The thought of buying a wedding suit can cause some men to break out in a sweat. A nervous panic sets in – what colour should I go for? What cut? Is a waistcoat appropriate? All these questions can seem indecipherable, especially if you’re not a regular suit-wearer.
This was the panicked response I recently received from one of my best mates, who’s getting married in March. Rather than walk aimlessly into a gentlemen’s outfitters, or spend hours trawling through online shops, he decided to phone a friend. Tasked with taking the groom on a shopping trip, it was important we established some ground rules first. It wasn’t going to be a formal affair in morning dress, and neither did black tie appeal, so that was two options crossed off the list right away.
What remained then, was to navigate through the melee of conventional cloths and cuts of lounge suit on offer. Once you’ve established the sort of budget you’re committing to, and the timeline you’re working to, it’ll be obvious whether you’re looking for a bespoke, made-to-measure or a ready-to-wear suit. Once the suit is chosen, you can you start to build up the rest of the outfit with shirt, tie, shoes or a waistcoat. There are two key rules here: take it slowly and keep things tonal.
One other top tip: remember to take anything you’re set on wearing with you when trying and buying the different parts of your outfit. Don’t look at each part in isolation. Wear the suit to try on with the shirt and shoes, as well as the tie, or in whichever order you’re buying your pieces. You don’t need to try them all on every time, but having these with you will save time and make for quicker decision making.
With all that in mind, here are five pieces to demystify the purchasing process. Treat these seasoned classics as guidelines to getting it right, and you’ll look impeccable come your big day.
Thom Sweeney two-piece navy suit
There are many excellent tailors in London, and Thom Sweeney is one of the finest. Known for working with sleek cloths and contemporary cuts, Sweeney offers all three possibilities when it comes to suit choice; bespoke, made-to-measure and ready-to-wear. For my friend’s wedding, timing won’t allow for bespoke, which generally comes with an eight week lead time and a minimum of three fittings.
Made-to-measure is a good middle ground; it’s a streamlined version of bespoke involving less fittings but still with an edited selection of fabrics and finishes to choose from. For ‘MTM’, Sweeney will adapt an existing pattern or “block” to your specifications, before making your suit in the same Italian factory that produces its ready-to-wear tailoring. If neither of these is practical, then this ‘Weighhouse’ suit is an elegant off-the-peg model named after the brand’s flagship store. The cut is inspired by their signature bespoke style; a slim fit with a natural shoulder line and wider lapel. This timeless style will see you wear it time again, long after your big day. £1,395, shop now
Paul Smith indigo wool and mohair tailored fit suit
Sir Paul Smith is best known for designing ‘classics with a twist’, and this is no more evident than in his pin-sharp suiting. To which end, this indigo number is a welcome departure from conventional navy, cut with classic half-canvas construction using a wool and mohair cloth that gives it a slight lustre. Mohair’s a more tactile, lightweight and crisp yarn than wool, so it’s well suited to ‘occasion’ suits. This ‘Soho’ fit is easy through the chest with a tailored waist and hips. Other signature Paul Smith nuances include the contrasting melton wool under-collar, colourful linings in the flap pockets and natural horn buttons. There’s a clever rubber grip inside the trouser waistband, which helps keep your shirt secure. This’ll be a useful detail once you hit the dance floor. £775, shop now
Hardy Amies: grey wool Brinsley suit
Navy’s always a no brainer when it comes to a wedding suit, but for something subtly different, this mid-grey version from Savile Row’s Hardy Amies offers a lighter alternative. It’s well suited to a weddings in warm climes thanks to it’s soft colour and lightweight cloth, and it’s reasonably priced too. Pair it with an ice blue shirt and rich emerald green knitted tie for a chic look and take note of the design details, too. It’s half-canvassed for a handsome shape through the body, with twin rear vents for a flattering line through the waist. It’s matched with comfortable mid-rise trousers with a slight taper to the ankle. £295, shop now
Emma Willis: Ice blue superior cotton shirt
Getting your shirt’s fit and colour right is imperative if it’s going to set-off your other sartorial efforts. Take a walk down London’s Jermyn Street; the city’s shirtmaking heartland, and it’s hard to go wrong, but it can present bewildering choices. Emma Willis’s small, cosy shop always makes choosing the right shirt easy. Willis has set out her stall using only the very finest cotton and linen fabrics, which come in a number of fits and with different collar shapes. If you’re wanting to move away from plain white, which is a perfectly acceptable option, then this ice blue two-fold 100 (thread count) example will be hard to beat. The subtlety of the colour feels really fresh and it will compliment both navy and grey tailoring. Hand cut and finished in her Gloucester factory using single needle stitching and real mother of pearl buttons, it delivers a beautifully finished shirt. For those weddings in hotter climes, her tailored linen shirts are also hard to beat. £200, shop now
Drakes woven spotted silk tie
Searching for the right tie can be one of the most time consuming parts of pulling your look together. We’d recommend you take a look at Drakes’ fine offering to keep things as painless as possible. There’s something for every occasion in its Clifford Street shop, whether a plain block colour in silk, linen or wool or something with more pop, texture or pattern. This versatile navy and sky blue tie falls into the more conservative part of Drakes’ offering, but it lends a formal look richness and some subtle texture. It’s made from pure silk, woven in Italy with handrolled blades and a self keeper-loop (the loop inside the blade) to prevent unwanted flapping. £135, shop now
Crockett & Jones handgrade Balfour shoes
Shoes to go with a wedding suit can be a contentious issue, but this is no time to be brave or experimental. Air on the side of caution and you won’t go wrong. Monkstraps are a smart alternative to classic Oxfords, but you should avoid chunky brogue styles. These feel a bit too ‘worky’ and can spoil the lines of a sharp looking suit. Seek out a traditional Northamptonshire manufacturer, otherwise known as ‘Cobbler County’, for some of the best-made shoes on the market. This pair from Crockett & Jones is the Balfour model, an elegant, slightly longer, but refined lace-up. It’s made from the very best black calf with bark-tanned leather soles. The uppers are expertly stitched by one of C&J’s highly skilled hand sewers, resulting in a quality of finish seldom seen elsewhere. Of course, this is one occasion when skimping on the quality of your footwear simply isn’t an option – good shoes will make or break your look. Just make sure you wear them a little before the big day, to negate any uncomfortable rubbing or embarrassing slippage. £690, shop now