ve got guides for all of them.

What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (10)


With A Formal Dress Watch

Speaking of accessories, watches can be a subtle and understated way to add a bit of personality to your ensemble. This is especially true of a wedding without a dress code when you want to impart something unique without being distracting, which brings us to today’s sponsor, NOMOS Glashütte, who have graciously provided us with watches in their Orion line, specifically the Neomatik New Black models.

Obviously, with their black color scheme featuring metallic elements in silver and gold, these watches would be an excellent choice for a well-defined dress code, Black Tie. But, in keeping with the theme for today, they also expertly complement business formal, co*cktail attire, and semi-formal ensembles.

What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (11)
What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (12)
What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (13)

After all, their black leather straps made from Horween Genuine Shell Cordovan harmonize well with black leather shoes. While NOMOS is a German watchmaker, it is just one of many reasons why Raphael appreciates them. The Orion Neomatik New Black watches exude a subtle elegance that can suit British style or even a more dandy-inspired outfit.

These automatic watches feature tripartite, stainless steel cases with domed, sapphire crystal glass with reference numbers 346 and 366 featuring an anti-reflective coating on the inner side and, with a range of dimensions from 36.4 mm in width and 8.5 mm in height for reference number 396 to 40.5 mm in width and 9.4 mm in height for number 366, there’s a size to suit most any wrist. The galvanized black dial set the tone of the watches, and the baton-style hands and diamond-polished stamped indexes, either rhodium plated or in gold, provide a clean, understated look. Reference 366 also includes a date window at the 3:00 position.

All three watches are powered by an in-house-built NOMOS Neomatik caliber with automatic winding.

What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (14)

Today, I’m wearing reference number 396, the smallest of the three, to complement my smaller wrist size. It’s powered by the automatic caliber DUW 3001, sporting a power reserve of up to 43 hours, and equipped with a proprietary escapement, the NOMOS Swing System.

Furthermore, while we’ve talked about these watches mainly in formal contexts today, they can also be worn with more casual outfits, as you’re seeing in some of this supplementary footage. So, thanks to NOMOS for sponsoring today’s guide.

2. In The Middle of the Formality

Continuing with our advice for general wedding formality levels, moving more toward the middle of the formality scale. If, when running through the casual and formal clues that we mentioned earlier, you find a mix of both that tends a bit more towards the casual, then this next dressing suggestion is for you.

What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (15)
What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (16)

You’ll find a lot of commonality here with the formal suggestions we just provided, but with subtle tweaks to make them a bit more casual. Here, you can go for a solid or patterned suit in a traditional darker color like a shade of blue, gray, or brown, but you could also consider medium-toned color varieties for hot weather, warm weather, or outdoor weddings. Your shirt should again be light in color, like white or light blue, but you can introduce some subtle patterning for a slightly more casual feel.

Your accessories should again be dark and subtle, though you can include some lighter accent elements. Overall, you want sufficient contrast to provide some visual interest without becoming distracting. Our guide to combining pocket squares, ties, shirts, and suits covers the fundamentals of this in greater detail.

How To Combine a Pocket Square with a Tie, Suit & Shirt


For footwear as well as other leather accessories, medium or dark brown is a safe bet here, in most cases.

This level of formality is associated with dress codes like more formal-leaning business casual, business formal, and co*cktail attire.

What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (17)
What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (18)

3. More Casual

Finally, let’s cover more casual outfit advice. This level of dress will be typical of fun and creative weddings, and if nearly all of the formality clues we discussed earlier tend toward the casual, then your hosts likely intend for you to dress this way.

Generally, you’re going to want to go for a suit in blue, gray, or brown again, though you’ll have more leeway with the color as it can be medium-tones or perhaps even lighter and it can also incorporate a pattern other than being solid, or you could go for a single or double-breasted model. And you could also for-go a suit entirely and go with an odd jacket and trouser combination.

In these cases, the jacket and trousers should either be tonally similar or more formal in nature, like a navy blazer with contrasting trousers. In warmer seasons and especially outdoors, lighter colors could definitely be an option here. And fabric-wise, you could consider things like linen or cotton, instead of wool.

Your dress shirt should be light-toned and solid or feature a non-distracting pattern. The safest choices will again be white or light blue, but depending on seasonality or the color theme of the wedding, you could also consider pastel shades in things like pink, lilac, yellow, green, or similar colors.

You can wear light or medium-toned accessories like neckties, bow ties, or pocket squares; and other accessories like cufflinks or other jewelry could also be more creative and subtly unexpected.

What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (21)
What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (22)
What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (23)

For footwear and other leather accessories, consider tones like tan or medium cognac in dress shoes or perhaps even dress sneakers. Of course, you could also go with a darker brown if desired.

This degree of formality is generally associated with business casual and the elusive dressy casual.

Do’s and Don’ts for Weddings Without Explicit Dress Codes

Let’s close with a few general tips for navigating the creation of an ensemble for a wedding with no dress code.

Don’t assume that no dress code means it’s a free-for-all. As we hope we’ve Illustrated today, there’s almost always at least an implied level of decorum. So, do take the time to determine the expected level of attire. Your hosts will appreciate the effort, and you’ll be better prepared to enjoy yourself.

What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (24)

If not stated

Avoid Wearing Formal Dress

Don’t wear traditional formal attire to a wedding with no dress code. If your hosts wanted guests to wear Morning Dress, Black Tie, or White Tie, they would have specifically requested it. A tuxedo or velvet dinner jacket might give someone the impression that you’re part of the wedding party, and giving this impression when you aren’t is one of the eight things you should never do when dressing for a wedding.

8 Things Men Should NEVER Wear to a Wedding


Do wear at least a jacket and necktie. This simple classic style pairing is almost never out of place and will ensure that you won’t be underdressed. And if you arrive to find that the wedding is especially casual and no other guests are wearing ties, it is, of course, an easy piece to remove.

Don’t dress to stand out. You’ll notice that many of our suggestions today have come off as a little conservative for a festive event like a wedding, but when there’s no dress code, it’s up to you to ensure that you don’t inadvertently dress in a way that will draw attention to you and away from the happy couple.

What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (26)

So, unless the hosts have emphasized their desire for an outlandish, creative wedding, don’t wear anything that draws all eyes to you. It’s their special day, not yours.

Do dress comfortably. In other words, combine correct formality with practical items so you can have the best time possible. Dressing comfortably from the start will prevent you from feeling like you need to shed layers, so you won’t have to participate even if others start taking off their jackets, untucking their shirts, or loosening their ties throughout the evening.

What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (27)
What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (28)

Don’t be overly casual. In most cases, jeans, shorts, T-shirts, flip-flops, and other similar items are just going to be too informal, even for a “no dress code” wedding.

And finally here, do have fun. It’s a wedding, after all!


Armed with the advice in this guide, you should have a better idea of what to wear to a wedding without a dress code so that you can have the best time possible on that special day.

So, what would you wear or what have you worn to a wedding with no dress code. Let us know in the comments below and, in the meantime, we can examine the formality of the outfit that I’ve chosen to wear today.

Outfit Rundown

What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (29)

What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (30)

Fort Belvedere

Battleship Gray Jacquard Woven Tie with Printed Light Blue and White Diamonds


What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (31)

Fort Belvedere

Midnight Blue and Burgundy Shadow Stripe Ribbed Socks Fil d'Ecosse Cotton


What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (32)

Fort Belvedere

Light Blue Veronica Persica Boutonniere Buttonhole Flower


What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (33)

Fort Belvedere

Roberto Ugolini – Oxford


Today, as you’ve probably pieced together already, I’m wearing an ensemble consistent with the more formal end of the spectrum that we outlined earlier. My suit from Suit Supply is navy blue in color, single-breasted, and relatively trim, with just a bit of character coming from its peaked lapels and its weave.

I’ve paired it with a simple white shirt from Charles Tyrwhitt, featuring a conventional classic collar and French cuffs. Into the cuffs, I’ve inserted a pair of vintage cufflinks in silver tones with black inlays. These harmonize particularly well with the watch I’m wearing, which again is from NOMOS in their Orion line, specifically the Neomatik New Black, reference number 396.

The black leather strap of the watch also harmonizes well with my black cap-toed Oxford shoes from Carmina, and the remainder of my accessories today are all from Ford Belvedere. These would include my two-tone, shadow-striped socks in midnight blue and royal blue, my light blue Veronica Persica boutonniere and my jacquard-woven silk tie in battleship gray, featuring a repeating diamond motif in light blue, black, and white.

My white linen pocket square features a contrasting stitch in a green so dark that it almost reads as black harmonizing with the other black elements in my outfit. And finally, the fragrance I’ve chosen to wear today comes from Roberto Ugolini. It is their signature scent, Oxford. This is one of my favorites in the Ugolini collection for its well-rounded scent and also seemed appropriate because I am wearing Oxfords today.

So, for all of the accessories I’m wearing today, including the socks, tie, and boutonniere, as well as a wide array of other classic men’s accessories, corduroy trousers, and fragrances from the Roberto Ugolini collection, you can take a look at the Fort Belvedere shop.


What should I wear to a wedding with no specified dress code?

Without a specific dress code, aim for a balance between elegance and comfort. Opt for a classic suit in a neutral color like navy or gray.

Is it appropriate to wear jeans to a wedding without a dress code?

Jeans are typically too casual for weddings. It’s better to err on the side of formality and choose slacks, khaki, or chinos instead.

Are there any fabrics I should avoid for a wedding?

Heavy, overly textured fabrics may appear too casual or out of place. Lighter materials like cotton, linen, or light wool blends usually work well for weddings.

How can I accessorize my outfit for a wedding?

Accessorize with a leather belt that matches your shoes, a wristwatch, and a pocket square if you’re wearing a blazer or suit. Keep jewelry minimal and tasteful. If you wear one of your boutonnieres, make sure that it is small and discreet: a large boutonniere often denotes a member of the wedding party. When in doubt, do not wear it.

Is it okay to wear a tie to a wedding with no dress code?

Yes, a tie can add a touch of sophistication to your outfit. If you’re unsure, bring a tie along and decide after gauging the attire of other guests.

Should I avoid any particular colors?

Aside from white, it’s also considerate to avoid wearing the same color as the wedding party, which typically is mentioned by the couple beforehand. If not, neutrals are always a safe choice.

In the absence of a dress code, how formal should my attire be?

A good rule of thumb is to dress as if you were attending a business meeting. This level of formality is respectful without being over the top.

Remember, when in doubt, it’s always better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed at a wedding.

Should I wear a black tuxedo to a wedding with no dress code?

No, you should not. Morning wear, Black Tie, and White time are some of the most formal dress codes. Your hosts will not expect their wedding guests to be attired to such a formal degree, and arriving in this very formal garb will make you stand out from the other guests; you might even be attired similarly to, and even more formally than, the wedding party itself, and you should never be better dressed than the groom.

What To Wear To A Wedding (with NO Dress Code!) | Gentleman's Gazette (2024)
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