Groom's Suit Guide

Make sure he looks good walking down the aisle. Here, style and fit tips to make him gorgeous in any suit he chooses.
groom's suit guide

Suit or tuxedo? Bow tie or four-in-hand? Classic or cutting edge? Chances are your groom won't put quite as much time and effort into picking his wedding suit as you'll put into selecting your gown, but he still has plenty of decisions to make. He'll want to look great, feel comfortable and match the overall style and formality of the wedding. Here's help.

One thing is for sure…all men look better in a tuxedo. But just like men, not all tuxedos are built alike. Subtle differences in jackets, collars, and pant styles can be flattering or fatal, depending on your body type, so the challenge is finding the right style for you. Remember, a wedding picture lasts a lifetime, so there's every reason to look your best. Here's how…

The traditional purpose of formal attire for men is to create a simple, yet elegant style of dress that allows the woman to stand out. At no time is this more important than on her wedding day. There are many guidelines to consider, but it's your wedding, so feel free to bend the rules slightly as you see fit: (Check out Groom's Glossary for more style definitions.)

The traditional formal daytime ceremony calls for a dark gray cutaway, an ascot, vest and striped trousers.

The semi-formal daytime version allows for a regular length gray or black stroller coat with a necktie, vest and striped trousers. As an alternative, many men today opt for a dark tuxedo.

An ultra formal evening ceremony calls for white tie—a black tailcoat with white pique accessories.

A formal evening wedding simply requires a black tuxedo with appropriate accessories.

A semi-formal evening ceremony calls for a black or dark color tuxedo or a dinner jacket with black formal trousers. Accessories may be either a tie and cummerbund or a vest and a tie in a color that coordinates with the bridesmaids' attire.

The new destination wedding ceremonies call for tuxedos in lighter colors and lighter weight fabrics. Accessories can showcase the "tropical" theme.

Formal shoes should always be worn with a tuxedo. Black dress socks and shoes should be worn with black or dark-colored tuxedos. White and ivory shoes should be worn with white and ivory tuxedos. If a shoe requires laces, they should be strung in a horizontal fashion.

Cummerbunds or vests are both appropriate as are a large variety of shirts and neckwear. Remember that the pleats of the cummerbund face up. If you are wearing a vest and plan to take off your jacket, choose a full back vest. Wear suspenders with a cummerbund, but never with a vest.

Cuff links and studs should match.

A boutonnière should be worn on the left lapel and should tilt slightly outward.

The groomsmen may wear pocket squares instead of a boutonnière.

Flatter His Figure

Brides aren't the only ones who need to worry about figure flaws. Grooms can be knockouts, too, by choosing formal wear that enhances their body types.

Short, slender Grooms should look for single-breasted jackets with long lines, a low-button stance (it elongates the body), and wide peak lapels. Other stylish options include wearing a double-breasted tuxedo jacket or a subtly patterned vest and tie. Selecting the right pant is key, too. Reverse double-pleated trousers are a good choice for grooms with short, slender frames. And the perfect pant leg should always break slightly on top of the shoe and angle a bit downward in back.

Short, stocky grooms with athletic or muscular body types look best in tuxedo jackets with slim shawl collars. The top button should fall at the small of the waist to give the torso a leaner look. Also, choose jackets with a natural shoulder line and avoid the more broad European styles. When it comes to pants, reverse double-pleated trousers with pleats extending toward the pockets tend to elongate the leg. Be sure to avoid too much of a break on the foot, or the pant let will look sloppy.

Tall, husky grooms with broad shoulders and muscular frames look best in shawl-collar tuxedos. Jacket length is especially important. To determine a good fit, the groom should place his arms at his sides and relax the hands. His fingertips should just touch the bottom of the jacket, and his shirt cuff should extend half an inch beyond the jacket sleeve. The construction of the jacket may need to be a bit loose to provide ease of movement. Also, grooms with thick necks and wide faces should avoid too narrow ties and wing-tip collars that look constrictive. Instead, opt for lay-down collars and fuller bow ties. And the pant legs should have a slightly wider silhouette to accommodate muscular thighs.

Tall, slim grooms look well in just about every tuxedo style. A double-breasted tuxedo with slightly broad shoulders and a suppressed waist is an especially good choice. Jacket buttons closed up high on the waistline look especially good, and a high shoulder line is better than a natural one. Garments should be full, while still following the lines of the body, and trousers should also have a higher rise with more of a break in the pant. This figure type can easily wear vests and ties in colors and patterns.

Tall, slender grooms fit just about every tuxedo style including any of the current, two- or three- or four-button fashions with any lapel. Jacket buttons closed up high on the waistline look especially good on tall, slender grooms and a high shoulder line is better than a natural one. This groom can also wear a double-breasted jacket. For those gentlemen looking to create a more muscular look, slightly padded shoulders are a good choice. All garments should be full, while still following the lines of the body. A tuxedo jacket should always be long enough; with arms relaxed at the side, the fingertips should reach the bottom of the jacket. Tall, slender grooms can wear pleated or flat front pants—it is just a question of personal taste. Whatever the pant style, they should have a higher rise and a break in the leg. The tall, slender groom can also wear any shirt or accessory style.

Tall, husky or muscular grooms should choose single or two-button jackets with a shawl collar. This smooth, thinner lapel will have a slimming effect. Be sure that the jacket is long enough. With hands relaxed at the side, the fingertips should reach the bottom of the jacket. Make sure that the tux is also roomy enough for easy movement. The best pant option is a flat front style with a lightly wider silhouette to accommodate muscular thighs. A pleated trouser can also work. Grooms with thicker necks and wider faces should probably avoid very narrow ties or wing-tip collars, which create a constricted look. Instead, opt for lay-down collars with a wider tie.

Athletic grooms with extremely broad shoulders and slim waists are a tailoring challenge. The best advice is to go to a reputable formalwear specialist who will carry tuxedos specifically designed to fit this shape. With excellent tailors on staff, they'll be able to mold the garment to his body perfectly. The best style choice is a single or two-button jacket with a shawl collar. Keep the accessories elegant, yet subtle.

Fit Tips

Once he's selected the best shape for his figure, here's how to get the perfect fit.

Give the retailer time to do it right! This is no time to procrastinate until the last minute. Try to choose your tuxedos at least three months before the wedding. This will give you time to have proper fittings and make any necessary adjustments. This is your big day and you want everything to look just right.

Overall Size:
Remember the three measurements that provide the best guidelines for an accurate fit: the overarm (around the shoulders, over the biceps, with the arms relaxed at the sides), the chest (the circumference under the armpits, with the arms down at the sides), and the seat (around the hips and rear, with no wallet in the pocket). If the difference between the coat size and waist size is seven inches or more, a made-to-measure tuxedo may be a better option than a ready-made tux, since he'll be able to get both trousers and jacket suited to his proportions. If a jacket feels tight in the shoulders, go up a size or try a different brand, since shoulders cannot be taken out. The chest should be roomy enough to allow easy movement.

Jacket Length:
Have a tailor or friend measure from the base of your neck in back to the floor—half that distance, within an inch, is the proper jacket length for you. The jacket hem should graze the fleshy part of your thumb when your hands are at your sides, and one inch of the shirt cuff should show past the sleeve.

Shirt:
The neckband should allow enough room so that you can slip two fingers in when it's buttoned. The cuff should cover the wrist.

Trousers:
The waistline shouldn't be too tight or too loose, and the fabric should skim, not hug, the hips. Formal trousers are available with a flat front or a pleated front, so the fit should be appropriate to the style. The pant leg should break slightly at the top of the shoe and angle slightly downward in back.


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