One hundred years ago, being classy was a requirement. Getting "dressed for dinner" and "dolling up" were part of everyday life. Even the bums wore coats and hats.
Enter the present day. A guy can go to a wedding reception in a short sleeve shirt and baggy shorts with three days worth of scruff on his face and only get a sniff or two of disdain.
However, dressing down is passe. The '80s style of nice clothes worn badly is history. The '90s dress down world order is dying: It's time to put on the ritz again.
So, here's the correct way to walk through the door at the next reception.
Start with shoes that look the part, but are comfortable; you may have to show off your dancing skills. Socks are a must, but keep the weather in mind. Wool in summer is a bad idea.
Next up is pants and the jacket. Solid color, pinstripe, or patterned--choose the design that works for you, and put it to work. You can't go wrong with a smart looking suit. Go dark, because bright colors are for those who are brash and want to show off. If you're really willing to go for the next level of snazzy, leave the coat unbuttoned and add a slightly garish vest; it's a subtle clue that there's more to you than meets the eye.
The shirt is next, and the rules are the same as with the suit. It's got to be a complimentary item: black suit, white shirt. Maybe a quiet blue for a gray suit. Wrap it all up with a tie--again, don't go flashy because you're better than that.
Lastly, consider the extras. Cuff links show that you're a man of higher breeding. A ring with some hidden meaning adds a dash of mystery. Top it off with a classy watch, something fancy like Roberto Coin.