Grooms: Get yourself and your guys to the altar in perfect style.
Stuart Dailey wore a distinctive white satin tie, while his groomsmen wore black, for his July 6, 2012, wedding to Lauren at Scioto Reserve Country Club; the bride incorporated her colors into the tuxedos with pink pocket squares and boutonnieres.
Todd Seimer Photography
Your wedding day is less than a year away, and it’s time to pick out a tuxedo. Unfortunately, if you’re like a lot of guys, the last time you picked out a tuxedo was for prom. As for keeping up with current trends, the only time you look at men’s fashion is on your way to Sports Illustrated at the bottom of a magazine stack.
If you think about it, the tuxedo is probably the most elegant piece of clothing a man will wear in his lifetime. A basic tuxedo—black suit, white shirt and black bow tie—is timeless. The look exemplifies class, elegance and grace. Every man looks good in one, period.
There are dozens of different styles to choose from, so how do you know which tuxedo is best for you? Do you want a peak lapel or a shawl lapel? Picking out the right tuxedo can be a bit daunting, so let’s take a moment and go over some simple rules.
When choosing a tuxedo, the groom’s first priority is to coordinate the tuxedo in color and style with the bride. “There wouldn’t be a tuxedo business if it wasn’t for the women,” says Aaron Roberts of Romanoff’s Classic Tuxedo.
If the bride’s dress is diamond white, the groom’s shirt needs to be diamond white. If the bride’s dress has color in the embroidery or beading, the groom can complement it in his neckwear or vest. If the bride has chosen a vintage, contemporary or even steampunk dress, a man can choose a tuxedo from the same period or style.
The same rules apply to groomsmen. “Groomsmen usually wear the same tuxedo style as the groom,” adds Vicki Keith of Men’s Wearhouse, “but sometimes with different accessories. The groom’s accessories usually match the bride’s dress, while his groomsmen’s complement the bridesmaids.”
Stay on trend
Fashion moves in cycles. Tight suits and sharp silhouettes reminiscent of the 1960s have made a comeback. “‘Mad Men’ is a big influence,” Roberts says. “Grey sharkskin suits are definitely in because of characters like Don Draper. Guys really like the fitted, shiny look.”
Today, a lot of guys are choosing fitted tuxedos that have a slim, European look to them. “Men take their cues from television and movies,” says Roberts. “James Bond, Ryan Seacrest—they’re all going for the tighter fit and look.”
If you want to look a little different, there are a wide range of jackets available for men who want to express some personality. Popular jackets range from extended length to short, from one button to four, from classic black to soft, warm gray. A double-breasted jacket provides the option of dispensing with a vest.
When choosing a jacket, it’s important to find the style that’s flattering to your build and stature. For example, if you are tall and slender, consider a double-breasted tuxedo, which will flatter with its subtle inverted triangle lines. A single-breasted jacket will make the torso look slimmer and is a good option for short, stocky grooms. A higher-button stance creates a vertical line and puts the emphasis on the chest, not on the rest of the body.
According to Heather Boyer of American Commodore Tuxedo, “For heftier guys, we suggest the double-vented jacket. These jackets have two slits in the back that give the gentleman more room. These jackets are a lot more comfortable in the stomach area.”
Get in shape
If the jacket is well-tailored, you should be able to just fit your fist between the button and chest. Always leave the bottom button undone. Check that the jacket fits comfortably without straining the fabric. The bottoms of the trousers should break just slightly at the shoes. The shirt should allow a full range of comfortable motion. The shoes should fit comfortably in the heel and toe.
Need some help understanding the difference between a peak lapel and a shawl lapel? Here’s a guide:
h Peak lapels have points that look like arrows pointing at your shoulders. They give a man the classic “V” shape. Peak lapels rule in Hollywood these days.
h Shawl lapels have no edges or cuts, just a continuous curve. Although most people associate shawl lapels with the ’70s and ’80s, a well-tailored jacket with a slim shawl lapel can look 1950s hip.
As a rule of thumb, if the tuxedo is too comfortable, then it doesn’t fit right. A good tuxedo should be expertly tailored and worn with ease and confidence.
Many experts suggest picking out a tuxedo anywhere from three months to a year before the wedding. But if the groom is interested in a popular style, it might be best to get started even earlier. Weddings are a seasonal business, and many compete with other popular spring activities, like prom.
If the groomsmen don’t live near you, registering early gives the wedding party time to send in their measurements to the groom’s tuxedo shop. Tell your guys to have a professional take their measurements just before sending them in.
Most places allow men to pick up their tuxedos a few days before the wedding. Experts at the shop will make sure all the clothes fit properly and are in good working order. This is your chance for any last-minute alterations; never leave the store without trying on the tux. The final fitting is probably the most important part of the process—when you picked out the tuxedo, you likely were looking at it on a mannequin or a model in a magazine. During the final fitting, it’s the shop’s responsibility to make the tux look good on you.
Photos courtesy of Julian Allen Photography and Our Dream Photos by James DeCamp Photography