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:

G2FWBc_11Parts-72(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 copySingle 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.

Fotor01027181154George 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-suits1From 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_comparisonLeft: 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.

mccalls 1990s sewing pattern mens tux vest bow tie cummerbund groom formal suit accessories sizes s -f04505

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.

Fotor0102719312Left: 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 …


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?



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