Men’s Suit Styles and Accessories – Part 1

This week’s post is for the grooms and was written by the Amarvelous Event “hubby” and guest-blogger, Mikael.

To my fellow grooms: You got the ring, you popped the question, and now you’re planning the most important day (thus far) of your life with your blushing bride-to-be—picking locations, and dates, and colors, and menus, and so much other stuff that it suddenly makes total sense why weddings are a $50-plus billion-dollar industry in the United States. No doubt, it’s a lot of work (this is why many couples happily choose to invest in a wedding planner), but admittedly it’s usually fun work, especially the food and cake tastings, and at least you don’t have to do anything regarding your bride’s dress. You do, however, need to worry about your own outfit, and that’s where this week’s post comes in.

In a traditional American wedding (or let’s even say most Western weddings), the groom generally wears a suit or a tuxedo with all of the accessories for a business or formal event: your nicest shoes, a matching belt, fancy or funky socks, a dress shirt, a tie or a bowtie, and your best watch—plus sometimes a cummerbund or a vest, a handkerchief, cufflinks, shirt studs, a tie bar, suspenders, and perhaps even more. Counting them out, it’s almost like the groom’s outfit has more decision-points than the bride’s outfit does! Kidding, kidding…

Before you choose any of these items, though, let’s start with two questions about the event itself.

How formal is your event?

Is your wedding a formal black-tie affair? Is it a hyper-casual beach wedding? Or is it something in between, like a business-casual or business-formal event? Before you decide anything else about your outfit, the question of how formal your event is needs to be answered. A bride can wear any sparkling, white dress and almost always still fit in with her wedding’s vibe, be it casual or formal, because, let’s face it, she’s the bride. However, a groom who wore a tuxedo for a casual wedding, or who wore slacks with no tie for a formal wedding, will stick out like a sore thumb.

These groom-focused posts will cover everything from business-casual to formal black-tie outfits. For casual weddings where you and your fellow male guests might be wearing short sleeves, no ties, and denim, check out this post on The Knot: Tuck the Tux Away: Casual Groom Styles Are In!

Image Credit: Catering on the Move

What is the color scheme of your event?

The decision of the color scheme(s) for your wedding is usually something that the bride will have strong opinions about, but if you’re lucky like I was then your bride might be flexible. My wife (at the time, my bride) said that I had total control over the color of my own suit (gee, thanks), irrespective of the color scheme of the rest of the wedding. Our wedding was supposed to be white and gold, and her bridesmaids were supposed to wear gold or champagne-colored dresses.

When my wife saw and loved the color that I had picked for my suit—a pale shade of blue-teal to match the ocean and the sky (we were married on the beach)—and probably aided by the fact that she couldn’t find the perfect shade of gold for her bridesmaids, and by the fact that our venue’s color scheme was mostly shades of blue and teal, my wife decided to incorporate more blue and navy into our wedding.

Long story short, my wife apparently would have been okay with whatever colors I chose for my outfit, but it could also look really good if everything is cohesive. Here’s us and our bridal party in shades of blue:

Image Credit: Dreamlife Wedding Photography

Now that you’ve chosen the color scheme and how formal your wedding will be, you’re ready to start choosing the details of your own outfit. This week’s post will cover the basics: the pants and the jacket.

The Suit: Pants and Jacket Options

Your pants and jacket will comprise the majority of what people will see you wearing for the day. Yes, the shirt’s important, and the socks and shoes are an opportunity to make a statement or show your fun side, and little details here and there can make or break the outfit when observing it close-up. Realistically, though, the suit itself will cover more than 90% of your body during the wedding ceremony, which will likely be the most-photographed segment of the day, so it’s one of your more important choices for the outfit.

As far as the style of your pants and jacket goes, you have four basic options:

1. Mismatching Informal Pants and Jacket

The least formal* of the four options (not a bad thing), this is when your jacket and pants mismatch each other in either color or material or both. You could have a green tweed jacket, for example, with burgundy corduroy pants, like in one of the images below. Although you’re not wearing a matching suit, you can still look like you’re well put together by dressing-up the outfit with a bowtie or a vest. I’d say that this style can be pulled off at certain weddings only though, maybe something outdoors and rustic in the woods.
*Least formal unless you’re royalty—see below.

Image Credit: Esquire
Image Credit: Chic Vintage Brides

2. Matching Pants and Jacket

Probably the most common style for modern American weddings, this is when your pants and jacket match in both color and material. This is the type of suit that you might wear to work in an office environment—still completely acceptable for your wedding, of course, and I personally encourage this option out of the four. It’s probably also the most versatile option out of the four, since it would not look out of place whether your wedding is outdoors, indoors, casual (as long as the outfit is dressed down), or semi-formal (as long as you also wear a tie or bowtie).

Image Credit: The Knot
Image Credit: SLR Lounge

3. Mismatching Formal Pants and Jacket

We’re getting slightly more formal here. Think James Bond’s infamous white dinner jacket with black tuxedo pants. This option is a good combination of classy and smart while still remaining fun and interesting. This option would not really be worn outdoors but is totally appropriate for a cocktail-style wedding and after-party. It’s different than the 1. Mismatching Informal Pants and Jacket option and more formal than the 2. Matching Pants and Jacket option in that the jacket and pants, on their own, are each one half of a tuxedo-style suit. If you’re going for the James Bond look, then the jacket should be white, but there are a range of color and material combinations that this option can utilize.

4. Tuxedo

The most formal and classic out of the four suit styles, tuxedos are traditionally black but do come in a variety of colors if that’s what you’re looking for. They are notable by a satin or silk (or any other shiny material) lapel on the jacket, with a matching material on the buttons, on the waistband, and down the outseam (the exterior sides) of the pants. Keep in mind that tuxedo does not automatically equal bowtie, since a silk or satin necktie that matches the lapel material can be worn instead. Tuxedos are also the option where you will more commonly find rounded (“shawl”) lapels and single-button jackets, which you can see in one of the images below.

Image Credit: GQ
Image Credit: Heather Jowett

Other Considerations

Other than one of the four suit styles, you will also need to consider your suit’s material, pattern, thread count, color, lapel shape, lapel width, jacket button quantity, jacket exterior pockets, sleeve length, pant length, and a few other items. Each of these aspects of your suit has a range of options of their own, ranging from hundreds of options (in the case of suit color) to only three or four options (in the case of button quantity). Each of these choices can change how formal your outfit is overall—so be sure to ask your tailor or sales associate when purchasing or renting your suit.

Image Source: Style Sample Mag

You’ll also want to think about whether your groomsmen match your suit identically or whether your own suit, as the groom, will have any defining characteristics such as a different:

  • Color (I personally wore a lighter shade of blue than my groomsmen did)
  • Cut or style (I wore three-piece matching, while my groomsmen wore two-piece matching)
  • Lapel style (my groomsmen had a more modern cut, while I had an older-style cut)
  • Level of formality (maybe you wear James Bond-style while your groomsmen wear tuxedos, or maybe you wear matching jacket and pants while your groomsmen wear mismatching)
  • Material (maybe your groomsmen wear a more affordable material, while you wear a nicer one)
Image Credit: The Unstitchd

If you do diverge from your groomsmen on any of these options, then it’s strongly recommended that your outfit have the nicer, higher-quality (albeit possibly more expensive) choice between the two suits.

And there you have it! You’re now able to select and customize the basic components of the suit—the jacket and the pants—that you’ll wear on the happiest day of your life! You might choose to take off your jacket after the ceremony, later in the day or evening, especially when you are eating or dancing, and in that case you might be wearing a vest, a cummerbund, or suspenders underneath (I personally chose the vest option, making my outfit a matching three-piece suit). While this week’s blog post only discussed the jacket and pants, check back in a few weeks for Amarvelous Event’s style guidance on shirts, shoes, socks, ties, and all other accessories and outfit components.

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