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Guys have it tougher

Troy Patterson
Troy Patterson • 5 min read
Guys have it tougher
When dressing for the wedding season, ideally, your ensemble will excite nothing more than quiet admiration
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When dressing for the wedding season, ideally, your ensemble will excite nothing more than quiet admiration

Ah, wedding season! Such a vibrant phase of the year — the joy, the jubilation, the Marriott security staff politely but sternly objecting to the racket of the post-reception after-after-party. And a time devoted to scrutinising one’s own impulses about clothing.

With respect to that last matter, I dare say the bride has got it easy: She has got a go-to uniform. According to the ridiculous dictates of tradition, as long as it is white, it is all good, and anyone who tells her otherwise deserves to be summarily terminated.

Dangerous though it is to say, I suggest that wedding styling is far more hazardous for the guys. The first force to reckon with is the question of the wedding colours. All bourgeois American adults are burdened with the knowledge that weddings tend to feature themed colours these days, as if they were sovereign nations or NHL teams. Retailers report a trend towards groomsmen, who follow the lead of many bright squads of bridesmaids by wearing suits and accessories that, while not identical, hang out in similar colour fields.

This is a welcome development, as it spares guests the pain of witnessing what seems to resemble a boy band at the side of the altar. Dudes afforded such freedom — operating under instructions simply to find a lilac necktie, for instance — sometimes get anxious about this responsibility. Buck up, fellas. Take the bride-approved swatches to a good store and seek the counsel of a patient sales assistant. But be ready to walk out if the sales assistant’s advice provokes a bad gut reaction.

But, okay, let us say you are not in the wedding party. Heck, let us imagine you are just the plus-one of a guest you met at a bar. You have still got to wear something. Question is: what?

If the invitation indicates formal dress, you can do this on autopilot. Just avoid violating any cardinal rules of evening wear, and you are good to go. White dinner jackets are debonair in summer; the catch is, you do not want them actually to be white. Aim for ivory or ecru or another shade that will complement your alabaster tuxedo shirt.

If you are wearing a suit, you want the look to be appropriately celebratory — festive, but not clownish. Resist the urge to pile up accessories: You do not need tie bars, bright pocket squares, complicated socks, lapel pins and a walking stick to do the trick. But do pack some extra handkerchiefs in case someone needs to dab away tears of joy during the vows or blot away barbecue sauce at the rehearsal dinner.

Ideally, your ensemble will not excite any comments beyond quiet admiration. If you want to wear shorts with a blazer or sports jacket, great, just make sure that mother does not catch you drinking. If you are self-made at a daytime wedding, feel free to wear your loudest tartan pants, as seen recently and infamously by two annoying- looking guests at the wedding of Pippa Middleton. If you are Scottish and in Scotland, wear a kilt, fine, but please deviate from tradition and wear an undergarment, lest you accidentally flash the groom’s grandmother on the dance floor.

The worst thing in the world is taking off your tie for the reception. If you did not put on a tie in the first place — fine, that is your right, and you never pretended otherwise. If you loosen your tie after the ceremony, I would not carp; odds are, I never tightened mine up in the first place. But if, before enjoying the overdone fillet of grilled salmon, you remove your necktie and begin roaming the premises in your boring suit with your point-collar white shirt, then you have removed not just your tie, but a bit of your dignity.

Still, I heartily endorse other pre-reception costume changes, such as slipping into dance-floor court shoes. After the ceremony, and if the venue’s dress code and the bride’s sensibilities allow, it is also fun to go for broke and exchange your church suit for a high-end track suit and matching fur-lined slippers.

Many groomsmen these days find themselves wearing cloth flowers at their lapels, perhaps custom- made in the wedding colours. But remember that boutonnières are cheerful to wear even if you are not a member of the wedding party. A fertile pop of flora on the lapel conveys conviviality and gives you something about which to make small talk when cornered by boring, overbearing cousins.

Any half-decent tailor can sew a loop on the back of your lapel to steady the stem. If you are a normal guest, give the local florist advance warning that you want a cornflower or carnation; roses are corny. If you forget to plan ahead, unshyly snag a bud from a centrepiece. If you are the groom, do whatever the mother of the bride tells you. — Bloomberg LP

This article appeared in Issue 787 (July 10) of The Edge Singapore.

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