The Perfect Watch for Every Dress Code

It’s peak wedding season (not to mention the height of graduations, family reunions, corporate retreats, and a whole mess of other invitational occasions), and the dress codes that come with it can get damn confusing. To avoid any misconceptions and embarrassing fashion faux pas, we turn to the guidance of the fine fellows at Kempt to explain the rules. And to make sure you’ve got all the most fun details covered, we’ve got some handy watch-pairings to keep the whole ensemble on point. And a toast to you, the well-dressed guest.


Casual

No, not sandals. Never sandals. And in “casual” cases, we recommend going just a bit above and beyond, so this is where you, the civilized man, pair some dark jeans with a simple tee or crisp polo and sport coat in styles ranging from plain black (for the sleek) to floral (for the whimsical). You can get away with trouser-style joggers and the right kind of sneaker if you’ve got a more youthful look, but tread lightly. We’re admitted athleisure fans, but it’s never appropriate for something you’ve been invited to.

Can’t-go-wrong watches: Tudor Heritage Chronograph / Omega De Ville Prestige Co-Axial Power Reserve

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Business Casual

We’ll keep this definition narrow. Chinos or a recently cool pleated trouser, with a non-matching jacket and a tucked-in OCBD that’ll still look presentable if/once the jacket comes off. Penny loafers, cap-toe oxfords. If you’re not afraid to announce your steeze to the world—and why should you be—go ahead and execute the air tie. If you think that’ll make you look to try-hard-y, leave the top button unbuttoned. No real tie necessary.

Can’t-go-wrong watches: IWC Portofino Chronograph / Rolex Daytona

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Garden Attire

Linen or seersucker in a little more relaxed fit than you’d normally go with. For bonus points, add a Panama hat and white bucks. Evoke Derby Day, and have a cigar at hand.

Can’t-go-wrong watches: Ulysse Nardin Dual Time / H. Moser Endeavour

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Cocktail

Think of it as semiformal. Go with a dark suit or an odd-jacket-and-trouser combo, a dress shirt, a tie with some character so you don’t look like everyone else and a pocket square. This is an opportunity to accessorize (being careful not to go overboard, of course), and no one’s going to judge if you get a little crazy with some subtle houndstooth pants and a black Chelsea or zip boot.

Can’t-go-wrong watches: F.P. Journe Chronometre Souverain / Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Grande Date

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Black Tie Optional

Just go with black tie, but give stronger consideration to the necktie.

Can’t-go-wrong watches: Cartier Ballon Bleu Chronograph / A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Up/Down

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Black Tie

Your classic tuxedo situation. We’d suggest going with a black bow tie and a silk-lapel jacket (maybe shawl-collar), but there’s room for a silk necktie if you’re feeling rakish.

Can’t-go-wrong watches: Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1A / Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso

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White Tie

This probably seems pretty cut-and-dry, and mostly, it is. We just don’t want you going out there thinking you need to be in head-to-toe white. This is as formal as it gets. It’s where you bust out the tails, a white waistcoat, patent-leather oxfords and, fuck it, the spats if you’ve got ’em. And, here’s the obvious part, a white bow tie. Think F. Scott Fitzgerald sipping champagne from a coupe, not a flute.

Can’t-go-wrong watches: Arnold & Son HM Perpetual Moon / Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph

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