Stiff suits and starched collars? No, thanks. These days, formal occasionwear for men has finally stepped into the future, with interesting cuts, inspired styles and innovative materials creating a wealth of choice for chaps, not to mention loud colours and proud prints.
Better still, there’s huge variety in price points out there, from designer splurges to budget buys and everything in between. And what’s more, the clothing on offer has more versatility than ever, enabling you to dress pieces up or down accordingly. Trends, too, are shaping the way we style out smart occasions – whether it’s following them or bucking them.
Olie Arnold, style director at MR PORTER, says: “Traditional rules around occasionwear have shifted in recent years – moving away from convention into bolder, more statement pieces. It speaks of a wider cultural change in men’s confidence when it comes to dressing.
Dressing for an event doesn’t have to mean stuffy eveningwear; tailoring can use more experimental fabrics, silhouettes and colours. Whilst some favour a more customary vision of occasionwear, the trend for pushing boundaries will continue.”
Just in time for summer – and with it a slew of weddings and a series of social events – we round-up the best formalwear for discerning gents.
Whatever the dress code, fear not: we’ve got you suited and booted. So, fix up, look sharp - and scroll on.
Reiss Buxley Wool Wedding Suit Blazer
Let’s be honest: most summer weddings here on home turf aren’t sunny or warm. In which case, the Buxley Wool Wedding Suit by Reiss comes to the rescue, made from 100 per cent wool for keeping the chill out. Not only that, but the gorgeous grey colour means it’s primed for British weddings, rather than light and creamy linens better suited to Mykonos or Mustique. The full suit is sold as separates, but this blazer is a good place to begin, and can be built out from there.
Buy now £298.00, Reiss
COS Relaxed Fit Tailored Trousers
A pair of classic navy trousers are an essential for seeing you through any wedding season, and these from COS are just begging to hang in your closet, albeit with a twist with a relaxed fit. Use them as the basis of your outfit time and time again, whether paired with a navy blazer and shirt for uniformed perfection, or teamed with a pale blazer and a plain t-shirt for a style statement.
Buy now £79.00, COS
Charles Tyrwhitt Sharkskin Suit
Calling all grooms: the Sharkskin Suit by Charles Tyrwhitt – fabulous name, eh? – is a beautifully traditional choice for tying the knot. Crafted from pure wool, and crease-resistant to boot, it’s perfect for seeing you from ceremony to reception. Plus, there’s enough going on with its little details – corozo nut buttons included – to stop it from playing safe. Shop it in Cornflower Blue for a shade that will never date.
Buy now £349.95, Charles Tyrwhitt
Paul Smith Kensington-Fit Wool & Mohair-Blend Suit
A vision in baby blue, this striking suit by none other than esteemed British designer Paul Smith is pure class, made from a luxurious wool and mohair blend and cut to perfection with a single-breasted jacket and slim-fitting trousers.
We rather like the idea of dressing it down with an open-collared shirt and a pair of designer shades for seriously chilled wedding vibes.
Buy now £845.00, Paul Smith
Kingsman Harry Slim-Fit Shawl-Collar Cotton-Velvet Tuxedo Jacket
Singlehandedly bringing sexy back, this tuxedo jacket from Kingsman – a label inspired by the sartorially-elegant movies of the same name and produced by luxury retailer Mr. Porter – will make all the girls (and boys) blush in dusty pink, while a natural lustre adds a little sparkle.
It’s cut from plush cotton-velvet for pure comfort and tailored for a classically slim fit with elegant shawl lapels and a smooth satin lining. Layer over a simple dress shirt and take a bow as the best-dressed guest.
Buy now £1250.00, Mr Porter
Jaeger Slim Fit Silk & Linen Jacket
A staple in any man’s summer wardrobe, you can’t go wrong with a silk and linen jacket in a warm neutral, and this lightweight but luxurious number in a stone colour from Jaeger is just the ticket.
The classic, single-breast cut is timeless while the half-canvas design creates a fluid shape that moves with your body. Throw on some tailored trousers or smart shorts to complete the look.
Buy now £250.00, M&S
Alexander McQueen Single-Breasted Regular-Fit Wool-Blend Blazer
There’s a reason they call the late Scottish designer ‘Alexander the Great’: long after his passing, the man’s legacy lives on in his eponymous label, which still creates some of the most covetable clothing in the business.
This jacket is pure look-at-me joy in lake-blue with three flap pockets at the front and a single-breasted cut. A classic white tee underneath is all that’s required.
Buy now £1590.00, Selfridges
Polo Ralph Lauren Sporty Double-Breasted Linen Blazer Dark Navy
Channel your inner-trust fund kid in this double-breasted blazer by Polo Ralph Lauren. As you’d expect, it’s 100 per cent linen – sourced from one of the world’s oldest mills in Ireland, incidentally – while it’s cut to a tailored profile with a regular length.
From work to weekends, it’s one of the most versatile pieces in your summer wardrobe, even if you’re more Highgate than Hamptons.
Buy now £325.00, John Lewis
ASOS DESIGN Smart Cropped Bermuda Shorts In Lilac
More and more weddings are taking place abroad, so stuffy suits in sweltering materials are being replaced by smart shorts in breathable fabrics, such as this tailored pair in summery lilac by ASOS DESIGN.
They’re bargainous, too, and come in a cropped length to show off bronzed calves. Smarten them up with a shirt and a jacket, and if you’re feeling yourself, perhaps even a jaunty hat.
Buy now £28.00, ASOS
Vivienne Westwood Casual Double-Breasted Jacket
They call it casual, but we think this double-breasted jacket from Vivienne Westwood is pretty fancy, especially if you plump for orange over navy.
Featuring the designer’s signature check and oversized fit, it’s made in a linen and cotton blend, with two pockets on the front and a smaller pocket on the chest. Punk perfection.
Buy now £995.00, Vivienne Westwood
Scotch & Soda Single-Breasted Classic Blazer
Based in Amsterdam, the signature style of Scotch & Soda is seriously free-spirited, and that’s no better showcased than in this classic blazer.
With sharp, clean lines and patched pockets with a touch of stretch, it’s the ultimate flexi-piece, whether worn in a beer garden or ballroom.
Make the sand-coloured, checked pattern pop with a bright blue shirt beneath, and perhaps a woven bowtie for a little laid-back luxury.
Buy now £225.00, Scotch & Soda
Frescobol Carioca Antonio Linen Shirt
One of the most flexible pieces a man can own, a classic linen shirt can be smart, casual or, indeed, smart-casual, and the Antonio by Frescobol Carioca is our favourite.
Cut from Italian linen with a regular fit, it’s given a touch of structure with a dress-shirt collar and finished with pearlescent buttons for added smartness, meaning it can be worn from beach bar to dance floor with a few simple tweaks.
Buy now £175.00, Frescobol Carioca
Albert Seville Seersucker Suit
Chic but casual, the Seville Seersucker suit from London-based label Albert will keep you cool whatever the occasion, from the banks of the river at Henley to centre-court seats at Wimbledon.
It’s made-to-order, with a four- to six-week lead time, but it’s worth the wait. A twist on the traditional, the lightweight, seersucker cloth is made for summer, while the jacket and trousers feature quirks such as wide-peak lapels and a seriously high waist. Fashion with clean white trainers and a flash of ankle.
Buy now £375.00, Albert
AllSaints Kiels Slim Cropped Trousers
Summer in Britain isn’t all about pastels and linens in the sunshine. More often than not, weddings are washouts and social affairs are damp squids, in which case trusty black can be turned to time after time.
These cropped trousers from AllSaints are their take on tailoring with a slim-fit silhouette, fixed turn-ups and an extended waistband. Made from a cotton stretch, mini-cord fabric, they’re a welcome comfortable alternative to formalwear, and add a little grunge to glamorous affairs.
Buy now £139.00, AllSaints
Scotch & Soda Pleated Regular-Fit Printed Chino
Chinos, but not as you know them. This pair of classic, ankle-length trousers look smart but feel relaxed, finished off with pleats, shoelace belt and subtle print pattern.
Worn with a shirt and a blazer, nobody will ever suspect just how comfortable they are, as they’re stuffed into stiff suits. Who’s laughing now?
Buy now £165.00, Scotch & Soda
H&M Linen Suit Trousers Slim Fit
The best thing about these pure linen suit trousers from Hennes? You can throw them in a suitcase and not worry about ironing them at the other end as the creases simply fall out.
Available in a spectrum of colours – from light beige to steel blue and khaki green – the legs are flatteringly tapered with a close fit at the thighs, knees and ankles making for a slim silhouette.
And, at such a steal, it’s worth buying one in every colour, don’t you think?
Buy now £24.99, H&M
Twisted Tailor Suit Trousers In Green With Silver Foil Lightning Bolt Print
Twisted Tailor does a fine line in snazzy suits for those looking for something a little bit rock ‘n’ roll. Better still, their prices don’t break the bank, either – meaning a different look for every date you RSVP ‘yes’ to.
These slim-fit trousers in emerald-green don’t take themselves too seriously with an all-over foil print that will bring your inner Bowie to any bash. Because, who doesn’t need a little Stardust?
Go all out with the matching blazer for £140.
Buy now £48.00, ASOS
Lyle & Scott Men’s Archive Overdyed Panelled Oxford Shirt Fire Red
Comprising alternate stripe panelling to give the classic Oxford shirt a smarter look, this fiery red number is eye-catching to say the least, and looks as good tucked in and smart as it does untucked and louche. Complement with a crisp pair of chinos, a woven belt and a navy-blue jacket for timeless elegance.
Buy now £60.00, Lyle & Scott
Amiri Double-Breasted Striped Woven Jacket
Rock ‘n’ roll to the core, Amiri is a streetwear brand with smart credentials, as this double-breasted jacket proves. At first glance, it’s classic and elegant, with its soft and subtle alabaster shade, but if you look a little closer its statement stripes make it stand out from a crowd. After all, who wants to blend in?
Buy now £2270.00, Selfridges
Mr. Marvis Milkshakes trousers
Combining a slim cut with a stretch fabric, The Milkshakes by Dutch brand Mr. Marvis are a dream in ice-cream pink, complete with their signature hidden pocket.
They’re the epitome of versatile, whether spruced-up with a shirt, jacket and tie, or dressed down with a tee and espadrilles.
Plus, with a little elastic in the waistband without feeling too slouchy, they’re supremely comfortable to boot, meaning you can enjoy one too many bites at the buffet without concern.
Buy now £109.00, Mr. Marvis
King & Tuckfield Wide Shorts
Born and bred in London, King & Tuckfield puts a modern spin on classic tailoring, all with sustainability and slow fashion at its heart. What’s not to love?
Their Wide Shorts are an alternative to trousers for a sunny wedding in a lightweight lyocell, cotton and linen blend with slant pockets, belt loops and a clean fly (yes, it’s a thing).
Cut to sit high on the waist and finish close to the knee, they’re smart but stylish, while the sage colour is easy-breezy for the summer season.
Buy now £285.00, King & Tuckfield
Cut & Pin 100 per cent Cotton Slim-Fit Oxford Shirt Navy Stripe
A contemporary take on a classic Oxford, this stiped shirt from sustainable brand Cut & Pin can be worn every day or elevated for weekends, with traditional button-down collar, oversized chest pocket and slim, tailored fit.
Meanwhile, the navy stripe never goes out of fashion, and looks as good peeking out from under a cosy cable-knit as it does under a smart jacket.
But the best bit? It’s woven in a Lancashire mill that dates back hundreds of years and is made from 100 per cent cotton. How many New York yuppies can claim that of their yarn?
Buy now £85.00, Cut & Pin
Zara Dinner Jacket Limited Edition
Everyone needs a go-to dinner jacket hanging in their closet, should such an occasion beckon, and this limited-edition one from high-street favourite Zara ticks all the boxes.
It features a tuxedo lapel collar and long sleeves with lined buttons on the cuffs together with front flap pockets and a central back vent at the helm. Perfect for all seasons and any party.
Buy now £159.00, Zara
Trunk Wigmore Organic Cotton Suit Jacket and Trousers Khaki
Offering a contemporary take on classic style, Trunk Clothiers is a cut above, and the separates that make up the Wigmore suit are covetable indeed.
Perfect for a far-flung adventure – think Death on the Nile meets Indiana Jones – they’re both made from an organic cotton twill and come unstructured for a casual fit. Cool and comfortable, they’ll ensure you look the part, whether that’s hunting treasure somewhere exotic… or simply enjoying a summer soirée.
Buy now £675.00, Trunk