Getting dressed is easy. We’ve pretty much got it figured out, right? And in any scenario where puzzlement is a possibility, there’s usually a dress code to reference. Unless, of course, you’re the one writing it. There are only a few times in our lives when we get to dictate exactly what ourselves and our closest friends and family can wear – or maybe just one. Is it really just the one? Unless you throw a lot of themed parties, it’s your wedding day.
Now, naturally, you won’t be the only one calling the shots on how the aesthetic will all pan out, (there’s probably one other person involved) but that’s no reason to wait in the wings and see what attire will be assigned to you. Which brings us to the modern groom’s question: tuxedo or suit?
A tuxedo differentiates itself from a suit with the inclusion of satin. And if that sounds like the kindergarten definition, that’s because it is. In short, the lapels will be satin, and there will be satin detail in the form of a side stripe down the outside of each pant leg, the trim of the pocket, and the buttons. The traditional accessorization is different too, of course – you would never wear a cummerbund with a suit, and neckties don’t enter the tuxedo realm.
Younger gents among us might shy away from a tux, but the style is truly timeless. How many times will you get to wear the tuxedo of your choice in life? Generally, if an event is at the tuxedo level of formality, you’re going to need to follow someone else’s guide to appropriateness when it comes down to the details, i.e. lapel type, footwear, or shirt style. So if you’re worried that you’ll never get to wear the green-and-blue tartan tuxedo of your dreams, now’s the time to call it festive black tie and do your thing. Likewise, if you don’t attend a ton of functions that call for decking yourself to the George Clooney nines, now’s your black tie moment. Pull the trigger on the navy velvet jacket. It’s your time to live out your peak lapel dreams.
You know what a suit is. At the very least, you know one when you see it. It’s a versatile investment if you choose to own rather than rent. (Consider owning your wedding ensemble regardless.) Fit is king. Fit is everything. But you knew that. No suitor worth his salt would let you walk out of their studio without hearing it at least a few dozen times. As with everything else on the big day, fit stakes are especially high if you’re the man at the altar. It’s not that the same doesn’t go for tuxedos. But if you’re opting for the step down in formality that the suit delivers (which is, sometimes, the best way to go) those pants better fit the way they did in your partner’s dreams, my friend.
Suits offer stylistic freedom in a few ways, which makes them friendly to a broader range of dress codes, themes, and innovative venues. There aren’t so many hard and fast rules for accessorization. If your theme calls for masculine burnished brown dress boots, or that sentimental printed necktie, or pops of modern color, suit it. Be it cocktail, dressy casual, or beach formal, any dress code lower in formaily than black tie will accommodate a suit. If the wedding is outdoor, relaxed, or non-traditional? Suit it.
While men’s formalwear can sometimes feel limiting, personalized styling is now thoroughly embraced. And if anyone turns up their nose at your individual style on the best day of your life, they’re off the guest list. (Just kidding. Maybe.) Remember: no fear. If an unconventional boutonniere is the perfect addition to marry your soulmate’s getup with your own, you gotta go for it. If you’re not sold yet, start thinking low-stakes when it comes to the photography, like corresponding color-pop socks with you and your groomsmen in the wedding colors. A swervy print could go to only you.
Weddings are the last place to break dress code rules – unless it’s your own. And if you’re a classic guy looking for zero bells and whistles, follow your heart. Make the decision that makes you and your other half happy. It’s the first day of the rest of your life. Start early. Talk it out with you-know-who. Oh, and congratulations.