Style / July 2016

Altarations: The Rake's Guide to Wedding Suits, Part I

One may well be accustomed to acquiring the perfect tailored suit but wedding attire has a rule book of its own, as broken down by The Rake’s very own sartorial…

Congratulations! You are getting married. There will be many decisions to make whilst planning your wedding - some of which you may even be involved in. What you are wearing (possibly the most important question of all) should definitely be one of them. You should aim to present the best possible version of yourself and what you choose to wear must support this. The location and time of ceremony will have a significant influence on the dress code of the day. Morning dress looks elegant at an English country wedding, but less so on a Caribbean beach.

If you do decide on morning tails, consider a three-piece version in grey and pick a cloth with a rich texture such as sharkskin or birdseye. The grey should be a rich mid-tone and not pale or shiny. If you prefer black, the colour of the vest will become a topic of conversation and there may be pressure to follow some sort of colour scheme to match bridesmaids. Avoid the subject and select a classic colour in wool, fresco or linen. You may be tempted to unleash your inner-dandy and commission a fancy silk jacquard waistcoat but as Jeeves might say, “the mood will pass, sir” – buff or powder blue are safe bets. Top hats and gloves are unnecessary and are a fuss to carry.

Personally, I am a fan of the Black Tie wedding. They are growing in popularity in England and can be incredibly glamorous but likely to offend traditionalists. Opt for a three-piece evening suit and a proper bow tie. If an evening dress wedding appeals, you may decide to wear the more formal White tie and tails. This would not mean the rest of the wedding party or guests would have to wear White Tie - black and White Tie can sit very happily next to each other. Even so, never mix evening and morning dress - disappointingly I have seen it happen - though only on the pages of celebrity magazines. Well-fitted and executed White Tie is supremely elegant and whilst I am an advocate of all sorts of colours for Black Tie, your tails should actually be black and your shirt, collar and vest only slightly off-white due to the heavy starching involved. You will need shirt-studs and vest buttons. And as you are, by now, on first-name terms with a jeweller and are a bit of an expert on diamonds and know all about the “five Cs” you could use this knowledge to commission a personal set of links, studs and buttons with precious stones.

"You are getting married. There will be many decisions to make whilst planning your wedding - some of which you may even be involved in."

If you are being modern and have chosen to wear a wedding band, it could be nice to match this too. Eveningwear weddings negate the need to change clothing should the festivities continue into the late hours but you would be permitted, perhaps encouraged, to slip into a smoking jacket or velvet lounge coat when the cigars are being offered around. You could also change your footwear to a more comfortable velvet Albert slipper, it could be fun to commission a pair with your new family cypher. And if your mother-in-law is insisting that you incorporate a themed wedding colour about your person, you could demonstrate your pragmatism by insisting this shade is used for the quilting of the slippers.

It is a sad state of affairs that one of the only times a gentleman can wear a flower in his lapel without comment is at a wedding, but perhaps sadder that some florists will attempt to compensate for this by creating oversized buttonholes that dwarf even the most generous of lapels. Have you ever noticed that small piece of thread attached behind the lapel on your suit jackets? This is designed to hold the stem of a flower in place. If your wedding flower does not fit through your buttonhole and requires additional engineering, it is too big. Do not neglect the pocket-handkerchief because you are wearing a flower. Wear both. This will complement and not match the flower or tie.

Your wedding should be more than a photo opportunity but everyone will want to be captured looking their best, especially the happy couple. Picking a photographer is an important decision and you have the opportunity to peek at other couples’ big day when you peruse the photographer’s portfolio. Take a moment to look at the groom’s trousers; they are too long aren’t they? This is not the photographer’s fault. It is probably not even the tailor’s. The truth is that trouser “break” does not look good on film. When I fit tailoring for photoshoots, I always finish the trousers on the short side. Wearing braces is also a good idea, particularly if you are likely to lose a little weight running up to the big day. I also like to show more shirt cuff than usual for photoshoots - it looks better than too little. Take this into account when being fitted with your suit.

Most importantly, with all these tricky decisions made well beforehand, forget about what you are wearing on the day itself and just enjoy one of the best times of your life.

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Christopher Modoo

Christopher Modoo is 'The Urbane Outfitter', with twenty five years of experience in classic menswear. He has conducted suit fittings in both Beckingham and Buckingham Palace. He hates short socks.