How To Be The Best Dressed Man At Any Winter Wedding: 9 Foolproof Outfits
Here’s how to look the part when attending a wedding in the cold depths of winter.
With the average cost of a wedding $30,000, it’s no wonder that many couples are looking to winter weddings as a more budget-friendly alternative to summer nuptials. Not only do venues cost a lot less out of season, but the wedding takes on an entirely different look to the typical event, with a whole new deeper color palette available to choose from.
For guests, a winter wedding means a bit of rethink when it comes to what to wear, since the linen suits you had earmarked for summer are not going to cut it in December. And while slipping into a charcoal or navy business suit might be the simplest response, it’s not a particularly inspiring one.
With that in mind, below we’ll show you the best options for a variety of different types of winter wedding that will help you stand out without risking the wrath of the bride and groom.
Traditional winter wedding dress codes
Let’s start by defining the three dress codes you’re most likely to see printed on your invitation, from most formal to least.
What is it?
A formal winter wedding will typically require morning dress; that is, a morning suit. British tailor Favourbrook is one of the finest purveyors of formalwear in the world, so if you move in circles wherein invitations to formal weddings are likely to pop up time and again, you’d do well to check them out.
Otherwise, there are a number of brands and hire shops where you can rent a morning suit specifically for the event.
The Key Elements
The Morning Suit
Steeped in history, the morning coat came into existence sometime in the early 19th century, where it evolved from what was then called a frock coat – a large coat worn on horseback. That’s why the morning coat’s front edges sweep back, harking back to a time when they would need to remain out of the rider’s knees. It wasn’t until Edward VIII instigated a sartorial change in 1936 that the morning coat usurped the frock coat entirely.
Anyway, history lesson over. All you need to know is that the morning suit is typically cut from a black wool cloth with a peak lapel and worn with striped grey wool trousers (called ‘cashmere stripe’, but not actually made of cashmere).
There are a couple of variations to this, notably the charcoal grey morning suit (often worn by King Charles at Ascot) as well as a navy version. You can also combine houndstooth trousers with a black coat, should you prefer.
The morning suit is always worn with a dress shirt (not necessarily white), a waistcoat, tie, pocket square and black Oxfords.
If the morning suit is the uniform, then the waistcoat is the personality. Single- or double-breasted styles are both equally as popular, with the latter being a touch more formal thanks to the squared-off hem and sweeping shawl lapels.
That said, the single-breasted style is better for taking patterns. All colors are game, but for weddings, you’re probably safest wearing a soft pastel shade and punching up your tie and pocket square instead.
What is it?
Increasingly, more and more couples are choosing black tie as their wedding dress code. Traditionally considered eveningwear, the glamour of a tuxedo is equally adapted to weddings and is degrees less formal than a morning suit.
What’s more, while it looks smart in a church or wedding venue, it has all the panache necessary for a knockout look by the time the disco ball starts revolving. If the wedding you are attending requests black tie, here are the essentials you’ll need to think about
The Key Elements
The dinner jacket
The tuxedo jacket, or dinner jacket as it is known in the UK, is the essential component to black tie. Traditionally, it is a black or midnight navy wool or silk blend jacket with silk grosgrain lapels (peak or shawl, never notch).
Single-breast is the most common cut, but DB jackets can look equally sophisticated. Other popular variations include velvet dinner jackets – essentially the very same silhouette only cut in velvet (typically dark, rich tones such as racing green, burgundy and navy), which looks especially great at winter weddings.
While black pants are essential, the key detail to look for is tuxedo trousers with a satin stripe running down the sides of the legs.
Otherwise, all the usual rules apply with regards fit: the hem to rest on the shoe with a slight break halfway up the shin.
Shirt and Accessories
Black tie calls for a white dress shirt, usually cut from heavyweight cotton. There are quite a few variations to choose from, most of them with different styles of bib fronts, from plain bibs to pleated styles and even ruffles.
Nearly all dress shirts come with French cuffs, necessitating cufflinks. Some will also require studs to fasten the front. The bow tie (or tie for a ‘Hollywood’ look) is almost always black and can be crafted from silk or velvet.
A more traditional aesthetic would also call for a matching cummerbund, although today the cummerbund is not used quite as much. Shoes should consist of black patent leather Oxfords.
What is it?
By far the most common and popular dress code for winter weddings is the lounge suit, which is for all intents and purposes, any traditional suit. Whereas for summer weddings you might crack out a linen suit, for winter weddings your tailoring will need to be that little bit more robust, constructed from fabrics such as merino wool or tweed.
The lounge suit is typically worn with a tie but you’ll need to gauge the formality of the wedding to decide if you need to wear one. We’d always err on the side of wearing one, as you can very easily take it off if you’re an anomaly.
The Key Elements
How is the winter wedding suit different from your everyday business suit? In a word, fabric. If you wear a well-tailored charcoal or navy merino wool suit to the office, then you can probably get away with wearing it to a winter wedding providing you accessorize well.
But for a more considered approach, a suit with something more textural about it will be the better option. It could be as simple as opting for a tactile flannel fabric or a herringbone weave, or being a bit more adventurous with a check pattern. Either way, it’s a special occasion so you can afford to be a bit more creative. For country weddings, for example, tweed is an excellent option.
Don’t forget that you can also break up the suit to create a separates look. This is easier if the jacket has something about it. A great Prince of Wales check blazer with a pair of cream-tailored pants and tan loafers or Derbies makes for a smart contemporary outfit, for example.
Accessories and Shoes
A good suit lives or dies on the quality of your accessories so spend some time considering your tie, shoes and pocket square options. If you’re wearing tailoring with some element of color in it, it’s often a good idea to replicate that tone in your tie or pocket square without being too fastidious in matching them all up.
With regards to your shoes, they can really make or break a look. To avoid sartorial failure, always err on the smart side. Some Derby shoes will be fine, but on the whole, Oxfords are the smarter option. Loafers might look somewhat anachronistic in the winter months, but a double monk is a good alternative.
Foolproof winter wedding outfits for men
The wool flannel suit
The charcoal grey wool flannel suit is a sartorial classic, worn by numerous iterations of everyone’s favorite spy, James Bond. It has even had a film named in its honor: The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956).
Flannel is different from your typical high-twist merino wool cloth in that the fibers are brushed to create a ‘nap’, which is just a term to describe the slightly raised and therefore fuzzy surface. Flannel has a subtle textural quality then, which gives it a unique expression.
Textured tailored separates
Tailored separates is a great option if you don’t want to wear a suit, but don’t fall into the trap of slipping into any old blazer and a pair of contrast trousers. You still need to think carefully about fabric and texture to make your separates feel cohesive.
Patterned jackets, particularly check motifs, look superb teamed with plain tailored pants, especially in lighter tones such as white or ivory. Navy or racing green jackets and light charcoal trousers are another foolproof color pairing.
Turtleneck with tailoring
For a modern approach to winter tailoring, one option is to ditch the traditional shirt and tie and instead go for a turtleneck jumper. This has long been an excellent sartorial alternative to the shirt and is no less smart.
It also allows you to inject a bit of color into your suit and can help better amalgamate your separates too. Opt for a lightweight fine-gauge style as the last thing you want is to overheat at a 12-hour wedding marathon.
Velvet and corduroy
When it comes to texture, there are no better fabrics than velvet and corduroy. The former is a short dense pile that most people consider to be a heavy eveningwear fabric but, in truth, velvet is very lightweight and drapes beautifully, making it an ideal cloth for a winter suit or separates. Similarly, corduroy is also constructed from cotton and features its instantly recognizable and super-tactile wales.
Both can be worn as suits or separates and easily translate from daywear to partywear.
Houndstooth and checks
To elevate your suit and separates options, having a rotation of patterned wools at your disposal is a great advantage since they bring so much more personality to the table than your average merino wool two-piece.
The checks don’t have to be wild either – a simple tonal plaid can go a long way. Similarly, a herringbone or houndstooth pattern are both subtle and yet they can be the point of difference with everyone else at the wedding.
Patterned blazers work really well as separates too, especially when worn with light-tone trousers for a punchy contrast.
Tweed is a great look for winter weddings in the country since the fabric is commonly associated with country sports. But the tweed cloths you can get nowadays are not the heavy, rugged types you’d wear on a shoot. These cloths are refined, lightweight and super soft, and can be made into beautiful two- and three-piece suits.
Due to the different tones in tweed, it’s also extremely easy to pair with a tie or a colorful turtleneck jumper.
Classic black tie
The classic tuxedo is a sartorial ensemble every man should have in his wardrobe. Consisting of a beautifully tailored peak lapel dinner jacket with silk grosgrain lapels and complemented with satin stripe dress trousers, dress shirt, bow tie and Oxfords, it’s a stunning look for winter weddings.
Alternative black tie
Similarly, if you want to push the envelope out when it comes to the black tie dress code, then opting for a velvet dinner jacket is a strong and characterful statement.
Velvet is every bit as glamorous as the traditional black dinner jacket, while the color of the fabric comes alive under the lights, making it ideal for dinner and dancing as day turns to night.
The morning suit
While the morning suit doesn’t leave much maneuvering room when it comes to personalization, you do have some tricks up your sleeve. You can opt to wear a grey or navy morning suit to switch up from the traditional black coat and grey pinstripe trousers, but your best real estate for adding personality comes by way of your waistcoat, tie and pocket square.
The double-breasted waistcoat with shawl lapels is a show-stopper, and a winter wedding gives you plenty of interesting color options. With the tie and pocket square, play them off one another so you’re not too matchy.