Groom Wedding Wear
Too often clothing for the groom is a subject of confusion and stress or the end result is silly, even regrettable, due to listening to dubious sources. There is too much bad advice about clothing for grooms, both on TV and online. It is largely from women promoting gaudy weddings (a happy, lasting marriage is supposed to the main goal), with men's clothing almost an afterthought for which retailers want to sell often unnecessary, dubious clothing.
Why, outside his own personal satisfaction, should a man care much about how he looks at the wedding? That is the first significant impression on some of the wife's friends and relatives. (In a large ceremony, some guests are unlikely to talk much with groom, leaving the visual as the lasting impression.) Expectations of the groom can include good-looking, self-disciplined and successful and definitely his taking the event, and marriage ("'til death do us part"), seriously; and also marriage is widely deemed a sign of becoming more of a man. Furthermore, the blame for a badly dressed groom (for example, dressed too far from tradition) often falls on the wife, giving some a negative impression of her (e.g., Bridezilla). The simplest description is marriage is a unique, serious (though not solemn) matter and of the ages and for the ages. Hence, even if not very casual, a fashion look sends a here-today gone-tomorrow message, and dressing like it is an interview or an opera also is wrong. Yes, a tuxedo can look timeless, but it breaks a tradition associated with weddings, which implies a disrespect for marriage - and also tuxedos at weddings are associated with other, not-so-tasteful apparel.
Some men worry too much about doing what the woman wants. The typical bride does not have very narrow taste in clothing for the groom or an insistence to break the rules of wedding wear. Finding mutually satisfying menswear can be practice as a couple - usually the bride wants color coordination, compatibility with her dress and styling, and the groom looking his most handsome without outshining her. Plus, the bride might appreciate it if a man can lower her workload by dressing himself competently and advising male guests.
Okay, getting to the point, what to wear....
General, important notes:
- The advice herein applies more to the United States and Canada than other countries.
- No, in this long article, how to wear a tuxedo will not be discussed.
- Though morning dress is acceptable for some wedding ceremonies, it also will not be discussed.
- Formal apparel (excluding neckwear) technically calls for solid colors, rather than patterns or anything else.
- Wedding apparel should look new and not cheap, but cuff links can be old and obviously very expensive items might spur a negative reaction in some wedding guests, especially if the groom is young.
- Because a wedding is a supposed to be a happy day, at least one mildly colorful item should be worn above the waist.
- Parts of the ceremony might be viewed from a distance, meaning patterns might not photograph well
- A groom should have a limit of one particularly eye-catching accessory, shirt oddity, or maybe suit oddity.
- Excessive matching between bride and groom might make a negative impression on some guests. Likely older ones - and future-in-laws should be mollified.
- Remote-ordering an important item custom-made or made-to-measure that is not a repeat of a recent success or without much time to spare is a recipe for disaster.
- Everything should fit well, and almost all clothing items will need to be altered after purchase and not just before the wedding.
Suits (not tuxedos)
- if a suit is single-breasted, it should have 1-3 buttons (3 generally only works for taller men)
- a double-breasted suit should always be fastened and in nearly every case should either be 6x2, 4x1, or 2x1 (number of buttons x number of fastening points)
- to avoid being stuck with a white elephant in terms of matching and setting, a double-breasted suit should have peak lapels and be in a business-friendly shade of blue or gray, in pure wool, and is not for casual wedding locations such as the beach
- suits should not have patch pockets except maybe in country weddings; one should choose besom/jetted pockets (or the flaps should be tucked in); and pockets should not be oversized
- pinstriped is too business-like for a wedding, and the suit for a formal wedding should not have any pattern
- a suit in a shade of gray or blue is okay for any almost wedding, while brown is acceptable outdoors and, lighter colors are only okay for warm weather, if the reception will not last well into night or the location is near the tropics
- tan is okay for beach weddings, but other than that the brown color family is almost exclusively for country weddings
- blue is not a normal choice for country weddings
- a white linen suit is fine in a few parts of the South
- fabric composition should be, in most cases, mostly wool (partly to avoid wrinkles) and almost never heavyweight, because modern climate control would make that too hot for most
- a wedding suit usually should have a fairly smooth hand - worsted wool, for example - to be formal enough, but country wedding suits can be textured wool such as tweed and American South summer outdoor wedding suits can be seersucker
- a wedding suit should not be shiny nor have obvious stitching
- half-lined is a smart suit option for outdoors in weather that is hot or even temperate if the groom is quite prone to sweating
- obviously retro is a lousy idea; a wedding is not a costume party
- a wedding suit should have the silhouette and fit of a good interview suit
- slim fit might look laughably outdated later and should be reserved for men who swim in roomier suits
- style statements such as pants that are short to show off bare ankles are wrong for weddings
- pants can be pleated or plain-front
- the dress shirt should be in a solid color - white, light blue, pale pink, lavender, off-white (though micropatterns are not terrible)
- if the bride is wearing a traditional white dress, the groom very likely should wear a white shirt or perhaps off-white
- the dress shirt should have French cuffs, except for some beach weddings
- if the groom weas a clearly non-white shirt, the closer to a pastel the better and it is not okay to match the dress or shirt of anyone else in the wedding party
except for casual settings such as beach-front wedding, French cuff shirts (or even more formal) should be worn, preferably with no chest pocket (bespoke, removal)
- a wedding French cuff dress shirt preferably should be in a fine fabric such as royal oxford or Sea Island cotton.
- linen/cotton is okay for outdoor weddings in warm weather
- a smooth silk is an option for non-country weddings and can pay homage to some cultures, but it is hardly available other than bespoke
- for the man who looks about equally good in a point collar or a spread collar he should favor spread for his wedding
- one of the few less-acceptable collar types is button-down, which should be limited to, say, a Western-themed wedding
- cutaway adds a touch of drama and sets things apart from business dress
- to hide lines and physical features that could show through, the groom should wear a crewneck (but not tie-less) or (if fair-skinned with little chest hair) V-neck undershirt
- backless is cooler but due to aesthetics unwise if the vest is going to be removed during the ceremony
- a vest should be wool for an indoor ceremony; for outdoors (or barns), other natural fabrics such as linen are acceptable
- a vest should perfectly match the suit in color or be light gray or tan (buff), never white or black - and brown is not for indoors or evening wear
- pink vests are inherently too loud
- the color of an odd vest should be distinct from that of the tie (if solid) and the suit (one should be careful wearing an odd blue vest with a blue suit)
- a vest should have a smooth front for an indoor wedding
- a vest is safest with a white shirt
- a subtle pattern (not visible from across the room) can be okay in a not-so-formal situation
- a moleskin or tartan vest is acceptable for some country or barn weddings, with tartan more dependent on ancestry
- if not wearing a vest, at least for the sake of photographing well, the jacket should be fastened(but almost never the lowest button on a single-breasted)
- almost all types are okay except clip-on, but usually smooth silk is the only appropriate fabric and synthetics never okay
- a colorful bow tie with a regular suit might be okay in the American South or New England
- a long tie, probably in a solid or paisley, is called for with a double-breasted suit
- patterns with two colors (only one bright) are safe for most weddings
- the groom should hesitate to wear a wedding tie that (in pattern or color) looks very much like an interview tie - see the Business Tie Selection article
- or has a somber appearance
- paisley is one of the best pattern options
- for formal ceremonies that are not tuxedo-level, some consider so-called wedding ties (basically a patterned subset of gray-scale ties) the proper choice.
- novelty patterns are for never
- striped pink-white tie is better than solid pink, which usually looks too loud and prom-like (almost always if the fabric is shiny)
- light blue is popular and tasteful
- brown ties generally look wrong with non-country clothing
- ties or other apparel in green is not an option for many weddings not held in green settings (such as lawn weddings), though couples celebrating Irish ancestry can go green
- a 6- or 7-fold tie adds luxury
- nobody should fasten a huge knot to a wedding (or probably anywhere else)
- sometimes it is okay to go tieless in a beach wedding
- a tie less than ~3 inches in width likely would look silly to some guests and viewers of wedding pictures or video in the future
- tie and pocket square that both have some pink is rather cliched and can easily be emasculating
- tie color and shirt color should not be in the same family (for example, no pink on pink)
- one should choose the type of tie knot one would choose for an interview (not, for example, a huge knot)
- almost any pattern or print is okay on a pocket square if it is a not-so-formal wedding
- a solid white pocket square is always okay
- a pocket square should be made primarily from silk or linen
- a pocket square should be easily distinguishable from the suit and not be a close match with the tie
the puff fold is best for a wedding; flat fold probably is too business-like
- what is sold as a "handkerchief" is not for use in a chest pocket
Suspenders and belts
- unless, for example, it is a country-themed ceremony, the belt should be of smooth calf leather with a plain, normal buckle
- a belt should be black or dark brown, unless the ceremony is rather casual
- a fabric belt is okay for some outdoor weddings, say, at the beach, but the color still should be a near-neutral that doesn't contrast much with the suit and black fabric is not okay (belts are not supposed to draw attention at weddings)
- suspenders should not be worn with a belt or technically even belt loops, and they should not be seen by others (wear only if the suit will stay on the entire ceremony)
- one can go without a belt or braces, but then the pants should not have belt loops (as in the Hollywood waist or side tabs)
- a collar pin or bar can make an already conservative suit ensemble look notably formal, but likely would look pretentious on a young man
- a tie bar or clasp should be positioned about halfway up the tie and is not okay with a vest
- it is a faux pas for the groom to wear a wristwatch
- if cuff links are not silk knots, they should not be very cheap
Boutinnieres and lapel flowers
- wearing a virtual bouquet is not a good idea; keep it small
- the color should not perfectly match or compete with the tie
- options are lace-up (balmoral is best), (if outdoors) maybe loafers (dress variety not by the water), or even barefoot (at the shore)
- if cowboy or dress boots, the latter virtually always should go under pants legs
- black only for particularly formal weddings, brown or black, only medium or dark shades - or burgundy - indoors,
- no black on the beach, except for loafers
- non-wholecut black dress shoes are most likely to be useful after the wedding
- brown shoes are almost necessary with a bright blue suit
- for a formal wedding, shoes should be cap-toe or more formal plain toe or wholecut, which has limited utility elsewhere, makes some feet look too big, and might be disliked by some viewers
- solids work best for wedding shoes, and any decorations such as brogue perforations or wingtips should be minimal and not used at particularly formal weddings or with double-breasted suits
- leather-with-fabric lace-ups are permissible in outdoor ceremonies not lasting well into night
- welted construction should be worn, for foot support
- smooth leather footwear (or passable synthetic for vegans), preferably calf leather, should be worn for anything indoors; chunky-soled shoes are not for weddings
- shoes should be between slightly shiny and high-shine (maybe not whole-cuts and boots), but not corrected grain
- shoes should look new (no major creases) but not be brand new, because they will be uncomfortable by the end of the ceremony and virgin soles might not have enough traction for slippery floors
- if not a rather formal wedding and shoes not black, dress socks can be colorful but generally solid and in a similar shade to the shoes; loud pink is one of the few colors to avoid
- dark blue and sometimes burgundy socks sometimes can go with black shoes and a suit.
- cotton tends to be too casual
- mostly wool is the most practical, but one can wear silk (which runs warmer than widely believed) or cashmere
- a formal type (including straw in the summer) can be worn if outdoors in the sunlight (but probably not at the beach, where it would be incongruous)
- a tophat will look costume on anyone under 40, and on anyone risks looking archair when viewed years later
- gray is the preferred color choice for non-straw hats
- trademark styles aside, a man who relies on eyeglasses should wear a perfect-fitting, perfect-shaped pair that is rimless or has thin silver, black, or gold rims
- very, very rare is the man who has a legitimate excuse for wearing sunglasses (including Transitions) at his wedding, even in bright sunlight
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