Acton Slim bow tie. Image via That Dapper Chap
Can you believe it’s November already? Spring wedding season is in full swing, and if you listen carefully you can hear the sound of happy couples planning their summer flings too. It’s been a great year here at Polka Dot Groom. I’ve lost count of the wonderful wedding experts who’ve given up their time to provide me with priceless advice for grooms seeking clarity on the big decisions.
As we approach the end of the year, I’ve gone back through the archives to find some of the best advice I received this year. And boy oh boy, there were some gems.
Warning, suit danger ahead
So many suits, so many opportunities to go wrong. I spoke to tailor Carl Nave to get the lowdown, and he told me he’s seen “many” common mistakes but the worst offender is the ill-fitting jacket. “Some jackets are cut way too tight and others can be too broad and boxy,” he said.
Here is the gem you need to remember when you head out to purchase your wedding suit: “The perfect jacket should hug your shoulders and drape softly around the body with a lovely taper through the waist widening out over the hips a tad. “This helps create a slender elongated build.”
Button it up
How many buttons do I do up on my jacket? This is easily one of the most common questions I’ve been asked by grooms, and men in general, over the years. And I get it. After all, the buttons are there, why wouldn’t I do them all up? Mauricio Rios – Wedding Manager at InStitchu, told me plain and simple, so listen up:
“A common fashion crime that men in suits make is using both buttons on your standard two-button, single breasted jacket. The bottom button of your jacket should never be done up.” Never.
Drinks and dranks
If you’re designing the menu and not sure what beverages to serve on the big day, I suggest you take some inspiration from Italian weddings. As Alana Sabbadini, owner of Melbourne bar – Bar Carlo – told me: Italian weddings are “very focused on family” and when it comes to liquor, they know their stuff.
“Italian weddings are always lots of fun. The first drink to consider would have to be Prosecco, it’s the perfect welcome drink. Refreshing and bubbly, it’s a lovely way to start off the evening.“Spritzes are also fun and put everyone in a really good mood.”
Keeping warm, look cool
So, you’ve chosen a winter wedding. Nice work on setting the date, now comes the hard part. As Stylist Sally Mackinnon from Styled by Sally told me, one of the biggest mistakes she sees in her line of work is men making bad choices when it comes to winter coats. “They either simply don’t have one, or what they do have, is very dated or they just pick up their casual hiking jacket and make do with that,” she says.
Here is the ultimate tip from Sally to keep you feeling warm and looking cool on the big day: “Choose a suit made of 100 per cent merino wool. This not only breathes but will help keep you warm. You can also add a basic under garment like an under shirt (Uniqlo have a great range called HEATTECH which retain heat), or you could even consider a thermal if it’s a seriously wintery day, as this won’t add any bulk. I would definitely suggest a warm woollen coat or even a trench, teamed with a luxurious chunky knit scarf – you’ll look every bit the man in waiting.”
Looking beyond fashion
Grooms can be so focused on their outfit that they forget one very important thing: grooming. As Julian Burak, founder of A Good Man – an international personal shopping and styling service told me: “Grooming is important all the time,” he says. “Taking care of yourself is a mirror to how you take care of other things in your life, i.e. partner and family.” But if you’re thinking about mixing things up for your wedding day, this piece of advice from Julian resonated: “When it comes to your wedding, you need a month if you want to try something new. Leave room for mistakes.”
To tie or bow tie?
A bow tie can transform your suit from ‘Monday to Friday office wear’ to ‘special occasion formalwear’ in an instant. But they can be tough to choose. That Dapper Chap owner Andria Beighton was full to the brim with invaluable bow tie advice. If you’re going the bow tie, here’s what you need to know:
“Select a colour that works with the rest of the wedding theme, be it taking a colour from the bridesmaid’s dresses, flowers or decorations. If you go with self-tie bow ties, be sure to provide your collar measurement to ensure a snug fit. Lastly and especially if you’re new to tying a bow tie, be sure to practice tying beforehand or have someone handy to help out, just in case your nerves get the better of you on the big day!”
“A carefully selected bow tie can be the perfect finishing touch to a formal outfit and the simple act of tying a self-tie is a lovely ritual in itself. It’s also the groom’s main opportunity for self-expression through their outfit.”
New hair, should I care?
If you’re thinking about something a little different for your mop on top, don’t leave it to the last minute, Nathan Jancauskas, owner of Mensbiz – a men’s grooming store in Melbourne – says. “The week before your wedding isn’t the best time to reinvent your look, so if you want to experiment with a different style, best to start thinking about it a few months ahead of time,” Nathan says. “Or else stick with what you know and trust.”
“Ideally book your haircut in for a few days ahead of the wedding and go to someone you know and trust (best to make a booking for the barber you usually see, rather than a barbershop that makes you take whoever might be free at the time). Allow time for your hair to grow out and feel more natural.”
Not everyone wants to go black tie, and nor should you have to. Your wedding outfit should be a representation of your personality. As Miles Ruge, InStitchu weddings manager told me: “There’s always the traditional notion of a wedding in which everybody is suited up and it’s a very extravagant affair. When in reality, that may not be the wish of the couple, which is why we are seeing the upwards trends of themed weddings from beach to colour themed weddings, to whatever the imagination can think of really.”
If you’re seeking to express yourself through your wedding outfit, here was the gem from Miles: “Show your own touch of individuality and uniqueness. Being able to customise your garment allows you to put your own spin on it by designing your suit down to the very detail, from the fabric, to the lapel, to the buttons, to the lining, monogramming and so much more. Showcase your personality not only through your customisation choices, but also through accessories like your pocket square, your shoes, your socks and more.”
You think you know how to buy shoes? You don’t even know the half of it. And neither did I! Fortunately, Anika Walker, Head Stylist at Your Look, was full of ideal shoe advice when I spoke to her. Anika says any grooms considering choosing shoes for their big day should start with their outfit and consider their overall look to help guide their footwear selection. “The trick is trying shoes on with the outfit you will be wearing to get the overall look and feel of each of the styles of shoe. I also recommend taking to Pinterest and creating a style guide for your wedding day look.
Are you ready for the best bit of advice you’re going to get? And here is the shoe gem you’ve been waiting for: “Always go for comfort, shoes must be comfortable to walk in. My tip is to wear new shoes in at home in the lead up to your big day, this will ensure your shoes are worn in without any damage. And always have your pant length altered whilst wearing your shoes. So, remember to have your shoes for your suit fitting to ensure the length is spot on, nothing worse than pants that are too long or too short.”
Ms Zebra Says: Thanks Mr Houndstooth for these great tips. It can be super overwhelming for men – suits, grooming and at the end ensuring the bride is happy! These are flawless tips to ensure the Groom is looking his dapper best come the big day.
About the author Mr Houndstooth: I am a happily married man. I enjoy a fine whisky, a new suit and swashbuckling around town with my beautiful bride. Looking back on my wedding day always makes me smile, even though it began to rain just as I said ‘I do’.