How to Dress for a Wedding: The Trad Edition

Invited to a wedding and you aren’t sure what to wear? Join the club. I don’t know all the ins and outs of formal dress, but I can share a few tips that will help point you in the right direction. There are a few variables that will help you figure out what to wear not only to a wedding, but anywhere. These variables are: occasion, host, venue, weather, and time of day.

I will walk you through how I applied the above to the latest wedding that I attended. Lets get started. The occasion is a wedding which gives us a general idea about what’s acceptable and what’s not. Let’s dig a little deeper. Does the wedding invite specify the dress code? If it says black tie then the problem is solved. My invite did not indicate that it is black tie. Let’s look at some other clues

Next up is host. I don’t know the couple that is getting married very well. I do know that they are younger professionals and were relatively well put together the few times that I have seen them. Not too much to work with so far. Let’s see if the answers to other questions paint a clearer picture. The venue is outdoors, it’s summer, and it’s a daytime wedding. These all point to the more casual spectrum of wedding attire. This I can work with.

Based on the answers above I have an idea of what I want to wear. I know the shirt will be white because that’s what has been drilled into my head to wear to formal events. I won’t go the spread collar route, but will keep it trad with a white OCBD. I’m nixing the suit because from the last few weddings that I have been to suits have been few and far between. Plus it’s outside in July. It will be hot. So I predict even fewer suits will be worn.

I went with a classic trad look that’s often gets ridiculed as the security guard look. White OCBD, blue blazer, grey wool pants, tie, and burgundy penny loafers. I chose a tasteful vintage YSL patterned tie even though I know that a “wedding tie” is more correct. The outfit was perfect for the occasion. I was neither the best nor the worst dressed guest which is exactly where I want to be. There were more suits than I expected which was not many, but it’s good to see them still in action. I was happy with my decision. Not one single person mistook me for a security guard or employee by the way.

The Same but Different

Time for a little compare and contrast. The above picture while being highly disorienting also features two similar but different OCBDs. On the left we have what I would call, work OCBD. On the right we have a more casual version of work OCBD. I like this photo as it illustrates how a few slight tweaks can create a different, but similar feel. I have included the details of each outfit below. Are these outfits similar to you or do you find them very different? What other differences can you spot?

On the left

  • Vintage Tweed Sport Coat
  • JCrew 1040 fit Chinos
  • JPress OCBD
  • Bass Weejuns

On the Right

  • Southwick Cambridge Tweed Sport Coat
  • JCrew 770 fit Chinos
  • Old Lands’ End OCBD
  • LL Bean Blucher Mocs

Trad Icon: Peter Kaplan

It’s been a while since I put the spotlight on an individual, but this guy deserves it. He not only knew trad like the back of his hand, but unlike a lot of people that know trad he knew how to look cool wearing it. He had a preference for tortoise shell glasses, khakis, and blue OCBDs (my kind of guy!). From the earliest pic I have seen of him (skateboard, striped tee, wallabees) until his untimely death in 2013 at the age of 59 he was cool.

If you don’t know Peter Kaplan here is a little background. At heart he was an old school journalist, but he is also known for moving journalism into the digital era. His father was the owner and president of clothing manufacturer Complex Industries Corp. This may have been where his interest in clothes began. He is a Harvard grad so there’s that too (his roommate was RFK JR. btw). He went on to become editor-in chief of the New York Observer for 15 years. This is where he hired freelance writer Candace Bushnell who wrote the column, “Sex and the City.” After that he was editorial director of Fairchild Fashion Group where he oversaw the relaunch of M magazine. If you are reading this blog you may recognize his name from his epitaph on The Trad by John Tinseth which you can read here.

From Politico
From The Trad

Peter Kaplan Trad

The OCBD Stripe That I Didn’t Know

If there is one trad item that I feel like I have a pretty good knowledge of it’s the OCBD. I mean, it is the name of the blog. I’ve seen them in about every color you can imagine. I’ve seen them in tartans, tattersalls, and stripes of all kind. And then I saw this one.

I was browsing O’Connell’s website during their 4th of July Sales and did a double take. What is a mille stripe? Why have I never seen one? More specifically, why have I never seen an OCBD in a mille stripe before?

A mille stripe looks to be a thin stripe (with a little zig-zag pattern) of alternating color little zig zag. I’ve talked a lot about it recently, but closely placed thin stripes are my favorite type of stripe. I like how they can appear solid from a distance and it’s only when you get closer do you realize that the shirt is actually striped. I don’t quite know why, but I love that. I also love the blurring wavy effect that they can cause when looking at them. Though I have learned that this due to an increase in gamma oscillations in the brain which is associated with headaches and seizures. So proceed with caution.

O’Connell’s offers their unlined and unfused OCBD in both blue and burgundy mille stripe (see here). As a side note, I really need to try one of their OCBDs. I think that 3 3/8s is just about the perfect collar length for me. That’s it for this week’s post. See you next week!

Back Collar Buttons, Locker Loops, & Me

Locker Loop

This week as promised I am back to follow up with my personal opinion on back collar buttons and locker loops. Charles Dana (Thanks, Charles!) who uncovered last weeks newspaper article also dropped some research in the comment section of last week’s post that had me momentarily rethinking my opinion. I also learned a bit of history on locker loops on Reddit’s Navy Blazer (You should visit if you like trad/ivy forum discussions).

Let’s start with the easier of the two, locker loops. I am a big fan. As someone who has spent a lot of time in the gym I have always loved and used the locker loop to hang my shirt in my gym locker. I have even gone as far as adding them to my non-OCBD shirts from Proper cloth (see above). I had assumed that Gant was the first to add these to their shirts which targeted college students with limited locker space back in the 60s. It turns out that locker loops like many aspects of our clothing most likely had their roots in the military.

While there isn’t hard evidence to prove this, many sources claim that east coast sailors and the U.S. Navy were the first to incorporate locker loops into their uniforms. Back then, hangers weren’t as prevalent as they are today, and storage space on ships was (and sometimes still is) notoriously small. To help save room, these loops were added onto the garments of sailors to hang onto pegs or hooks located inside of storage lockers. The loops also help to prevent wrinkles. (

Now back to the back collar button. While Charles may have posted some advertising that never spoke to the utilitarian function of the back collar button. I still think that it is utilitarian. Here is why. For the life of me I can’t figure out why someone would suggest adding the back button if it was not for the reason that I am thinking. It’s not to keep your tie straight either. That doesn’t make sense to me either. My theory is that it was added to keep the back of the collar from riding up.

Nothing illustrates a point like a picture. Notice how the back of the collar rides up on the top OCBD. Now look at the university stripe OCBD below with the back collar button. See how the back button keeps it in place. Now sure ironing them will help keep them in place, but some of my older OCBDs collars will still ride up over the course of the day even after being ironed.

I will always prefer a locker loop, but back collar button or no back collar button is not a deal breaker for me. I do however think that the back collar button is more than decoration. I spoke about how things like this happen in the Pre-Distressed Ivy post, but this is another example of fad turned trend turned classic detail. I like how the meaning of these details get lost over time only to be decoded again somewhere down the road.