Formal events can be kind of daunting to men. How exactly should you go about navigating the dress code when it comes to personal grooming or style? If you’ve been invited to a wedding, school dance, formal work dinner or a day at the races, then you might have been confronted with the ‘formal attire require’ rule. So what should you do to ensure that you avoid any potential faux pas or missteps when it comes to your hair, face and clothes?

If you follow the steps and guidance you’ll be on track to look suave at your next event. Don’t risk looking under-dressed, read our helpful advice below.

Event planning

The first thing you need to do before attending an event is plan your look. Deciding what  you’re going to wear will inform the rest of your look, including how you choose to style your hair. Here’s where you should start when it comes to planning for an event.

Find out as much information as you possibly can about the event, well ahead of time. Ask the event organisers about the event you have been invited to, including what the dress code is and whether there are any stipulations you should keep in mind, some venues or events may have rules about what you can or cannot wear for example. Make sure you check the weather forecast for the event, as this will heavily influence how you dress and wear your hair. A hot summer event isn’t the appropriate place for a heavy suit and wearing long hair down for example, whilst a winter event will be too cold for light summery materials like linen and beachy hair looks might be out of place at the event.

If it’s a wedding, there might be a particular colour scheme that you should stick to, or even a particular outfit you should wear if you are a part of the groom’s party. Some formal events go beyond just being black tie and might require a tuxedo or have a particular look in mind. It’s always best to ask the question if you’re unsure.

Once you’ve learned as much as possible about the vent, ensure you prepare all the elements of your outfit and look well ahead of time. Purchase your suit and grooming products in preparation for the day, and make sure you make any necessary appointments like hair appointments or fittings ahead of time. There may be some day of prep that you need to do, so ensure you’re prepared for that when the day of the event rolls around.

Showering

Showering man hair

Your day of routine when getting ready on the day of the event should begin in the shower. Good hygiene is essential for looking and feeling good on the day. You should take the time to prepare your skin and hair in the shower. Wash your hair with hair growth shampoo and your face with a gentle cleansing face wash to cleanse and clean the skin. Cleaner skin will also provide a good starting point for getting you facial hair shaved, trimmed or styled later on down the track. You should wash and deeply condition hair to remove any product build-up or excess oils from the hair. Clean hair will look better and be easier to style. You should also use a good quality shower gel to clean and cleanse the body. For formal events it’s recommended to keep your look neat and tidy, so a wash will keep unruly hair in check and keep you smelling fresh and clean over the course of the day. A gentle wash of your beard with shampoo is recommended, finish it off after with some beard oil as this will make it softer and easier to style on the day of your event.

Skin care

Skin care is a must for formal events, especially if it’s an outdoor event where you’ll be spending time in the sun. A good place to start after a shower is with facial oil. This is great for hydrating the face, smoothing out any imperfections and providing a moisturizing foundation for the rest of your skin care products. Let your facial oil absorb before applying a light, SPF-containing moisturiser. This is an essential step as it will help to protect your skin from sun. Even if you have naturally oily skin, you should still use a moisturiser. There are moisturisers designed to quickly absorb into the skin that won’t feel too heavy or add any oiliness. If your skin is dry, try going for a moisturiser that is extra hydrating as this will keep your skin feeling soft all day long.

At most formal events its common to have your picture taken, some men may benefit from some colour correcting treatment to reduce redness or puffiness. Green combats red, white orange creams will combat dark under-eye circles. This is not an essential step, as most men prefer to steer clear of make-up but it will certainly keep you looking fresh all day long. A bit of translucent powder swept across the t-zone and cheeks will also reduce any oiliness and keep skin look matte throughout the day. This stops skin from getting shiny, and will keep you from looking like an oil-slick in photos of the day. Consider wearing a fragrance or pleasant smelling deodorant on the day.

Facial hair

styling your beard

It’s generally recommended to be clean shaven for formal events, but if you’ve been growing out your facial hair for a while then you might be understandably reluctant to shave it all off. The most important thing to consider when wearing a beard to a big event is that it should be trimmed and kept neat. The unruly look, with a scraggly beard will not be welcomed at a formal event and will be at odds with the dress code of the event. If you want to avoid look scruffy and out of place, then it’s important to get the beard styling on point. Gentlemen know how to look put-together and good beard grooming is essential for more than just formal events, a well groomed beard looks better for professional settings and dates, will grow more evenly and will look better with you face and outfit. An important thing to remember when styling your beard for an event at home is that you will need the right tools, including a good set of hair clippers, a sharp razor and the right beard products. If you don’t have the right tools, consider a visit to the barber for a luxurious experience.

When styling your beard, make sure you trim it all over for an even length and a clean-cut. If your beard is longer than basic stubble, it’s probably starting to look a little uneven in certain areas. If your facial hair is on the shorter side, go for a clipper attachment suited to getting you at a length you feel comfortable with. Longer beards can be trimmed with sharp cutting shears.

To get a straight clean line around your beard and skin, use a good quality razor and some shaving cream. Only take off a bit at a time, as it’s hard to correct it if you take too much out of your beard. Shaving the areas of your beard that make the line look uneven will give you a much cleaner look, perfect for a formal event. Once your beard has been properly trimmed, use some beard oil to soften up your beard hair and give it a bit of shine. There are also some other products out there that will help to tame or shape your beard.

Hair styling

Neat and tidy, well styled hair is a formal event essential. About a week ahead of the event, consider getting a haircut so that your hair is freshly trimmed and sitting correctly on the day. Grown out hair will look uneven and untidy, so a haircut is an easy way to get hair look healthy and stylish. If you have thin hair, consider washing your hair with a thickening shampoo to give you better volume and hold on the day. Dry, course hair types should be washed with a hydrating shampoo and conditioner. For a slick, formal hairstyle opt for medium or strong hold cream, gel or pomade. This will allow you to style your hair neatly, without any hair getting out of place and will ensure your hair stays put all day without feeling like cement.

Clothing

man dress code

The decision about what to wear on the day of a formal event can be the most difficult. This goes back to your planning for the day. Most formal events will have a strict dress code, but it’s important to feel comfortable on the day. Find something that you feel expresses you, whether that means choosing a fabric shade that complements your skin, an unusual material for your suit or an unexpected twist on formal dress, like a waistcoat or fun bow tie – find a way to make it yours. You’ll likely end up in photos, so it’s important to look and feel good about yourself.

Things to avoid at formal occasions

We’ve covered some of the things you should do to get ready for a formal event when it comes to grooming and style, but we haven’t talked about what you shouldn’t do. There are definitely a few things you should steer clear of in the lead up to a big event, check them out below.

Don’t get a drastic haircut

Whilst it’s a good idea to get a trim before a formal event, it’s not the time to change things up in a big way. It can be tempting to opt for a big style change, you want to feel fancy on the day after all! It’s a bad idea though. A drastic haircut comes with a whole new set of styling rules, so even if it works out well and you love it, you might find yourself struggling with your clothes or grooming routine ahead of the day.

Don’t let your skin go

There’s nothing worse than an unwanted breakout, dirty skin or sunburn at a formal event. You’ll be frozen in time in every photo with bad skin. Prepare for the day by following your skin routine to a tee. This will keep your skin feeling fresh and healthy and help you to avoid any scary breakouts on the day.

Don’t keep your nose hair

If you’re prone to nose hair then don’t forget to add this to your grooming routine and trim it with some scissors. No one want protruding nose hairs in all the photos!

Don’t use too much aftershave

A mistake that many men make is overdoing the aftershave. If you don’t want to repel everyone in a twenty mile radius of you, go easy on the aftershave. A light spritz is usually more than enough, as most aftershaves tend to be heavily scented.

Don’t keep the mono-brow

One area of personal grooming that many men forget is the eyebrows. Before your event you should tweeze out any stray or unwanted hair between tour eyebrows for a cleaner look.

Don’t forget small details

Some events, like school balls, call for small details like corsages. A wedding might require a pocket square or a work event might call for company colours. It’s important to make a check-list and keep track of any small event details, to avoid any style missteps on the day.