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The Definitive British Guide to Suit Shopping for Grooms

The last time I counted, grooms have on average about 2 million things to organise for the big day, and that’s in no small way because they want to introduce a granular level of detail, that makes Operation Barbarossa, look like an afternoon hike. They will labour for hours about the pattern on the ushers’ or groomsmen’s sock, and spend sleepless night deciding on how many jam jars with candles they are going to need. However, if you boil it down to the essentials, there are really just 2 main things that you need to tick off: what you’re going to say, and what you’re going to wear. Obviously, a great speech is something I can help with, and so I did some research on the ‘what to wear’ part, with the help of some expert guidance from people who really do know what they’re talking about.

A Grand Introduction: The Significance of the Occasion

Weddings in any shape or form are not to be taken lightly. Even if you don’t care for the usual traditions and formalities, the groom's suit is not just a trivial matter—it's an essential part of the ceremony. So as your beloved embarks upon the Herculean task of finding the ideal dress, you are faced with a quest of your own: securing the perfect suit.

The Vast Landscape of Suit Types: A Gentleman’s Smorgasbord

The Black Tie Ensemble: A Timeless Classic

It's a known fact that nothing says sophistication like a well-fitted tuxedo. If you're aiming for utmost formality, the black tie ensemble is your go-to. The traditional ensemble features a black dinner jacket with silk peak lapels, black trousers, a white dress shirt, a black bow tie, and black patent leather shoes. If you want to know every tiny detail about the black tie ensemble, I highly recommend this GQ Black Tie Guide. There you'll find everything from the subtleties of winged collars to the intricacies of cummerbunds.

The Morning Suit: The Epitome of British Tradition

The morning suit—often termed ‘morning dress’—is the epitome of traditional British sartorial elegance. A morning coat has tails that extend to the back of your knees, accompanied by a waistcoat and pinstriped trousers. For accessories, a top hat and cane are optional but do add an exquisite touch, and after a few drinks you can instantly turn into Fred Astaire. Savile Row, London's historic tailoring street, is perhaps the most famous destination for high-quality morning suits. Houses like Gieves & Hawkes provide an experience as tailored as the suits they produce.

The Three-Piece Suit: Versatility with a Dash of Panache

A three-piece suit includes trousers, a jacket, and a waistcoat, providing you with options to mix and match. This suit can swing either casual or formal depending on the accessories. If you're looking for choices that range from trendy to timeless, Brooks Brothers offers an array of selections.

The Lounge Suit: Elegance in Comfort

The lounge suit is the staple of many a British wardrobe, suitable for those with more relaxed wedding themes. A two-piece ensemble, the lounge suit can vary widely in terms of fabric, colour, and detailing. Brands like SuitSupply offer an excellent range, from linen suits for the summer months to wool blends perfect for a winter wedding.

The Destination Suit: For the Globe-trotting Groom

Planning a destination wedding? Linen and lighter fabrics are your best friends. While not strictly British, brands like Tommy Bahama are specialists in this kind of attire, perfect for saying 'I do' on a sun-soaked beach.

The Anatomy of Suit Shopping: A Comprehensive Breakdown

Tailoring and Fit: A Cut Above the Rest

The fit is non-negotiable when it comes to a wedding suit. Always opt for a suit that complements your body type. Whether you are more rotund or have a lanky frame, a tailored suit is an investment that pays dividends. Check out Esquire’s guide for a detailed overview on how to get the fit right.

Fabric: The Weave That Tells a Story

Wool is the most traditional fabric and offers the versatility of being worn in any season. Cashmere provides an opulent touch, while linen and cotton are ideal for summer. For a deep dive into suit fabrics, consult this Real Men Real Style guide.

Details: Where the Devil Truly Resides

Cufflinks, pocket squares, lapel pins—these are the accents that can elevate your look from good to exceptional. Take note of the lapel styles—peak, notch, or shawl. For a better understanding of these smaller yet significant details, Gentleman's Gazette offers a full-fledged guide.

Budgets and Banknotes: How to Allocate the King’s Shilling

Thrifty Options (£200 - £600)

At the lower end of the scale, brands like Moss Bros and Slaters offer suits that won't break the bank but still keep you looking dapper.

The Middle Ground (£600 - £1,500)

When you climb the financial ladder, you can expect finer fabrics, better tailoring, and more attention to detail. Brands like Paul Smith and Oliver Brown offer an array of suits that are well worth their price.

The Royal Flush (£1,500 - £5,000+)

If you're ready to splurge, the world is your oyster. Luxury brands like Armani, Gucci, and Burberry offer the pinnacle of men's fashion. The sky is the limit here, with customisation options that range from monogramming to gold-thread embroidery.

Conclusion: The Last Button, the Final Touch

If you've made it this far, you're well on your way to becoming an expert in the sartorial science of wedding attire. From the classic elegance of black tie to the laid-back vibes of a lounge suit, you have a plethora of choices, each presenting its own set of opportunities and challenges. Remember, it's not just about looking good; it's about feeling your absolute best as you make one of the most significant commitments of your life. So, take the time to invest in a suit that truly resonates with your personal style, matches the theme and formality of your wedding, and most importantly, makes you feel like the best version of yourself.

To Rent or To Buy: The Million-Dollar Question

While investing in a high-quality suit may seem like the most straightforward option, renting is also a viable route for those who don't foresee frequent use for a formal suit post-wedding. However, the fit may not be as impeccable as a tailored suit, so weigh your options carefully. Websites like The Black Tux offer premium rental services that can come to your rescue if you're looking at this avenue.

A Sartorial Second Opinion: Take Your Best Mate Along

Opinions are aplenty, but for something as crucial as your wedding suit, you'll want the advice of someone whose fashion sense you trust. Whether it's your best man, your father, or a fashion-savvy friend, a second opinion can provide invaluable perspective.

Time Is of the Essence: Don't Procrastinate

Experts recommend starting your suit hunt at least three to six months before the wedding. This buffer allows time for multiple fittings, customisations, and any last-minute alterations. You'll also need to coordinate with the bridal party to ensure that your outfit complements the overall aesthetic of the wedding.

Test Runs: Not Just for Cars

Once your suit is ready, it's imperative to do a complete test run, wearing everything you intend to wear on the day. This includes your shirt, shoes, and any accessories. This exercise will help you figure out if everything works together cohesively and ensure there are no last-minute surprises.

Parting Wisdom: The Final Words

By now, you should have an extensive roadmap to guide you through the labyrinthine process of selecting the perfect wedding attire. In the words of the iconic Beau Brummell, "To be truly elegant, one should not be noticed." Your wedding day isn't just about turning heads; it's about encapsulating a moment in time, a moment that will be treasured in photographs, videos, and memories for years to come. Choose a suit that will stand the test of time, one that you'll look back on and feel proud of.

So there we have it, chaps. As you venture forth into wedded bliss, remember that your suit is not just a piece of clothing. It's a statement, a testament to your taste, and a significant part of a day that marks a new chapter in your life.

And there we conclude our elaborate sojourn through the wonderful world of groom suits. The quest for the ideal ensemble may seem daunting, but remember, the journey itself is a rite of passage every groom must go through. And who knows? You might just discover your inner fashion aficionado along the way.

So, whether you're a groom-to-be, a best man, or simply a guest looking to out-dress everyone else, hopefully this guide has armed you with the tools you need to make an informed decision. Because at the end of the day, it's not just about saying 'I do'; it's also about doing so in a suit that captures the essence of who you are.

Written By
Adrian Simpson
16 Jan, 2024
  • Judins
    East Sussex
    TN19 7LA

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