Nehru or Oriental Style Suit (Jackets)
Nehru style jackets is of Indian origin (1940’s) and grew to some popularity in the 60-70’s in the Western world largely due to the Beatles. Now, we see it arise in the occasional Austin Powers movie.
Nonetheless, this suit is formal in appearance and may appeal to a groom looking for a simple, yet elegant look. There are a few style options to consider as this suit can be dressed up with a clasped collar and/or fabric buttons (like a tuxedo). I would recommend wearing a simple black or white non-collared shirt underneath to emphasize the straight mandarin collar, rather than wearing a mandarin collar which may make you look like a priest.
Although, Zegna, Canali and Calvin Klein have all dabbled in this suit style, it still appears to be geared towards the Eastern world. The grey Nehru suit is elegantly simple, yet there are options to spice it up such as wearing a clasp at the collar as a decorative accent. With a clasp style mandarin collar, it can be worn casually open with a collared shirt as shown below – just ensure that the collar is small and doesn’t empower the Nehru one. Furthermore the buttons can also play a role in creating accents for the suit. Since there are so many used on this jacket, it may make sense to try a silver, gold or fabric covered button. The overall fabric also plays a role in creating a formal or casual look (like any suit). A wool fabric mixed with silk, will create a sheen that catches the light.
Rent vs. Buy vs. Custom
Obviously, I am heavily biased but I am bold enough to touch this subject and readily compare myself to the options available for a groom and his wedding party. Before I begin my rundown, I must share my annoyance about the whole topic. There seems to be this notion that grooms should not look as good as their brides; that no one cares or looks at them. This has been perpetuated through the likes of Moore’s commercials and the general stereotype that guys generally don’t care. Perhaps this is how it was in the past, but now men are stepping it up in their grooming and overall style. This is the new reality.
For any wedding choice, it all comes down to key attributes that you as a couple (or family) value the most. I will run down which attributes match which choice.
Renting – Paying for the wedding yourself, but care about minor details
It’s cheap and that’s really the main point. I wouldn’t expect the suit to fit amazing like a Moore’s commercial will have you believe. But, for $120 bucks for the whole deal what can you really expect? There are quite a few places that provide this rental service with matching everything head to toe – so everyone can look the same (and potentially smell the same). I would recommend getting a newer style (latest collection) as this will be less worn and so there will be less of a sheen or worn quality to it. Furthermore, I would stay away from bright aqua or any neon colours for matching in pocket squares or ties – this will make it look tacky. Try to be creative with the matching through using patterns and high and low lights of colour.
Buying – Parent’s helping with the wedding, groom is a little dazed and confused
This option is more expensive than renting and is usually attempted only if additional family are helping pay for the wedding. This is also attempted by grooms who wait till the last minute and find themselves at a mall searching for anything since the rental places are sold out. If you are willing to buy a suit, then do yourself a favour and spend atleast $500. Anything less than this is quite frankly not appropriate for your wedding day. I would suggest going to a high end store like Harry Rosen so you find something with quality wool. Do not get caught up with brand names – look for fit in the shoulder and comfort above all factors. Ensure to budget for alterations that most likely will be needed in the waist, sleeves, trouser waist and trouser length, this could be up to $100.
Custom – Your parent’s are paying for most of the wedding and you want something amazing for your special day
This is the most expensive option, but it all depends on the type of fabric you choose. The price can range from $800 to $1400. This is the only option where you can literally design the suit of your dreams and why not wear it on your wedding day? In the end, you are left with a suit that can be worn for life to formal occasions and made different just with the switch of accessories. Having a suit fit you perfectly with additional personal details (cuff, lapel, lining, etc) will not only make you stand out but also make you worthy of standing beside your beautiful bride.
“Boutonnieres” are small arrangements of flowers or foliage pinned on a groom’s or groomsmens’ upper left suit lapel. Usually, there will be a button hole on the left lapel yet the purpose of this is to hold a single stem of a flower not a grouping arrangement. This originated from Savile Row as custom suit wearers wore a single flower in their lapel regardless of the occasion.
This has nothing to do with formal wedding attire. The act of wearing a boutonniere is completely separate from wearing a single flower through the buttonhole. In this sense, the boutonniere is NOT pinned through the buttonhole, it is pinned on the outside of it, so that the buttonhole is still visible.
There also has been some debate whether or not a pocket square should be worn with a bouttonniere. I must admit that it will look “busy” and that an obvious effort is being made to accessorize. It’s like when a woman wears earrings, bracelets, necklace – you should only wear 2/3. However, I feel as though if done right through – wearing a plain pocket square then it could work fairly well a la Fred Astaire.
A satin lapel is the modern definiton of a tuxedo. However, this one detail does not classify a suit as a tuxedo – there are other elements that make up a tuxedo.
There are many ways that you can spruce up a formal black suit with satin. You can create a wide or skinny satin border or do a solid satin lapel. The addition of black pique stitching could also create an interesting detailing on the satin. Velvet would suit a wool that lacks sheen.
I was not going to include the “Cummerbund” in this guide since it’s purely a rent only item (although you could buy it, but why?) Furthermore, it reminds me of my grade school choir where we were made to wear bright royal blue cummerbunds for performances.
But then, I discovered that it originated from India and was adopted by the British. How it was able to transfer from ultilitarian usage to formal attire is beyond me and my simple theories. The indians used it as a way to carry small items around their waist. The British decided it could be used as a way to catch bread crumbs at a formal dinner function, perhaps a snack for later?
The cummerbund makes up a formal tuxedo outfit and is included in the rental package. It should be worn pleats facing up (too catch the breadcrumbs) with a single breasted jacket, bowtie and no vest.
I would suggest sticking to a vest. If you must, stick to black, grey or as crazy as red, based on the theme with a matching bowtie.
There is always much talk and confusion over accessorizing a suit so that the colours match the bride down to the pantone number. (Gag me with a spoon!)
A level of matching is acceptable but there is no need to match exactly as this task is close to impossible. Furthermore, there is a certain risk and creativity level that is required to match outside the realms of basic primary colours. Yet, how do you express yourself while remaining classic, and tasteful? By experimenting and try different combinations along with your wedding suit and shirt. Here are a few beginner combinations that may help:
For the Risk-Adverse Groom who is slightly “Emo” yet wants to be slightly funky
- this combination will go well with a bride’s outfit that has silver accents
For the Groom who is okay with wearing pink
- this combination will go great with a bride’s silver/pink/white outfit
Is this a shirt you see yourself wearing on your wedding day? Perhaps. It compliments tuxedo as the wings on the collar keep a bow tie in place. Furthermore the bib type front go well with a shawl collar and cummerbund.
However, what if you are wearing a 2-button black suit sans the tuxedo options. Okay, maybe a satin peaked lapel. Then, what shirt would work?
I am not one to promote the endless possibilities of matching your bride. Furthermore, I am completely against getting a solid eggplant coloured shirt in order to match the wedding theme.
My suggestion is to stick to a high quality cotton white shirt – with a collar that matches your proportions and with cufflink able cuffs. There is no need to over do it. For a groom, simple is better.
After spending money on a quality shirt, you could definitely wear it again to work or other formal occasions. Meanwhile a bib and/or wing tip collar would gather dust in your closet or worst yet – your arm pit stains will become apart of its legacy for the next groom.
The White (Dinner) Jacket
Let me take this opportunity to clarify the apparent mystery behind the white jacket. It is a rarely worn entity due to the limited nature of its appropriate-ness. Like many things in menswear, the white jacket is buried in sartorial rules, so much so that it is confusing and perhaps best to avoid it completely!
- Only for summer (May long weekend to Sepember long weekend)
- Only for night events (after 6pm)
- Only worn with black trousers
- Best worn with black or white bowtie or tie
- It is not pure white, usually off-white wool
Having said all that, it is an exception to the even stricter rules of the traditional dinner suit and morning suit. (I may discuss later).
The white jacket traditionally is a single breasted, 1 button, shawl lapel, and worn with a plain white shirt, and bow tie. However, these days most rules are thrown out the window. Most people just want to look (or atleast feel) like James Bond, and a white dinner jacket will surely achieve that task.
(Extinct) Formal Dress Codes
After surviving the blip of “casual Friday’s” in the 90’s due to the whiz kid internet millionaires who decided to wear shorts to board meetings, we now sit in an era where formal attire is back to being hot.
Everyone is going back to basics when it comes to workwear. But, where does that leave formal wear? Does anyone really follow the “rules” or furthermore do people actually send wedding invites that read: black tie or white tie? I believe it’s quite rare.
So rare, that most people don’t really know what it means anymore and wield a fantasy of James Bond with lots of guns.
The most common formal attire is White Tie or Black Tie, this refers specifically to the colour of the bowtie to be worn. Black tie refers to a black bow tie which is traditionally worn with a tuxedo.
White Tie is a lot more complicated and ultra formal. It refers to a white bow as well as suit “tails” (literally your suit has two tails at the back). This ensemble is quite strict and the epitome of sartorial-ism. The jacket resembles a tuxedo jacket yet it is quite short from the front that is not button-able (yet has 3 fabric covered buttons on each side) and of course with tails at the back that can be seperated by a vent. It is worn with a white vest, wing-tip collared white shirt, white bow tie, tuxedo pants, patent (Oxford) shoes, black top hat, white gloves, and sometimes a cane!
The Morning Coat
Not a coat to be worn at night is the obvious distinction. It is also quite long (like a coat) with 2 tails at the back; the front cuts away from the body, it is also known as a ”cut-away” coat.
It’s definitely on my wish list of items to buy – the fitted women’s version of course, and I can wear it anytime. Unlike for men, the morning coat is worn for morning events like weddings ceremonies by the groom or close male family members of the groom. It’s a special occasion jacket that is more or less rented or forgotten about in a dusty closet. Sadly, its overall airtime is limited.
Last week I described male formal dress code – black tie or white tie – the morning coat would work as a substitute for a tuxedo jacket. The groom usually wears a black morning coat while other male family members wear grey.
But alas, who really follows rules anymore? I would like to make an exception for the sad and lonely morning coat. Wouldn’t it be nice if men could wear it anytime and anywhere? It’s definitely a peice that has geniune history and character; please make an exception here oh sartorial gods…
Common Groom Pitfalls
Here is my official list of “don’ts” all grooms should know. I admit some points are strict, but there are only 8 points that I can’t tolerate, so its not too bad.
- Do not mix rented AND bought OR custom garments together. The rented items will make the bought/custom items appear shabby. An example of this is renting a bright fuchsia vest with a wool Super 130 suit. As a result of the combination, the suit will look shabby as well.
- Do not try new things like a bow tie or white jacket if you have never done this before. Your wedding is not a good time to start experimenting with your style. Unless, you are extremely comfortable with yourself.
- Do not match perfectly with your groomsmen, in fact try not to match at all. Yes, there is a colour palette and theme but the groom suit should be the best and a different colour or shade than anyone else.
- Shoes are extremely important and comfort is not really the main goal. Do not wear shabby shoes that will potentially match a shabby fuchsia vest. Step it up, literally with proper leather lace-ups.
- Do not overdo the accessories, tie, pocket square OR boutonniere and cuff links is enough. These should all match eachother and the colour pallette.
- Do not wear a funky coloured shirt, stick to crisp white shirt with a french cuff (optional).
- Do not take off your jacket until much later in the reception (only when the cameras are turned off and people are hoisting you on their shoulders).
- Do not put anything in your trouser or jacket pockets – as this will ruffle the suit and not look pristine for pictures – give all of your man items to your bestman (that’s what he’s there for).
There are a few things that we commonly tell all of our wedding clients and that we strongly recommend.
We recommend a mixture of silk and wool or a Super 130 and higher wool. The silk and higher Super number will create a desirable sheen that will slightly shimmer in the light. The wife will already be shimmering so you don’t want to appear dull or matte beside her.
A vest in the SAME FABRIC. This is like a suit of armour for you. It will keep everything well shaped, fitted, and well put together. A vest definitely creates a sense of formality that is required at your wedding.
A crisp white shirt. Occasionally, the groom will want to get a crazy purple colour. I strongly recommend sticking to a white shirt with cufflinks and proportionate collar (depending on your face/neck shape).
Your fiancé’s approval. I do not like to sell anything without the fiancé being present. There is nothing worse than a groom happily buying away and then later I get a phone call saying that the wife did not approve it. Always bring your fiancé along to all appointments!
The bride has many choices of beach-style wedding dresses in a variety of colours, yet what will the groom wear?
A 3-peice suit with tie is way too formal for a beach setting meanwhile shorts or rolled up pants is a bit too casual and may appear unkempt. You have to maintain some sort of formality but with the right balance. Regardless, this all boils down to personal preference. If you have your heart set on a 3-peice suit, then go for it.
After all my bashing of white suits so far in my guides, now I will embrace it with open arms!
The best way to start is wait for your bride to decide on her outfit. Depending on the formality of your bride’s dress (very traditional wedding dress or casual beach dress) this will help you decide on your look. For a traditional bride, consider wearing a white tuxedo and/or one with tails with barefeet, sandals or loafers. If she is taking the route of casual and fun – then consider wearing an off-white, linen, loosely fitted, collared shirt (short-sleeved optional) with white or tanned cotton or linen loosely fitted pants with barefeet or sandals. Another option is getting a tanned cotton blazer to wear on top. Depending on the heat, this may be too many layers, but again, it depends on formality of the bride’s dress.
You can certainly wear some colour in aqua or pink shirt, yet I like to keep it white because your surroundings will be colourful enough.
Some tips to remember:
- Do not wear a belt or tuck in your linen shirt into your linen pants. The look is supposed to be casual.
- Linen wrinkles quickly so don’t worry too much about it being perfectly crisp.
- Roll up your pants if you are taking pictures in the water, otherwise keep them down for the ceremony.
- Don’t be afraid to show some chest.