Whether your standard drink is a whiskey sour, Tom Collins, or bourbon—neat, of course—you most likely have a favorite cocktail. However, when it comes to men’s cocktail attire, that can be a complete mystery—and that’s ok. Our comprehensive guide will have you looking your best from what to wear and when to wear it, no matter what drink is in your hand.
Invitations most often arrive with some sort of dress code indicated, and we all want to arrive appropriately dressed for the occasion. But phrases like “smart casual” or “summer formal” can cause many to do a double-take.
Fortunately, men’s cocktail attire allows a bit of freedom within a range of looks. So, here are a few basics on pieces to include for the perfect cocktail style.
Of course, cocktail attire is expected when an invitation indicates it as the dress code. Beyond that, here are a few events where you may need to wear a suit jacket and a tie.
Reach out to the couple if you have any questions at all about what to wear. The last thing you want to do is wear your best suit and bowtie to an ultra-casual backyard BBQ reception.
An invitation to a summer evening wedding can leave dress up to interpretation, but take cues from the venue. If the couple is getting married in a barn and having lawn games at their reception, chances are you can go for more casual cocktail attire. For a hotel wedding and reception, you can err on the more formal side of cocktail attire. When in doubt, reach out for clarification.
Brunch weddings are social and relaxing, and there’s a good chance the attire is too. In contrast, a late evening event calls for a bit more formality. You can get away with wearing lighter colors during the daytime, such as camel and pale blue. However, nighttime calls for darker, more formal cocktail attire.
We all know “that” couple who might buck trends and require cocktail attire for a more informal occasion. There will be photos, after all. Considering the couple and their level of formality can help you decide what to wear while keeping the event’s tone in mind.
That fuschia suit you own fits like a glove, but it may not be the ideal choice for cocktail attire. In contrast, depending on the couple (see the previous point), it may work like a charm. However, when it comes to color, subtle is usually best. Although flecks of color in your pocket square, socks, and necktie can showcase personal style, think charcoal and navy tones for your base pieces.
When choosing your clothing pieces, consider their condition, fit, and cleanliness. Take a moment to buff scratches out of your belt, or take that old faithful jacket—with holes—out of your wardrobe. Being invited to a cocktail event is a great excuse to do a bit of closet inventory. If you find anything in need of TLC, either make repairs or ditch them.
When it comes to jeans and cocktail attire, the answer is no—except when your host allows it. If your host is okay with denim, opt for dark blue or black hues, so that your look is still elevated. Skip the tennis shoes unless you have statement sneakers that are in immaculate condition. There should be no question when it comes to fit. Unless baggy is a part of your signature style, a perfect silhouette is the way to go.
Dressing for a special occasion can be a breeze by following a few guidelines. A jacket, tie, and a few simple accessories can set you up for success.