We all have our own opinions as to what is casual, smart or indeed formal wear. My definition of formal wear is this… Formal wear to me is clothing that isn’t classed as casual or ‘daywear’. It is clothing that tries to reflect a particular event such as a wedding, dinner dance or knighthood.

The definition of casual or daywear can be anything from jeans and t-shirt through to a sports jacket and slacks. The definition of formal wear can be anything from a smart suit to top hat and tails.

Blue Formal Suit

How Formal?

Jeans and t-shirt as a guest to a wedding — I don’t think so. Sports jacket and slacks at a formal ‘black tie’ ball — no sir. At the very least dressing in smart trousers, shirt and tie would be a start, but this still isn’t really formal enough. If you don a suit with shirt and tie, now you’re talking. Of course, if these are items not normally found in your wardrobe, don’t worry; you can easily hire them.

Formal Dress Codes

Events such as weddings or dinner dances are of course a different matter. Many of these events will request a ‘dress code’ such as Top Hat and Tails or Black Tie (dinner suit). The purpose is to ‘smarten up’ the event and elevate it from being an informal party to an actual event.

Groom with Top Hat and Tails

With weddings, it is often the case that the groom dresses himself, his best man and ushers in coordinating outfits. This helps create a group look for the groomsmen with outfits usually chosen to enhance or coordinate with the scheme or theme of the wedding. As an added bonus this ‘dressing up’ ensures that these principal people stand out in a smart and formal way, and do not simply look like just another guest.

Guest post by Stephen Bishop

Images from…

Formal Suit: Stephen Bishop Suiting

Groom with Top Hat: Matthew Bishop Photography