what to wear to a summer wedding

Dress code directives are getting more and more complex. Throw location into the mix, and things can get downright weird. Here, we’ve deciphered the doozies and cleared up any misconceptions regarding the seemingly more traditional asks (ahem, black tie casual). Also, some etiquette tips from Derek Blasberg and a find for the guys.

San Francisco: Semi-Formal

Possibly the trickiest one of the bunch, the key is to keep the silhouette streamlined, adding dimension and texture with unconventional details.

Don’t forget about the guys

How genius is this? The Black Tux took the outdated tux rental model and pretty much transformed it beyond all recognition. For starters, they make their own suits and tuxedos, meaning they control the design (only the finest wools, slim cuts throughout) so you end up with something that has the look and feel of a high-end designer (each tux costs them $1,200 to make). They’ve also figured out a foolproof measuring system that guarantees a perfect fit—whether it’s the suit itself, shoes, or any of the bits and bobs that go with it—and shipping is covered 100% both ways. Rentals start at $95.

A word on dress code…

from etiquette expert Derek Blasberg, author of Classy and Very Classy.

The important thing to remember when it comes to getting dressed for a wedding is that, yes, it’s all about the bride. That’s why I still think it’s best not to wear white to a wedding, even though some people think that’s an old-fashioned idea. So I follow instructions. I figure the bride has spent her entire single (or in some cases, divorcé!) life planning this wedding, so the least I can do is throw on a bow tie if the invitation calls for black tie. “Black Tie,” as you can imagine, is very formal: Tuxedos for men and long dresses for women. This is a chance to really go for it with the jewelry and—why not?—a pair of gloves. (“White Tie” is even more formal than black tie, but is typically reserved for galas and royal weddings, and at weddings when pretentious people want to impress each other.) “Black Tie Optional” is a delicate way for a bride to say, “Please, just friggin’ dress up,” while giving men the option of a dark suit. I wear a tuxedo with a necktie, and women can wear short dresses if they’re festive. “Semi-Formal” is what an adult would wear if they had to go to a prom, so dark suits for men and traditional dresses for women. “Cocktail Attire” means casual suits for men and little dresses for women. And “Beach Attire” means something easy and breezy—but not sheer and slutty, and I hope you know the difference. Lastly, I find it rather annoying when people complain about getting dressed up for a wedding. Don’t be so boring! Weddings are fun and they should reflect it. Besides, it could always be worse. I was once invited to a wedding that had a “medieval costume” theme. I had rented what I thought was a Robin Hood ensemble, but I turned out looking more like a little girl in a high school production of Peter Pan. Think about that the next time you sigh when it says “Black Tie” on an invitation. Read more »