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Apr, 4 2023

What to Wear for a “Dress to Impress” Event

image of groom smiling on wedding day

There’s no shortage of dress codes for special events. While you have well-known attire suggestions, such as black tie and cocktail, there are also the more obscure dress codes that leave guests scratching their heads in confusion (case in point: summer formal and festive). Now we can add another to the list: dress to impress. This directive has been popping up on wedding and special occasion invitations, but what is it? And what should you wear if you’re invited to an occasion with this dress code? Here’s some expert advice to help you put together the perfect look.

Read the invitation carefully. The invitation can offer clues as to how you should dress for the event. According to Mary Angelini of Key Moment Films, figure out if it’s being held at a formal or casual venue. For example, if the invite tells you that the wedding is being held at an art museum in the evening and the invites have a post-modern design, think about wearing formal attire. For a daytime garden wedding, you can opt for a suit—with or without the jacket and tie.

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The Event Location

bride & groom overlooking the beach on wedding day

Take a look at the location. The city where the couple will be saying I do will play a role in selecting your attire. A “dress to impress” event in New York City will likely look different from an occasion in a small town. Even another major city might have a different definition of impressive attire. Case in point: You’re likely to see brighter and bolder patterns in Miami than you would in Chicago.

Factor in timing and weather. The time the event begins and the season it will take place will influence your choices, notes Diane Kolanović-Šolaja of Dee Kay Events. A full suit could be uncomfortable for an afternoon wedding in the summer. Instead, you might opt for something more casual in a lighter color or material and perhaps no jacket.

Don’t Forget The Three Cs

close up image of groom’s suit

Consider the three Cs. As Kolanović-Šolaja explains, the three Cs of fashion are confidence, comfort, and color. Choose pieces that make you feel your best, and of course, make sure that they fit you perfectly. If you’re wearing a suit or tuxedo, you want to have them tailored properly. Fortunately, Generation Tux’s innovative algorithm will determine your perfect fit with a few simple questions. The process is done completely online!

Opt for cocktail attire: If you’re really stumped on what to wear, "dress to impress" typically means semi-formal or cocktail attire, says Kelsey Waddell at Wedding Pioneer. This means a suit or dress pants with a dress shirt and tie (or jacket) for men.

Don’t wear jeans. Unless the hosts specifically ask you to wear jeans to their event, it is never a good idea to wear jeans to such an important event. No matter how much they cost and how great you might look in them, it can be seen as disrespectful to the couple.

Wear the right shoes. Be sure you have the proper shoes readily available to match the dress code. “You can have an amazing suit and look, but if your shoes are outdated or too worn, you will need to shop for a new pair or shine the ones you have to give them a new glow,” explains Jen Sulak of Weirdo Weddings.

Show Some Personality

Be bold. Speaking of color, this dress code is your chance to show off your unique style and personality through bright hues and patterns. If you’re wearing a suit, choose one in bold blue, like our Bright Blue Suit, Indigo Blue Suit, or Postman Blue Suit. Or you can go with a neutral base and pair it with a colored shirt, like the Blue Honeycomb, Purple Microcheck, Aqua Gingham, or Pink Tickweave.

Add some accessories. This is also a great time to step out of the box with your accessories. Put on a tie in a fun color or print, opt for socks in a playful pattern, or show off a bright pocket square. Any option is a great way to show off your style.

Experiment with different textures and fabrics. From metallics to velvet, different materials can add depth and dimension to your outfit, making you stand out in a sea of guests. Don't be afraid to take risks and try something new—just make sure that whatever you choose makes you feel confident and comfortable, says Angelini.

Don’t outshine the couple. Although the hosts might want you to look your best, remember that the newlyweds are supposed to be the center of attention. That means you shouldn’t wear anything that will take attention away from them. “If you are a guest at a wedding, it goes without saying not to wear white like the bride (unless the invite says otherwise.),” explains Kolanović-Šolaja.

Ask questions. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the couple and ask for clarification. They will likely appreciate your efforts to dress appropriately and will be happy to offer some guidance, says Waddell.

Now that you know what’s expected of you at a “dress to impress” event, it’s time to start putting together your look. Browse through our selection of tuxedos, suits, shirts, ties, accessories, and more!

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