Men's Dress Code: What to Wear for Every Occasion
With every social event that comes up for a man, there's a wardrobe that goes with it. Oftentimes, there is a broad range of acceptable outfits, but you're just not sure where to start. A general rule of thumb: it's better to be overdressed than underdressed. But sometimes, last-minute occasions come up (or we simply don't have time to shop ahead of time) and we find ourselves scrambling through our closets for something that just works.
That's why we're here to outline the bare minimum outfit requirements for the outings most likely to leave a man wondering what to wear, as well as the maximum wardrobe expectations for each event. So even if you're putting together a last-minute outfit, you can feel confident that you're on the right track and won't stand out like a sore thumb.
What should men wear on nice dinner dates?
Whether it's your first date or your 50th anniversary, dressing well for a nice dinner date is a great way to show effort, exude confidence, and make the most of your outing. If you're headed to a fancier restaurant, it's always a good idea to check the dress code ahead of time. You can do this by visiting the website, calling the restaurant, or searching online reviews.
The minimum: dressy casual
The men's dress code for nice restaurants usually requires a collared shirt and slacks, with the most acceptable "casual" look being khakis and a polo with loafers. A hard rule you can follow is to always wear closed-toe shoes for dinner dates, and avoid jeans to be safe. A more elevated (but low-key) look might consist of a nice t-shirt and blazer with slacks.
The maximum: suit and tie
With the exception of an extreme night out that might require a tuxedo, men's date outfits typically max out at a suit and tie. There's tons of room for variation within this, so you can theme your outfit depending on the atmosphere or occasion to show some personality. You can even pair a suit with some clean, slick sneakers for a modern look.
What do guys wear to Broadway shows or other theater performances?
You've had those tickets for months, but you haven't thought through what you're going to wear yet. Whether you're visiting NYC or checking out a touring show in your city, there's a lot of flexibility in terms of what to wear to a Broadway show.
The minimum: business casual
You can get away with a pair of dark, crisp jeans, a button-down shirt, and loafers. Avoid sneakers or sandals. Upgrade to slacks and add a sport coat or blazer if you're feeling fancy. This is a great opportunity to wear your go-to pair of Chelsea boots.
The maximum: black tie
There are certain events, like the opera, that may require a full tuxedo for men. It's a good idea to check your ticket or the event/venue website ahead of time for formal dress code guidelines.
What should men wear to a wedding?
Between buying a gift and figuring out what to wear, weddings can be difficult to navigate. Most wedding invitations will indicate a dress code, ranging anywhere from "dressy casual" to "black tie formal". While most of these are fairly straightforward, you might get thrown off by the odd "California formal" or "Bohemian black tie". No matter what niche dress code you're confronted with, here are your safest wardrobe bets across the board.
The minimum: dressy casual
No jeans. It's nearly impossible to assume whether or not a wedding will be denim-friendly , and you won't find out until it's too late. Play it safe with slacks, a button down shirt, a blazer or sport coat, and dress shoes. Don't forget a matching belt.
The maximum: black tie
If you're invited to a black tie wedding, the dress code will likely be emphasized on the invitation. For men, "black tie" means a black tuxedo, black bow tie, black patent leather shoes, and cummerbund. In modern fashion, a nice black three-piece suit and tie could also be acceptable.
What's the men's dress code for rehearsal dinners?
Before you get to the wedding, there's the rehearsal dinner. If you're invited to the rehearsal dinner, you're likely a key player in the wedding itself — and it might be your first impression with the rest of the wedding party.
The minimum: semi-formal
No jeans or khakis here, gentlemen. Make sure you're at least wearing a nice pair of slacks and either a short-sleeve or long-sleeve button-down shirt. Depending on the theme of the wedding, you might have an opportunity to wear a playful pattern or fun colors.
The maximum: formal
There is rarely an occasion in which a rehearsal dinner would require black-tie attire, so you shouldn't expect anything beyond a formal dress code. Since you're likely saving your "nice suit" or tux for the wedding itself, a nice button-down shirt, tie, dress pants, and sport coat or blazer should suffice. When it comes to "formal", ties are a must. Don't forget nice shoes and a matching belt.
What is appropriate for a man to wear to a funeral?
When you have a funeral to attend, the last thing on your mind is what you're going to wear. You likely don't have time to shop for anything new, and want to wear something comfortable and reliable from your own wardrobe. The last thing you want is for your wardrobe to be a distraction.
The minimum: business casual (but make it black)
A collared shirt and slacks with some kind of dress shoe or loafer is a safe bet for any style of funeral. A black or white button down with black slacks, a black belt, and shoes is probably the simplest version of this look.
The maximum: black suit and tie
You can't go wrong with a simple suit and tie. Wear your trusty black suit and pick a subtle, dark tie. If you don't have a black suit, charcoal or navy works as well. (Yes, it's okay!) A suit is what you'll find most men wear to attend funerals, so this is a solid choice if you're worried about matching the status quo.
What should a man wear to a gala?
First of all: what even is a gala? Galas are formal celebrations, often marking a special occasion. The purpose of most galas is to raise money for nonprofits. Gala tickets often benefit a charity and/or there are auctions at the event which raise funds. Galas include dinner and often some form of entertainment.
The minimum: three-piece suit and tie
While most galas are black-tie affairs that require full tuxedos, there are some instances in which you can get away with wearing a three-piece suit — ideally black, navy, charcoal, or another dark color. Don't forget a tie, and definitely look for other opportunities to elevate: a crisp shirt, cuff links, nice shoes, slick belt, etc.
The maximum: tuxedo
When you think "gala", you probably think of a black-tie dress code. That is definitely the standard. If you're looking for a reason to don a tuxedo, a gala is the perfect opportunity. Pro tip: buying a tux from CCO Menswear is cheaper than renting!
What is the men's dress code for holiday parties?
When it's holiday party season, it can feel like you're searching for something to wear every weekend. It can be tough to know the anticipated "vibe" of a holiday party if the dress code isn't indicated on the invitation. For Thanksgiving and Christmas affairs, you can get away with "business casual" with a seasonal flair. New Year's parties, however, might require something a bit more flashy.
The minimum: a stylish sweater and slacks
Pair a cozy-yet-chic sweater with slacks and dress shoes for a comfortable, easy look. You'll stay warm, look cool, and get compliments all night. Plus, this is a great day-to-night outfit if you have plans earlier in the day.
The maximum: suit and tie
Dress to impress, right? Maybe the company holiday party is your chance to talk up your boss about a promotion, or maybe you just want a chance to look your best around friends and family. Pair a nice suit with a seasonal tie and have fun with your formal look.
Feeling ready to tackle every occasion in style? CCO Menswear has got you covered with everything from sweaters and sport coats to three-piece suits and tuxedos. Is there another event you need advice on how to dress for? Reach out to us on Instagram and let us know. Happy outfit hunting!