By Fok-Yan Leung
Photo credits Kate Ignatowski
Styleforum is roughly divided into two groups: people who own a lot of suits, and people who own a lot of clothes that are not suits. In 2015, the Venn Diagram intersection between guys who “care about clothes” and those who “wear a suit” is considerably smaller than it would have been 50 years ago.
For those of you who own a lot of suits, an invitation to a wedding is a joyous event, and not just because your friends are inviting you to share in the beginning of their eternal bliss. At last, your suit will be appreciated. You can wear it, and no one will ask you if you have a job interview! You can even wear a pocket square, and it might seem normal.
For those who don’t own a suit, a wedding invitation can be the cause of a lot of anguish. Unless the wedding is taking place in Vegas or on the beach, it’s time to get a suit. And, “Oh man, I guess I need to buy a suit,” is said with the same enthusiasm as when you discover that you need to get the transmission on your car replaced. On Styleforum, we get dozens, possibly hundreds, of inquiries about wedding suits every summer, and they’re not just from new members who stumble on Styleforum in a session of desperate googling.
If you are bored with this article already, here’s the shortcut: wear a navy or midnight blue suit, or a charcoal suit, and a tie that doesn’t look like you are about to run for public office or initiate a hostile (corporate) takeover. Got it? Navy/midnight or charcoal suit. Tie. There, now no one (who isn’t on Styleforum) will laugh at you.
If you’re still reading, my advice is to get a good suit, and yes, in either navy blue, midnight blue or solid charcoal. If you have left yourself enough time, a Made-to-Measure (often shortened to MTM) suit is not a bad idea. Typically, a MTM suit is made from an existing pattern, tweaked for your idiosyncratic body, as opposed to a full custom suit, in which the pattern is typically created from scratch (the latter is referred to as “bespoke”). I recommend a MTM suit over a “bespoke” suit, because they are more affordable, generally more accessible, and if you are going with a well known brand name, you know pretty much what you are getting.
Stick to a standard, sturdy fabric that is still light enough that it can be worn in relative comfort for most of the year. You may have read about super fine fabrics - those are not for workhorse suits, and you are looking for a workhorse suit that can withstand the rigors of a drunken midnight chicken dance. Pro-tip: Tell your tailor that you are looking for something that will photograph well. Not that long ago, MTM would have only been an option for those who lived in close proximity to a major metropolitan area. However, the marvels of the modern world make MTM accessible to even those who live in one street towns. One of the sponsors for this month’s issue of the Styleforum Brief, Kent Wang (www.kentwang.com) offers MTM suits from about $735. That leaves plenty left over for a tie and pocket square.
The same advice goes for shirts. The miracle of the internet has made MTM shirts fairly inexpensive. Off the top of my head, and just drawing from the companies that work with Styleforum members, Proper Cloth (www.propercloth.com), Luxire (www.luxire.com), Kent Wang (as mentioned above), and Trumaker (www.trumaker.com) will all get you what you’re looking for. Wherever you’re buying your shirt, keep it simple. There is a natural temptation to include as many bells and whistles as possible, but a plain white shirt, either in poplin (standard for a “dressier” shirt,) or a mini-herringbone, which I find a bit more interesting, is advisable.
If you haven’t left yourself enough time to get something MTM, ready-to-wear (or “RTW”) is your best bet. If you live in a city like NYC, I would suggest a trip to your local mens clothier (Mens Wearhouse does not count). If you don’t, the internet is your friend. There are a lot of options. I’ve had good experiences or heard good reviews with: Ehaberdasher (www.ehaberdasher.com,) Kent Wang; or if you want to spend a few more bucks, The Armoury (www.thearmoury.com), Epaulet (www.epauletnewyork.com), or No Man Walks Alone (www.nomanwalksalone.com), can all hook you up as fast as UPS or Fedex can deliver.
As for ties, it’s 2015, and you can wear any tie to a wedding. However, if you don’t want to look like you just came from work, a shepherd’s print is great for the summer. More traditionally, a houndstooth pattern, or a Prince of Wales - which is composed of of houndstooth patterns of varying sizes - are often worn at weddings. I choose these patterns anytime I wear ties for non-business functions, which is pretty much every time I wear a tie.
For shoes? It’s hard to go wrong with a pair of captoe balmorals (so, shoes with “closed lacing”). But really, in 2015, there is plenty of room for different types of shoes. The important thing is that they have a relatively slim profile (unless you are deliberately going the other way), that they complement the suit, and that they have a nice shine on them.
See, easy! And for the price of your plane ticket, hotel room, and a few meals, you're set until all of your friends are married. As for you - good luck, and maybe the new suit will help.