The wedding dress gets all of the focus on the big day, so what’s the groom supposed to wear?
There are few issues where groom inequality is so clear as in the bride and groom’s respective experiences of getting kitted out for their wedding. For a bride the experience of choosing her dress is a dreamy, rite of passage that involves tears, champagne and thousands of pounds. For a groom it’s often a functional, demeaning experience that consists of archaic and unflattering suit styles, being told what to wear and cutting every corner possible to squeeze the cost under a hundred quid per person. In short, it’s lunacy.
If you needed proof consider the fact that many grooms on their wedding days are wearing a suit that has been worn previously by hundreds (if not thousands) of men ON THE MOST NERVOUS DAY OF THEIR LIVES. They should be incinerated, not retailed. Before this starts to sound like a rant about formal hire, it’s really not meant to be. Some chains and formal hire shops are better than others and some are very good. However, there is a shift in groom fashion and it’s worth noting if you’re currently looking at what to wear, that more men are buying suits rather than hiring – in our 2011 groom survey 31% were looking to buy.
My personal feeling is that the experience of visiting a tailor and getting a suit made for your wedding day is the perfect choice for a groom. It has all the splendour and luxury you deserve as a groom. Thanks to a new generation of businesses who are taking the custom suit option to new markets, you can get a lot for your money, some made-to-measure options are doing suits for under £200, as in all things you get what you pay for but would you rather have a suit that’s been fitted only for you that you can wear again and again, or spend half that hiring one you have to take back? Exactly.
Before you investigate which is right for you, bear in mind that there are three main options:
Ready to wear (or off the rack) – as it sounds this is the way that most men buy suits. You go to Marks and Spencer or your favoured designer, pick up the suits and keep trying different sizes until one hopefully fits you in a flattering way.
Made-to-measure – this is a half-way house. Here you pick a style of suit, select different options such as pockets, buttonholes, lining, etc. The suit is then tailored to your body type and requirements. These are often made up overseas taking advantage of cheaper tailoring labour overseas.
Bespoke – this is the full-on tailor option where everything is made bespoke for your shape and preference, usually by one qualified tailor.
By no means would I say that formal hire can’t provide a suitable alternative (particularly if you want to wear something far more formal – like tails or a frock coat), but it would be difficult to say that any of them provide the experience and cossetted feeling that a new suit brings.
Another trend we’re seeing more of is a rejection of the groom and groomsmen in identical garb. As an impartial bystander you have to say that this is a very good thing. The chances of getting one hire suit that fits is slim, the chance of getting ten of your mates all into something that fits and isn’t ever-so-slightly different (because of different branches fulfilling orders in ever-so-slightly different ways) are infinitesimally small. The net result are the group shots which look like a living breathing list of men’s fashion mistakes (long in the arm, short in the leg, top hats, woefully tight around crotch, etc)
What we’re seeing emerge in its place are unifying symbols being worn by all of the groom’s party. What this symbol is, is entirely up to you, we’ve seen socks, sunglasses, hats, incredible buttonholes and ties all used to great effect. That way the men all feel like part of the same team without needing a uniform. Clearly, some men get the formal hire look right, but shop around, pick up your suits early and look for shops that will alter or swap garments that don’t fit perfectly.
My final word on this topic: you, and only you (with reasonable consideration of your wife-to-be’s views), should decide what you wear on your wedding day. As per my first blog, the wedding is a chance to show who in the family wears the trousers and there’s no more apt way of doing this than to tell everyone precisely what those trousers will be. Pick something you absolutely bloody love to wear and wear that. You have the right and the privilege to show yourself at your best, enjoy it. More and more grooms are going off-road with their wedding day suits and I think that’s terrific. Take a look at the Staggered real groom features if you want to see some different examples of how grooms are seizing the initiative and ending the insanity of groom’s fashions.
Staggered is the UK’s leading men’s wedding website, take a look if you want more information on men’s wedding suits.