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Certain occasions require that a guy goes above and beyond in terms of his #OOTD, like with the best semi-formal attire for men. Semi-formal dress codes are sometimes difficult to crack, but that’s why we’ve taken the guesswork out of getting dressed up in style this season (and beyond). Let’s explore what makes a great semi-formal outfit work, shall we?

What Makes Great Semi Formal Attire for Men?

Think of how you’d dress for a refined date night – say, with a blazer and chinos or a sharp V-neck sweater, crisp dress shirt and corduroy pants – and then step things up a notch with semi-formal attire. When in doubt, semi-formal attire is elevated above your typical office look – so, a solid-colored suit, classic dress shoes and a tie – but not as formal as wearing a black tie look. Let’s explore how to find the best semi-formal attire on the market. 

Our Favorites

State and Liberty Brushed Tech Stretch Blazer

Brushed Tech Stretch Blazer

  • Athletic Fit
  • Stretch Material
  • Breathable
State and Liberty Springer Shirt

Springer White Dress Shirt

  • Opaque Whtie Color
  • Under-The-Collar Button
  • Machine Washable
Mugsy Corduroy Shirt

Bonsia Corduroy Shirt

  • Great for Winter Events
  • Relaxed Fit
  • Stretch Corduroy Material

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Best Semi-Formal Wedding Attire for Men

J. Crew Ludlow Slim-Fit Suit

J. Crew Ludlow Slim-Fit Suit in Italian Chino

J. Crew changed the name of the game when it introduced the Ludlow Suit to the masses in the late 2000s, using a more streamlined fit, slimmer lapels and flattering construction at an affordable price. Even these days, the Ludlow Suit is a certified classic, available in crisp and versatile colors like Navy. Add the matching suit pants for a perfectly classic wedding look, and pair it with a sharp white dress shirt and a black knit tie. Add black shoes (which you can also score from J. Crew), and the look is as classic as it gets.

State and Liberty Springer Shirt

State and Liberty Springer White Dress Shirt

Whether you’re a more athletically built guy or simply in search of a dress shirt with stretch, it’s hard to go wrong with State and Liberty. It’s even harder to fault the simple, classic style of a white dress shirt, which you can even wear for pre-wedding festivities underneath a crisp sweater, for example. This shirt is comfortable, made with plenty of stretch and built to accommodate broader shoulders and chests, but it pairs up nicely with just about any color suit regardless. Add a tie with a dash of color or pattern to offset your navy suit.

The Tie Bar Grosgrain Tie

The Tie Bar Grosgrain Solid Charcoal Tie

When in doubt, opt for a classic tie in a solid color as you shop for the best semi-formal attire for a wedding. The color of this charcoal tie works well with either black or dark brown dress shoes (the world is your oyster) and hits the right notes when it comes to a semi-formal dress code. It’s a versatile tie that also matches up especially well with a white dress shirt and navy suit. Overall, it’s part of a look that’s as timeless as it gets and expertly suited to a wedding in virtually any season. 

Allen Edmonds Captoe Oxfords

Allen Edmonds Fifth Avenue Captoe Oxfords

Remember, when dressing in semi-formal attire for a wedding, the goal is to step things up a notch (in this case, literally) above typical business casual style. So, while you might wear brown leather dress boots to the office, opt instead for elegant black captoe Oxfords. The captoe detailing isn’t as dressy as a black patent leather shoe that you’d wear with a tuxedo (more on those in a second), but Allen Edmonds crafts these shoes to perfection with a high level of detail. That means they’re built to last and last through all sorts of semi-formal situations (and yes, you can wear a navy suit with black shoes – just ask James Bond). 

Best Black Semi-Formal Attire for Men

SuitSupply Black Havana Suit

SuitSupply Black Perennial Havana Suit

Sometimes, dressing for a semi-formal occasion calls for something even more refined than a classic navy suit. In this case, a handsome black suit from a respected tailoring company like SuitSupply is just the ticket. It’s not nearly as formal as a tuxedo, hence the decision to opt for a classic two-piece suit in this case, but that’s all the better. It pairs up perfectly with those captoe Oxford shoes you’ve invested in, as well. 

Indochino Black Suit

Indochino Hemsworth Prince of Wales Black Suit

Wearing a black suit as part of the best semi-formal attire needn’t feel stuffy or be boring. In fact, black as a suit color gives you a chance to experiment with subtle pattern, in this case a Prince of Wales check pattern. This wool suit is ideal for wearing to semi-formal weddings or slightly dressier occasions, and it’s got plenty of seasonal texture ideal for fall and winter. Plus, it’s fairly priced for a full suit and comes with all kinds of customization options at Indochino.

Bonobos Super 120s Wool Blazer

Bonobos Super 120s Wool Jetsetter Blazer

Keep in mind that yes, you can certainly wear a dark-colored blazer – in this case, an almost-black charcoal shade – with refined trousers as part of semi-formal attire. As long as the trousers are dark in color, like burgundy, and perhaps made from textured fabric, like corduroy, a stretch blazer in a dark shade is a perfectly acceptable semi-formal style move. Just be sure your tie is dark in color and your shirt is a crisp and classic white. And rest easy knowing that you’re shopping and saving in style with Bonobos.

SuitShop Classic Black Jacket

The Tie Bar Classic Black Suit Jacket by SuitShop

You very well might not find a more affordable black jacket for semi-formal attire than this option from The Tie Bar (fulfilled by the company’s partners at SuitShop). It’s a crisply cut, classically designed black suit jacket with a double-vent design for a timeless look. It’s also got an elegant two-button front, as with other black suit jackets on the market. Best of all is the fact that this jacket can be paired up, say, dark green or burgundy trousers for an especially dressy winter look.

Best Men’s Semi Formal Attire for Christmas Party

Buck Mason Italian Soft Wool Graduate Blazer

Buck Mason Italian Wool Flannel Graduate Blazer

A Christmas party is absolutely a great time to put your best foot forward, as with any holiday occasion. And while Christmas parties can sometimes be laidback affairs at home, it’s all about exuding refined style and embracing some holiday cheer. Buck Mason makes it easier than ever to do that with its Soft Wool Flannel collection, which uses classic American detailing and patch pockets. It’s a preppy take on the classic suit jacket, and made from a perfectly seasonal wool flannel fabric.

Ben Sherman Stripe Knit Polo

Ben Sherman Retro Contrast Stripe Knit Polo

Remember, not every semi-formal occasion has to mean suiting up, even in a more easygoing fabric like Italian wool flannel (like we talked about earlier). Sometimes, it can mean opting for a throwback-inspired sweater polo, an on-trend option that’s dressy, eye-catching and easy to wear, all at once. The red-and-blue color is seasonally friendly for Christmas, while the sweater polo can pair up easily with dark corduroy pants or wool trousers. Speaking of…

Bonobos Italian Stretch Wool Dress Pants

Bonobos Italian Stretch Wool Dress Pants

Recall what we said about semi-formal attire being somewhere between business casual and black tie formal? Some suitably crisp and stylish dress pants, particularly in a dark, versatile color like Charcoal, are just what the doctor ordered. These pants can be worn with a retro striped sweater, with an olive blazer or with a black or navy corduroy blazer with ease. You can even use them in a more unique way – try a dark navy turtleneck with these trousers for expert seasonal style. Plus, Bonobos gives you options in terms of fit and even color, if you’d prefer a shade like a dark navy or a true, deep black.

Thursday Boots Cavalier Chelsea Boots

Thursday Boots Cavalier Chelsea Boots

When dressing in style for winter weather, your footwear is as important as anything, with the potential to elevate an outfit from good to great while keeping you light on your feet on slick city streets. While weddings tend to call for something like a black captoe Oxford shoe, holiday occasions are an ideal time to break out some elegant, refined dress boots. This pair from Thursday Boots is sleek and sharp, shined to an eye-popping finish and ready to be worn with wool trousers or corduroy pants and your blazer (or sweater!) of choice. 

Best Athletic Fit Semi Formal Attire for Men

State and Liberty Athletic Fit Stretch Suit Navy

State and Liberty Athletic Fit Stretch Suit in Heathered Navy

Dressing for a semi-formal occasion as a guy with a larger or more athletic build needn’t be difficult – in fact, companies like State and Liberty make it easier than ever. Their suits are built to accommodate broad shoulders and athletically built legs while still delivering a flattering, not oversized, tailored look. And while its suits come in a range of neutral colors, this Heathered Navy suit is a nice choice for a stylistic change of pace. Athletic fit semi-formal attire has never been more possible to add to your wardrobe, thanks to State and Liberty.

J. Crew Crosby Suit

J. Crew Classic-Fit Suit Jacket and Pants in Italian Stretch Worsted Wool

While the J. Crew Ludlow Suit is a timeless option for guys who prefer a streamlined silhouette, its classic-fit Crosby line is also a suitable option for guys who need more room to move. The classic-fit cut of this jacket (and its matching pants) are also made from helpful stretch fabric for comfort on the go. The dark charcoal color is a tasteful option when it comes to the best semi-formal attire, while the two-button design is also as elegant as it gets.

True Muscle Fit Suit Jacket

Tailored Fit True Muscle Fit Suit Jacket in Black

Tailored Athlete is yet another brand that does exactly what it sets out to do with its name and company ethos: Deliver fairly priced stretch menswear with a tailored aesthetic, and do so while outfitting more athletically built guys. Its True Muscle Fit Suit Jacket lives up to its name, with a design fit for broader shoulders, and comes in stylish shades like black and a lighter navy shade. Sizes can be limited based on when you shop, so secure your new favorite athletic fit semi-formal attire ASAP.

State and Liberty Brushed Tech Stretch Blazer

State and Liberty Brushed Tech Stretch Blazer

 If we’ve said it before, we’ve said it a million times: Dressing in the best semi-formal attire doesn’t always need to mean throwing on a suit, and that’s the truth with this well-crafted State and Liberty Stretch Blazer, too. The bright blue color and windowpane pattern are a stylish move in any season, whether paired up with dark navy trousers or with the brand’s matching suit pants for a shot of color and fashion-forward looks. The fit is, of course, expertly tailored for athletically built guys without being overly baggy or overly tight.

Best Semi-Formal Pants for Men

Tie Bar Navy Blue Suit Shop

The Tie Bar Navy Blue Suit Pants by SuitShop

The Tie Bar delivers on every front as you look to dress in style for every semi-formal occasion on your list. We’re big fans of that sort of variety in design and style here at The Guy’s List, and they’ve even partnered up with SuitShop to sort out your needs in terms of tailored pants. These can be paired up with all manner of styles, especially white dress shirts or even a blazer in a contrasting color, like a dark brown corduroy. They’re also highly affordable, and you should consider adding a stylish tie from The Tie Bar onto your order, as well.

J. Crew Bowery Dress Pants

J. Crew Bowery Dress Pants in Wool Blend

You can once again head over to J. Crew to complete any semi-formal look, and that’s all the better, since your blazer and dress shirt of choice might also hail from the famed retailer. Its Bowery Dress Pants don’t sacrifice style or comfort, with a tailored-yet-classic cut that’s an ideal match for everything from a navy blazer to a black velvet jacket or a retro turtleneck. They’re now cut with more room in the hip and thigh as well, ideal for guys who need more space to move in formal wear.

State and Liberty Tech Stretch Chinos

State and Liberty Athletic Fit Stretch Tech Chinos in Maroon

If you’re still searching for the best pair of pants to round out your semi-formal attire, but have struggled finding options for a larger or more athletic build, State and Liberty is once again here to save the day. It’s like we said: Semi-formal attire needn’t revolve only around colors like black or navy. Especially in the winter months, a color like maroon can offer the perfect style in terms of a unique look. These are also made with tons of stretch for supreme comfort.

Bonobos Stretch Corduroy Chinos

Bonobos Stretch Corduroy Chinos

Corduroy can take any look from good to great, especially in the winter months, thanks to its refined design and engaging texture. Here, thin-wale corduroy fabric is turned into a dressy stretch chino silhouette, taking the business casual chino into new, semi-formal territory. Whether paired with a stretch dress shirt and patch pocket blazer, or with a slim cardigan, an Oxford shirt and a knit tie, these stretch corduroy chinos are the secret style move your next semi-formal look needs.

Best Semi Formal Shirts for Men

The Tie Bar Solid White Dress Shirt

The Tie Bar Textured Solid White Dress Shirt

You can hardly get more classic or versatile than a white dress shirt as you consider how to put together the perfect look for a semi-formal occasion. The same brand that makes some of the best ties for value and style on the market also does a standout job at crafting agreeably priced, essential dress shirts. This non-iron dress shirt is made to resist wrinkles and also features engaging fabric with some texture to it. With its semi-spread collar, it’s also able to be worn with or without one of the company’s famous ties.

Taylor Stitch Jack Oxford Shirt

Taylor Stitch The Jack in Indigo Oxford

Every man’s wardrobe requires variety beyond the traditional white dress shirt, and as versatile as that style can be, it pays off to have options at hand. Even though the Oxford shirt is more casual by nature, it becomes visually appealing and interesting as a piece of semi-formal attire when done up in a rich Indigo color. Taylor Stitch shirts are also designed to have an exceptional fit, thanks to the brand’s chest sizing system. This blazer can be paired with a shawl cardigan and silver knit tie, or else with a dark brown corduroy blazer for expert semi-formal style that’s just different from the norm.

Mugsy Corduroy Shirt

Mugsy Bonsia Corduroy Shirt

Miugsy is so much more than just the makers of some of the best stretch jeans on the market. The company has also expanded into casually cool shirts made to be paired with its stretch jeans and chinos (especially chinos in colors like navy, in the case of semi-formal attire). This corduroy shirt adds texture and stylish appeal to a navy blazer for a polished, dressy look. Simply add dark brown leather Chelsea boots and charcoal wool trousers for a different, stylish #OOTD this winter (and beyond).

J. Crew Ludlow Dress Shirt

J. Crew Ludlow Premium Dress Shirt

J. Crew strikes again with its finely crafted line of Ludlow dress shirts, which pair perfectly with the brand’s Ludlow suiting. It’s a match made in heaven as far as semi-formal attire is concerned, which is the kind of design prowess we appreciate at The Guy’s List. The light blue color of this refined dress shirt wears well with dark navy, black or charcoal suiting, as well as dark-colored ties in shades ranging from navy to black. If you’re feeling especially stylish, you can add a monogram for a small additional fee, which will help you stand out at your next semi-formal occasion.

Frequently Asked Questions About Men’s Semi-Formal Attire

Does semi-formal require a suit?

Wearing a suit jacket or sports coat is generally encouraged and stay away from jeans, however, wearing a traditional black tie setup is not needed. This gives you the freedom to style a larger variety of colors and fabrics. 

Do men have to wear a tie for semi-formal?

This can depend on the event but they are generally optional for semi-formal events. You will not be overdressed if you wear one and it can help to compliment a blazer but if you chose to not wear one you will still fit in.

Are khakis semi-formal?

Khakis can be a great option for semi-formal events. They tend to be for more laid-back semi-formal events though so you will need understand the level of dress required for your event.

Are chinos semi-formal?

Chinos are the quintessential semi-formal and business casual pant option for men. They are super comfortable and come in tons of colors.

Want More from The Guy’s List? 

No matter what your wardrobe needs or your grooming routine can use, The Guy’s List has you covered. We like to think of ourselves as a one-stop shop for all matters important to the modern guy in terms of style and fashion, grooming, good old-fashioned know-how and a bit of everything else. Whether you want to find out about the coolest neighborhood in your city, the best place to grab a cocktail or the best menswear to wear while on vacation (or out on a date), The Guy’s List dives right in and helps you navigate all things today’s man needs in his life.

Beau Hayhoe, the fashion guy, is our expert in all things men's fashion and grooming. Over the years Beau has written for some of the largest men's magazines and gained a deep understanding of the best brands, styles, and products for guys. You can catch Beau on his social media listed on his author page or by reading the rest of his catalog here on The Guy's List.

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