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Semi-formal Men’s Attire | A Full Guide to a Great Appearance

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Semi-formal men's clothing consists of suits, but they may not be the same as your usual business suit. These types of clothes include wearing a tie and dress shirt with dark dress pants, slacks, or dark jeans. This is considered semi-formal because the person may not be wearing a suit jacket, but it is much more formal than your usual tee shirt and jeans.

We have a few other guides covering various dress codes like black tie optional, cocktail attire, smart casualwhite tie, business casual, black tie wedding and more.


What is Semi-Formal Attire?

So, what does semi formal mean exactly? Semi-formal attire is wearing a suit but not adhering strictly to business wear conventions such as wearing the same color tie as the jacket or similarly colored dress shoes.

It is a term that originated in the 19th century to describe wealthy men who wore grey or light-colored suits to social events instead of a traditional black suit.

Grey Suit

A semi-formal suit is typically single-breasted or double-breasted with a notch lapel. Make sure it fits well or get your suit tailored for a better fit. While many men choose to wear an entire length pant leg and opt for a standard leather dress shoe, others prefer to roll their pant legs up just below the knee or even wear dark denim jeans to complete the look.

How to Dress for a Semi-Formal Event

When deciding how to dress for a semi-formal event, it is essential to consider the formality of the occasion. For example, if you are attending a wedding or perhaps an awards ceremony at your local college, this would be considered a formal social event where a white slim fit dress shirt might work best and therefore requires dressing in formal attire.

slim fit white dress shirt

On the other hand, if you are attending a semi-formal summer wedding, this event is somewhere between formal and casual. It may be more appropriate for these occasions to choose either a dark-colored suit or one with some color but slightly on the formal side, such as wearing a blue suit with a black shirt to create a unique style. These are just a few semi formal examples to meet the dress code.

semi formal mens attire and dress code infographic from nimble made

Semi-Formal Accessories

A few men's semi-formal attire accessories that you might want to consider when wearing a suit are bow ties, vests, and suspenders. Bow ties are popular among men who prefer to wear more formal attire for semi formal events. Suspenders can be worn by themselves or in combination with a vest. Here are two guides on how to tie a bow tie and how to wear suspenders. Vests are similar to blazers in the sense that they have a pocket on the outside.

A wristwatch can also be an excellent accessory to complete your semi-formal outfits for men. Wear a dress watch to complete your semi-formal look, but avoid adding additional bracelets or plastic watches since it could lower your formality.


It is essential to consider what types of shoes you should wear when wearing semi-formal attire at semi formal events. While many men prefer to wear a dress shoe with a formal suit, you might want to consider wearing oxfords or c instead. Oxfords are shoes that have laces and are typically worn by men who play sports such as golf because the shoes provide extra grip and support when hitting the ball.

You can add brogues to any semi-formal look because they have a unique design with perforations.

Choosing Your Semi-Formal Attire

Choosing the proper semi-formal attire is more of an art than a science because it depends on what type of event you will be attending and your style is for formal mens wear. Regardless of whether you choose to wear a suit or something along the lines of jeans and a slim fitting dress shirt, there are many factors that you should consider when choosing your clothes for any semi-formal event.

Your Style

One factor to consider when choosing clothes is your style. While you might find it flattering to wear darker, more standard colors, this type of attire may not be suitable for your event. If you would like to look at alternatives such as casual dress shirts or blazers with jeans, many options are available to you.

The Occasion

Another factor that will determine what type of outfit you should wear is the occasion. For example, if you are attending a wedding or other function during the daytime, it might be more appropriate to err on the side of formality and choose a suit in either a dark color such as black or navy blue. However, if the event occurs during nighttime hours, you might want to consider wearing something less formal, like a dark pair of jeans with a dress shirt instead.

The Weather

Another factor that should influence your choice is the weather. If it were warm at the semi-formal event, it would be a good idea to choose lighter colors such as blue and white. However, if the weather is cold on that day, you might want to wear darker colors such as charcoal grey or black instead. Choosing your attire based on the weather forecast will ensure that your clothes fit in with what others are wearing and keep you comfortable throughout the day.

Time of the Day

Finally, it would be best to consider what time of day the semi-formal event will take place. Choosing your semi-formal attire based on the time of day that the event occurs can help you fit in with others and help you stay comfortable throughout the day. For example, if you plan to attend a wedding that occurs during the evening hours, it would be a good idea to choose clothes such as dark dress pants and a dress shirt instead of jeans and a polo shirt.

Semi-Formal Ideas

When it comes to semi-formal attire, you have many different options available. This type of clothing ranges from a suit and tie to a pair of dress pants and a dress shirt with or without a blazer, depending on the occasion. Regardless of what type of clothing you choose, the most important thing is that it fits in with others who have been invited to the occasion and matches the event you will be attending. If you'd like some inspiration, try wearing a black suit with a blue shirt for a clean and stylish look, and also check out our guide on how to dress like a man.

Standard Semi-Formal

One of the most basic types of semi-formal clothing is a suit. By choosing this type of outfit, you will be dressed appropriately for almost any kind of occasion that occurs during the daytime or evening hours. For example, if you attend an event such as a wedding or dinner party at night, you can choose dress pants and a dress shirt with or without a blazer. This bestselling semi-formal white dress shirt has sold out over 8x from Nimble Made:

If it is daytime, you can choose to wear a suit instead of pants and a dress shirt for an even more formal look.

Here's a separate guide on semi-formal vs formal dress codes and a few guides on how to match and wear blue suit with brown shoes, black suit with brown shoes, or grey pants with brown shoes

Casual Semi-Formal

These are our favorite casual dress shirts from Nimble Made.

Another smart option is to wear jeans with either a casual dress shirt or sweater instead of a blazer. This type of attire is appropriate for casual occasions such as a dinner party, gathering during the day, or casual wedding dress codes. Here is a guide on wearing a turtleneck with a suit.


Regardless of what type of semi-formal clothing you choose to wear, the most important thing is that it fits in with others attending the same event and matches the occasion itself. By choosing your attire based on these three factors, you should find it easy to dress appropriately for various semi-formal occasions.