Wedding season has arrived and with it comes the complicated art of figuring out what you should wear to the big event. Your buddy (or rather, his fiance) thought it was a good idea to put "dressy casual" on the invitation - but what does that really mean? And just how optional is "black tie optional"? Never fear, we here at Patrick James can help.

Let's decode the dress code, shall we?

Button-down shirt to wear to wedding


When it says: Casual

You wear: A nice button-down or polo paired with a pair of slimline dress pants or chinos. This is not a time to wear jeans. While it may say casual on the invite, you still want to remain on the more dressed-up side of things for the occasion. One option is to throw on a soft coat or blazer. This small amount of effort can really dress up an otherwise casual outfit and step up your style game. Lastly, slip on a smart pair of loafers or lace-ups to pull it all together.

Chino pants for casual wedding


When it says: Formal or "Black Tie Optional"

You wear: Your trusty suit and tie. Think about what you would wear to a job interview, and go with that. Try leaning toward a suit color besides black, like gray or navy (you don't want to match the wedding party), and pair with a crisp dress shirt and a necktie.

A TIEmely Note: Don't be afraid to have some fun with your tie selection. Solids are always a solid choice (insert drum fill) but paisley, stripes, or even plaid often make an outfit much more interesting!

Dress pants and tie


When it says: Semi-Formal or Cocktail

You wear: Your trusty suit and tie - with a twist. This ensemble would still be appropriate for the dress code, but try adding another level of style with a patterned blazer or a "summertime" pair of loafers.

Square up: Another accessory that is always a conversation starter is the pocket square. With so many patterns, fabrics, and ways to fold, this small detail can add an extra flourish to any outfit. Don't be afraid to give it a try.

Festive sport coat to wear to summer wedding

When it says: Festive

You wear: Patterns and color! This is your chance to pull out all the stops and have fun. Try going for a non-traditional colored suit (jewel tones like maroon or emerald) and pair with a whimsical-patterned shirt to really elevate your style. Also, don't forget those socks. Try to have them coordinate with your outfit, but don't be afraid to make a statement! Polka dots are always a hit.

When it says: Black Tie

You wear: A tuxedo - not a suit posing as a tux - a tux. Now, while it may say "black" tie, try mixing it up with a little James Bond action and switch your standard jacket from black to white (or, visit any of our Patrick James locations for a bespoke tux or rental). Finish the look with some patent leather shoes, and all you'll need is the spy car.

When it says: White Tie

You wear: A black tailcoat, a white dress shirt, waistcoat, and bow tie. Usually in this case, you would also sport a cumberbund and suspenders. For this attire the trousers worn are considered "high-waisted" to accommodate for the waistcoat and to give the ensemble a more traditional appearance. As for the shoes, patent leather is the only way to go, as the host is most likely looking for a somewhat uniform feeling from their guests.

Patent leather shoes for wedding

Whether your event is Black or White Tie, Festive or Casual, Patrick James has you covered. From our tuxedo rental services, to our wide variety of formal and casual attire - we here at PJ are ready to expertly dress you to attend the "I do".