Sporty, Monochrome Wedding


Here’s a thought on wedding attire. It’s not really traditional and it doesn’t really fit with the rules. In that sense I suppose it is a way to break the rules.

Anyway. I’ve written before how the default attire at a wedding should be the smartest thing you have. If morning dress is not required or suitable, it should be smart, discreet and dignified. The best combination might be a navy blue suit in a smooth, worsted wool, white cotton shirt and satin tie. Single breasted. White linen handkerchief. Black shoes. It’s hard to think of anything smarter in a lounge suit; though perhaps a Macclesfield check in the tie would be a nice nod to tradition.

However, it does strike me as a shame that a man following this advice will end up wearing to a wedding pretty much what he wears to work.

It is a shame because today not many men wear suits casually. They don’t wear them at the weekend and they don’t wear them for sport. So the sporty end of the lounge-suit range is criminally underused.

Men don’t wear strong checks; they don’t wear cottons or linens; they don’t wear great weaves like hopsack. These patterns and materials are unsuited to the dignity of business, so they rarely make it into the office. And at the weekend jeans and sweatshirts dominate.

So social occasions like weddings are a glorious opportunity to wear these sporty combinations. At a wedding I went to recently a friend was wearing a bespoke tan linen suit, brown oxfords, a pink-and-white striped shirt, a sky-blue tie and a pocket handkerchief. He looked great – but it’s hard to imagine any other scenario where he or any other of my friends would wear a combination like this. The joy of rough cloths and bright colours would be lost.

monochrome-smartAs a defence to this flouting of the rules, I would also point out that weddings today really are more casual than they used to be. There are fewer formalities, there is less prescribed structure, hell most of them aren’t even religious. So while the sanctity of marriage certainly demands dignity in dress, people shouldn’t follow ideas of propriety derived from an entirely different occasion.

It is always good to draw in one or two ideas of tradition though, if only because they have created such beautiful archetypes for us. In this case I would highlight the use of monochrome as smarter and more formal. Paring down the use of colour immediately makes things more dignified.

For all these reasons my outfit to this recent wedding was: a pale grey Glen-check suit, white cotton shirt, dark silver tie, white linen handkerchief and brown shoes. Sporty in the pattern of the suit, but retaining formality through monochrome.

So this is one long self-justification, basically.

I did say someone else looked good though, right?


Simon Crompton is a journalist and a style enthusiast living in London, who blogs at He has too many suits.


  1. What if a wedding is “black tie optional”? Does that mean you are allowed to wear a black tux? I have a wedding in NYC coming up next weekend and I’ve been trying to decide what to wear or how to take that phrase. Should I ask the groom what color his groomsmen are wearing?
    Also, if I do wear a black tux with a bow-tie do I need to wear a tux shirt with a turned up collar? I don’t really have the money to buy an extra shirt and don’t wear my tux that often (it was a thrift store find).

  2. Brian, you might find this thread here on the Fedora Lounge useful.

    The tan suit / pink shirt / brown shoes sounds just like my summer wardrobe. There should definitely be a campaign to promote the wearing of suits informally and at weekends – cue rallying cry here!

  3. Patrick says:

    In a previous post about wedding attire, you stated “The second factor when choosing wedding wear is time. Your requirements as a guest can be determined according to whether a wedding is held during the day or in the evening, as well as if it is held indoors or outdoors. A day wedding will begin before 6:00 pm, and after 6:00 is considered an evening wedding.”
    I think most weddings I’ve attended started pretty early in the day with a receiption beginning before 5 but going late into the night. I think maybe it is another reason why black tie has been adopted so widely by americans. They’re dressed in preparation for the later part of the wedding, and a wardrobe change between day ceremonies and evening reception seems impratical. What would be a suitable alternative for those weddings that go from day to night?

  4. Simon Crompton says:

    If you search for black tie on my site ( you will find your answers on the matching collars with tux jackets.

    I agree this is a problem. My general answer is that if you have an event starting around 5pm and going into the evening, it isn’t a day event and evening attire is fine. The only thing that really looks incongruous is men wearing a tux for an event that starts at 11am in the morning.


  5. I went with a 2 button single breasted black tuxedo with white shirt, gold brocade waistcoat, champagne tie, and matching pocket square.

    The groomsmen had 3 button jackets, red waistcoat and matching ties.

    The bride wore an 1920’s style champagne dress and the bridesmaids wore green.

    Here’s a few pics:

  6. Oops… sorry. Mine was a single button suit. You should do an article on the single button suit. Most comfortable jacket I have ever worn although the suit in the picture was fitted but NOT tailored.

  7. Here’s the jacket I would get if I could afford it (and lived in London).

    Richard James…

  8. Patrick says:

    Hmm true. While I’ve grown somewhat accustomed to the look, black-tie in the morning does look odd.

    I think many weddings do go from well before 5pm (maybe 2pm) for the ceremony and go into the night. In those cases, I wonder if there is a better compromise, other than a complete wardrobe change. People earlier in history must have confronted this issue from time to time.

    Do you think formal day-wear would be equally incongruous at an evening reception? Maybe a navy suit or medium grey (accompanied by a mid-day change in tie or waistcoat would be a better transitional outfit?

  9. Carl Browne says:

    Hear, hear.

    I’m reminded of Cary Grant in “North by Northwest,” a look I intentionally appropriate on occasion.