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Modern wedding suit style has evolved, as Josh Sims discovers.
In times when the wearing of the suit is increasingly an expression of personality rather than conformity, quite when and how a suit is worn has never been more open to interpretation. Even once rigorously formal occasions – notably the marking of births, marriages and deaths – have blurred the line between dressed up and dressed down.
Perhaps, of those three, getting married remains the exception: most couples tying the knot are rightly conscious of being stars of their own show and maybe also of this being an event marked for posterity not just by an official photographer, but by a couple of hundred more candid mobile phone snaps too. But then there’s also the demand to look contemporary.
The trick for the groom may be not to go too far to extremes with the cut of the suit – the classic two-button, notch-lapel, single-breasted jacket works as well as ever here – but to zero in on the fabric. Mid-grey is a classic shade for the groom, but in a lightweight textured wool, half-canvassed for lightness, it’s suddenly more interesting than the norm; likewise a navy suit may look regular fare from afar, but up close in an Italian tonic – that is, two-tone - fabric, produced by blending virgin wool and silk, it has that ‘special occasion’ sheen. A woollen navy suit with a percentage of mohair produces a similar result - a luxurious shine and distinctive slub of the kind that the peacockish Mods were famously drawn to in the 1960s.
Again, with these options being half-canvassed, they’re ideal for wear over the traditional, warmer wedding months of summer, but work for a man in the spotlight all day whatever the season. Just as practically, they’re suits that can get regular wear after the big day is long over, especially the characteristically hardy mohair blend. The jackets work well worn as blazers too, more relaxed with jeans or a pair of chinos. Waste not, want not, after all. Wedding days are not known for being cheap days out.
Of course, for those men – and their best men – who want to go the full formal when it comes to dressing for the occasion, there's morning dress. Gieves & Hawkes, historically being naval tailors, knows how to cut tailoring with a mind to regulations, and this applies as much to a tailed jacket as it does a blazer. Naturally, Gieves & Hawkes emphasises all the proper details – the full peak lapels, the double-breasted waistcoat, self-faced buttons and the like. But, while the Savile Row stalwart does offer morning dress with the classic black coat and striped charcoal trousers, it also does so in a mid-grey wool sharkskin. It’s still formal, but leaving the groom without any risk of looking like he belongs in miniature on top of the wedding cake.
After all, while it’s not the done thing to outshine the bride, you don’t want her to have all the attention, do you?