Semi-formal attire for men is a frequently requested dress code that can sometimes be mistaken for formal or smart-casual wear. Yet, semi-formal wear stands distinct with specific guidelines to follow. Grasping these dress code rules is crucial to avoid the faux pas of being either too dressed up or not dressed enough.
So what is semi-formal attire? Semi-formal attire for men typically includes a suit and tie, often with a dress shirt, and sometimes a waistcoat, appropriate for events that are too formal for casual wear but do not require a full tuxedo.
This guide aims to demystify the concepts of semi-formal attire for men, and offer the best fitting semi-formal attire for men right here at Tapered Menswear.
What is Semi-Formal Attire for a Man?
Semi-formal attire is less formal than black-tie but a little more sophisticated than casual wear. Confused? I’ve got you.
Typically, it includes something like a blazer, smart trousers and a formal shirt, and sometimes a tie or pocket square. The semi-formal dress code allows for some room on the expectation of sophistication, for example you could wear black jeans or chinos with your blazer without going overboard on the formality.
What is an Example of Semi-Formal Dress Code?
An example of semi-formal dress code would be a charcoal grey suit paired with a crisp white dress shirt. Opt for a conservative tie, and complete the look with black leather Oxford shoes.
A belt matching the shoes and a watch with a leather strap can accessorise the outfit tastefully. Ensure the clothes are well-fitted, neither too loose nor too tight. This ensemble is perfectly balanced for semi-formal occasions, reflecting both elegance and comfort without being overly formal.
What is Formal Attire for a Man?
It's about timeless elegance, and the expectation is a sharp, classic look that aligns with long standing traditions.
Differences between Semi-Formal and Formal
Let’s navigate some of the subtleties between semi-formal and formal attire. If you’re already unsure of the differences outlined I'll show some of the VERY subtle differences between the two to help clear up any confusion!
- Semi-formal attire is suitable for things like business dinners or dress down days at work.
- Formal attire is a lot more sophisticated, we’re talking black-tie galas and weddings.
- Clothing Items:
- Semi-formal ensemble is a lot more diverse but includes options like blazers, smart shirts, dark jeans or chinos allowing for the old mix-and-match approach.
- Formal wear is more prescriptive, typically requiring a tuxedo, 2 or 3 piece suit, smart trousers or bow tie.
What is Semi-Formal Dress Code UK Men?
The UK's semi-formal dress code leans heavily on traditional British attire. This means well-tailored blazers, waistcoats, and smart shoes.
But you can get away with dark chinos or jeans with this. If you’re rocking up to a high-profile race meeting at Ascot this is more likely to be formal with top and tails.
What Not to Wear at Semi-Formal Wedding Men?
When dressing for a semi-formal wedding, avoiding certain fashion faux pas is as important as choosing the right outfit. Here's what should not make the cut for your semi-formal wedding attire:
- Denim or Jeans: Regardless of their colour or fit, jeans are too casual for a wedding. Even in black!
- Shorts: Forget it - even in summer weddings, shorts are not acceptable for a semi-formal dress code. UNLESS you’ve cleared this with the bride and groom of course ;)
- Casual T-Shirts: Any casual or graphic tees are too laid-back for this occasion.
- Athletic Shoes: Sneakers or any sporty footwear should be swapped out for dress shoes.
- Overly Bright Colours: While some colour is acceptable, neon or overly bright hues can be distracting and are not recommended.
- Heavy Patterns: Subtle patterns can be acceptable, but bold, busy prints can detract from the semi-formal aesthetic.
- Too Casual Outerwear: Parkas, windbreakers, and other casual jackets are not suitable. Opt for a sports coat or blazer instead.
- Excessively Relaxed Fit: Clothes that are too loose can look sloppy. Semi-formal attire should be well-fitted to your form.
Remember, semi-formal is about looking polished without being overly formal. Aim for a tailored suit or a smart blazer and trousers combo, a button-up shirt, and leather dress shoes. When in doubt, it's always better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed for a semi-formal wedding.
Is A Polo Shirt Considered Semi-Formal?
A polo shirt is definitely considered more casual than semi formal. It's not typically considered semi-formal, but with the right styling, you can make this semi-formal in no time.
In my opinion, fit and fabric are absolutely paramount here! If you choose a polo crafted from a luxurious fabric (you will know if it is the second you try it on.) Featuring a fit that's snug but not tight, can definitely push you towards semi-formal territory.
If you absolutely have to wear a polo to your event, you can often get away with it in a semi formal outfit if you choose a solid dark colour. I'm talking black or navy.
You can tuck these into some formal chinos or smart trousers and your outfit screams semi formal.
What is the Difference between Semi-Formal and Casual Attire?
We’ve already covered semi formal attire in a lot of detail so far! But if you’re just joining us here. Semi-formal attire, often chosen for events like business meetings or dinner parties, but it’s not as formal as weddings or black tie events.
Casual attire, on the other hand, is all about comfort. It includes a wide range of garments, from jeans and chinos to t-shirts, polo shirts, and casual sweaters.
What is Semi-Formal Attire for Summer Men?
Semi-formal attire for men in the summer is all about staying cool while looking sharp. Lightweight fabrics such as linen and fine cotton are perfect as they offer breathability and comfort in the heat. For blazers, opt for lighter shades like beige,
The choice of shirt is important too; a crisp, lightweight dress shirt in a pale colour keeps the look formal but airy. Short-sleeved dress shirts can be acceptable, but long sleeves rolled up can offer a more polished appearance while remaining practical for warmth.
Trousers should be well-fitted and can be of a lighter fabric and colour to match the jacket. Chinos work well here as they offer more of a variety of colours than trousers. But don’t wear khakis as these are generally looser and are definitely more casual.
Can a Short Sleeve be Semi-Formal?
In the traditional semi-formal attire, short sleeves generally tend to lean towards a more casual appearance. However short sleeve dress shirts are a good shout here as long as it's paired properly.
As always, select one made from a high-quality fabric with a luxurious finish. The shirt should have a structured collar that maintains its shape and a Tapered fit that offers a fitted silhouette.
Pairing the short-sleeved shirt with dressier components is key. For example, wear it with a lightweight blazer or a summer-weight suit jacket, which can significantly elevate the shirt’s status within an outfit.
On the bottom make sure you wear some chinos or fitted formal trousers and you’re off to the races!
Does Semi-Formal Mean Jacket?
A jacket isn't necessarily semi formal. I’ve already covered a ton of ideas on outfits for semi formal and finishing with a jacket definitely elevates it but doesn’t define it.
As with everything, just make sure the jacket is well fitted because if it's baggy it's just going to throw off your whole outfit.
Sometimes a semi formal event might make a jacket mandatory. If that’s the case, a single-breasted blazer in a dark colour like navy or charcoal is versatile and can be paired with trousers of a contrasting colour for a classic look.
Much like my suggestion with short sleeve shirts; for summer events, choose a lighter-coloured blazer in tan or light grey. Anything light and you can’t go wrong!
To add formality to an outfit without a jacket, one could opt for a waistcoat. This piece can maintain a degree of formality and when paired with dress trousers and a tie, can come close to the semi-formal expectation.
However, the addition of a jacket would always be the final touch to fully comply with a semi-formal dress code.
Is Smart Casual the Same as Semi-Formal?
In short no, smart casual and semi-formal aren’t the same.
Smart casual is more relaxed. It's often the dress code for casual social events but with a small mix of formality like a shirt or chinos thrown in.
A denim shirt with light chinos works well as smart casual.
On the other hand, semi-formal is a step up in formality. It typically requires a suit or a blazer and trouser combination, and while a tie is not always mandatory, it adds to the appropriateness of the attire for the occasion.
For instance, smart casual might include a pair of neat, dark jeans paired with a blazer, or chinos with a casual button-up shirt and a sweater or sports coat. Semi-formal, however, would lean more towards a tailored suit with a shirt and possibly a tie or a classy sports coat with dress pants, a dress shirt, and dress shoes.
Can You Wear Jeans in Semi-Formal?
Jeans are traditionally not accepted. But with that being said If you don’t have any other options we can make it work! Go for jeans that are a darker wash, they must be well fitted and under any circumstance no distress or rips!
Paired it with a crisp, fitted dress shirt from us here at Tapered Menswear and you’re sorted. But do note, if your event strictly prohibits jeans you might need to get yourself some trousers or chinos.
Things to Avoid When Dressing Semi-Formally
There are some fashion no-nos when choosing your semi-formal outfit. These are:
- Overly Casual Footwear: trainers or any sporty type footwear is a no go. Open toe sandals or flip flops.
- Loud Prints and Flashy Colours: Semi-formal attire should be understated. Avoid vibrant, attention-grabbing prints or neon colours. Stick to classic, muted tones and subtle patterns.
- Ill-Fitting Clothes: Baggy trousers, oversized shirts, or jackets that don't fit properly can ruin the semi-formal look. Clothes should be tailored to fit well.
- Casual Accessories: Items like sports watches, colourful backpacks, or casual hats should be left at home. Choose accessories that complement the sophistication of the event.
- Sportswear: Athletic attire, including track jackets or workout pants, is not appropriate for semi-formal events.
- Denim: Unless specifically stated as acceptable by the host, jeans are typically too casual for semi-formal events.
- Shorts and T-Shirts: These are far too casual and should not be considered for semi-formal attire, even in warmer weather.
Best Semi-Formal Wedding Attire Male
For a semi-formal wedding, consider a tailored suit in a neutral colour, paired with a white shirt and a muted tie. Here at Tapered Menswear we offer an exquisite selection of semi-formal attire that perfectly balances tradition with a superior fit.
Understanding the nuances between semi-formal and formal attire is key to dressing appropriately for various occasions. No matter which style you choose, fit is everything.
A poorly fitted semi formal shirt will create a sloppy look. At Tapered Menswear we have created the perfect fitting shirt for men from slim to an athletic build.
Our TAPERED fit has been developed by leading Tailors and industry experts to provide you with a revolutionary fit, you won’t ever need to take your shirt to a tailor again or give lots of different measurements.
Perfect for those seeking a muscular fit, or bespoke tailoring - ready to wear! The best shirts for a muscular build. Our Tapered collection also includes muscle fit short sleeve shirts, muscle fit t-shirts and muscle fit polos.
Our revolutionary cut provides a 10" drop from chest to waist.
Expertly tailored darts at the back, for the perfect fit.
Super soft, breathable and allows complete freedom of movement.