Suit Up!

In my last post, I told you guys that Stallion had decided to wear a tux for our wedding day. Great, so the decision was made, but now what?

See, the thing is, between the two of us, our menswear knowledge is limited at best. So before we started looking for THE tux, we had to get an idea of exactly what we were looking for. And now I get to share all that knowledge with you! Have no fear, a lot of this information applies to suits as well, so as long as your man is wearing something nicer than jorts, this post may be helpful.

Let’s start with fit, partially because as a hobby sewist, I can talk all day about good fit, and partially because it really is THE most important thing—you can drop $2,000 on an Armani suit, but if it doesn’t fit properly, it won’t look any different than a suit bought off the rack from Marshall’s (no shade intended; I am the queen of Marshall’s). Conversely, any schmuck off the street can look like a million bucks in an inexpensive suit if it’s tailored to fit well.

Anyway, how can you tell if your suit/tux fits properly? This visual guide, courtesy of Real Men Real Style, puts it way better than I could ever explain:

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(via Real Men Real Style)

Odds are, unless you are springing for a bespoke suit custom-made to your measurements, you’re not going to achieve a perfect fit right off the rack. That’s where a tailor comes in! Since the shoulders are the most complex part of the garment, it follows that that area will be the most difficult/expensive part to tailor. Get a suit that fits perfectly at the shoulders—the seam should lie exactly at the apex of the shoulder, no pulling across the back—and let your tailor handle the rest.

Okay, so fit is covered. But what about the details?

  • Single or double breasted? This refers to how the jacket buttons in the front. Generally speaking, double breasted jackets look best on super-tall men—I’m talking basketball players. Single breasted jackets are universally flattering, so when in doubt, opt for that.

suits-copy

Single breasted on the left, double breasted on the right. These are blazers, not suit jackets, but you get the idea.

(via Business Insider)

  • How many buttons? Two or three buttoned jackets are the most classic look. One buttoned jackets are really flattering, but more trendy. More than three buttons? AVOID. If wearing a one buttoned jacket, the button should be buttoned while standing and undone while sitting. If opting for a two buttoned jacket, you should always leave the top button buttoned and the bottom button open. If opting for a three buttoned jacket, follow these rules (top to bottom): SOMETIMES buttoned, ALWAYS buttoned, NEVER buttoned. In other words, the center button should always be buttoned and the bottom button should never be buttoned. If opting for four or more buttons, you’ve already disregarded my advice and I can’t help you.
  • What type of lapel? This is a controversial point in tux etiquette. The peak lapel, in which the lapel points upward, is the most formal, and 99% of tux “guides” will tell you to choose this option. Shawl lapels, in which the lapel is a continuous curve, are also acceptable. Notch lapels, in which the lapel is angled from the collar such that it creates a notch, are standard for suits, so technically, they don’t belong on a tux—but, surprise surprise, most rental tuxedos have notch lapels. Frankly, if George Clooney can roll down the red carpet in a notch lapel tuxedo, I’m not judging anyone else who wears one.

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George Clooney wears a notch lapel, BJ Novak wears a peak lapel, and Daniel Craig wears a shawl lapel.

  • To vent or not to vent? If you value freedom of movement, do not choose a jacket without vents. This leaves you with a center vent, in which there is one vent up the center of the jacket, or side vents, in which there is one vent up each side of the jacket. Side vents are the most flattering on small/average-sized men; larger men will have a better rear view in a center vented jacket.

vents-suits1

From left to right: center vent, side vents, no vents.

(via One Man’s Style)

  • Pleats or no pleats? Pleated pants are more formal, this is true, but every man looks better in flat front pants. Trust me. That said, when (not if!) you’re having your pants tailored, remember this: add cuffs to pleated pants, but leave flat front pants with a plain bottom in order to maintain a nice, clean silhouette.

pleats_comparison

Left: pleated pants with a cuffed bottom; right: flat front pants with a plain bottom.

(via Rainwater’s)

  • What type of trim? If you’re wearing a suit, disregard this bullet point—you don’t get a trim. Tuxes, on the other hand, are trimmed with either satin or grosgrain along the outer seam of the pant leg and on the lapels. Satin has a shiny finish; grosgrain has a more matte finish. Most rental tuxes come with satin trim. Either one is fine!
  • Vest or cummerbund? Traditionally, if you’re wearing a tux, your waistband should not show, but nowadays, you can skip both (shhh!). Cummerbunds are more traditional; vests are more modern. Cummerbunds are visually elongating, but put emphasis on your midsection; vests will camouflage a beer belly. If you’re renting, please make sure it has a full back, as opposed to a clip-on, which will look absolutely ridiculous should you choose to remove your jacket.

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Whether you go with a vest or a cummerbund, please don’t choose any of these.

(via Love It So Much)

  • What type of tie? Bow ties are the most traditional, end of. That said, Stallion is committing a fashion faux pas here. He’s got a round face and a thick neck, so although our first choice was a bow tie, it looked absolutely ridiculous on him and he’ll be wearing a classic long tie. I’M SORRY, YOU GUYS, WHY AM I EVEN WRITING A FASHION POST AGAIN? Anyway, at least have your man try a bow tie.
  • Do I have to rent shoes? In a word, no. Traditionally, black patent leather shoes are the go-to for tuxes, but if you have high-quality, well-polished black oxfords, you can wear them without shame. Stallion has gorgeous black Allen Edmonds oxfords that are a million times better quality and more comfortable than any rental shoe. If you don’t already own black dress shoes and don’t intend on buying any, go ahead with the rentals, but by no means should you feel obligated to rent shoes.
  • What type of shirt should I wear? Suit or tux, you cannot go wrong with a classic white point collar (as opposed to wing collars, which reveal the band of the tie going around the neck) shirt with French cuffs. If you’re wearing a tux, you can opt for a pleated front shirt, but a simple flat front is always appropriate. Keep it simple! Also, this probably doesn’t need to be said, but NO RUFFLES.

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Left: wing collar with pleated front; right: point collar with flat front.

So after all that, what did Stallion choose? We went to our local Men’s Wearhouse, expecting to be disappointed, but our consultant was extremely knowledgeable, patient, and helpful! Talk about your consultant making the whole experience worthwhile. Stallion was even able to try on several different tuxes to get an idea of what would look best on him. And the winner is ”¦

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Not Stallion, obviously.

(via Men’s Wearhouse Build A Tux)

Black by Vera Wang tuxedos with a notch lapel, grosgrain trim, side vents, flat front pants, black vests, black ties, and white pocket squares. These tuxes come in both a “regular” (read: boxy) and “slim fit”, so it’s a lot easier to get something that fits properly. The wool is great quality, very lightweight and comfortable. The boutonnieres (Stallion’s will be white, and his groomsmen’s will be lavender) will add a pop of color.

So, yes, we’re renting tuxes, but these are a far cry from what I had imagined rental tuxes would look like. Stallion and his groomsmen are going to look sharp on our wedding day!

What will your men be wearing for the big day? Are you buying or renting? Suits or tuxes? Did I miss any crucial points of menswear etiquette?

BLOGGER

Mrs. Filly

Location:
Boston, MA
Wedding Date:
April 2014

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  1. Member
    pocketfox 677 posts, Busy bee @ 5:56 am

    Don’t worry about the tie! I have a weird thing with bowties, I feel like they only work on A) The SUPER formal, or B) The Quirky/Preppy (I combine these after seeing the bowties from Mrs. Rucksack’s wedding). They also look adorable on ring bearers, but I digress. All of our men are wearing classic long ties.

  2. Member
    mswallaby 2059 posts, Buzzing bee @ 5:56 am

    This is the best primer on men’s formalwear I’ve ever seen. I wish we had read this advice before our wedding; my husband’s (rental) suit was wayyy too baggy and just hung off of his lanky frame. Bookmarking this for future use :)

    (P.S. – we rented the Black by Vera Wang gray suits in slim fit, and they were still baggy on most of the guys. I wish we had asked for a different size when the guys picked their suits up; they paid a lot of money for suits that were definitely not the right fit. We loved the quality but MW didn’t really follow through on the fitting even though they took several measurements of each guy. Just an FYI – might want to ask your FI to try on his suit at MW before he takes it home to make sure it fits right!!)

  3. Member
    missbeagle27 30 posts, Newbee @ 6:47 am

    This post was so informative and helpful! Thank You! And I love the classic look of the suit you chose!

  4. Member
    daniellekira 573 posts, Busy bee @ 11:46 am

    Wow mens clothing can be more complicated. My husband went with a gray suit that was rented from Joseph A Banks.

  5. Member
    bridesmomma 439 posts, Helper bee @ 12:21 pm

    Great informative post! I learned things I never knew! ;-)

  6. Member
    allycrn 538 posts, Busy bee @ 12:37 pm

    This is so helpful!!!!

  7. Member
    msfilly 827 posts, Busy bee @ 2:54 pm

    @pocketfox: I LOVED the Rucksacks’ bowties. But you’re right, you can’t go wrong with a classic long tie! It may not be the most traditional with a tux, but it’s not like people don’t do it all the time.

    @Mrs. Wallaby: Uh oh! Thankfully, Stallion is a big guy (which is probably why the slim fit fit him perfectly), but his groomsmen are pretty lanky, so they may have some issues. It’ll still be miles better than the regular fit, I think. Hopefully our groomsmen’s local MWs are as nice about letting them try things on as ours was with Stallion. I was shocked at how awesome our experience was – hopefully they deliver for the actual wedding!

    @MissBeagle27: Glad you found it helpful!

    @daniellekira: Surprisingly complicated, right? We checked out Jos. A. Bank, but the consultant there wasn’t helpful at all, and they only had catalogues available for us to look at, nothing to try on or even see on a mannequin. Their stuff looked really nice, but we figured we should make sure the great consultant at MW got our commission $$$.

    @bridesmomma: Glad it was helpful!

    @AllyCRN: Thank you!

  8. Member
    mrscam24 114 posts, Blushing bee @ 3:09 pm

    This is very helpful! I may have my fiance read it before he goes shhopping, since this is so convenient!

  9. Guest Icon Guest
    lilly, Guest @ 4:53 pm

    My husbands groomsment went wth the shawl collar, black shirts and bronze colored vests with long ties, they looked amazing. a black shirt can up the sophistication factor alot if its on the right person. Wish I could add a pic of thier tuxes here. they looked amazing, very james bond. (no suprise the shawl collar above is on daniel craig!)

  10. Member
    msmeow 1656 posts, Bumble bee @ 3:51 am

    I love, love, love this post! Thank you so much for putting together all this information, I’ll definitely come back to your post when it’s time to pick Mr. Meow’s new suit. He’d love to buy a Zara suit because they’re both beautiful and affordable but the trouser fit is all wrong for him, the last time we were there he was about ready to go and murder “skinny Spanish designers with no cojones”! lol For work clothes, we’ve had the best of luck with Marks and Spencer of all places! Stallion and Mr. Meow appear to be similarly built so if Stallion ever needs nice and affordable trousers (but not wedding-nice!), go take a look there.

    Stallion will look, well, like a stallion (in the best possible meaning of the word of course) on your wedding day! :D Wonderful, classic outfit. Score! :)

  11. Member
    professor6pack 43 posts, Newbee @ 5:04 pm

    This post will be very helpful for a lot of clueless women! As a person who has spent a lifetime in Men’s clothes and owns a variety of bow ties already, I’d like to correct a few fine points:

    Buttons – the standards for Tuxedos and Suits are very different. Your recommendation applies only to Suits. For a tuxedo, 1 button is traditional, 2 is acceptable and 3 is trendy. (For a Tail Coat, there are no buttons.)

    Pleats – larger and/or muscular men often look better in pleated pants. But for the 95% of us who don’t spend all day at the gym doing squats, flat front pants rule!

    Shirt – the wing collar is made to be worn with a Tail Coat and White Tie. I have no idea how rental companies started pairing it with black ties, but if anyone knows the history, I would love to hear it.

    Menswear is so full of nerdy detail and rules – just like the average man understands Football and the statistics behind it, the important parts of men’s clothing are all in the details. Good luck at your wedding!

  12. Member
    mswaterfall 1403 posts, Bumble bee @ 10:03 pm

    Super helpful post! All our men were really pleased with the fit of our Vera Wang tuxes. I think it’s so important to get fitted properly and try everything on again before going home with it. Brother GM’s was slightly big and they had to make some last minute alterations on his!

  13. Member
    msfilly 827 posts, Busy bee @ 10:50 am

    @MrsCam24: Glad you found it helpful!

    @lilly: That sounds awesome – I bet everyone looked great!

    @MsMeow: I loved M&S – I studied abroad in London when I was in college and I miss it so much. Nothing like it on this side of the pond :(

    @Professor6pack: You are exactly right – thanks for the additional detail! You’re right, there are SO many rules/details with menswear. It’s way more interesting than your average joe would think.

    @Mrs. Waterfall: Agreed – Stallion isn’t leaving the store until he’s 100% happy. Our local MW seems to have a great rental department; they even arranged to have his tux come in on the Wednesday before the wedding so that there is an extra time cushion in case he has a problem.

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