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AN EXPERT GUIDE TO MEN’S WEDDING GUEST STYLE
Are the wedding invites dropping on your doormat thick and fast? Then no doubt you’re thinking about what to wear. If you’ve got a suit already but haven’t worn it in a while, then don't leave it till the last minute to try it on. You don’t want to be panicking when you find out it needs dry cleaning/repairing/doesn't fit or the moths have been dining out on it. On the other hand, if you know you’ve got nothing suitable, and you’ll have to go and buy something, then here are some tips from a personal stylist for men on what to look for and take into consideration when choosing a suit and accessories for your wedding guest attire.
So, the first things you need to think about are:
- What’s the dress code? Is it specified on the invitation? If not, do you know what the groom is wearing which will give an indication of the formality?
- Where’s the wedding? Is it in a church, registry office, the UK or abroad? And what’s the temperature going to be like at the location? That’ll dictate the weight of the cloth and the colours to some extent.
- What occasions will you wear the suit / outfit for again afterwards? Would you wear it for important work meetings with different accessories? Or could you split it up and where it separately? Or can you make it more casual and wear it with a t-shirt and trainers? Think about where and how you can wear it after the big day, so you make sure you get the most from it.
Think about the colour
If the wedding is going to be a classic, smart formal occasion and you’d like to wear the suit afterwards for meetings, then I’d suggest sticking to a classic navy or charcoal and use your accessories to switch things up and take it from wedding to business. Usually just by adding a lighter coloured or printed tie, it will instantly look a little more ‘wedding’ and putting a dark or plain tie will take it back to being suitable for work. Alternatively, you could put a formal dark suit, with a darker shirt to make it appropriate for party wear or smart dinners out. Or perhaps the wedding’s going to be more informal, and you’d like to wear the suit for parties and dinners during the rest of the summer. In this case try a different shade like olive green, sand or a light grey/blue. You could go for a semi-lined, patch pocket style which will be easy to wear afterwards as separates… wear the blazer with jeans and a smart t-shirt and wear the trousers with linen shirts and lightweight sweaters. Just be careful with choosing a suit in a bright blue as this seems to be common wedding attire, and when combined with light tan shoes is shorthand for looking cheap. Don’t forget to make sure the colour actually suits you – try on a few different shades or at least hold them up against your face to see if they look good. And once you’ve decided on the colour of the suit, try a few different shirt options, to see if you need a high contrast or whether you look better in more subtly toning colours.
Choosing the cloth
Next up think about the fabric. Linen is great for summer but has the obvious disadvantage of getting very creased…. if you hate that, but like the look, then consider going for a linen and cotton mix which will minimise the crumpled look. An alternative could be a pure cotton or seersucker… the latter being particularly summery. If you’d rather go for something more formal then something in a high twist wool like a ‘fresco’, gives a crisp look, is very breathable and wrinkle resistant. Also, look out for travel suits, which will be made specifically not to crease, so if you're wearing your suit on a long drive to get to the wedding or you won’t have time to hang or steam it when you arrive, you don’t have to worry. A pattern like a Prince of Wales check or a subtle birds eye, can work well depending on your personal taste. If it’s a very formal wedding, a suit with some mohair in it gives extra depth to the colour and a beautiful lustre to the fabric.
Getting the fit right
Make sure you leave yourself enough time to have a look in a variety of shops and try suits from different brands, as they all have varying shapes and it’s often hard to tell what they’re like until you’ve tried it on. If you like the fit of a certain brand you’ve seen in a department store, but they don’t have exactly what you’re looking for, then see if they have their own store nearby that you could visit to see other options. Firstly, ensure the fit of the shoulders is right, and also the length. You can’t alter these but other areas like tapering in the waist of the jacket and taking up the sleeves are much easier. The shoulders should sit where your shoulders end - if you get a dimple at the top of the arm, it’s too small, and it extends beyond your shoulder line it’s too big. Do the top button up (never the bottom one) to check the fit - if it’s pulling at the button or the lapels are bowing it’s too small. The classic length of a jacket from the back is covering your seat (bum) and from the front you should be able to cup the bottom of the jacket into your hand. Also make sure there’s no gap between the collar of your jacket and the collar of your shirt, and if there is, try a different size or another style. The sleeve length should come to your wrist bone, so you can show 1cm or so of your shirt cuff. The trousers need to fit on the waist without any pulling across the front, make sure the pockets are flat and not popping open, and check the seat is not too baggy - you can have the back centre seem taken in a little if need be. The length of the trousers should have a slight break, not puddles of fabric around your shoes.
Once you’ve got the suit sorted, you need to choose the shirt. White will look good with most colours and gives a crisp feel, and the higher the contrast with the colour of the suit the smarter it will look E.g., dark navy with white will look smarter than beige with white in the same style, as there’s a higher contrast. Alternatively, if you’d like a more interesting colour mix then you could go for lilac with a navy suit, pale pink with an olive suit or pale blue with a tan or beige suit. If the wedding is a little more informal and you’re forgoing the tie, then a small floral or spot pattern shirt could also work well. If you like a layered look or would like to add some texture to a plain weave suit, or flat cotton, then you could add a linen waistcoat… this gives some depth to your look and adds formality too. Lighter coloured ties or ones with more pattern or texture like a knitted one, help to take the look away from something you’d wear to work. Slub cotton or linen ties look great with more informal suiting. And make sure you knot your tie so it has a dimple in it - a small dent just below the knot - to give some panache to your outfit.
Adding a pocket square that tones with your tie will finish off your look, and some cuff links if you have a double cuff shirt. You can fold the pocket square in a neat “presidential” fold, a puff or peak style depending on how flamboyant you’d like to look. And don't forget a belt to tone with your shoes, and the buckle should also tone with the other metals you're wearing (watch and cuff links). If you’d like to wear braces, have buttons put on the inside of the trousers to attach them… just don’t wear braces with trousers that have belt loops, only side adjusters. If your overall look is formal, then wear a pair of leather Oxford's or Monk straps. For a summer look, choose suede brogues or loafers. Wear fine knit socks in a colour that tones with your trousers (a shade darker is the general advice) or your shirt or tie. A ribbed shadow stripe is very elegant or something with a subtle pattern, but avoid anything too bright of loudly patterned. So, to recap, in order to look great at the wedding you’re attending this summer, give yourself time to try various options on to ensure you get the best fit, allow time to have any alterations done that are needed, and try on the entire outfit again before the wedding. That way you can check everything fits okay and there’s nothing you’ve forgotten to get before you depart for the big day.