Wondering What To Wear For A Formal Social Event?

Trying to navigate the daunting task of deciding what to wear for a formal social event is a tricky feat, but there are a handful of essential tips every man should know to ease the pressure. The dreaded dress code can cause a lot of confusion which sometimes doesn’t allow you to look forward to the upcoming formal social event, but with preparation, there’s no need to worry.

Let’s get straight into our top tips for what to wear for a formal social event

What to wear for a formal social event: 4 best practices

Three men wearing suits in light colours


An essential for formal social events in the summertime is wearing light colours such as tanned, light blue, and soft pink if you’re brave enough. These colours are perfect for those who want to add a touch of elegance and class to their look whilst remaining cool and comfortable in the heat. Additionally, light-coloured bespoke suits are great value for money as they can be worn for formal and casual occasions.

When it comes to the material, try linen or organic cotton. When the sun is out, people’s formality expectations tend to loosen up, so potentially swap leather shoes for loafers without socks, which has become a trend in recent years.


Turning up in jeans shows you either don’t respect your host or you don’t respect yourself, but most likely both. If you’re leaning away from suit trousers, chinos are a notch up from jeans in terms of formality and are, therefore, acceptable. If you decide to sport a pair of chinos, we recommend wearing them with a blazer, maybe a pocket square and some sleek formal shoes to ensure no qualms. But to reiterate our original point, steer clear of jeans at all costs when attending formal social events.


Regardless of the dress code and the style you intend to wear, you must pay close attention to the environment, social dynamics, and expected weather the day of the event entails. Firstly, define your goals for the event. Secondly, understand what is expected of you. Thirdly, design your outfit following your personal goals for the event and the expectations for the event.

Your personal goals for the event, such as projecting an air of assurance or ensuring sustained comfort throughout the entirety of the event, will form the backbone of your outfit for the event.


There is nothing worse than choosing the right style but with the wrong fit. An overly tight and uncomfortable or loose and sloppy fit will completely ruin your efforts in choosing the right look and feel of an outfit to ultimately be disappointed. To negate this possibility, take sufficient time to define your style and ensure the fit is perfect before confirming your outfit choice.

Formal Social Event Dress Code Explained: Types of Formal Events

Knowing what to wear for a formal social event can be perplexing. Here’s a breakdown of some types of formal events to look out for:

1. Semi-Formal:

This dress code strikes a balance between formal and casual. For men, this typically means a dark suit with a shirt and tie. Dark, well-polished shoes are essential. Semi-formal events usually take place in the evening, so darker colours are more suitable. For daytime events, lighter shades can be appropriate.

2. Business Formal:

Common in corporate events or meetings, business formal attire requires a formal suit and tie. Dark colours like navy, black, or dark grey are preferred. The shirt should be a solid colour or have a subtle pattern. Accessories should be understated, and shoes must be formal and polished.

3. Cocktail Attire:

Cocktail attire is slightly less formal than business attire. It allows for more flexibility in colours and patterns. A suit is still recommended, but there’s room to play with different hues and textures. Ties are optional, though a bow tie can add an element of sophistication.

4. Black Tie:

This is one of the most formal dress codes. It requires a tuxedo with a black bow tie, a white dress shirt, and black formal shoes. A cummerbund or a low-cut waistcoat can be worn, and accessories should be minimal but elegant. Read this guide to learn how to wear your tuxedo.

5. Prom:

Prom night is a special event for many teenagers, often falling under the semi-formal to formal category. For young men, a prom suit or tuxedo is a popular choice. The key is to match the formality of the event. Some proms may call for a black-tie dress code, while others are more relaxed, allowing for stylish suits in various colours.

Understanding these dress codes is crucial in ensuring that you’re appropriately dressed for any occasion, reflecting respect for the event and its hosts. Remember, it’s always better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed.

Accessorising for Formal Social Events

Accessories for formal social events

Accessorising for formal events is akin to putting the finishing touches on a masterpiece. It’s about complementing your attire, not overshadowing it. Here are some key pointers to keep in mind:

1. Watches:

A classic, elegant watch is a must-have accessory for any formal event. Choose a watch with a simple, refined design. Avoid overly large or sporty models. A slim, understated watch with a leather strap or a metal bracelet is a timeless choice.

2. Cufflinks:

Cufflinks are a subtle yet powerful way to express your personal style. For formal events, opt for understated elegance. Silver or gold cufflinks with minimal embellishment work well. If you wish to add a personal touch, consider cufflinks that reflect your hobbies or interests, but ensure they are still appropriate for the occasion.

3. Ties and Bow Ties:

The choice between a tie and a bow tie often depends on the level of formality and personal preference. For black tie events, a bow tie is a must. Otherwise, a silk tie in a solid colour or a subtle pattern can elevate your formal suit. Make sure the tie complements your suit and shirt without overpowering them.

4. Pocket Squares:

A pocket square adds a dash of sophistication to your outfit. The key is to coordinate it with your tie or shirt, but it shouldn’t match exactly. Aim for a complementary colour or pattern. Remember, the fold of the pocket square should be neat and not too flamboyant.

5. Shoes:

Your shoes should be polished and in pristine condition. Classic styles like Oxfords or Brogues in black or brown are safe and elegant choices. For summer events, patent leather or polished loafers can also be appropriate.

Remember, the aim of accessorising for a formal event is to enhance your overall appearance with subtlety and taste. Each accessory should add a touch of elegance, contributing to a polished and refined look.

Choose the Hidalgo Brothers for Your Formal Social Events

Selecting what to wear for a formal social event is crucial for making a positive impression. At Hidalgo Brothers, we understand the intricacies of formal dress codes and offer bespoke suits tailored to each occasion. Our expertise ensures that your attire is not only a perfect fit for you but also appropriate for the event’s requirements.

For those uncertain about what to wear for a formal social event, the Hidalgo Brothers are here to assist. We pride ourselves on superior craftsmanship and personalised service, ensuring your outfit is exemplary in every way. Don’t let outfit choices overwhelm you. Contact us for an attire that speaks volumes of elegance and style.