Expert Advice for the Tuxedo Novice
Steven: Now that I have been married for about a year and just recently publishing my own “What I Wore on my Wedding Day” article, I thought we might take a moment to look back on both of our wedding days and each tuxedo we had commissioned and discuss what advice you would give to someone purchasing their first tuxedo.
The HSS community has been so lucky to have a man of your impeccable taste, who is so open and extensively shares what you wore on your wedding day. The BTS on your MAB wedding tuxedo fitting was so full of insight and really allowed the audience to not only get a sense of your taste, but of the bespoke process, as well.
Looking back on your wedding day tuxedo, do you have any regrets on what you wore? Things that you would perhaps have done differently?
Brian: No regrets at all. I’d better not have any since I put so much thought into what I was going to do! Everything was perfect. Though the one thing I will say is that if I hadn’t been super into menswear for the past seven or so years, I don’t think I’d have the same answer. How about you?
Steven: I didn’t think you would. Your attire was nothing short of being Cary Grant reincarnated. I don’t regret my decisions in my wedding attire either. It’s safe to say that when I look back at my pictures in 50 years I won’t have to worry about my tux looking outdated. That being said, I certainly would have made a few of the fit decisions differently. I’ve learned a lot more about my body during my mid 30s. My tastes have quickly changed from the more modern looks we typically see in society to a more classic or older style.
Brian: In what way?
Steven: Since my wedding I’ve grown in my back, shoulders, chest and legs. Consequently, my pants, jacket and waistcoat are a bit snug for me now. I’ll need to have them let out a touch to comfortably wear them. Also, my tastes have changed over the last year since I got married. Learning from gentlemen like yourself, I’m much more receptive to wearing more classic fitting garments. Opting for pants with pleats and not having my jackets tailored too tight. I think we all make mistakes when we get into tailoring. Perhaps getting my tux a little too tailored was my biggest regret.
Brian: No big deal. Angel is a pro so I’m sure he left an allowance for this. A half inch all around is probably all you need.
Steven: Ok, next question. With having the knowledge you have today, what advice would you give someone who’s buying their first tuxedo?
Brian: Read my article and your article to start! It’s basically the same advice I would give someone looking to buy their first suit. Determine your budget. Do your research–both in terms of where to buy as well as the details you’d like. Keep it classic. The latter is something that you and I both adhered to. You definitely want to look back at those photos and think, “that look will never go out of style.” And, bonus (!), you’ve got a great tux for the rest of your life.
Steven: Agreed. What about things to avoid?
Brian: Renting a tux.
Steven: Agree. You only get married once.
Brian: Another would be picking a color and having that coordinate exactly between groomsmen and/or bride and bridesmaids–usually seen with pocket squares, bow ties, or cummerbunds. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. To me, it just looks tacky. It’s always some color like teal or pink–something like that. It ends up looking too “perfect” and planned out. And whenever you try to be too perfect with something like that it ends up looking forced and wrong.
Steven: That’s a sartorial sin! So what would you recommend?
Brian: Listen, I get the idea of wanting to pull things together visually. But instead of matching things like that exactly, find colors that are complementary. It makes a much stronger statement. My groomsmen wore medium grey suits. Tie choice was up to them, though they all kept it classic. Robin’s bridesmaids’ dresses were similar but not the same exact color. It looked perfect because it wasn’t “perfect”, if you get what I mean.
Steven: Agree again, that’s a great rule to follow when you’re figuring out your groomsmen look. Give them guidance but let them be themselves.
Brian: Well, within reason! No crazy socks or my favorite thing to hate on, rubber chicken cufflinks…
Steven: So where did you splurge and where did you spend when it came to things other than your tuxedo?
Brian: Definitely the food. Many people came from very far away, so you’ve got to treat them to a nice meal that they’ll hopefully remember as much as the event itself. We also splurged a bit on the honeymoon. Paris. Mandarin Oriental hotel. Some great restaurants. A Michelin three- and two-star in the span of a few days. Though I will say that on a trip filled with memorable meals, one that was particularly memorable was not that expensive at all. On the recommendation of my friend, Mr. Wei Koh, we hit Chez Fernand Christine in St. Germain. What a lovely little place.
Steven: Food seems to always be one of the biggest parts of a wedding. Not a surprise. I made the decision of choosing the lamb as our meat option because I’m a selfish host. Our honeymoon was indeed a splurge as well. My wife is a great planner so somehow we came up with the awesome idea of doing both Tokyo and Thailand. It was a whirlwind of sushi, shrines, ramen, rescue elephants, white sand beaches and spicy food. Well worth the extra money.
Steven: Okay, let’s wrap things up with some quick answers. Tuxedo: single-breasted or double-breasted?
Brian: Single if you’re new to the game. Double if you’re more advanced.
Steven: Peak or shawl lapel?
Brian: Peak for first tux; shawl for second.
Steven: Grosgrain or satin lapels?
Brian: Grosgrain for peak. Satin for shawl.
Steven: How about self-facing?
Brian: Only on a dinner jacket.
Steven: Black or midnight blue?
Brian: Either. But if you go midnight blue, make sure it’s a very dark midnight blue. For me, it should be so subtly different from black that you hardly notice.
Brian: Double vent.
Brian: Marcella bib for the most classic look. Hidden placket for something more modern, but still classy.
Steven: How about a pleated front?
Brian: I prefer a Marcella bib but that could work too. What’s your take?
Steven: I would probably choose Marcella bib or pleated in the future. There’s something very distinguishing about those styles. Shoes?
Brian: Patent loafers. If you want to be a little “less formal” try velvet or suede slippers.
Steven: Finally, do I even need to ask about a bow tie?
Brian: A classic butterfly or modified butterfly. Le Noued Papillon is the best.
Steven: Agreed. Well that was really insightful. I hope the audience will take a few of those tips and incorporated them on their first tuxedo purchase. It’s clear that I’m going to have to try and keep up to your elegant style moving forwards.
Have any tips on a first tuxedo? Mention them in the comments below.