Ask The Rake: What's the best wedding day style for a groom?
Married in 2016 amongst the bucolic scenery of Bargemon, South of France, The Rake's Editor Tom Chamberlin imparts his wedding day style wisdom for the groom.
Dress for a wedding is so much more fun for men than for women. Ladies can more or less rely on having to wear a dress in one form or another that isn’t white or if you are the bride, a dress that is white. And whilst I know that dresses come in many forms, for men, there are minimum three dress-code possibilities to play with. These are traditional morning suit, suits or black tie. I will start with the latter as it is not applicable in the case of my nuptials and shouldn’t be with yours. Don’t get me wrong, if you have already done it, then I am sure you looked marvellous, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless it is in the evening then at least it is performing its function. If I were to give one piece of advice it would be to wear a wool jacket for the service and change into a smoking jacket for the reception. For now let’s stick with the first two. It just so happens that I did both at my wedding. A morning suit is a tremendously hard garment to make. It is even harder to make a good ready-to-wear version. The best tell of a ready-to-wear suit is the way in which the back of the collar sits way off the neck and shirt collar. The morning suit is no different here, but the extra tell is the way in which the tails stick 12 inches away from the back of your legs, a kind of bookending of wrongness. The tails should graze your legs and the collar should sit flush against your neck. The coat itself has a complex array of panels that make this garment particularly difficult to make. So my best advice is to get this made by someone who has a good reputation for this specific piece of kit. In my case, the tailor was John Kent of Kent, Haste & Lachter. It is no secret that these three men are my tailors in any case. Usually I am seen to by Kent’s protégé, the great Terry Haste, but Terry suggested that I would be better off speaking to John about this. I ended up soliciting the whole triumvirate, and ask John Kent to make the coat, Terry to make the waistcoat and trousers and Stephen Lachter to make the shirts. The jacket is made from a black 10/11-ounce super 100 merino wool herringbone from Smith Woollens. Not the heaviest option but still strong and structured. The lapels had the option to include a satin piping or turn back cuffs, during the process I backed off from those options as John’s lapels and fit were so striking that I decided that it is best to keep it clean and let his cutting do the talking.
The trousers were one part that I was worried about, as I am not overall fond of the slightly unflattering, unattractive assortment of striped patterns you get and houndstooth isn’t my favourite. Thankfully I found a Scabal 12/13-ounce pure wool, ‘cashmere stripe’. They used to make it with cashmere hence the name but this is a pure wool fabric. The waistcoat is made from a blue nine-ounce Irish linen from Lessers that went with matching sky blue socks from London Sock Co.. They were worn with braces so fish tails were added to the back to fasten them in, high waisted to sit under the waistcoat and double-pleated. The waistcoat will be a three-button double-breasted piece. Ask to have a ‘V’ shape in the buttons of the waistcoat, this looks really sharp and accentuates the shape of your coat and lapels nicely. The shirt will be cream cotton with white-collar shirt. I have opted against a stiff collar despite the tradition simply because I see the poor buggers during Trooping the Colour fall flat on their faces because of the heat and I am not keen for a repeat performance when saying my “I dos”. Stephen’s shirts have great balance without being too tight. So while the shirt will not be sticking out over the waistcoat, it will not be clinging which helps to keep cool. Having had almost eight fittings for this garment, it is fair to say that John created a perfect morning coat. The balance is extraordinary, the shape is stunning, well-fitted with a good amount of drape, a perfect back pleat (this is extremely hard to get right and a millimetre off can ruin the whole jacket), the lapels are a generous four and a half inches with a peaked lapel, lifting the strong shoulders and elongating the chest to make my posture seem proud, valiant and strong. Whereas the truth is that my back is arched at the nape because of my terrible habit of slouching. For footwear, I wore a pair of Cleverley Hague II slip-ons. They are perforated across the band and the toe cap so look formal but meant I could show some sock and with feet my size, it is a much more elegant option.
Four Weddings and a Funeral brilliantly satirised the morning suit as a garment that is thrown about and abused by late night dancing and illicit hook-ups. The pictures of Edwardian blades looking sharp, with the jacket almost wrapped robe-like round their bodies, that had hitherto been the vision of what a morning suit was all about, was being destroyed by pop culture and film. Few bother with a proper morning suit these days. I guess the Duke of Edinburgh can always be relied upon to look fabulous in his morning suit, outshining the competition. And who is His Royal Highness’ tailor? That would be John Kent. After the service, it was time for a change. The wedding was in France so the best of French tailoring represented. Lorenzo Cifonelli is a genius and a close friend of The Rake, who was under time constraints – not to mention geographic ones – to make the suit. The fittings were done at Mark’s Club when Lorenzo made his regular visits to London, those were the days. I opted for the house style of Cifonelli, so a 6 x 1 button stance, scimitar lapels, the famous shoulder, and we used a blue from the Fresco II bunch by Hardy Minnis. This high twist fabric meant it would remain breathable and hold its shape. Bespoke trades largely on anticipation, you dream of the outcome so much that you place the order. I knew the jacket was a different style to what I was used to; nevertheless I was beyond excited but the trousers were the surprise star. Swimming-pool-deep pleats, still sharp as a knife after all these years (I have been married almost 5 years now) and I feel dashing putting them on – which after all is the whole point. It arrived the day before the wedding (my fault not theirs). The shirt was another by Stephen Lachter and shoes were brogues by Pierre Corthay. On reflection, I may have not gone with cutaway collars for the shirts, as I have come to prefer straighter collars but that is purely a matter of taste and is just a passing comment for some balance. You should feel like the most essential, truthful and elegant version of yourself on your wedding day. Quite rightly all eyes will be on the bride, but that doesn’t mean you can’t feel as spectacular too.