This week’s post is for the grooms and was written by the Amarvelous Event “hubby” and guest-blogger, Mikael. Last month, we discussed men’s suit jackets and pants, plus a few important questions that need to be asked before the men in a wedding party can choose the style, formality, and colors of their outfits. Click here to read Men’s Suit Styles and Accessories – Part 1. This month, we’ll be covering the rest of the outfit and accessories that complete a man’s look on the most important day of his life: his shoes, belt, socks, dress shirt, tie or bowtie, and watch—plus others like his cummerbund or vest, handkerchief, cufflinks, shirt studs, tie bar, and suspenders.
If you’re getting married on a beach in the sand, then you may be barefoot during the ceremony. Otherwise, you’ll most likely be wearing shoes at your wedding, and in most cases they will be the nicest pair that you own. This post will cover dress shoes only, so if you’re wearing cowboy boots, sneakers, or any other casual styles at your wedding, then scroll on down to the Belts section!
Selecting men’s dress shoes can get surprisingly complex. If you’re wearing a tuxedo or other formalwear, then you’ve got it easy, because patent leather is the most common way to go in those cases. Otherwise, you’ve got a few important decisions to make: Do you like closed lacing or open lacing? Do you prefer an oxford, a derby, or another style? Do you want cap-toe, plain-toe, or wing-tips? And more! The infographics below summarize the traditional dress shoe styles, colors, and matching to suits pretty well:
While there are certain color and style combinations that are generally accepted, as seen above, a fashion-forward groom knows that you can choose a traditional dress shoe and change out the laces for a splash of color, or the dress shoe itself could be a unique color or design.
Whatever you pick, your shoes will be among the most visible parts of your outfit (more so than cufflinks, let’s say), and in some cases shoes are the first thing that people notice about a man, so although the sky’s the limit here, don’t take the decision too lightly.
The sky’s the limit here, too, but you’ll generally want to match your belt’s material and color to the material and color of your shoes, as well as your belt’s buckle metal to the metal of your cufflinks, shirt studs, tie bar, watch, and/or other metal accessories. It probably goes without saying, but you wouldn’t want to wear a brown belt with black shoes, or a silver-buckle belt with a gold watch.
Even more subtle, though, if you can match the exact grain, color, contrast, hue, and tone of leather between your belt and shoes, and if you can match the exact polish of the metal (meaning how shiny versus how brushed), then these are the small details that can make an outfit go from good to outstanding. Some high-end brands sell exactly-matching belts and shoes, but you also have the option of bringing your purchased shoes from store-to-store to compare them to prospective belts in person.
Some wedding suits do not require a belt: With certain tuxedos, for example, you may notice that your pants don’t even have belt loops, and in that case you may wear a cummerbund instead of a belt (important note for tuxes: if your pants do have belt loops and you are wearing patent-leather shoes, then try to get a patent-leather belt to match the shoes).
The Art of Manliness website has a comprehensive Guide to Men’s Belts here.
Here’s where we get funky. While it’s always acceptable to defer to the traditional solid-color, crew or knee-high dress socks, modern grooms are using this piece of the outfit to express their interests and fun side. You could have yourself and your groomsmen in different colors…
Or you could have the colors match another part of the outfit or match the bride and bridesmaids…
Or you could wear socks depicting your favorite superheros, sports teams, or another passion of yours…
At my own wedding, for example, I decided to be a huge nerd and wear matching Darth Vader socks and cufflinks, while my awesome and supportive groomsmen wore Stormtrooper socks.
Believe it or not, socks are optional! While I sometimes think about that skit where the comedian makes fun of people who don’t wear socks with dress shoes (“What, are you never planning on wearing those shoes again?”), it is a conscientious but increasingly acceptable fashion choice to go with the sock-less look.
In addition to the suit and the shoes, your shirt is going to be one of the most visible parts of your outfit, especially if you plan on taking off your jacket later in the evening to dance. While your socks allowed you plenty of creative freedom, there are some general shirt shape and cut tenets that should be followed for a clean and cohesive look: the collar, the buttons, the cuff, and the cut of the shirt generally change to match the formality of the event and the shape of your face but also your personal preference.
A tuxedo with a bowtie will allow the wing-tip collar, an altogether different type that only bends at the front in order to allow the bowtie fabric to show around the circumference of the neck. Note that a bowtie can also be worn with the other collar types however.
In the two images above, you can also see the pleated (left, above) and bib-front (right, above) shirt cuts on the chest, both of which are only really appropriate for a tuxedo or other formal suit. The stud-style buttons down the front and on the cuff are also visible on the above two images, though tuxedos do not require the shirt to have these features. The reason why shirt studs are a good option for tuxedos, though, is that wing collars should be worn with a bowtie only, leaving the chest exposed, while a necktie will cover the buttons on the chest. If you do have stud-style front and cuffs, then you now have the option of customizing the studs and cufflinks. Additionally, the above two shirts have French-cuff sleeves, which is required if you want to wear cufflinks.
A regular white dress shirt will have visible and sewn-in buttons on the chest and the cuff (left, below). However, for a more formal event like a wedding, you might opt for the hidden placket look (right, below), where the buttons are hidden below a layer of fabric.
You’ll also want to think about what fit of shirt looks best on your body type:
And although all of the images above were white cotton shirts, various shades of off-white are also fairly common, and even colorful shirts are increasingly seen. Cotton, however, is still the tried and true fabric, but it is admittedly not the only option at your disposal either.
The white or off-white cotton shirt is probably the way to go, though, since there are plenty of other ways to get some color and personality into your outfit. One way, for example, is your tie or bowtie…
Ties and Bowties
Ties and bowties come in a dozen different materials (even non-fabrics) and millions of colors and patterns. Just make sure to choose a material, color, and pattern that match the rest of the outfit, the bridal party, or the theme of the wedding while also representing your own tastes.
You also have non-traditional options when it comes to bowties:
Setting colors and patterns aside for a moment, there are still a few basic rules regarding what type of tie to wear with each collar style…
…as well as a few basic rules regarding how casual or formal, trendy or traditional, certain tie styles are…
…and of course there are several ways to tie the knot:
Your wedding day is going to fly by. Before you know it, you will be officially, legally married to the love of your life and heading up to your room, and your watch won’t be lying: it’s the end of the best day of your life. There’s not much to say in this section except that time is the most precious resource of all, so the watch that you wear on your wedding day should be meaningful to you or at least a watch that you love. On my own wedding day, I wore my father’s watch. If your watch’s band is leather like your shoes and belt, then you can try to match the color and grain for all three accessories, ensuring to also match the metal of the belt buckle to the watch’s metal frame.
Cummerbunds and Vests
Cummerbunds and vests are worn below your jacket but above your shirt. As mentioned under Belts, the cummerbund can take the place of the belt for formal suits like tuxedos, especially if the pants lack belt loops. Cummerbunds should be worn only if you are wearing a bowtie, not a long necktie, and the material should match your jacket lapel if possible. Unlike a cummerbund, a vest can be worn with a belt. You would not wear a vest and a cummerbund together however. Here’s a useful guide on when and how to wear cummerbunds.
Vests are also a great option to dress up or dress down your wedding. A three-piece suit (pants, jacket, and vest) can make a look more elegant, while a vest and pants combination, with no jacket, is a more casual look. You may choose to have the groom wear a full suit while the groomsmen wear only vests and no jackets, as the below photos show.
Handkerchiefs are a subtle but necessary accessory for your wedding day. They can be worn in your jacket breast pocket or your vest breast pocket–either way, it’s strongly recommended that you wear one.
Cufflinks, Shirt Studs, and Tie Bars
Cufflinks are worn on your wrist to hold together a French-cuff style sleeve cuff. They used to indicate that the event was formal, but because they come in a variety of novelty and funky designs now, they have started to become more common even in casual weddings. They are also an opportunity for a groom and his groomsmen to subtly wear a themed or fun matching outfit accessory that won’t be obvious to the larger wedding guest list without close observation.
If you opt for a more traditional cufflink and your shirt also has studs, then luckily those accessories can match to create a more cohesive look:
In the photos above, you can see the two types of cufflink backs or fasteners: the swivel and the fixed back. My personal recommendation is fixed-back, since this type is more durable. You can also personalize cufflinks with initials that are meaningful to you.
As mentioned above, shirt studs are worn with, usually, tuxedo shirts, and can also match your cufflinks. The shirt studs that come by default with your shirt are usually cheap plastic and not meant to be worn during the event, so it is recommended to get a set of your own.
Finally, tie bars are accessories that add a bit of form to your outfit while also serving a function: a tie bar can up your look while also holding down your tie from lifting off of your chest. Below you will see a matching Batman tie bar and cufflinks.
And, as with everything else, there are some basic rules to follow with tie bars:
Suspenders can be worn in lieu of a belt to keep your pants suspended on your hips. Interestingly enough, even though a cummerbund replaces a belt for a formal outfit (in form, not in function), suspenders can be worn together with a cummerbund because they take over the “suspending” function of the belt, whereas the cummerbund is only meant to conceal your waist. There are a few options when it comes to suspenders style and countless options when it comes to patterns and colors. If you choose leather, then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to try to match the material and color of your shoes with your suspenders, as you would have done with a belt.
There are two ways that suspenders connect to your pants: buttons (left, below) and clips (right, below).
And there you have it: You’re now able to select and customize the components of the outfit that you’ll wear on the happiest day of your life! Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!
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