Fashion Emergency
April 2, 2014 4:14 PM   Subscribe

What do you wear to a wedding that is "casual?"

I'm attending a wedding this weekend with my girlfriend of a few months. I want to look for her and in front of her friends, many of which I'll be meeting for the first time.

I originally mentioned getting my suit tailored, but this was too dressy, as was my suggestion of just like black dress pants, grey shirt, and a red tie.

Apparently the wedding is more casual and in a barn, I asked for more clarification on the dress code and the only suggestion I got was to do something like J Crew. The color gray was also mentioned in passing. I can't really get much more clarification because of Reasons. I don't know what the J Crew look is, and google just pops up pictures of guys in suits, so we're back to square one.

So, what should I wear? What is a j crew? And why would anyone inflict this "casual dress" dilemma on anyone else (seriously, i enjoy dressing up and at a normal wedding i just have to look nice, but now I have to strike some tenuous balance between nice and not too nice)?
posted by cirrostratus to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (29 answers total)
Khakis and white or blue oxford shirt. No tie. You either look preppy or casual, depending on how rumpled you are and if you roll up your sleeves, that sort of thing. But it's the kind of look that generally looks good on anyone.

posted by Madamina at 4:19 PM on April 2, 2014 [4 favorites]

Khakis. I should have known you'd come up. Here's another wrinkle, I'm not a big fan of khakis and as such I specifically don't own any.

I suppose I could get a pair though if they're definitely the right move here.
posted by cirrostratus at 4:23 PM on April 2, 2014

How about linen pants and a guyabeda shirt? Leather mandles.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:25 PM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

A few months meaning summer, right? All you need is a nice pair of nice slacks -- khaki, lighter gray, just not charcoal or black -- with a fit that actually suits you, a button-up shirt of a matching solid color (again, a lighter, soft color) , also with a fit that actually suits you, and a pair of regular shoes (shoes-shoes, not like sneakers or something) and you'll be fine.
posted by griphus at 4:25 PM on April 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

You need her help. Ask her to pick your clothes for you, either from what you own or taking her shopping with you. I say this as a former girlfiend (now wife) of someone who has been in this situation.
posted by cestmoi15 at 4:26 PM on April 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

I had a "casual" wedding (although I told people to just wear what made them comfortable!) People mostly wore stuff that they might have also worn to a graduation or holiday brunch, and I was pleased. I would say some nice (non-junky) dark-wash jeans and a sweater or a nice shirt. I think by "j. Crew" they may mean something like business casual. You might use that as a guideline.
posted by bleep at 4:26 PM on April 2, 2014

I think this fits in with what I think of as "what people thought of as casual before jeans-and-t-shirts", which is khakis or similar slacks in some kind of lighter color, button-front shirt, sport coat, the jacket optional. I imagine tie or not would depend on personal taste but err on the side of no unless you just really like ties. J. Crew does sell suits but their usual thing is more of a preppy casual. Just definitely not black pants, that usually looks like a suit missing a jacket.
posted by Sequence at 4:26 PM on April 2, 2014

Wait, I misread "girlfriend of a few months" for "girlfriend, in a few months." But even if this is a spring wedding, don't wear charcoal or navy or black slacks to a casual event.
posted by griphus at 4:28 PM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

*Very* dark nice jeans. White button down shirt. Jacket. Done.

Bonus points: interesting [take a risk here] shoes.
posted by Murray M at 4:29 PM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

You don't need khakis--you can get "khaki-like pants" in grey or bright colors, if you like. The description was possibly meant as "non-suit-trouser-styled pant" rather than a literal "wear khakis". Pair them with a nice button down, sans tie, and it sounds like you're good to go.

If you'd rather wear a trouser-styled pant, maybe pick a cotton, not a wool.

Pretty much what griphus said.
posted by crush-onastick at 4:31 PM on April 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is the point where I'd break out the grey slim (not skinny) jeans and a nice Oxford in a neutral, but spring-appropriate color. (Pale blue, green, or pink, maybe with a contrasting undershirt?)
posted by fifthrider at 4:36 PM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

You might consider looking for inspiration at Your LL Bean Boyfriend.

I would err on the side of a collared shirt and chinos, rather than the examples in the blog of dudes who look like they are taking a break from chopping wood or rigging a sailboat.

I would not wear jeans to a wedding, no matter how "casual".
posted by Sara C. at 4:49 PM on April 2, 2014 [6 favorites]

Also do not wear "mandals" to a wedding no matter what, if you're looking to impress anyone.
posted by Sara C. at 4:51 PM on April 2, 2014 [5 favorites]

J Crew is a company. Check out their website. Preppy with a twist. Modern classic. Please don't wear mandals, a guayabera, or a ball cap.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:55 PM on April 2, 2014 [6 favorites]

I would google "plaid shirt suspenders" and go through all the photos til you find something you like. It's casual and barn-y but still special-occasion-y!
posted by Greg Nog at 4:55 PM on April 2, 2014

When I think "casual wedding" style for men, I think jacket, button down shirt, no tie (key) and light pants or preferably very dark jeans, but that depends on the crowd. I think either would work for "J Crew Style."

I *hate* shirt, tie, no jacket. It looks unfinished and salesman-y.

Second "no mandals" and no guayabera.
posted by sweetkid at 5:01 PM on April 2, 2014 [7 favorites]

people have "casual" weddings (in part) to make it easy on the guests - you don't need to go buy pants that you hate and don't have (but - that is so awesome that you want to do the right thing so much that you are willing to purchase and don something you think sucks. romance! excellent!)

i would normally not wear jeans to a wedding but this one is in a barn, in early spring. if you happen to have some really NICE jeans, and you pair it with a button down shirt and either a nice sweater or a not-fancy blazer, i think you've got a real look going.
posted by andreapandrea at 5:06 PM on April 2, 2014

Going off of Sara C.s "Your LL Bean Boyfriend", I think this look in particular is what you should shoot for/is easiest to accomplish but, note: probably not plaid. Gingham check, solid color or oxford in a springy color... You will get fashion points for wearing a color that looks nice on you other than white. Also, yes: flat-front chinos are what you are looking for.

I see this is this weekend. In case you want to do this on the cheap (ie. not JCrew) here are some Target suggestions: Oxford shirt (any color), hip indigo dots!, twill pants, chinos (these are slightly "dressier" than the twill ones which are cut as jeans, but I don't support black or white as your best option, really.)

Another store to try is Gap.

Can you ask your girlfriend on a shopping date some evening this week and have her help you pick out an outfit? If it were me, I would think that is a fun idea.
posted by dahliachewswell at 5:06 PM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Please no khaki pants - and that LL Bean Boyfriend stuff has entirely too much plaid/drifter sweater/blargh in it. Try really trim, really dark-wash jeans, a spiffy slim-fit shirt with a tiny pattern, good shoes. You could do flat-front chinos in a nice color (again, tan/stone/light - reads too 'casual friday at the office' and you'd be better off in nice jeans) and a slim-fit shirt with a great belt. Really, any "simple outfit/interesting accessory" works for a guy in a nice-casual setting - whether it's braces/suspenders, a bowtie, cool shoes. Pick one - it's an easy way to punch it up. Try browsing "men's sharp casual" on Pinterest to see if anything resonates.
posted by ersatzkat at 5:29 PM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I actually think your proposed outfit of black pants, grey shirt, red tie is fine except for (perhaps) the season, in which case you'd probably want lighter pants and to maybe ditch the tie. I've been to quite a few casual barn weddings and there are inevitably people in suits as well as people in much more casual digs. In fact, I think my husband wore pretty much that exact outfit to the last barn wedding we attended, though that was in late autumn.

Just wanted to let you know that your suggestion wasn't completely off base or crazycakes.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:31 PM on April 2, 2014

If you are looking at J Crew and just seeing guys in suits, you're doing it wrong.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:03 PM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I went to a barn reception last year and everyone dressed like a regular dressy wedding including women wearing ridiculous high heels so YMMV. I would skew dressier and allow the option of removing pieces to be more casual. The crowd very much dictates what will be worn as everyone isn't out buying something new. I had a hint from seeing what the flower girls and bridal party would be wearing and it was not at all barny.
posted by RoadScholar at 6:14 PM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

You say you hate khakis. How about some chinos or slacks*?
Do you own an oxford shirt? Grab a belt and some cool shoes.
Do you own a more casual sport coat in a color that is different from the chinos? Throw that on.**

*Just not black, dark grey, navy or pinstripe. You don't want to look like a high schooler going to his first interview.

**My philosophy is be a little bit more dressed up than you think you need to be. You can wear the jacket to the ceremony and then throw it over the back of your chair at the reception. If you want to look even more casual, roll the sleeves of your button down up.
posted by gumtree at 6:14 PM on April 2, 2014

I would just like to remind you that it's far better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. If you don't like khakis then do not wear khakis. If you're more comfortable in a shirt, tie, and black slacks then by all means do that. People will likely remember your comfort level more than what you wore so wear something that makes you feel your best.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 8:50 PM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would not wear jeans to a wedding, no matter how "casual".
Neither would I. I'm sure there will be people there in jeans (I see those folks at the symphony on Saturday night, too), but this is not a clam bake or a casual BBQ, it's a wedding and deserves some respect.
posted by Dolley at 6:11 AM on April 3, 2014

It's in a barn. Wear a nice pair of jeans and a blazer. Boots. Tie optional.

This guy is going to be the best dressed guest at that wedding
posted by 256 at 6:41 AM on April 3, 2014

Being "in a barn" means nothing in itself. The restaurant at a Five Diamond hotel in my area is called "The Barn." The wedding may be in a barn with cows; it may be in a renovated barn that is clean and beautiful, but out in the country. I recommend against jeans. One can be casual and comfortable without wearing jeans.
posted by Dolley at 9:44 AM on April 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I forgot to make it clear, the building where the restaurant called "The Barn" is located is indeed an old barn. It's a renovated, elegant, beautiful place, but it is in a barn.
posted by Dolley at 10:02 AM on April 3, 2014

I am a lady who is a fan of erring on the side of overdressing.

I personally would think that black pants+grey dress shirt+(or-)tie would be totally fine for a wedding listed as "casual".

If I was attending this wedding with Mr. Motion (who doesn't do clothing decisions well and hates dressing up) I'd tell him to wear the tie to the event, but based on what the rest of the crowd looked like, I might let him take it off and undo his top button.

He also has a couple of short sleeve dress shirts that look good on him and are nice for nebulously "casual" occasions (you might appreciate the short sleeves for the summer wedding).
posted by sparklemotion at 10:55 AM on April 3, 2014

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