With the passing of Memorial Day weekend and a quick couple weeks into June, summer wedding season is here in earnest. If you haven’t had the pleasure of attending a summer wedding yet, I would bet you probably have one in the near future. Picking up something sharp, stylish and fitting for the occasion on a budget is a tricky balance to strike. I had the chance to put my packing skills to the test and dress well at the same time (or try to do so) as I headed to a family wedding in Charleston, South Carolina this weekend (home of my friends at Brothers and Craft, as it were). The evening was lovely — a wedding and an evening on the water with family is always incredibly special. I myself tried to strike a balance between keeping cool and staying stylish. Ditching the tie and opting for a lightweight blazer and some tailored (but not overly slim) trousers in a super-breathable fabric helped me at least attempt to do that — that’s a tall task when it’s 90-plus degrees out. Some suggestions to help you handle any wedding situation in the months ahead follow below! (Editor’s note: Be sure to check out the bottom of the post for a special discount offer on dressy summer wedding gear from Ernest Alexander for TSG readers!).
The Suit: J. Crew Factory Voyager Suit — $376
Now, not every wedding will necessarily require or call for a suit (see the above photo as proof). But if you do have to pick up a suit for the occasion, it’s a wise bet to grab something in a versatile color (like the medium grey option seen here) or the dark navy pairing available through the J. Crew Factory site — that way, the suit can be worn year-round. The fact that this fabric is crease-resistant means that you could even wear it while traveling. If only a blazer need be worn at the wedding in question, picking up something in a vibrant color on the cheap (like this Combat Gent Travel Jacket) would be the way to go (pair it with some crisp khaki chinos for style outside the summer, too). And even if things get as laidback as a polo and chinos (for a beach wedding, perhaps), the suit trousers or jacket could act as separates.
The Dress Shirt: Combat Gent Endurance Shirt — $35
Take it from someone who test-drove this shirt in temperatures pushing 100 degrees — when it’s hot out, you want something that’ll wick away sweat and still look crisp. Even if the wedding is indoors, a fabric like this will help you out big-time when moving around outside.The collar will stand up amply without a tie if the wedding leans more casual. And similar to the rest of the brand’s offerings, it’s exceptionally affordable and performs well for the price — a very agreeable one, at that. You could also opt for a similarly polished shirt from Mizzen + Main, who’s picking up steam as of late with performance-minded dress shirts (among other offerings).
The Shoes: JC Penney Logan Wingtip — $49.99
For those on an extreme budget (and if you’re having to buy the suit in one go as well), picking up a dirt cheap pair of surprisingly reliable wingtips is one way to stand out from the crowd of black shoes likely to be there while also saving a good amount of money (loafers could also accomplish this in truly hot weather). Wingtips are the type of shoe that can work with a full suit and tie or a blazer and chinos — plus nearly any other outfit you can think of throughout the year. While this pair might not be exceptionally durable, they should more than do the job in a pinch (as would some simple suede Derbys from a brand like H&M). Don’t forget about brands like Florsheim, who makes one heck of a sharp dress chukka if you want to switch up your style even further.
The Accessories: The Tie Bar White Pocket Square and Navy Knit Tie — $35
Keeping the focus on buying for versatility and affordability, The Tie Bar is still one of the best bets for your money out there as far as accessories go. Yes, those prices have increased — but when you consider the fact that some retailers sell pocket squares on their own for more than the price of the ever-versatile navy knit and white cotton combo seen here, it doesn’t seem so bad. Both those pieces will stand on their own, especially with the medium-grey suit seen above, as well as with a navy option (don’t forget about a summertime staple, the khaki suit). As far as other accessories go, this depends on how much you’re willing to push the boundaries of style — but you could pair wingtips or loafers with no-show socks and a rolled cuff for a cooler breeze (particularly appropriate with loafers), or opt for a punchier patterned pair.
The Rest: J. Crew Braided Leather Belt — $49.50 + Timex Easy Reader Brown Leather Watch — $38.96
With the shade of shoes shown above, it’ll be a little trickier to match both your shoe and belt leathers. But because summer weddings overall do tend to be more casual, a braided leather belt fits right in (H&M is among retailers stocking cheaper options, by the way). The belt’s more expensive than the watch, yes, but this timepiece makes up for it with a textured brown leather strap that considerably dresses up the plainer dial while also meshing nicely with the color of the belt and the shoes. It’s the type of leather that would also work with brown leather loafers.
So that closes the books on this summer wedding style suggestion — making use of items you already own, like a trusty navy blazer or some sturdy chinos can help offset the need to buy all-new gear for a summer wedding. And reaching for affordable style staples makes a lot of sense too and can help ease your wallet through the process. Feel free to let me know what you’ll be packing and wearing at any upcoming summer weddings!
And for those of you who do need some stylish garb for the summer, check out the exclusive promo opportunity below!