Men's Formalwear

The standard for men's wedding attire is the tuxedo, although for informal weddings the groom and groomsmen can wear business suits. If you choose tuxedos, book them no later than three months before the wedding. Start looking for formalwear a minimum of six months in advance to give you plenty of time to familiarize yourself with the styles. If your wedding is during the prom season, the end of March through June you will want book your tuxedos earlier to ensure availability of the style you want.

History

The notion of a man "dressing up" after the sun goes down, whether it be in top had and tails or simply in his best finery, has been with us for centuries. In fact, in the great European opera houses of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the "dress circle" meant just that, with no one allowed in unless he or she was properly attired.

However, the idea of wearing black for evening wear was, according to the English clothing historian James Laver, first introduced in the nineteenth-century.

Although for years a white tie and tails were the traditional mode of formal attire, the introduction of the dinner jacket added another viable alternative from which the well-dressed gentleman could choose. The original single- breasted model was simply a tailcoat without a tail, worn with a vest. The dinner jacket made its debut in the United States in 1896. Apparently, society had had enough of tails, which had traditionally been worn for formal evening wear, because the jacket was immediately accepted in even the stuffiest of circles.

The tuxedo has undergone various stylistic changes, including the excesses characteristic of the decade of the sixties. And yet, fashion aside, the proper tuxedo, whether it be single-or double- breasted, still endures as the most elegant attire for any man.


Shopping

Look at a variety of wedding publications to get an idea of what your prefer before you even start to look in the stores. This will help you to familiarize yourself with tuxedo with styles and terms.

Your salesperson is a valuable tool during the shopping process. In addition to being knowledgeable about formalwear, he or she should able to provide you with tips to make your choice easier.

Questions to ask the Tuxedo provider

Before you sign a contract with any Tuxedo shop, you should have the answers to the following questions:

-Are they offering any special deals ? a free tux for the groom, perhaps -- if you register your party there?

-Are alterations included in price? What about accessories (shoes, vest, cummerbunds, etc.)?

-How will they accommodate you if a last-minute problem should occur?

-Do they have a tailor available for last-minute alterations?

-How do they handle out-of-town attendants?

-What is their pick-up and return policy?

-What are the late or damage fees?


Selecting a tuxedo

Today's formalwear has become more versatile and there are numerous styles, colors and designs to choose from. Here are some hints and tips to help you find the perfect tuxedo:

-Have a certain look and color in mind before going into the tuxedo shop. This will aid in narrowing down your selections.

-Your formalwear should compliment the bridesmaids' attire, color scheme, formality and time of day of the wedding.

-Get help from formalwear professionals. If you tell them how formal and when the wedding is, they should be able to help you pick out an appropriate tuxedo for the occasion.

-In addition to style, do not forget comfort. You and the groomsmen will be in your tuxedos for a long time so you should be able to move easily.

-You can use bow ties, vests, and cummerbunds to add color to your formalwear. This is a great way to tie in men?s tuxedos to the wedding?s color scheme.

Something to consider

Set the groom apart from the other men in the wedding party. This can be done in various ways.

Have the groom wear white accessories, while the male attendants wear colored accessories. Another option is to dress the groom in a different color or style tuxedo. For example, the groom can wear a white tuxedo while the groomsmen wear a black one or the groom can wear jacket with tails and everyone else wears dinner jackets.

Fitting your tuxedo

It's a good idea for everyone to try on the formalwear at least two days before the wedding. Arrange for you and your groomsmen to meet at the store for final fittings.

If you buy

Some grooms decide to purchase their tuxedos instead of renting them. This can be a good investment because you can reuse them for other formal events such as other weddings and holiday parties.


White vs. Black Tie

After dark or 6 p.m. -- whichever arrives first -- there are two ensembles that can properly be called formal: white tie, which means tails, or black tie, better known as the tuxedo. The more formal of these ensembles is white tie, which includes a tailcoat with matching trousers trimmed by two lines of braid on the outside of each trouser leg, white tie, white single-or double-breasted waistcoat, and wing-collar shirt with stiff front.

However, with the exception of a man's wedding day, or occasions of state, a man will probably never be called upon to wear white tie, but black tie affairs are much more common. Thus, a properly styled tuxedo is one of the smartest and potentially most enduring investments a man can make for his wardrobe. Unfortunately, though, like most solid investments, a fine tuxedo is not easy to find.


Tuxedo Styles

There are four proper styles for the tuxedo: the single-or double-breasted with a peaked lapel with grosgrain facing on the lapel, or the single-or double-breasted shawl collar with either satin or grosgrain on the lapel facings. These are the only proper choices.

American manufacturers, in order to save on costs and increase profits, have taken to producing a notched lapel - the same style manufactured for their normal daytime suits - and facing them in satin. This trend began in the sixties, when men were experimenting with alternative styles of dress. Once manufacturers realized it was less costly to produce this model, they persisted. Today, the man seeking a proper dinner jacket, with either peaked lapels or shawl collar, has his work cut out for him.

The most versatile jacket style is the single-breasted, peaked-lapel model. It was the original black-tie model, the direct descendant of the tailcoat, and its angular lapels look best with a wind collar, the tailcoat's original complement. It can be worn with a vest or cummerbund, and even with a turndown collar. Peaked lapels look equally elegant on the double- breasted version of this coat. The double-breasted model offers the advantage of allowing the wearer to dispense with a vest or cummerbund.

The shawl collar model, either single-breasted or double- breasted, has a more subtle look than the peaked-lapel models. Because of its Old World image and the fact that it is a jacket style worn only for evening wear, it is especially factored by the most sophisticated dressers. However, your build is on the portly or rotund side, you might want to avoid the shawl collar, as it tends to accentuate the roundness.

Both single-and double-breasted jackets are at their best either without vents or with moderate side vents. Whichever style one chooses, the pockets should never be in the flap style, which is traditionally associated with day wear.

The color should be black or, if one is lucky enough to unearth one in this color, midnight blue, in a finished or unfinished worsted.


Jewelry

Simplicity should govern the choice of jewelry for formal wear. Studs and matching cufflinks can be made of plain gold, black enamel, or semi-precious stone. Mother-of-pearl, also handsome, is perhaps more appropriate for white tie.

You might also look for a gold pocket watch and chain. If you choose to wear a wristwatch, remember that the thinner the watch, the more tasteful it is. Black bands are recommended.