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Formal Doesn’t Have to Mean Boring

Formal Doesn’t Have to Mean Boring

I am not a tux guy. I’m a jeans and tee shirt guy. I can’t tie a bow tie, don’t own a pair of patent leather pumps. None of my shirts are pleated and none of my pants (I don’t own any “slacks”) have satin stripes down the leg.

I do consult for lots of weddings, and often get asked my opinions. Long tie or bow tie? Don’t formal tuxes have to be black? Do the shirts (or the ties or the pocket squares) have to match the bridal party? Does the groom have to match the groomsmen? What’s this year’s trend going to be? Are tuxedos passé?

So, here’s my take on tuxes, starting with the last question: Tuxedos are definitely NOT passé. And just like an average girl is transformed into a bride with all that white satin and lace, your average Joe can be a James (Bond that is) in a tux.

James Bond preferred the classic black look (and that will never go out of style). Iconic American designer Michael Kors announced his entry into the tuxedo business with two classic black tuxedos with names that sound like women’s perfumes: Obsession and Desire.

My friend Mark Velozo, at Slade Formalwear in Fall River and New Bedford tells me this year grey is the new black (with silver making a stylish appearance), and designer Jean Yves showcases grey and even slate blue in his new Allure line.

Make It Your Own Style is a personal thing; it’s a statement of who you are. At this year’s Golden Globe Awards, Kevin Spacey, Matthew McConaughey and Chris Hemsworth all showed up in velvet jacket (Matthew’s in green, Chris’s in blue), while DXMall.com features wild tuxedo styles that require real personality to pull off.

Bow ties are back, color is welcome (bright shirts and pocket squares). Mark says many grooms choose different color tuxes, or distinct vests to differentiate from their groomsmen, some even dress the best man differently. “Today’s grooms are often non-traditional, looking for a way to personalize their look. Truth is there is no wrong or right. Today’s tuxedos offer wide variety to allow every groom to express himself.”

The NY Times Style and Fashion section, in an article entitled “How to Wear a Tux” suggested the secret to pulling off a great formalwear look is in the fit. “There’s something with American men where they think their clothes should fit like an SUV,” explained Michael Haney, deputy editor of GQ magazine. “They think, ‘I’m a big guy so I have to have big clothes.’ Close to the body does not mean uncomfortable.”

“What’s weird is that guys spend all this time within the culture of the gym, getting toned, fit bodies, and then they wear suit coats that are two sizes too big,” says Haney. “Your tailor is your friend.”

Finally, a recent groom asked: “Do I have to wear a tux? Can’t I just wear a suit?” Though the answer varies with every “fashion consultant”, the prevailing opinion seems to come back: if the wedding is an outdoor, daytime event, a suit is just fine. But, for an evening wedding, in a formal setting (like a ballroom – whether a hotel, a restaurant…or even a backyard tent), the answer is: wear the tux; honor the occasion. Be the prince charming your bride deserves.

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