Q: I am preparing the groomsmen attire for my upcoming wedding. Naturally, our gentlemen will wear bespoke formalwear, as selected by the bride and I. Thin arched lapel, two button classic style coupled with a tapered, fitted jacket. I call it the Lafontaine. Here’s the kicker: the suits will be black, likely with white shirts (also fitted). In true bastardly fashion, I am considering offering the groomsmen a lasting, memorable gift: a woodworked, Quebec-issued bowtie made of noble wood. Given that I will be wearing a black (silk) bowtie, I'd like to differentiate them with another color. Can the men wear a brown on black style or must it be black on black?
Please advice, O wise Sensei.
A: We don't place much stock in the sanctity of marriage, but when it comes to the sanctity of marriage attire, we're strict traditionalists. If things go well — and we sincerely wish you the best — there's a chance your wedding photos will be hanging on your wall for 20, 30, even fifty years. Do you think your groomsmen's prospective wooden bow ties will stand that test of time?
So while your desire to offer your groomsmen a lasting, memorable gift is admirable, we'd like to steer you away from your current choice. You need timeless wedding attire, and that means ties that come from a silkworm's ass, not a tree.
As for a gift for the groomsmen, we recommend an engraved glass cocktail shaker. It's lasting, it's memorable, and if your groomsmen are worthy of being your groomsmen, it's a gift they will use often and appreciatively while getting shitfaced for years to come.
We know the NFL would like to project a less sociopathic image these days. But in our book, wearing two pieces of conspicuously wholesome flair on one appendage constitutes an illegal formation penalty. Seriously, a wedding ring, in the middle of a game? From coin toss to the final tick of the game clock, the only ring any NFL player should be thinking about is a Super Bowl ring. You don't play for the Minnesota Grooms, Mr. Ponder. You play for the Vikings. Five yard penalty!
Q: Hey Guys - long time devotee, glad to see you back. I'm getting married and am shopping for suits. I'm decking my groomsmen out in charcoal Indochinos (God knows what those assholes would show up in otherwise), but would like something a step up for myself.
I'm looking for a medium grey Glen Plaid two button, dual vent but having a hard time finding a nice one. I like the current J. Crew Ludlow, even if the lapels are a bit thin. It has a very nice fabric (same mill as your Buckley tie), but for some reason they refuse to sell it with an inseam for the taller gentleman. I'm 6'4" and typically wear a 36x35", not to mention it looks like their pants tend to run on the short side to begin with.
I'm very open to getting something MTM, but I'd like to keep the price somewhat reasonable, say $1500? I sincerely appreciate any advice! —Jim
A: We admire a man who eschews a traditional wedding day costume in favor of something he'd wear to dinner. This epitomizes the core principle of understatement.
Neighbor: "Working on a Saturday, Jim?" Jim: "Nope. Getting married."
As for the suit, given your size, it will be as difficult finding anything OTR that fits as it was finding your soulmate. Or the person within your geographic and socioeconomic circles who's willing to tolerate your idiosyncrasies and that you leave the seat up. Whichever.
Anyhow, go MTM, as you suggest, and try Brooklyn Tailors. Started by a couple in their Clinton Hill apartment, their stuff is now at Barneys, yet bespoke suits are $1,275; reasonable by MTM standards and within your budget. Spend the balance on a custom shirt.
Q: I am going to a summer wedding and want to wear my favorite blue seersucker pants and white shirt. What I'm not sure about is what style shoes should I wear and what color jacket would be best? Also should I wear a tie? If so what kind? —Sam
Q: I have a summer wedding to attend and have a grey zzegna cotton suit. I am not sure what shoes to pair it with as the pants are quite narrow. Please help. —John
A: With the notable exception of the recent Kim Kardashian/Kris Humphries wedding, which featured $5 million earrings and an absurd, six-foot-tall sex toy made out of wedding cake, summer weddings are casual. So your choice of a casual cotton suit is a good one.
In his highly entertaining (and highly recommended) book How to Be a ManGQ Style Guy Glenn O'Brien says:
"...the fashion-forward periodically tell us it's OK to wear sneakers with a suit. Maybe if you've been embezzling and the auditors are in the office, sneakers will give you an edge if you make a run for it, but basically sneakers with a suit is a fundamental error, no matter how much the sneakers cost or who designed them."
We disagree. Or maybe it's just that we have more expansive definition of "sneaker" than O'Brien does. In any case, we think these textured leather sneakers from Thompson would be perfectly wedded to your Z Zegna suit. Despite their Anglo-sounding name, they're actually made in Italy — like your suit — and their narrow cut will pair well with your narrow pants.
If, however, you fall more in line with the Style Guy's way of thinking, then go for these suede Gucci lace-ups. They're dressier than the Thompsons, but with their relaxed lines and non-glossy finish, you won't look like you just came from a wedding when you hit the bars after the reception ends.
Q: Hi - my brother is one of the groomsmen in a wedding and they are all being told they are wearing tan linen suits, white shirts and some sort of colorful tie (Florida wedding). He knows how you stand on linen, but doesn't have much choice here and is wondering what kind of white shirt goes with a linen suit. Linen? Regular dress shirt? I have to admit, I have no idea. —Gabriela
A: Gabriela, definitely not a linen shirt. That's like the wedding equivalent of the Canadian tuxedo, aka denim on denim. And as everyone knows, you should only wear denim on denim if you're feeling lucky, punk.
What the wedding party needs is lightweight 100% cotton shirts with sewn collar and cuff interlinings, which will complement linen with their natural, artfully disheveled look. Dress shirts with fused interlinings are almost always too neat in our opinion, but they are an especially bad match with wrinkled linen suits, kind of like the shirt-suit equivalent of Crystal Harris and Hugh Hefner.
We know you didn't ask about the ties, but if you have any pull with the groom please insist they absolutely not be silk. Again, too shiny/smooth of a contrast with the linen's matte/nubs. Go for linen or a linen-cotton blend.
Q: I'm struggling to figure out what I should get my groomsmen for being in my wedding. Any ideas? —Trae
A: If it's your first marriage, you're probably relatively young and so are your groomsmen. They haven't been groomsmen at a ton of weddings yet, so we think it's safe to go with something fairly predictable and yet eminently useful to any man: A decent flask. Yes it's cliché and our endorsement might have something to do with our love affair with alcohol — did you ever think for one second this site is the product of men who are sober? — but it's the only groomsman gift we've ever received that isn't either in a landfill or hidden away in a drawer somewhere. (In fact, this gift is hidden inside our blazers' breast pockets right now.)
Anyhow, we like this Wentworth pewter flask from Kaufmann Mercantile. It's handmade in Sheffield, England, fully satisfying the principle of Anglophilia, and with the 6oz. version, also satisfying the principle of getting tight.
Now, if it's your second marriage or beyond, you need to be a little more creative. In this case, we like the Survival Hand Chain Saw from Garrett Wade. Extremely portable, weighing almost nothing, your groomsmen will find it perfect for sawing through their own arm when they need to escape that bridesmaid they're stuck under the morning after. It's not an item most guys have, but who wouldn't want to have one handy?
Q: Dear MB: My brother is getting married soon, and I've been helping him pick out a tuxedo. I won't be in a tux at the wedding, but it's gotten me thinking about what I'd like to wear when it's my turn. I'm decided on most of the details (two button, double vent) but I'm still undecided on the lapel style. I'm leaning towards a shawl collar, but my brother, who opted for a notched lapel, thinks it'll look ridiculous. Is any one of the options MB-preferred? —Raj
A: Raj, we strongly suspect your brother is older (and hence wiser). Shawl-collared tuxedos are definitely having a moment in 2011, but so is Rebecca Black. In 18 months the only place you'll be able to find a shawl-collared tuxedo is at James Bond re-enactor parties. Or possibly on the back of Rebecca Black's prom date.
Meanwhile, while the average marriage that ends in divorce only lasts 7.8 years these days, your wedding photographs will likely prove to be as indestructible as the honey badger. Thus we strongly advocate sticking to the timeless and classic. In other words, listen to your big bro.
UPDATE: Just to clarify, since some readers have expressed concern: We are encouraging Raj to listen to his brother's advice only in regard to avoiding shawl-collared tuxedos. We didn't mean to suggest that he should eschew peak lapels, which we've previously endorsed. Either peak or notch, sticking to the timeless and classic is the best choice for wedding attire.
Q: I've lost he fight to elope over a planned wedding and now have get my order in to Indochino so the guys aren't in horrible black rental polyester bags. Is dressing up a Basic Black Suit with self tied bow tie acceptable? Or should I go for The Dinner Jacket Tuxedo? My party is a mix of undergrad, post grad and professionals so going for the suit is a useful expense for everybody but for some the tux would never be used again. I like the simple classic look of either one but is the Tuxedo more MB? —Chris
Eloping is a battle well worth fighting but all is not lost. Retreat and live to fight another day — if all goes well, you'll be fighting these battles for the rest of your life. (Next skirmish: Should you wear a wedding ring?)
As for the wedding party, definitely go for the suit vs. the tuxedo. Why burden your best friends with a purchase some will never wear again? As for the suit, we strongly recommend charcoal grey over black. This is a wedding, not a funeral or a mob hit. Plus your groomsmen can safely and confidently wear it again to their first job interview, next wedding, dinner, you name it. In fact, if your marriage lasts — we wish you all the best — they'll be able to wear it to your 50th anniversary party. Charcoal grey suits never go out of style.
Q: Regarding your 3/29/11 "Heirloom Engagement Ring" post, if one's parents have volunteered a family heirloom ring for the engagement of their dear daughter, what is the best approach in setting forth such ring for the soon-to-be betrothed aspiring MB? — Laurie
Ed. note: As Laurie stated, this question is a follow-up to the heirloom diamond question. Since the Spectacular Bitch answered that one, here she is again.
A: Oh, Laurie! I am simply all a'dither! Do you know Shane? Are you two young love birds getting ready to take the plunge? How very exciting! Congratulations!
Now, if I understand your question correctly, you are wondering how to avoid the decidedly unromantic prospect of your mother giving you the ring, you giving the ring to your beau, so that he can turn around and give it back to you when he proposes. Just because you are lucky enough to have an heirloom diamond heading your way, is no reason you two should be deprived of the romance inherent in a proposal.
Here's how it's going to work. Shane will pay a visit to your parents to ask for your hand in marriage, not because you need their permission, but because it's an honorable thing to do and your parents will be tickled. Hopefully, it will go swimmingly. Your dad will get all red in the face and clap Shane on the back while your mother weeps and struggles to get that ring off her finger to give to Shane. It may be slightly ambiguous whether she's crying about losing a daughter, losing a diamond, or gaining the awesome Shane, which only adds to the dramatic tension of the moment. All good. Shane will need to keep the ring safe until such time as he is ready to propose to you.
Now for the practicalities. The last thing you want is for your guy to have to ask for that ring if your mom is so flustered she fails to cough it up. You need a third party (siblings work well for this) to give your parents a small heads up, so that they are adequately prepared for Shane's visit, with the ring and some cocktails at the ready. If you don't have siblings, then you can leave your laptop open to this post in a conspicuous location and they'll get the message. In short, the ring needs to go directly to Shane and you two can deal with making it right for you after the proposal.
Granted, Prince William will be wearing the most glaring, in-your-face wedding band of all, the wedding band of fame, the wedding band that comes with having more than a billion people around the planet watch you get married....but still, we admire his decision to forsake the tiny golden fingercuff that positions the sacred covenant of marriage as a life sentence rather than a purely elective union between two people who really really want to be there, at least for eleven years or so.
Q: Dear MB: My girlfriend and I are about to be engaged and her mother offered us her heirloom diamond for the ring. My girlfriend loves the idea, but I've always thought it was the guy's job to buy his girl her engagement ring. Am I being too old-fashioned? Perhaps you or your spectacular counterpart have some insight? Thank you --
Ed. note: We let the Spectacular Bitch handle this one.
A: Darling Shane,
While it is very MB of you to want to buy your lady an engagement ring, you may rest easy and follow the age-old golden maxim of engagement rings: If there's an heirloom to be had, you tap that shit.
Never, ever, ever, let a good diamond go to waste, chickadee. Also understand that mothers have a funny fixation about passing valuables to their daughters (as opposed to sons, who might marry a trollop who could trollop away with the goods), so you'll be granting your future mother-in-law a touch of peace.
You won't exactly be getting off scot free, because there's the small matter of putting that heirloom diamond into a setting, which your fiancee should choose and you should pay for. If the diamond is already in a ring and your lady likes it as is, you foot the bill for the tune-up, which includes cleaning, resizing, and a check of structural integrity with a reputable jeweler. Either way, if you have some cash left over after all is said and done, save it for a pretty bauble on your first anniversary.
Ed. Note: As luck would have it, the Spectacular Bitch has moved into some office space right across the street from MB headquarters. Main Street just got a lot more interesting. This morning she came shooting out of her front door like a bat out of hell in heels, brandishing her laptop and bringing out every dog (human and canine) in Pulaski to see what the ruckus was about. We gotta admit, it was highly entertaining until we realized she was heading our way. Was it something we said?
You will have to forgive me, but did the MB just tell a hapless lad named Mitch that he did NOT have to buy his lady a proper engagement ring? A lady, whose lady friends all just recently got some ice? Mitch. MITCH! Read my lips: following this advice is a one way ticket to the doghouse. Who you gonna believe?
When you decided you liked it and Beyonce told you to put a ring on it, she was most definitely not talking about a subtle, understated platinum band. Boyfriend, is your love subtle and understated? The ring that MB would have you buy would be lovely for your actual wedding day, as a wedding ring, but an engagement ring is a whole different beast. A whole different gorgeous bad-ass one-of-a-kind beast. Kind of like you, Mitch.
Your instincts are good regarding the cookie cutter solitaire diamonds held aloft on prongs. That is not my favorite look and chances are, not your betrothed-to-be's either. Birds of a feather flock together and I think she, like you, might have something more creative in mind. Is she a romantic? Then perhaps a '20s art deco ring that whispers of torrid past love affairs, smoky speakeasies, and far flung adventures. Is she a futurist? Then perhaps something architectural, modern and clean -- a beautiful heirloom for the future. Is she a nature girl? Then she might like something soft, organic, rough-hewn and evocative of the elements. Is she wee and slight, with hands no bigger than a child's? Then perhaps something wee and slight.
My point, Mitch, is to ask her. Talk about it. Shop around. Look online. Get an idea of what she likes or find the perfect ring together and save the big surprise for the when and how of it all (just promise me you won’t pop the question in a restaurant). Trust me, no matter how down-to-earth or pragmatic she might be, she wants something that will make her feel all fluttery inside when she looks at her hand. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t have to be a diamond. It just has to be something she finds beautiful.
This ring, like you, is forever. So do yourself a favor, doll, and make it a good one.
Q: Engagement rings...the inevitable awaits. I noticed a recent trend of colored/gemstones set in rings instead of the traditional diamond. Also, I am thinking of buying a gemstone ring because all of my recently engaged friends seem to have purchased rings at the same place because they all look alike. Wanting to stay MB and keep my second half MB as well, what say you about the gemstone engagement ring? --Mitch
A: We've answered this question before regarding the man's ring (with a chart), and we'd put a gemstone engagement ring for the Mrs. at the same lousy position on the scale.
Don't do it man.
If you want to set yourself apart from your Zales-shopping peers, while simultaneously conferring loads of class upon your bride-to-be (and by association, you), apply the understatement principle and choose a band. We like platinum. A good local jeweler should be able to create one in a shape you like for roughly a grand. If not, there's always Tiffany & Co. If she requires a diamond, get two with a pair of earrings.
Q: You recently recommended the J.Crew Aldridge suit, but the Ludlow has a trimmer fit. Wouldn't that be more MB? I'm planning on a charcoal suit for my slightly casual wedding. --Matt
A: Yes, the Ludlow (lower right) has a trimmer fit, plus a shorter cut and narrower lapels, which is why we recommended the Aldridge (lower left) as that aspiring MB's first suit. It's the same reason we recommend it over the Ludlow for your wedding.
The Ludlow's overly narrow lapel is looking post-peak to our eyes, and for an event that's forever preserved for posterity -- more pictures will be taken of you on this day than that time you passed out on the sofa and your buddies drew shit all over your face with Sharpies -- you want a look that's as timeless as possible. That means lapels approximating the width of those on Cary Grant's suit in North by Northwest, which have style, yet are virtually devoid of trend.
Q: Getting married in March and I am ordering khaki suits from Indochino. Question is, peak or notch lapel? Is one more formal than others? What's appropriate for a casual feel wedding? --Jason
A: We've got a hotline connected directly to Indochino CEO Kyle Vucko's office, and after consulting with his style team, here's what he said:
"Peaked lapels are a bit dressier than notched lapels, and have a bit more flair. Given that your wedding has a casual feel, though, I'd opt for notched lapels. Peaked lapels are stylish, but put your entire wedding party in them and they'll look much more dressy costume-y. Notched lapels, on the other hand, are always classic."
Q: What should I wear to a wedding? I don't want to do the classic black dinner suit and white shirt. I'm partnered to a new GF and want to impress everyone there. --Jason
A: Jason, we understand and applaud your desire to set yourself apart from the pack. At the same time, you don't want to be the person who shows up at someone else's wedding determined to be the center of attention -- someone's crazy drunken aunt will be there to fulfill that function. Thus, we recommend a simple, expertly tailored charcoal suit. Indochino's made-to-measure Essential Charcoal Suit is definitely worth a look and it's just $349.
If you're a little more flush, we are really liking Brooklyn Tailors' bespoke charcoal suit, handmade by artisans in New York, NY. It costs $975, but its genuine horsehair construction and custom fit should see you through weddings, job interviews, and, when that sad day finally arrives, your own funeral. (Not to get too maudlin here -- we're just saying this thing is built to last and will still look great in, say, 2070.)
Q: I know it's totally un-MB of me to decide to get married, but I am wondering what is the most MB wedding ring for a guy to wear. I see so many of these thick tungsten bands around that look like a washer from a car or something. What is an MB to do? --Alex
Q: My husband is walking his sister down the aisle and the groom/groomsmen are wearing blackwatch plaid kilts. Not interested in the kilt thing, but what about a blackwatch plaid necktie with his black suit? Thanks. --Nicole
A: Nicole, your instincts are strong. That's the perfect nod to a tradition that's best left to real Scots.
Q: I am the officiant of a wedding at the end of July, the ceremony will be held in the mountains at around 5pm, and I'm having a hard time deciding on a black or grey suit. Any quick suggestions? Also, shirt/tie color combinations would be very helpful. Thanks. --Mackenzie
A: As a regular attendee, we'd argue in favor of khaki. But since you're the guy reading the vows the objectives are:
A. to not overshadow the groom, and B. to not be mistaken for a priest
That leaves grey as our recommendation, with white shirt and neutral tie. Think Cary Grant in North by Northwest.
Q: Etiquette question: I've been invited to the wedding and bachelor party of a friend from college. I can't make the wedding (another, better friend is getting married a week later. I can only afford one cross country flight.) Is it poor taste to attend just the (local) bachelor party? Also: I've only received a "Save the Date" from the bride. Should I contact them now or wait for the invitation and the RSVP? --Mike
A: Mike, this is a sticky situation, but we've got a solution:
Option A: Telling the truth. Pleading poverty is very un-MB, so don't do it.
Option B: Not attending. You'll have to come up with another Emily Post-sounding excuse not to attend the bachelor party. Which leaves the only logical choice:
Option C: Get disinvited from the wedding. Have a wicked good time at the bachelor party, take a bunch of pictures and post them Facebook. Then "accidentally" unblock them. Oops! It was an honest mistake! Plus it takes care of that wedding "Save the Date" / RSVP situation.
Q: So I just reviewed your article (and your time-lapse photos) on linen. While I agree that there is a potential for a train wreck, I also feel that if worn with care, the white linen suit can produce stunning results. I have my wedding ceremony in August in Puerto Rico. I bought a Hugo Boss 3-button white linen suit for the occasion. I plan on wearing it only for the ceremony, pictures and cocktail hour (changing for the dancing portion). I have two questions: 1) Is it true that white underwear will really stand out and do I have to find the elusive nude color brief? And 2) I'm wearing dark brown, leather sandals and belt, can you recommend an appropriate color and fabric for my shirt? --Gabe
A: Gabe, remember when you were a little boy and your mom told you not to touch the hot stove because you'd get burned? And then you touched the stove and got burned? Remember the pain you felt, and all the tears and bandages and shit, and how you wish you listened to your mom?
Does this ring a bell at all?
The beach and the August Puerto Rican dew point will help, but we're not just talking a hot stovetop here. We're talking open flame, like a Bunsen burner. If you still insist on playing with fire: 1) Yes, white will show through. Nude isn't necessary. Grey works. Anything closer to your skin tone. 2) Cotton with a touch of elastane. For color, go with a neutral, light blue at the outside.
Q: I am getting married in the summer and I want to know what kind of wedding band an MB wears. I want something simple but a little different. I'm not a fan of gold, I was thinking tungsten or platinum. --Spencer
A: Spencer, your instincts are strong. Your question got us to make a wedding band/ring chart, from zero to maximum magnificent bastard-dom. As you can see, no ring is at the top. It's simple, a little different, and communicates clearly that you are, and always will be, your own man. And there's nothing more Magnificent Bastardly than that.
2 parts Hayman's Old Tom Gin
1 part sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica Formula or Dolin Rouge)
1/4 part Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
2 dashes Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters
Shake or swirl lightly, garnish with a lemon twist.