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Cocktail Attire Dress Code: What to Wear as a Wedding Guest

Are you invited to a wedding with a "cocktail attire" dress code and have no idea what to wear? Here's how to dress to look sharp but not steal the couple's spotlight.

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1. The Perfect Suit

First and foremost, you'll need a suit. Opting for a suit in classic colors like charcoal or navy is the safest choice. These colors are sophisticated yet understated, allowing you to look elegant without drawing too much attention.

  • Avoid Black Suits with White Shirts and Black Ties: This combination can come off as too formal, resembling either catering staff or funeral attire.
  • For Outdoor Summer Weddings: Consider a lighter gray or tan suit in crisp cotton or linen. These fabrics keep you cool and stylish. However, steer clear of seersucker as it can be polarizing and might not suit everyone's taste.
Guy in pink shirt on yellow wall, looking away

2. Shirt Selection

While white dress shirts are a menswear staple, you can add warmth and personality to your look by choosing shirts in light pink or blue. These subtle colors can enhance your outfit without overshadowing the wedding party.

Close up shots of blue striped man's shirt with blue dotted tie and cuff links

3. Neckwear for Polish

Neckwear adds a touch of polish to your suit. Choose a bowtie or necktie with colors and subtle patterns that add visual interest to your outfit.

  • Avoid Clashing with the Wedding Party: Make sure your tie doesn't look too similar to what the groomsmen are wearing.
  • Comfort Tip: If the necktie feels too restrictive, you can loosen or remove it during the reception for a more relaxed look.
Fashion classical polished men's brown oxford brogues shades of brown oxford brogues.Conept flying shoes.Gray background

4. The Right Pair of Shoes

Shoes are a crucial part of your ensemble. Go with classic dress shoes like Oxfords or Derbys in brown or black. Ensure they are freshly polished to avoid a scruffy appearance.

While pairing a suit with sneakers is trendy, proceed with caution as this can appear too casual for a wedding setting.

5. Finishing Touches

The finishing touches can make a significant difference in your overall look. Here are a few tips:

  • Pocket Square: Adding a pocket square can break up the monotony of your suit and add a dash of style.
  • Matching Belt and Shoes: A belt that matches your shoes helps to define your waistline and keeps your look cohesive.
  • Cufflinks and Analog Watch: Going old-school with cufflinks and an analog watch can elevate your outfit to a new level of sophistication.


The key to dressing for a wedding with a cocktail attire dress code is to let the happy couple shine while still looking your best. Choose classic styles, understated colors, and refined elegance. By following these guidelines, you'll be able to celebrate the occasion in style without overshadowing the couple.