Some men are just tailor-made to be elegant grooms
The dashing allure of the black one-button tuxedo has a timeless appeal that Cary Grant, Clark Gable and other Hollywood icons recognized. The modern groom who wants to assume that same dapper stance would be wise to follow in those legendary footsteps as he shops for a formal wedding-day look.
And for the groom who worries that wearing a tuxedo will make him feel like a nervous prom date plastered in polyester threads: Fear not, for the classic one-button tux will have you feeling more like James Bond.
“We always introduce customers who are buying their first tuxedo to the one-button tuxedo with a peak lapel,” said Justin Christensen, director of brand development for the luxury label Brioni USA. A peak lapel — a wide V-shape lapel that points out and upward — is one of the details, he said, that differentiates the tuxedo from a business suit (which usually has a notch lapel).
It’s an enduring look for the groom that won’t appear sorely dated in the years — or wedding albums — to come. And if the groom maintains his physique, this classic tux can last him a lifetime. “The lapel width might change from year to year, or decade to decade, but essentially this model won’t go out of style,” Christensen said.
Eric Jennings, vice president fashion director, men’s and home, for Saks Fifth Avenue, said that the one-button formal suit with a peak lapel is the company’s best-selling tux and “truly timeless” for a wedding.
Made for the man
A bespoke tuxedo costs more than one purchased off the rack, but the luxurious look of a hand-tailored suit is unforgettable. “A man should look at the quality of construction and how the garment was made,” said Christensen, adding that a handcrafted suit, such as those Brioni makes in Italy, just feels differently from off-the-rack clothing.
When ordering a made-to-measure suit, the groom should start shopping at least three months before the wedding, Christensen said. This allows two months to construct the tux and then one month for the tailor to make any needed alterations. “Don’t rush the process,” he added.
What about grooms at extreme ends of the body-shape spectrum: one who is tall and lanky or short and stocky? “We would put a onebutton tux with a peak lapel on either one of those gentlemen, with slight variations, and they both would look handsome,” Christensen said.
Jennings said, though, that a two-button jacket would help elongate a short or stocky man’s shape, and a shawl collar tends to slim a fuller face. A tall or heavy man, he added, should make sure the jacket’s shoulders are natural-fitting without much padding. Proper fit distinguishes the tux with élan from the tux sadly lacking in structure and style.The groom needs to have a salesperson and a tailor he trusts, said Jennings.
“The tuxedo should fit close to the body, and it should not be baggy,” Jennings said. “You shouldn’t have so much room that you can swing your golf clubs.” He suggested the groom wear flat-front trousers. “I would go for clean, straight lines.”
The sartorial splendor of any tuxedo depends a lot on the fabric: Christensen said the gold standard for the tuxedo is barathea wool, a lightweight fabric with a slightly pebbled surface that can be worn year-round and travels well.
Tan or cream tuxes in silk blends create a jazzy touch for grooms heading for destination weddings. Silk douppioni, elegantly raw in its look and feel, is a splendid choice.
“It is very cool, and it takes you back to the days of ‘The Great Gatsby.’ Silk douppioni gives a little bit of luster to the suit, so it’s great for photos,” Christensen noted.
And what should be the finishing touches for the groom and his fabulous tux? Jennings recommended patent-leather shoes, a bow tie, a cummerbund or suspenders, and a semi-spread shirt, which is a standard button-front shirt with a wider spread between the collar points. “A vest is also a nice alternative.When you take off the jacket later to go on the dance floor, you’re still going to look sharp.”
Christensen advised against grooms taking their style cues from the looks seen at Hollywood red carpet events where shawl-colored suits in colorful velvet or jacquard silken wool are often seen. “You see these suits a lot at trendy Hollywood events,” he said. “It would be an acceptable look for a wedding,” he conceded, but said he thinks these fashionable jackets are more appropriate for awards shows.
Christensen said the formality of a traditional wedding calls for a bow tie, which will look classic at the wedding and timeless in the photographs to be viewed for years to come.
The bespoke shirt
Just as the bespoke suit is an investment that will last a lifetime, a custom-made shirt is also a worthy wardrobe item for the wedding day.
Jack Sepetjian, co-owner of Anto Beverly Hills, said that the popular style for grooms is an off-white shirt with French cuffs and a fly front, which means that the buttons are hidden.
“You can’t wear a wedding shirt with the buttons showing; that’s a no-no,” he said with a laugh. “Most of the grooms we see are in their upper 20s to early 30s.They might be wearing a Prada or Armani suit, and they usually choose the off-white or very, very light blue shirt.”
Sepetjian recommends that grooms steer clear of true white. “When you photograph it, it’s too bright,” he said.
At Anto, about 15 sets of measurements are taken to get the right fit for a client’s shirt. “It’s a good experience to have the perfect shirt,” Sepetjian added. “It will stay with you forever. When you look at the wedding photos, you will say, ‘Wow, that is a great-looking shirt.’ ” No matter what the groom might have in mind for his wedding tux, it pays for him to do his homework. “It’s like shopping for your first luxury car,” said Christensen. “You want to look at the construction and what the philosophy of the maker is.”
— Robin McMacken, Special Advertising Sections Writer
*Photo: Saks Fifth Avenue Men’s Collection’s shawl-collar dinner jacket with a grosgrain lapel is worn with formal trousers with grosgrain side stripes. Photo by Saks Fifth Avenue.