Wedding dress codes can be a vortex of confusion. No one seems to know what’s appropriate and what’s not, with vague wedding invitations definitely not helping. So, can a man wear a white shirt to a wedding?
It’s absolutely fine for a man to wear a white shirt to a wedding. Go for one with a simple point collar, avoid patterns, and consider a Herringbone fabric to make it look more sophisticated. An undershirt would also prevent it from being see-through and protect it against sweat.
Although that’s the short answer, there’s a lot more to it.
Sure, it’s fine to do, but you’ll want to make sure you’re doing it the right way. Read on to learn some crucial tips for pulling it off in the most effective way possible.
Let’s get to it.
7 Tips For Wearing A White Shirt To A Wedding
Sticking to these should help you choose the perfect white shirt for the occasion.
1. Consider An Undershirt
Undershirts are often wise when wearing a white dress shirt.
While they can sometimes seem like an inconvenience, they have a couple of benefits that are hard to ignore.
One is that white dress shirts can be see-through, especially as the day progresses and the shirt starts to cling to the body due to sweat.
Wearing a white undershirt should prevent this from happening.
In addition, the undershirt should protect the white shirt from sweat stains over time.
While white is a very versatile color for a shirt, it does carry the risk of getting stained and dirty.
If you’re attending a wedding in a warmer climate, the additional layer of an undershirt is probably the last thing you want.
But there are plenty of lightweight and thin undershirts, often made from cotton, that you probably wouldn’t even notice you were wearing.
Even though it isn’t ideal to wear an extra layer in the summer, undershirts become even more important because you’re more likely to sweat.
2. Go For A Point Collar
Choose a white shirt with a simple point collar. Nothing too fancy.
When attending a wedding as a guest, it’s to strike a balance between dressing up enough to show that you’ve made an effort and dressing down enough to not show up the groom.
A point collar is a perfect example of this principle.
It’s tidy enough to be considered “formal” without being over the top or too fancy.
The point collar could be considered the standard business collar – it’s often the go-to collar of choice when it comes to business shirts.
The collar tips are pointed, with the spread between the two points being small.
This narrow spread ensures that only the knot of your necktie will be visible, without showing any part of the tie on either side of it.
It also ensures that the lapels of your jacket won’t cover the points either.
3. No Stripes Or Checks
The white shirt you choose should be simple, with no patterns such as stripes or checks.
While wearing a patterned white shirt to a wedding wouldn’t be a disaster, it’s generally not recommended.
There is more than one reason for this.
For one, patterned shirts will usually come across more casual than solid-colored shirts, especially on a white background.
As a wedding guest, you’ll want to show that you’ve made some effort to dress up – solid white would usually be best.
In addition, patterned shirts such as striped or checked ones are usually worn with business suits.
It’s very common to wear these shirts to work.
You don’t want to give off the impression that you’re wearing the same shirt you wore to work the day before.
4. Don’t Wear It Alone
No matter how “casual” a wedding claims to be, don’t wear a white shirt alone. It should be worn with a necktie at the very least, but ideally with a jacket (eg. suit jacket, blazer, or sport coat) in addition.
This is even more important when wearing a white shirt alone. It’ll simply look like you forgot to finish getting dressed.
Feel free to add a splash of color with the necktie – use it as an opportunity to add some interest to a plain and simple white shirt.
Ultimately, wearing a white shirt alone with the top button undone runs the very real risk of underdressing.
You don’t want to be that guy. The one who didn’t bother to even pop on a necktie for a friend/relative’s special occasion.
Sure, you may end up dressing a little sharper than the others – but that’s OK. It’s always better to overdress than to underdress at a wedding.
5. Consider Herringbone
Wearing a white shirt to a wedding is usually a pretty safe play. But there’s a small risk of it looking a little too basic.
Plain and simple is good, but choosing the right fabric should make sure it looks more formal than your average work shirt.
Herringbone is a great weave that’s often woven into twill fabric. It’s pretty easy to find shirts with a Herringbone weave.
What’s good about it is that it makes a shirt texture look a touch more luxurious than your average one.
While the characteristic pattern won’t necessarily be visible to those around you, it’s the general aesthetic and feel that sets it apart.
Owning a white Herringbone shirt is always wise given its versatility. You could pull it out whenever you want to dress things up just a little, but not too much.
6. Ensure That It Fits Well
This is all about the fit. You’ll want to make sure that the white shirt is fitted well enough to not look awkward as the day goes on.
Worrying about whether or not your shirt is untucked at the back is the worst feeling.
As the wedding progresses and things become more and more relaxed, there’s even more risk of things becoming untucked.
Choosing a white dress shirt that’s long enough should prevent this from happening.
The dress shirt should extend a few inches below the beltline, enabling it to stay tucked when your arms are raised.
This is even more important when wearing a white shirt. There’s just something about an untucked white shirt that looks more scruffy and untidy than a darker color.
So, try your best to avoid this by choosing the right length.
It’s also important to consider the sleeve length.
In general, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve got some cuff showing once your blazer or suit jacket is on.
A good rule of thumb is to try to make sure ¼ to ½ inch of the cuff is visible.
7. Don’t Shy Away From Cufflinks
Weddings are a great opportunity to pop on a pair of cufflinks as they’re usually small and understated enough to not be considered over the top.
This does mean you’ll need a white shirt with French cuffs as opposed to simple barrel cuffs, but that’s OK.
Wearing a white shirt with French cuffs and cufflinks is a great option. It’s a simple way to make an otherwise plain and simple white shirt look a touch more interesting and sophisticated.
When it comes to the cufflinks themselves, try to keep things simple. Once again, a wedding is not somewhere you want to draw too much attention.
Silk knots are great because they come in a variety of colors, but also don’t come across as too fancy because they don’t have a glare.
Otherwise, simple toggle closure or stud cufflinks should be fine. The smaller the better.
Wearing a white shirt is completely appropriate as a wedding guest. The tips in this list should hopefully make you a lot more confident when doing so.