Wedding attire for a summer in New Orleans

Wedding attire for a summer in New Orleans

Q. I am going to an evening wedding in late June in New Orleans. Considering the heat, what would be the proper dress code?  (I am the grandfather of the groom.)

A. Even without any more information, the answer to your question begins with, “The lightest clothes that you can find (but without any polyester in the fabric content!) 

As the grandfather of the groom and a man who is obviously interested in looking good, your dress code would be somewhere between that of a member of the wedding party (which you are not) and a typical guest at the wedding (which you are, but a bit more). So, somewhere on the slightly dressier or more elegantly special side than the average guest. 

That being said, it is important to know what the dress code is for everyone who is invited. Weddings are always dressy events, but some are more formal than others. Will the invitations include some words of instruction, such as “white tie,” “black tie,” or “black tie optional”? If there is nothing specific in writing, you should ask the bride and groom, or, if more comfortable for you, the groom’s parents what they know about what is expected. 

Of course, if the invitation specifically requests some type of formal attire, it is the obligation of every guest to follow formal wear guidelines. Since it will be summer, you do have one major option if the invitation calls for “black tie.” You have your choice of wearing a standard tuxedo or formal trousers with a formal white dinner jacket. All else remains the same.    

But, when nothing specific has been mentioned in the invitation, the safest and most appropriate form of men’s dress for a summer wedding in a hot climate is to wear a smart suit, a fine white or light blue shirt, and an elegant silk necktie. The key words are smart, fine, and elegant. 

Beyond that, I would suggest the following specifics: 

The suit should be lightweight and comfortable so you can enjoy the evening. Light, tropical-weight wool in dark blue or charcoal gray  would be your best choice. If you should happen to find a well-tailored dark cotton suit, that could perhaps work, but it is not so easy to find and may be too casual. Either single- or double-breasted will do; double-breasted is a bit dressier, but it is also a bit warmer. I specified “without polyester” because synthetic fabrics do not breathe as well as do all-natural fibers, making them a problem in hot, humid weather.

The shirt should be fine 100% cotton, in your choice of white or light blue (or perhaps another clear, pastel color), ideally with a turned-down point collar (not a button-down), and French cuffs, worn with good-looking cuff links. 

The necktie should be silk and as elegant as you wish. It can be a boardroom-type dark color with small white pin-dots, or a very dressy solid-color tie in a silvery tone of light gray or ice blue that is sometimes referred to as a “wedding tie.” Another possibility is a bright, colorful silk print. Choose your favorite; just be sure it does not resemble the ties worn by the groomsmen.

You can decide how much embellishment you want to add, such as a colored silk or white linen pocket handkerchief, a tie clasp if you wish, and/or a fresh-flower boutonniere in your lapel. It goes without saying that your shoes should be well-shined dark leather lace-ups and your socks quietly dark. 

As a rule, it is always better to be slightly overdressed rather than underdressed for a special occasion. If you can’t receive exact clarification, arriving at a wedding in a slightly more sophisticated look is better than not being as well dressed as your hosts would wish for.  

Have a great evening. I’m sure you’ll make your grandson proud.

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