What should the Groom Wear: Tuxedo, Lounge, Morning or Nehru Suit?

Sonya Glyn NICHOLSON

What should the Groom Wear: Tuxedo, Lounge, Morning or Nehru Suit?

There are some awful examples of groom tuxedos and suits in the media, and many of these lackadaisical images of the groom and groomsmen are sponsored by menswear stores that you would think would know better. Surf the web on the topic or thumb through a few bridal magazines, and the weak illustrations you see may surprise you.

Do wedding planners think the bride and her attendants are the only ones visible during the ceremony? At first glance, the answer appears to be yes, with online groom guides and wedding picture books showing oversized wedding suits with mounds of un-hemmed trouser fabric on shoe tops, morning suits with saggy vests, tuxedos with shiny pre-tied bow ties resembling pasta cut-outs, and shoes that may have been snagged from a gas station promotional stand.

No one can deny that the spirit of the ceremony is more important than worrying about clothes, yet dressing well in a suit or tux not only improves the groom’s wedding experience, but also shows respect for the occasion.

Tackling the subject of how to dress on your wedding day doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Once you know whether your wedding will be white tie, black tie, conventional, novelty or customary, a good next-step is to brush up on the topic of how a suit or tux should fit (see Seven things to look for in a suit), and then decide where to buy or commission your final choice.

If you wish to continue your sartorial journey after the wedding is over, then all time and effort put into learning the finer points of formal wear will pay high dividends. Even if you’re not interested in the topic of how to dress, you won’t regret looking good in your clothes—especially when your wedding photos are displayed on the mantle, the piano, or on the wall for years to come…

3 THINGS TO CONSIDER

First let’s clear the air by attacking the word ‘semi-formal’, since this appellation is probably the most confusing term in menswear.

Technically, semi-formal means ‘men wear tuxedos and women wear evening gowns’. Add to this, the confusing term ‘black tie optional’ means opt for a tuxedo–but you won’t be disinvited if you don’t wear one.

Regarding the term ‘semi-formal’, the caveat here is a lot of people just can’t wrap their heads around the word ‘semi’ connoting a high level of formality, and they end up interpreting and redefining semi-formal to mean men in suits (not tuxedos) and women in cocktail dresses (not evening gowns).

So overall, the term ‘semi-formal’ is practically useless.

But here, we will stick to the original definition of semi-formal (i.e., men in tuxedos, smoking jackets, or strollers).

In order to decide what you will wear on your wedding day :

1 – Consider the bride’s dress
formal wedding gownwedding dress 333

Will the bride will be wearing full formal, semi-formal, conventional or novelty dress?

* For an evening wedding with bride in a wedding ball gown with tiara or elaborate veil, consider full formal white tie. For a daytime wedding, consider a morning suit. Check out photos of Royal Ascot to get an idea of how morning suits look.

* For an evening wedding with bride in an A-line princess gown or traditional wedding gown, consider semi-formal black tie (tuxedo or smoking jacket).  Same bridal wear but a daytime wedding, you may opt for a stroller. 

* Day wedding only, with bride in an elegant gown (e.g., empire, sheath or column) with simple veil (or no veil), choose the conventional wedding suit/ lounge suit.

* For day weddings, if the bride wears a novelty dressgroom options for novelty wear leitmotifs could include: dandy, vintage, seersucker or linen (day), a summer white dinner jacket (evening), countryside gentleman (day), or other. Be careful and keep the look you choose cultured in appearance, manner and taste.

* If you’re not from the Western hemisphere, then you may be wearing a customary suit from your region like for example, the Nehru suit, as worn in India and some parts of traditional China and Africa…and your bride may be wearing a red instead of white bridal gown.

2- Consider the time of your wedding

Never wear evening tails or tuxedos before 6 p.m. Put another way, simply don’t wear evening tails or tuxedos during the day.

If the groom has his heart set on a really extravagant daytime ceremony, he can wear a very formal morning suit or a semi-formal stroller.

For a more classic ceremony, the groom can look great in a single or double-breasted suit (aka in the UK as the lounge suit) and add elegant accessories like a tie pin, a pocket square, a boutonnière, or antique cuff links.

Day weddings may also have a theme such as the recently popular countryside wedding.

morning grey, stroller, morning suit, wedding attireThe four key examples of traditional daytime wedding attire! L to R: The ‘Morning Grey’ (coat, vest and trousers are grey), the stroller, the morning suit, and conventional suit. [Sydney Cup – Randwick, March, 1937]

Finally, if your wedding is scheduled for the evening, decide between full formal evening tails (white tie) or a semi-formal tuxedo or smoking jacket (black tie). If you want to create a gala event, then your guests may also be in formal or semi-formal attire, depending on your wishes.

3-  Consider the location of the weddingExample of a barn wedding venue

Will the wedding take place at a church, a chateau, the beach, a home, town hall or a barn? Of course, the location will be a factor in regard to how you will be dressed

If the wedding will be held outdoors in summer, factor in the potential for hot temperatures and wear light fabric for increased comfort. Old fashioned ‘handheld fans’ and even small “shading umbrellas” can help guests counter the summertime heat.

At this point you should already be able to classify your wedding as being either:

  • Full formal – Strictly white tie (evening tails at night or morning coat during the day)
  • Semi-Formal – Black tie (tuxedo or smoking jacket at night or stroller during the day)
  • Conventional – Wedding suit (aka lounge suit, single or double-breasted)
  • Themed (countryside, beach, vintage, etc.)
  • Customary (e.g., Nehru style)

ONE-TIME WEAR, OR NOT?

Perhaps you know the story: The bride enters the wedding ceremony looking stunning while the groom standing beside her appears to be sartorially-challenged. It’s safe to say that a groom who wears crappy wedding attire will not want to wear his wedding ensemble again (as a consolation, the bride will likely not be wearing her wedding gown again either).

You may also know the notorious “bridesmaid dress myth” which reassures each bridesmaid investing hundreds of dollars in her dress that she’ll be able to wear her dress over and over again. We all know this practically never happens.

Herein lies the difference between a woman and a man’s wedding attire: while a woman will likely not wear her wedding gown again, if a man chooses a classic wedding suit or standard tuxedo, then chances are he will re-wear his groom’s attire–as long as he maintains his weight within 10-15 pounds in either direction.

On the other hand, if the groom wears something unique which isn’t suited for other occasions in modern life, he must accept his purchase is likely a one-time-wear investment.

GROOM ATTIRE CHOICES

The following highlights seven different groom attire choices. Scan the options and choose the ones of interest for detailed information.

1. FULL FORMAL / WHITE TIE / EVENING TAILSwhite tie

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CAROLINE-JOHN-WEDDING-568-1024x681A Stockholm wedding “international affair” with guests attending from all around the world—even though it’s daylight outside, the time is after 6 p.m. 

White tie has the most stringent codes of all types of wedding attire. For this reason, this section is especially detailed.

Description: Evening tails in non-shiny black or midnight blue worsted wool with a cutaway front and matching trousers. Peaked lapels are covered with grosgrain, but may be also be covered with silk.

The shirt is white with a typically detachable wing collar. The shirt front has a stiff panel with one or two button studs (no more) in white, silver or diamond.  Sleeves have single cuffs to accommodate cufflinks.

The bow tie is hand tied in a ‘semi-butterfly or batwing’ bow, matching the white vest with three fastening mother of pearl buttons. A straight V-cut vest front is more slimming than a curved-cut vest front. The bow tie and vest are made of cotton piqué. The vest is long enough to completely cover the waist of the trousers, but short enough to not hang out beneath the front of the coat as shown below:compare fit white tie

Left–the white vest is too long and hangs down past the bottom of the coat, Right–a photo shopped image with the correct vest length (source :  The Black Tie Guide)

Fishtail-waisted trousers sit high on the waist and not the hips.

Buttoned-fastened suspenders remain hidden. If pants stay up easily without suspenders, then there’s no need for braces. Any color of braces will do, with a chance to be playful here, as the bride will see the suspenders after the wedding is over.

Each trouser leg has two side braids made of grosgrain or silk which run vertically up and down each side of the pants (black tie trousers have single braids). The trouser braids can match the lapel fabric or be fancier. Take care to ensure each hind trouser leg is hemmed to fall at the top of the heel on your shoe.

Wear knee-high or over-the-calf black silk socks so bare skin will not show when crossing the legs.

Notice the ‘pseudo’ double-breasted (non-fastening) black or midnight blue coat has a sharp cutaway front and tails which stop around the back of the knees but fall no lower than the top of the back of the calves.

The coat front is cut away to show about five inches of the waistcoat button area. Trousers match the coat and are without cuffs or turn-ups.

Ensure there is no collar gap between your coat and your shirt. Refer to the Zero Collar Gap article for more details.

Full formal shoes are highly polished black opera pumps with a grosgrain bow—or whole cut/cap toe Oxfords made of highly polished calfskin with wide satin ribbon laces. Avoid patent leather shoes, which are reserved for black tie. New shoes should be worn at least 20 hours before the ceremony to avoid foot discomfort during the wedding.

Extra touches include white gloves, a scarf, a cane, a white folded pocket square, or antique cufflinks and top hat with cloak. When wearing a boutonnière, stay with the tried-and-true (real) white or red carnation.EPSON scanner image

Do: Your waistcoat/vest must be fairly short so the bottom of the vest never hangs down past your coat (as shown above). If you understand this point, then you have learned the number one rule regarding wearing white tie. At the same time, make sure you coat is long enough to hide the waist band of your trousers.

The white tie ensemble looks terrible if it is too big, and should fit close to the body. The vest should rest close against your body and should never look sloppy.

Place 2-3 studs in your shirt button holes–no more, by taking out the removable standard buttons on the shirt and replacing them with studs. Wear a pure white shirt, vest and bow tie, and optional folded pocket square–strictly avoiding off-white colors.

Consider wearing a top hat–wider at the top than the middle with an upturned rim. A top hat should accompany an opera cloak or a fine overcoat.

In the name of elegance, do stick closely to the inflexible rules of white tie dress.

Don’ts: Do not wear a pre-tied bow tie. Have your neck measured for the correct tie length and tie the bow yourself. Never wear a belt (white tie trousers should not even have belt loops) and make sure your suspenders are buttoned and not clipped.

No cummerbunds with white tie, and no slippers unless you are hosting your own wedding in your own home. No wristwatches or bracelets, no spats on your shoes, and no fake boutonnières. Do not wear any other color of coat and trousers other than black or midnight blue.

Although a bit arcane these days, white tie attire is reserved for the families who prefer a ceremony of utmost formality. Even guests may dress in white tie and full length gowns (as shown below at the wedding of Sweden’s Princess Madeleine and British born financier Chris O’Neill. Note that it gets dark around 8:00 p.m. in Stockholm in Spring; therefore, there is still daylight during the event):Guest arrive on June 8, 2013 to the RoyaUnless you will be starring in a Fred Astaire remake, attending state dinners, society balls, royal evening weddings, or working as a symphony orchestra conductor, you may end up wearing your white tie ensemble only once.

On the other hand, there is a sort of white tie revival occurring in some places in the world, so the jury is still out as to whether the gold standard of full formal wear will become more popular.

With an air of elegance of the strictly traditional kind, ‘evening tails’ is a highly defined style, which can be a relief to some men since little is left to interpretation.

WHERE TO SHOP

Bespoke — If time and money are no consideration, evening tails can be crafted by a bespoke tailor such as, for example, Henry Poole or Dege & Skinner in London, Cifonelli or Camps de Luca in Paris, A.Caraceni or Mario Pecora in Milan, or Fioravanti in New York…or may be well crafted by lesser known tailors depending on where you live.

Vintage — Second-hand shopping may be the next best option to ensure quality. Try to find a decent second-hand white tie ensemble close to your size and have it adjusted for a precise fit. You can call local vintage shops, search Craigslist or try your hand at online sourcing through eCommerce sites like eBay. Make sure you have plenty of time to receive your order, assess its quality and make alterations. If you’re lucky enough to acquire vintage evening tails and trousers, then you can source the other items separately. The Black Tie Guide offers some suggestions on where to find online products like shirts, collars, waistcoats, bow ties, and top hats here.

Off the Peg — Finding ready-to-wear evening tails is next to impossible in most areas of the world. But if you’re lucky enough to find a good RTW maker, by all means buy the white tie ensemble of your liking, and have it adjusted for fit.

Made-to-Order — Research several MTO websites before you commit to anything. MTO offers should be moderately easy to find. Do your research by checking sources like styleforum, reddit, yelp, and others for first-hand reviews and don’t forget to request additional photos of suits directly from the MTO provider so you can assess the quality and make a good decision.

Rentals — Although it may be possible to find decent suits-for-hire, in general, these offerings are insufferably tacky. Should you live in the UK however, the Royal Ascot style guide features Moss Bros Hire.

Groomsmen wear — Dressing your groomsmen can be challenging since they are likely not in a position to buy high level white tie attire. As a consideration, there are affordable white tie options on sites such as Dobell.com, although other than the video presentation, we have no experience with this provider.

Do insist each groomsmen has his neck measured for a good bow, and he hand ties his bow tie. Ask groomsmen to alter their vests to fit close to the body, and to hem their pants (back of trousers should touch the top of the heel of the shoe). If desired, issue real red or white carnations to each groomsmen on the day of the wedding.

2. FULL FORMAL DAY DRESS / MORNING SUIT 

royal ascot morning suit

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The morning coat is worn mostly in the UK and considered a staple of full formal day dress which has been propelled into worldwide popularity by the Royal Ascot horse race meeting, a major event in the British social calendar where press coverage of the attendees and what they are wearing often exceeds coverage of the actual races.

When worn with a grey coat, grey vest, and grey trousers, the morning dress is referred to as “Morning Grey” instead of a morning suit.

Morning dress has been adopted around the world for any formal day event, wedding, and important civic occasion or ceremony–as well as being deemed appropriate to wear when arguing in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the 1800s, the Morning Coat was considered to be less prestigious than the revered Frock Coat (see below),

frock versus morning

Morning coat (left) versus the Frock coat (right), 1890-1900, Costume Institute Fashion Plates

Description: The morning suit is a one-button black cutaway coat (which can be unbuttoned or latched) with tails stopping just behind the knees, and includes a buff or dove gray vest–with a double-breasted vest being particularly elegant. The morning coat is paired with stripped or checked gray-toned trousers.

Accessories can include a genuine carnation boutonnière, a white folded pocket square, gloves, black patent leather or highly polished calf skin oxfords. A top hat can ‘top off’ the look, but is optional.

The necktie is usually a solid color but may be a patterned wedding tie made of woven silk in grey, black or silver in houndstooth, shepherd’s check, glen plaid, or a Macclesfield tie.

Very British in flavor, the ensemble is worn with a standard white shirt, with shirt collar edges which are long enough to tuck under the vest.

morning-suit-royal-ascot-prince-charles

Prince Charles in a Morning Grey, Andrew in a Morning Suit (oddly, without striped trousers)

Do: Wear a fresh carnation boutonnière on your peaked lapel. Hem your pants so the back pant legs touch the top of the shoe heel. Make sure your shirt cuffs extend out from your coat. Wear a discreet silk necktie tied in a four-in-hand knot. Consider wearing a tie pin.

Don’ts: No short and choppy shirt collars–collar edges should rest just under your vest. Avoid a baggy fit, as the ensemble should be slightly snug and sharp. Also see the white tie “don’t list” above, which applies here with exception of wearing spats.

White spats on shoes are historically correct to wear with morning dress, even if a bit bold. Linen spats are for summer and hopsack spats for winter.

As the daytime equivalent to evening wear, the morning suit is also referred to as a cutaway and is a strapping look often worn to attend Royal Ascot or other weddings with morning dress code.

WHERE TO SHOP

morning suit and bride

Bespoke – If you’re prepared to pay several thousand dollars, you may commission a bespoke morning suit from an array of good tailors, especially on Savile Row in London. Be prepared to wait months and attend several fittings in order to fine tune the cut and fit.

Bespoke morning suit by Steven Hitchcock, London

Bespoke morning suit by Steven Hitchcock, London

Morning Suit New & LMorning Suit by New & Lingwood

Ready-to-wear/online retail — A good men’s outfitter shop may have a few morning suits in stock. If you are lucky enough to find a nice RTW morning suit, you can have it adjusted for fit. Examples of outfitters who sell morning suits, as discussed on Styleforum and Fedora Lounge, include the U.K.’s Pakeman, Cato & Carter (coat 395 and trousers 150 pounds online), Charles Tyrwhitt (250 pounds online), and New & Lingwood (in-store visit may be required).

Thrift — As with all wedding attire mentioned here, don’t underestimate the potential of thrifting or ordering through an eCommerce site like eBay, and then altering for fit.

Made-to-order — If you don’t have the chance to thrift or find a RTW ensemble, you may have to opt for a made to order (MTO) suit. We are just beginning to build some experience with MTO morning suits, and can’t recommend a source yet.

One prominent presence in MTO is a company called Tailor4less, which scored an 8.5 out of 10, based on 2,150 reviews.

For hire (rental) — After reading a lot reviews, it seems there are just too many disappointments in this area. For the amount one pays for a rental, it’s possible to own something decent (see above).  If you still have the urge to hire a suit, consider instead buying a decent garment and then reselling it after the wedding.

3. SEMI-FORMAL EVENING / BLACK TIE / TUXEDO (aka DINNER JACKET) / SMOKING JACKET

wedding opening

arquette

suit supply shawl

midnight blue tuxedo

db tuxedoCifonelli Smoking Jacket

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The semi-formal tuxedo (aka the dinner suit in the UK), and lately the smoking jacket, are referred to as “black tie”. Worn in the evening after 6 p.m., black tie is likely the most popular choice for evening formal wear at a wedding.

Description: Typically black but also midnight blue (or other colors for smoking jackets), black tie is usually worn with a pleated plissé shirt or dimpled marcella bibbed shirt, and a black silk bow tie. The cummerbund is optional, but when worn, is usually worn with a jacket with a shawl lapel. The trousers and jacket are of matching colors and the jacket usually has a shawl or peaked lapel (even if, as you can see above, George Clooney opted for a notched lapel. But not everyone is George Clooney).

Have the neck measured for a bow tie and make sure to hand tie the bow, avoiding cheap pre-tied bows. Make sure the width of the bow tie does not extend past the width of your face.

The following four items will be made of either high-quality satin or all silk (preferably grosgrain or barathea silk): the lapels, the bow tie, the cummerbund, and the braids on the trousers (usually with dull side facing down).

Shoe choices include formal pumps (opera or court shoes) or black balmoral oxford dress shoes with a patent finish.

NOTE: Steer clear of deviations from the classic standard dress, for example, cummerbunds with patterns or strange designs, any color of shirt other than white or any bow tie color other than black. Do not ever wear an oversized tuxedo with sagging shoulders or un-hemmed trousers.

Do: Chose either black or midnight blue for a tuxedo, or your choice of color with a smoking jacket.

For jacket pocket design, opt for a jetted besom–also called slit pockets.

If your tuxedo is single-breasted, choose either (1) a peaked lapel, or (2) a shawl collar. However, for a double-breasted tuxedo, stay with a peaked lapel since a double-breasted jacket with a shawl lapel can look like a bathrobe.

With single-breasted tuxedos…vests go with peaked lapels, and cummerbunds go with shawl collars, but you’re not obliged to wear a vest or cummerbund unless you want to do so.

Grosgrain is a more forgiving facing for the lapel, bow tie, cummerbund and braids on the trousers, since it has more texture, which results in fewer problems with matching shades of black.

Wear buttoned braces and over the calf black socks, so you don’t expose bare legs when crossing legs.

Shoes should be (plain or cap toe) black Oxfords of either patent leather or highly polished calfskin. Opera pumps with a grosgrain bow are more formal.

Don’ts: No pre-tied bow ties (get your neck measure for size and learn to hand tie your own bow). Do not wear a belt. No flap pockets. Do not wear cummerbunds or a vest with double-breasted jackets. Avoid notch lapels and do not have more than one working button on your jacket. No wingtips or broguing on your shoes.

WHERE TO SHOP

The world of semi-formal menswear is ever-expanding and it has becomes easier and easier to find beautiful black tie attire, from budget ready-to-wear  (such as Black Tie at Suitsupply) to high-end ready-to-wear (e.g., Attolini, ) or bespoke (e.g., Henry Poole).

4.  SEMI-FORMAL DAY DRESS / STROLLER ( aka BLACK LOUNGE/ STRESEMANN /DIRECTOR )

stroller ralph lauren.

For a semi-formal wedding, the daytime version of the tuxedo is  known (particularly in the U.S.A) as a stroller, but is also known as a Stresemann, a Director, or the Black Lounge (if you’re from the UK).

The stroller is less formal than the morning suit. The two most iconic images of the stroller/black lounge are likely these portraits of Winston Churchill  and Cassius Clay (Mohammad Ali):

winston

Cassius Clay as a City Gent

Description: For a wedding, the standard jacket is dark grey and is paired with lighter grey striped or checked trousers, and a grey/silver necktie.

The waistcoat is typically mismatched in buff or dove grey (but can be the same grey as the coat) and is worn with a standard white shirt with a turn down collar.Etiketti_lounaspuku4 strollerThe hat is what adds flair to the ensemble. Three types of hats work with the black lounge: The Homburg, the Bowler, or the Boater hat.

Wear spats on your shoes and tote an umbrella if you want to amp up the look.

Do and don’ts are the same as in the semi formal morning dress list (above). Disregard specifications on tails, since a stroller has the same shape and form as a conventional suit coat.

5. CONVENTIONAL / THE WEDDING SUIT (SINGLE OR DOUBLE-BREASTED)

wedding suits

groom blue

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navy-blue-groomsmen

Also known as the lounge suit, the wedding suit is a traditional business-appropriate ensemble of a matching jacket and trousers.

The jacket style can be single-breasted with two buttons or a double-breasted 6 on 2 or even 6 on 1.

Lapels should be at least 2.5 inches wide or wider, as super skinny lapels look trendy and cheap. Ties should either be a bow tie or a standard tie, typically tied in a four-in-hand knot.

A three-piece suit can be dashing and can be made more formal by adding a mismatched waistcoat of dove gray or buff beige.

Lorenzo Cifonelli

Blue and grey are the perennial choices for the classic lounge suit. If the wedding time is between 4 and 6 o’clock, then darker shades of blue or grey can look good. The wedding suit is the most versatile option for groom clothing as it can be worn again and again throughout the years.

NOTE: Stay away from patterns like pinstripes and windowpanes, as patterns weaken the seriousness of the occasion. Black suits can be viewed as somber (i.e., for funerals), instead of a celebratory color. If you are set on wearing black, then by all means have an evening wedding and wear a tuxedo.

Remember, strange suit color themes like green or cranberry will only embarrass you later.

WHERE TO SHOP

For this category, any good maker will be able to provide the suit of your life. Depending on your budget, you can find the ideal suit in bespoke, made-to-measure or even ready-to-wear. Please refer to : the 2014 ready-to-wear suits edition.

6. THEMED : DANDY, AMISH, COUNTRYSIDE, BEACH, VINTAGE, BARNYARD, ETC…

theme wedding

country wedding

Novelty wedding

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champagne_gold-wedding5-groom-with-gold-vest-and-shirt-with-black-tux

This themed wedding allows you to let your imagination roam free, with the risk of looking ridiculous. But if you take care to research the look you want and are prudent in putting your ensemble together, piece-by-piece, then your ‘themed wedding look’ should take off without a glitch.

Here are some examples of themed wedding attire:

Amish/Barnyard Wedding: A light gray suit with a simple five-button waistcoat and a white shirt with no tie and a wildflower boutonniere. The groomsmen are sans jackets and wear dark grey or black suspenders with dark solid colored and loosened ties.

Countryside Wedding: Tweed suit with waistcoat, bow tie, flat cap and brogue shoes. Add a bow tie and a nonflowering rich ‘greenery’ boutonniere.

Beach Wedding: Very light blue, gray, or tan suit coat with white trousers and a local flower boutonniere in a bright color like coral or purple and very discreet sandals (please, wear only if the wedding party will be walking in sand). Fitted clothing is key, as baggy clothing looks sloppy for a beach wedding.

Dandy Wedding: All white suit with a pastel pocket square, white-collared pastel-colored shirt and pastel socks with spectator shoes. Round shaped spectacles, cigar and walking cane. Boater hat with a wide ribbon. If winter time, a band-collared white shirt with bow tie and a military style frock coat (see first photo above).

NOTE: If you brave the themed wedding, think about communicating style and an “authentic look”, steering away from a cute theme and keeping your focus on precisely replicating the look you are trying to communicate. Make sure your clothes fit close to your body.

WHERE TO SHOP

haberdash

Tommy Page Amsterdam

* Thrift Shops

* Antique Stores

* Vintage wear shops

* eCommerce sites like eBay

* Haberdasheries

 

7. CUSTOMARY / NEHRU

nehru modern

Commonly worn throughout India, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and some parts of Africa, the Nehru suit has a hip-length tailored jacket with a mandarin collar. The collar was first worn by the Mandarins in Imperial China. Longer jacket versions of the Nehru (which predated the Nehru) are referred to as the Sherwani and the Achkan.

Description: The jacket buttons down with no  lapels, which distinguishes the Nehru from other jacket designs.

The collar is about two inches high and usually fastens with a hook. Of course, no tie is worn with a collarless shirt. A modern version may however feature a collared shirt and a vest.

Jacket cut, cuffs, vents, shoulder construction and jacket length vary–but are typically comparable to an unstructured classic suit coat.

Buttons are comparatively large, and embroidery is sometimes used to make a jacket more formal.

Longer versions of the Nehru include the Achkan jacket (knee-length, lighter weight, unlined) and the Sherwani (knee length, heavier weight, lined). The Achkan and Sherwani predate the Nehru, as Western suiting likely influenced the shortening of the jacket. For a more detailed history of the Nehru, see The Nehru Suit and the Mao Jacket.

nehru smoking jacket

Nehru Smoking Jacket Ascot and Henley Retail

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Nehru Tuxedo

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With big possibilities for style variations, a Nehru can channel the smoking jacket, the tuxedo, a conventional look or extreme formality.

With such freedom, there are still a few things to watch:

Do: Choose a suit with a sharp fit close to the body, although the longer Achkan and Sherwani suits will have more of a drape. Express your personality in various ways such as light embroidery with a meaningful design. Consider adding a scarf and tie pin as shown above. Decide on whether you want a chest pocket with a pocket square.

Don’ts: Avoid heavy designs which look like state room drapery, and steer away from shiny fabric resembling polyester.

WHERE TO SHOP

A few places to investigate:  Ascot and Henley, (retail), Henry Herbert (bespoke, London), DiwanSahab.com (online), Jodhpuri Suits (made to measure, Rajasthan, India).

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B-TailorA few recommendations :

BLACK TIE SUIT: Henry Poole, Dege and Skinner, Cifonelli, Smalto Couture, A. Caraceni (Bespoke), Attolini, Kiton, Sciamat, Santandrea, Cifonelli rtw, Smalto rtw, B and Tailor, Formosa, or, for tighter budgets, Boggi Milano and Suitsupply (Ready-to-wear).

LOUNGE SUIT: Refer to our suit selection for 2014 with 43 brands reviewed HERE.

SHIRT : Charvet, Turnbull and Asser, Courtot Paris, Lucca, Anna Matuozzo (Bespoke), Finamore, Truzzi, Fray, Ascot Chang, Luigi Borrelli, Ign. Joseph (Ready-to-wear).

TIE / BOW TIE : Kiton, E. Marinella, Marc Guyot, Howard’s Paris, Calabrese 1924, Drakes of London, Tie your Tie, Le Noeud Papillon Sydney.

POCKET SQUARE: Simonnot Godard, Calabrese 1924, Drakes of London.

SOCKS : Mes Chaussettes Rouges, William Abraham, Bresciani.

SHOES : Refer to our shoes selection for 2014 with 36 brands reviewed HERE.