Thursday, June 7, 2007
SELECTING MEN'S FORMALWEAR for the WEDDING
By Rose Smith
Have you ever noticed that weddings seem to be all about the bride? There's
information available for the wedding dress, shoes, makeup and accessories.
But...what about the groom and his ushers? After all, they need to wear
something to the wedding too!
So, what should the groom (and his attendants) be wearing to a wedding? In
most cases, it depends on the time of day that the wedding is to take place. If
the wedding is to be a very formal evening affair, a tuxedo is required. For a
morning or afternoon wedding, the attire of the men will depend more upon a
combination of preference and the type of wedding theme you've chosen.
For example, the groom should not be showing up in a formal black tuxedo for
a wedding on the beach. A lightweight and lighter color suit would be more
appropriate. If you're planning a very casual wedding, then lightweight dress
pants, shirt, tie (optional) and blazer would be appropriate as well.
The groom, father-of-the-bride, and groomsmen should all visit a professional
formalwear shop for guidance and information on the type of attire that is
available. Most men don't realize just how many decisions go into choosing a
wedding suit or tuxedo. You'll need to choose from single-breasted and
double-breasted jackets; collars that are peaked, notched or shawl; cummerbund
or vest; bow tie, ascot (these are double-knot ties with ends folded over) or a
Also, it's very important that everything coordinates with the attire of the
bride and bridesmaids, so make sure you know exactly what they will be wearing
and the colors chosen. (Take a fabric sample or a picture of the dresses).
Unless you plan on attending a lot of formal occasions after the marriage,
most men are better off renting their formalwear as opposed to buying it. There
are a lot of men's stores that carry large selections of wedding attire and they
will do alterations on rented suits. However, before you rent anything, make
sure you know what comes with the package. Do you need to buy the cummerbund
and/or vest? Are the shoes included? What about the tie and shirt? Make sure you
get a written receipt that states what is and is not included in the rental.
The groom and other gentlemen should be measured for their suits
approximately three months before the wedding. For any groomsmen who live out of
town, they can go to a local shop for measurements, then send the information to
the groom so he can set up the rental. Please make sure your ushers understand
that they are not to make their own rental arrangements in another city. You
will have no way of knowing if they actually picked the correct suit, color, or
accessories until they show up for the wedding, at which point you will have one
very unhappy bride - not a good thing!
The groom should look after all the rental arrangements at one store only.
Any groomsmen coming from out of town should arrive at least 2 to 3 days before
the wedding for final measurements in case there needs to be last minute
Most rentals can be picked up a day or two in advance. Check the
suits/tuxedos over carefully before leaving the store with them. Look for any
stains, rips, snags or possible cigarette burns. Everyone should try their suit
on to be sure it fits properly and the length of the pants and jacket sleeves
are correct. Be sure to wear the shoes you will be wearing at the wedding for
this. Check the cuffs and collar for frayed material, and make the jackets don't
have any buttons missing.
After the wedding, the best-man usually returns his own and the groom's suit
to the formalwear shop by the next business day. The groomsmen are responsible
for returning their own suits, also within the next business day to avoid late
charges. Small food or beverage stains can usually be removed easily enough,
however if a suit is heavily damaged, be prepared to pay for it. So fellows, be
careful during the wedding!
"Tuxedo" may be used to describe a type of semi-formal dress also known as
black tie, or more specifically, the jacket worn with black tie attire. In
some parts of the world a tuxedo is known as a dinner jacket.
There is no strict convention governing what precisely comprises a tuxedo,
given the relatively informal nature of it as a dress code. Most commonly a
tuxedo is made up of a black coat with lapels, black pants, a black bow tie,
black socks, black shoes, a black cummerbund, and a white shirt. In some parts
of the world it is acceptable to wear a white coat--usually in hot climates, or
during the warmer seasons of the year.
Novelty tuxedos are available in a wide range of colors, most popularly pink
and baby blue, but these should not be considered appropriate for a semi-formal
occasion. Many people wear adornments with their tuxedos, such as fancy
cufflinks or handkerchiefs in the breast pocket, and in most circles this is
considered perfectly acceptable.
While the breast shirt of a tuxedo is normally a pure white, some care should
be taken to compliment the color of the date's dress. This is considered
particularly important in weddings, when an inappropriately white shirt can cast
the wrong hue on the bride's dress. In this instance it is acceptable to choose
an off-white shirt similar to that of the partner's dress.
Good tuxedos are made of wool, while polyester or wool-polyester blends are
generally considered sub-par. Thread count varies from worsted wool at 60-75
threads per inch, all the way up to 120 threads per inch, by fine names such as
Lubiam and Andrew Fezza. The number of buttons on the tuxedo is a matter of
personal preference; many people consider more buttons to appear more
fashionable, but a single or dual buttoned jacket is much more traditional in
A decent tuxedo may be rented for under $100 (US dollars) in most cities,
though for the best results a tuxedo should be custom fit to the wearer.
Preparations for a tuxedo should start at least two months in advance, and
conventional wisdom holds that if you plan on attending black tie events more
than three times a year you should own your own tuxedo.
While many people consider tuxedos to be formal attire, it is important to
note that they are in fact a semi-formal alternative to the more proper
white tie dress. White tie includes a black full coat with tails (as
opposed to a short coat), black braided pants, black socks and shoes, a black
top hat, a white bowtie, a white cummerbund, a white shirt and collar, both
stiffened, and an overcoat. Tuxedos were adopted primarily as a relief from the
high-maintenance required for white tie attire, particularly the starching of
the undershirt. In addition to the handkerchief and cufflinks often seen with
tuxedos, white tie may also include a cane and white dress gloves.
As traditions in the West evolve, the prevalence of white tie events is
rapidly giving way to events in which a tuxedo is the preferred form of dress.
Only a few events at the highest strata of society require anything more than a
tuxedo, which is easily rented at a local shop.
A tuxedo is considered the height of men's formal wear, and while tuxedos are
less common than they used to be, knowing about the different types of tuxedos
can be helpful when you plan to wear one. Different types of tuxedos are
designed for different occasions, and it is important to be dressed
appropriately when wearing formal wear. While tuxedos are most frequently
associated with long black tailcoats, a formal tuxedo also includes a
cummerbund, bow tie, and matching pants. Coordinating all the parts of the
tuxedo will yield a smooth, polished look that is certain to impress.
Different types of tuxedos fall into a number of basic categories. The first
category is the time of day during which the tuxedo will be worn, and the level
of formality involved. Lapel styles also vary in different types of tuxedos, and
depending on the level of formality, one style may be more appropriate than
another. Single breasted tuxedos are more casual, while double breasted tuxedos
are reserved for very formal occasions. Finally, the type of tails on the tuxedo
is also important to consider: some events require full tails, while others call
for different types of tuxedos with a more casual look.
If you are attending a daytime event before 4:00, daytime tuxedos are
appropriate. Tuxedos designed for day wear are usually in dark gray, and often
have stripes as well. Black tuxedos are not to be worn during the day, as they
are designed for formal evening events. Daytime tuxedos also usually lack full
tails, and are single breasted with shawl or peak lapels. If you have been
invited to a daytime formal event and are unsure about what to wear, consult a
salesperson who can guide you through the different types of tuxedos designed
for day wear so that you can pick one that is suitable and flattering for your
For evening events, different types of tuxedos are used depending on whether
the event is ultra formal, calling for a black double breasted tuxedo with full
tails, or simply formal. For white tie events, plan on wearing the most formal
tuxedo possible. For black tie optional, lean towards a more casual single
breasted tuxedo with no tails. Given the large array of different types of
tuxedos for evening events, you may want to consider consulting a specialist who
can make sure that you look your best.
Whether you are buying or renting tuxedo, it is better to lean in the
conservative direction. While some types of tuxedos come in crazy colors or
include silly cummerbunds, you will probably feel more comfortable in a classic
formal tuxedo. Especially in the instance of events which are going to be
photographed for posterity, a stylish tuxedo goes a long way. Get a reliable and
level headed friend to help you survey the different types of tuxedos and make
an appropriate choice.
Suits It’s the one thing every man should own: a suit. The Editors salute the suit’s ability to withstand expiration, bask in its enduring appeal, and offer advice on what to look for when you’re off to buy your own. If only we could be there to say, ‘Suits you, sir!’ ‘A mask tells us more than a face.’ – Oscar Wilde Introduction to the Series Welcome to the first installment of The Morning News Men’s Fashion Guide. Over the course of four articles, The Morning News will open its closets and show what we’ve learned: our sartorial successes, our embarrassing failures (involving capes in one case, dreadlocks in another), and our underwear, which we find both embarrassing and successful. This week we’ll explain what we like, what we hate, and what we don’t know about suits, with shopping tips included. These lessons have been prepared over years of bad and good shopping, and are written for the ground-floor dresser, guaranteed trend-proof. Indulge in your vanity and join us in ours. And now, the man’s little black dress if he could wear it into battle: the suit. On Suits ‘Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant.’ – Cary Grant Without suits, men would have nothing. In the hierarchy of style, a good suit remains a man’s only trump card. Even in this sad age of casual-wear, the suit still carries an air of success, taste, and sophistication. It is designed to make you look better, to break boundaries between social classes, to make a small man tall with pinstripes or a fat man rich with soft wools. The suit looks good in restaurants, trains, dinner parties or Paris; in short, everywhere you want to be. It is, in its best forms, a complete outfit that will never fail you. And that is exactly what it will do, if you treat it right. Unfortunately the majority of suits you see look awful. This isn’t necessary. Even if you work ten hours with your jacket on, being mindful of your clothing will keep you ready for cocktails after work. Too many men either don’t care or don’t know how to wear a suit, and, suitably, look like shit. This is worth avoiding. To start us off, a few general rules should be observed when approaching a suit, and most apply to good dressing in general: The suit, no matter the style, needs to fit your body, closely. This means all pieces should be cut and tailored appropriate to your form. Surprisingly, this doesn’t require a lot of money ($500 can, in fact, get you a good suit) but it does take an eye, and the strength to ignore any saccharine compliments from salesmen. Trends have six-to-eighteen-month shelf lives. If you plan to retire your suit in this window, feel free to splurge. Otherwise, shop considerately. Suits are made of wool or cotton, and their variations. Additional fabrics need not apply. You are an interesting, confident, multi-hued man. Let others learn that from how you behave, not from the label on your jacket. A suit jacket goes with suit pants, not with jeans or chinos. If you want a casual jacket, buy a sport-coat or a blazer. Stand-up comedians are regularly shot over this rule. If you’re not comfortable – if you don’t feel the suit’s appropriate for you – the salesman’s looking out for his commission, not your style. A modestly, well-dressed man has never failed to impress. Yes, never. Assuming you’re not an investment banker, you don’t need ten suits; you only need four. This means you can be a discerning shopper and spend time accumulating, then keeping your suits in good condition (dry clean once a year, then more for spills; don’t you dare iron it yourself). Think of the process in terms of collecting, spending years searching for that one original-packaged Chewbacca. The Fab Four 1. The Standard Blue: Great for business, lunches, New York Mayors, summer dinners, or casual parties. Can be worn with black or brown shoes, even white if you’re daring. Reflects well by a pool. Standard blue means navy, with no room for paler shades, even if you went to UNC. 2. The Classic Gray: Appropriate for everything and even makes a red-head look dandy. Grays also are the best with patterns, especially anything in the chevron family. Start with plain, move to window-pane. Even such, the gray is never controversial. It’s the Switzerland of suits. 3. The Basic Black: Our favorite and the perennial classic, it’s a fit at the Oscars or your sister’s wedding, the perfect compliment to a good white shirt, beloved by gangsters, designers, and undertakers (those jobs with the highest doses of fashion-conscious aptitudes; respectively, aggression, vanity, and wisdom). If you only own one suit, this is it. You can even be buried in it. 4. Any of the above, with pinstripes. The Jacket So. You’ve picked your color and you’re ready for the fit. First comes the jacket. Never was a suit bought for the pants and repeatedly worn afterwards. Pants are easily adjusted by a tailor, jackets can only have minor improvements. Think of true love: it must be close to just-right at first, with a slight thrill when you put it on, the coup de foudre as the French say. First off: are you a single-breasted man or a double? While both styles can fit most body types, single-breasted jackets tend to flatter the slim while double-breasted jackets make the broad look mighty. This doesn’t imply being ‘skinny’ or ‘fat,’ it’s simply about your tits; hence the term ‘breasted.’ Choose the jacket style that you can best fill out – from there you’ll always look best. David Letterman, who can rarely be found not wearing a double-breasted jacket, skirts this rule by sitting behind a desk. Notice how uncomfortable he is during the monologue, fussing with his buttons while standing full-view before the camera. To those opting for the single-breasted jacket, you’ll have to choose how many buttons you want. One? Hmm. Two? Excellent. And returning in popularity. Three? Certainly good, and was much sought-after in the recent past though it’s now reached near total market saturation. But, still classic, and hopefully always available. Of course, jackets also come in four-, five-, and six-button styles, each with their own fifteen minutes of fame. Four-button jackets have been sported by everyone from The Beatles to Steve Harvey. Can you sport one? Of course! But no, not this season… Last, the fit. Like we said before, close to the body, but no wrinkles when you button. Vents, double or single, are preferred to the vent-less jacket that, nine times out of ten, looks like a giant condom from behind. Shoulder pads should be avoided – you’re no linebacker – but a tailor will gouge you if you show up post-purchase and ask him to reduce the heft. Finally, before we move onto trousers, there is one ticklish in-between: the vest. We can put this simply. If you’re ready to buy a vest, you’re either old enough to sport one or dangerously disillusioned. A good rule of thumb: Alfred Hitchcock looked great in vests. Young Jimmy Stewart looked out of his league. Pick your man. The Trousers You must now choose a trouser style. There have been, in the history of men’s trousers, a few trends that fucked with a good thing: bell-bottoms, bibs, clam-diggers, ‘cargo.’ Unfortunately, all of these styles eventually found their way into suits. Men, generally, will take any pants that come with a jacket. Being men, we want some control over how they look – ‘How they work,’ thinks the man – but not too much. Hence, the cuffs-or-no-cuffs debate. Ask a man what he thinks of his pants and he’ll say, ‘Yeah, I had to go no-cuffs.’ We won’t help you here except to say: cuffs are older, no-cuffs are not. Choose according to your image of yourself. Next comes the pleats question: The only times pleats are wanted is in the single-pleat case, on a pair of wool pants. The case should be that the pants look crisp and well-folded, rather than puckered. How to tell the difference? Think of a pair of pants recently back from the dry cleaner. Remember the line down the middle of the leg. Does your new pleat-to-be look like that? If not, drop the hanger and run. After cuffs and pleats, you need to worry about waist, swish, drape, belt-loops, ass-hugging, crotch-dangling, and whether or not you need a watch pocket. This is beyond our advice. Suffice to say, your ass is probably less than marble, though it shouldn’t be treated like a towel hook. Pants shouldn’t blow like a scarf in the breeze. The best way to judge a pair of pants is to ask yourself, ‘Would I wear these pants on a date without the jacket?’ If so, they’re fine. If not, move on. Finally, a salesman will often ask if you’d like to buy two pairs of pants for the suit. The idea is you can alternate pants with the jacket so they wear evenly over time, but since pants can be so easily ruined, you always have a back-up pair. This is similar to electronics store people trying to sell you insurance on an air conditioner; if you have the money, it’s not a bad idea, but it also isn’t necessary. So now that you’ve picked out your suit, you have to know how to wear it. We’ll assume you know the basics of putting the thing on. (Yes, the jacket part goes on top.) And this brings us to buttoning. It is a historic dilemma, faced by every man. Here, for you, is our easy-to-remember rulebook: Two-button jacket: Button the top button, only, ever. Button the bottom button and you’ll look like a stooge. That’s really all there is to it. Three-button jacket: Button either the middle button alone or the top two. Important: the bottom button does not meet its hole. It will plead before a date, just when your stomach’s boiling, ‘Hey! Friend! Button me once, please. I’m sure we’ll look fine. Come on! Just once!’ But you will not give in, you will be strong. Now the suit’s on, and you’re ready to go. Comb your hair, have a cocktail, head out for the evening. Travel lightly when you go, meaning don’t bulge your pockets with a Bible-sized wallet. Your outside jacket pockets, in fact, should never be used unless your companion asks; at that moment chuck your pretensions and stuff them full. When you get home, brush down the suit, hang it evenly, and keep it in a bag. Wear it often, with pride, and don’t take shit for looking good. After all, no one can be Cary Grant, but everyone can try. Oh yeah, another thing: Don’t roll up the jacket sleeves Miami-Vice style. We say this now, but then again, considering the fickle nature of fashion, don’t hold us to it.
Monday, June 4, 2007
Can't figure out what type of fabrics you should look for in a suit?
Let's review what you are likely to come across when hitting the shops.
Wool is the fabric of choice for good men's suits. It's natural, it breathes well, it's durable and looks great to boot.
There are four main kinds of wool:
Tweed Tweed is a very heavy wool fabric, popular in places like the British Isles where there seems to be a permanent chill in the air. The average wearer of tweed is more mature if you get my meaning. Stay away from tweed, especially if you're packing a few extra pounds. Tweed is not the larger man's friend. Flannel Flannel is the heaviest of the non-tweed wools. It is a corded wool, it’s durable and is especially nice in a charcoal gray with classic pinstripes. For a suit, it might be a bit too hot in most office environments. While nice, it's not an ideal fabric for a suit. Tropical This is usually a kind of wool crepe, which is a lightweight fabric. It's more of a summer weight, the sort you might wear in warmer climates. Being lighter, it is also more susceptible to wrinkles, and therefore requiring frequent visits to the dry-cleaner. This clearly would not be an every day kind of suit fabric. Worsted As I have stated before, worsted wools are your best bet for a suit. These will be your gabardines or mid-weight corded wools. They are durable, wear well and usually fine for year-round wear. They can be a little lighter or heavier, depending on the weave, but consider them mid-weight. You might come across a suit that is advertised as a "high-twist," 100, or Super 110. This just means that the suit is made of a worsted wool yarn that has been twisted more often than the usual 60-80 twist fabrics. This makes it a finer cloth of a somewhat lighter weight. Such suits would be perfectly fine, therefore, for spring, summer, and fall, but might not work in winter.
OTHER FABRICS Cotton Cotton is probably the most acceptable choice for men's suits that isn’t wool. If you live in a warm place this is a great alternative look to wool. I prefer cotton suits that have a little lycra or something that gives it stretch. This will allow your suit to keep it’s shape and will prevent the color from fading more quickly. Linen Okay, you look at linen and you think of a beach on the Mediterranean or the Caribbean Islands and you’re strolling down that beach with your pants rolled up a touch and . . . ahhh. Stop dreaming! As a fabric goes, linen wrinkles quickly, stains, and doesn’t wear well. It is not acceptable for a suit, unless you really are one of the lucky few that actually do live on a beach in a tropical place. Polyester The 70's are over so let’s move on. Micro Fiber A very light polyester. Again, let’s move on.
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- ▼ June (17)