Groom’s Guide: Suit Up
Better half? Look the part with the help of our style guide | By Dan Engler
I wanted to get married in a faux-military getup—golden epaulets on my shoulders, self-awarded medals pinned to my chest, mirrored aviator sunglasses reflecting my puzzled guests’ faces. As it happened, I figured that it would be too weird even for my friends and family, so I ended up in a black, off-the-rack suit I bought on sale at Macy’s. It got the job done, but it wasn’t a memorable ensemble. The party, on the other hand… but I digress. The point is that these days there are more options for grooms than black suits. It’s OK, maybe even expected, for grooms, like brides, to pull out all the stops and have some fun with their attire on that day of days. What follows is a primer to set you in the right direction and get your sartorial juices flowing. If you end up using my faux-military idea, send me a picture.
All the Extras
“Grooms can definitely switch up their wedding day look by choosing the right accessories,” says Garrett Soong of Utah’s Mood Events and Production. But don’t overdo it: “If you choose a tie that’s bold and loud, then tone down your other accessories.” Consider adding one of these items to your ensemble:
• Pocket square: packs a punch of color or pattern (and mops up tears when you cry like a baby).
• Tie clip: helps you hold it together.
• Suspenders: keep your pants on (at least until later).
• Cufflinks: what kind of chump holds his shirt cuffs together with buttons?
• Socks: yeah, yeah, they’re supposed to match your pants. Come on, live a little.
• Watch: you’d better not be late to this one, buddy.
SUIT UP & LOOK SHARP
There are basically three options for an appropriate wedding wardrobe:
Tuxedo rental: For those getting married in a tux, rental is the way to go unless you attend three or four black-tie events per year, or you have a James Bond license to kill in your pocket. Craig Williams, vice president of formal wear merchandising for Men’s Wearhouse, points out that “renting is not as big an investment and allows easy coordination with the entire wedding party.” Renting your tux at Men’s Wearhouse gives you the option of twenty-eight different styles starting at about $100 on up to $190 for their exclusive Vera Wang line which features a slim-fitting, ultra-modern look.
Off-the-rack suits: Ranging in price from $300 to more than you paid for your first car, there’s a dizzying variety of cuts and colors available from department stores, men’s stores, and boutiques. In Salt Lake City, shop the racks at D. Grant Ltd., Dillard’s, Macy’s, and Nordstrom. Expect to pay $600-800 for a quality suit that will give you a decade or more of dedicated service. The downside? Unless you’re a mannequin, it’ll never fit as well as a good suit should.
Bespoke suits: If time (eight to twelve weeks) and budget ($775-$2,200) allow, you can’t beat the fit of a custom tailored suit. Every aspect from cut to color to fabric is customizable to your specification and the overall style or theme of the wedding. “You can completely control the desired fit, which is an advantage if you are looking for something specific, very tailored, or if you have a unique body type,” says Jason Yeats of Salt Lake City-based Beckett and Robb, purveyors of bespoke suits.
The right fit
Salt Lake City stylist Kat Fedorova offers some tips for how to properly wear your nuptial threads: “The shirt collar should sit a half an inch above the jacket collar, as should the cuffs peek out of the jacket. The hem of your pants should cover your shoe laces, unless you are going for the short retro look, in which case it should sit no more than an inch to an inch and a half above the top of your shoe. The bottom hem of your jacket should be right above the knuckles.”
Can a groom incorporate patterns into his wedding ensemble without looking like Rodney Dangerfield? Patterns, especially plaids, are trendy in menswear, but Beckett and Robb’s Jason Yeats says for a wedding, they should be incorporated with caution. He suggests a subtle pattern like glen plaid, which offers visual interest up close, but the illusion of a solid from twenty feet away—including in most photos. He cautions that some busy patterns can be problematic when caught on film. “You’d hate to get your precious wedding video back and discover the groom looks pixelated.”
Time to leave your Chucks, Nikes, or Toms at home and get serious about your footwear. “If it’s a formal event, the shoe should be formal,” says Jason Yeats. “A tuxedo shoe is made of patent leather. For a tux, there are no exceptions for this, including velvet slippers.” For a suit, he says the shoe needs to be as formal as the rest of the outfit. Try a black or brown leather shoe with a plain toe, cap toe, wing tip, or monk strap.
You have a suit, a haircut, and a shave. Now you need a few finishing touches. Hey, it’s OK to be a little metrosexual for your wedding:
• Get a manicure: If your cuticles look like the dog chews on them, you’ll need to take care of that before the close-up ring shots. Try the Gentleman’s Manicure at the Grand Spa at Grand America Hotel in downtown SLC.
• Trim your nose/ear hair: Insert Wolfman joke here. See one of the barbers below.
• Get your teeth whitened: All those years of coffee and red wine will show up nicely in your wedding photos. Consult your dentist.
• Book a massage: Work out any kinks and calm last-minute jitters. Try the Wasatch Warm Stone Massage at The Golden Door Spa at Park City’s Waldorf Astoria.
Boutonnière is French for buttonhole, which is, in fact, what the British call a boutonnière. Confused? A gentleman’s jacket used to have a buttonhole sewn into the lapel to accommodate the small blossom we now associate with nuptial attire. Boutonnières were part of a man’s everyday ensemble, but somewhere along the way, manliness won out, and the flowers were relegated to his wedding day. Garrett Soong says boutonnières should be “simple and uncomplicated; they should add to the groom’s overall look, not distract.” He recommends a flower bud, small succulent, sprig of wheat, or a cluster of the same flower repeated two or three times.
While Jason Yeats says a groom should match his suit color to the overall theme of the wedding, the importance of seasonal appropriateness cannot be understated. “Warm weather weddings call to mind light and bright color palettes,” he says. “Tan, white, even pastels—we’ve made light blue suits for grooms. A safe choice is light grey.” For cold weather weddings, darker colors are appropriate. “Black is an obvious choice for formal weddings, but we’re seeing a lot of navy, charcoal, and even chocolate brown suits.”
When it comes to getting a haircut for your nuptials, Drew Danburry of Provo’s Danburry Barbershop says timing your big day ’do is largely a matter of personal taste. “If you want a clean, close fade on the sides, it’s best to have it done closer to the wedding day. A lot of guys, though, like to get their hair cut a few weeks in advance.”
An old-school straight razor shave the morning of your wedding will give you a smooth chin for the kiss of your life. “As long as the technique of the barber is tight, and the highest quality products are used, the groom’s skin will rarely be any softer and more radiant than right after a great shave,” says David Boyd of Absinthe Parlour Salon & Barbershop in SLC.
Neck & Neck
“For the groom, a bow tie is the only way to go,” says Chet Cannon, MTV personality, bow tie ambassador, and designer of Salt Lake City-based Chester Pink bow ties. “From James Bond to Chuck Bass, the badass always dons a bow tie.” And if you’re going to wear one, you ought to know how to tie it. Cannon says pre-tied bow ties, while maintaining perfect symmetry, look cheap. “Even a disheveled, self-tied bow tie garners much deserved attention and appreciation.”
Tie one on
This simple bow tie how-to will ensure you look dapper on your wedding day, and when you meet with that barbershop quartet: