It doesn’t matter whether you’re a T-shirt-and-jeans guy like me, or one who idolizes Barney Stinson — you need to get really dressed up for your wedding day.
Even though all eyes will be on the bride, you owe it to yourself and your groomsmen to present a polished, elegant look.
And while choosing bridal finery can practically be a full-time job, guys have it a lot easier. But we still have to make some choices. So I talked with a couple of local experts about them.
As in so many other things, it’s a matter of preference.
And, while the formal tuxedo is still a mainstay, suits are very popular for a couple of reasons. “We’ve become more casual in our everyday dress,” said Marty Semmel, co-owner of C. E. Roth Formal Wear in Allentown. “In many minds, a full tuxedo represents the upper echelon of society — and some people aren’t comfortable with that concept. But everyone has worn a suit at one time or another.
“And bridal gowns are a bit shorter,” he added. “Guys don’t want to appear overdressed, so suits take over.”
Whichever mode you choose, wool is the go-to fabric. “Some people like premium wools — like Super 120 [an indicator of a wool’s fineness] — but that’s not the norm. A ‘tropical weight’ wool is lighter, and you can wear it in many seasons,” said Ron Kahan, owner of Top Hat Formalwear, Whitehall. The fabric is sturdy, yet airy and breathable.
Basic black is, well, basic — but a broad palette of shades is available, too. They can range from a deep charcoal to a nearly silvery-grey.
“I see lots of grays in tuxedos and suits,” Kahan said. “And they’re often good complements to the bride’s colors. But other popular suit colors are navy-blue and tan. He added that tan suits are often chosen for destination weddings, even when the locale is no more exotic than the Jersey shore.
Two-button closure, and notched lapels; that sums it up, Semmel said.
But key differences emerge in the details. “Patterns are not common,” Kahan said. “You might see a pinstripe, or tone-on-tone; but colors are mostly solid.”
Semmel added that “Coats are a bit shorter, trousers have flat-fronts, and silhouettes favor a slim look — like early-‘60s European rock stars.” And shoes are plainer; well-polished black leather is the way to go.
Ties and accessories
Bow ties are back in a big way, Kahan said, and now run about 50/50 with long ties. He added that cummerbunds are regaining popularity, but most grooms are sticking with vests; you can wear either type of tie with a vest, but those “crumb-catchers” require a bow tie. (And wear that sash with the pleats facing upward!)
These accessories, along with pocket squares, are great for adding a spot of color to an otherwise monochrome ensemble. Semmel said brighter colors are catching on — blues and shades of orange, for example — and rich medium purples are popping up here and there.
And while it’s tempting to try matching up exactly with the bride’s colors, Kahan advises against it. “Often, you can get very close; but every lot of fabric is a bit different. It’s impossible to get a perfect color match,” he said.
Semmel and Kahan agreed that there’s no substitute for a full-service supplier. “They won’t just take an order,” Semmel said. “They’ll pick your brain, and help you find exactly what you’re looking for.”
“People don’t realize that the chain stores have no inventory,” Kahan added, “so if you need to change your order, there will be additional delays.” (Gaining or losing weight is just one example.) “But a full-service shop can make adjustments on the spot, ensuring that you will look your best.”
C.E. Roth Formalwear
202 N. 10th Street, Allentown, PA 18102
TOP HAT FORMALWEAR
1809 MacArthur Road Whitehall, PA 18052