How to Dress Semi Formal for Guys
Semi-formal. Even the name sounds like a contradiction. If you've been told that the event you're attending has a semi-formal dress code, it's okay to be a little bit confused. Though "semi-formal" resides in the blurry area between "casual" and "formal," there are still a few standards that you have to meet to dress appropriately. If you want to know how to dress semi-formal for guys, just follow these steps.
Dress Semi-Formal for Guys
Wear the right shirt. For semi-formal attire, you'll need to wear a button-down shirt. The most classic and dependable look will be the white button-down shirt, but you can have a little more fun with semi-formal attire and pick a shirt with a subtle pattern or stripes if you're attending a daytime semi-formal event.
- It's important to clean and iron your shirt before you wear it. No matter how nice the shirt is, you won't look right if it looks worn and wrinkly.
- If the shirt has a subtle pattern, make sure it matches the suit and tie you're wearing. This doesn't mean it has to be the exact same color as the suit and tie, but that the colors should be in the same color family.
- Having a patterned shirt can also help you add a personalized look to what may feel like a formulaic outfit.
Wear the right suit. You still have to wear a suit to a semi-formal event -- just remember to avoid the tuxedo. For daytime events, wear a light suit that is usually cream or tan, a stroller or a director's coat, or a jacket in black or dark gray wool. For nighttime events, wear a dark charcoal or a midnight blue suit. Make sure the suit slacks fit your form and aren't too loose, too tight, or wrinkled.
- For a more formal semi-formal event, you can wear a tuxedo-jacket, or black trousers with a satin seam.
- You can also consider wearing a cummerbund.
- A vest that matches your suit can also go nicely with your semi-formal attire.
- A variety of suit fabrics work for a semi-formal suit. You can wear a suit that is made of wool, gabardine, cashmere, or a wool blend.
- A blazer can also be acceptable for a daytime outdoor event.
Wear the right accessories. You can wear a simple tie that matches your suit for a semi-formal event. The tie should be light for a light-colored suit and dark for a dark-colored suit. You can have some fun and pick a tie with stripes or a fun pattern, as long as it isn't too silly. You should wear a simple black belt with your pants, one that isn't too thick.
- You can also add some flair to your outfit by wearing a red pocket pocket handkerchief or a white silk scarf.
- If you're accompanying a date to an event, you can add a nice touch by wearing matching accessories. For example, if she's wearing long gold earrings, you can wear a gold tie or put a gold silk handkerchief in your pocket.
- Cufflinks can also be a nice addition to your look.
Wear the right shoes. For semi-formal attire, wear lace-up shoes, dressy loafers, or Oxfords. For night-time events, you can wear shined leather shoes. Pair your shoes with dark dress socks. If a light sock peeks out from your outfit, the effect can be ruined.
- You should generally stick to wearing black shoes, but dark brown shoes can also be acceptable if you're wearing a dark brown suit.
- It should go without saying, but you should never, ever, wear dress shoes without socks.
Groom correctly. Remember to take a nice long shower, style your hair, and shave your face before attending a semi-formal event. If your hair is getting long, make sure you cut it before you attend the event, or you will look disheveled. Take time with your appearance before you leave the house.
- Make sure your shoes are clean, your shirt is tucked in, and your collar is fixed appropriately.
- Some light cologne can also help add elegance to your look.
General Strategies for Dressing Semi-Formal
Do not overdress. Overdressing at a semi-formal event can make you stand out like a sore thumb. The main thing you should avoid is wearing a tuxedo -- a semi-formal event does not call for it. If you're going to a daytime event, remember to wear a suit that is a lighter color, such as beige. If you wear a dark color, like midnight blue, you'll look overdressed.
- One way to avoid overdressing is to check in on what your friends or date are wearing. This will help you see what is appropriate. Don't just ask one other guy who is equally clueless; ask a variety of people.
Do not underdress. Remember that the word "semi-formal" still includes the word "formal." Therefore, you should avoid a variety of more casual items of clothing, such as khakis, jeans, shorts, or linen or seersucker suits. You should also avoid only wearing a polo shirt without a suit jacket.
- Though people still debate over whether or not a tie is required at a semi-formal event, you should wear one, at least to a night event, to avoid looking too casual.
- Sport coats are also considered too casual for semi-formal attire.
Remember that it's better to overdress than underdress. This is a golden rule. If you're in doubt and deciding between two articles of clothing, one that you're worried is slightly casual, and one that you're worried is overly formal, err on the side of formal. It's better to show up dressed better than everyone than looking like you missed the "dress up" memo.
- And remember that if you show up overdressed, there are little things you can do to make your look more casual, from taking off your tie to removing your pocket handkerchief.
If you're really confused, ask the host. If you've asked a few people who are attending the event and all of them are flummoxed, you can go ahead and ask the host about the dress code, if he's someone you know fairly well. The host may have a slightly nuanced vision of "semi-formal" so it could help to have his input. Don't be shy -- it's likely that other people have the same question.
- If the host helps you figure out what to wear, you can already be on the way to making yourself the life of the party by giving other equally-clueless guests advice before the big day.
Make sure your actions match your look. If you're dressed in semi-formal attire, it's time to step it up in the classiness department in your actions as well. Try to avoid the things you normally do in casual clothes -- burping, cursing, loudly talking on your cell phone -- and try to match the actions of the people in your environment. If everyone is throwing down at a big party or laughing at inappropriate jokes loudly, then that can give you the green light to relax a bit, but if people at the party are committed to keeping the environment a little more formal, try to avoid embarrassing yourself.
- If you look more classy, then you'll naturally feel a little more classy.
- One way to act more classy is to complement the women at the event on their appearance. They made an effort to dress up, so you can make a small effort by telling them they look nice.
- Don't skimp out when it comes to dressing up. As teens find out again and again, it is much better to be overdressed than under-dressed.
- Don't ever, EVER wear jeans or anything made of denim. That is too casual of dress for a semi-formal dress code.