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Formalwear and Tuxes: The Plunge’s 20 Rules

Your bride might think it’s a great idea for you to get married in a traditional Scottish Kilt. And the conventional wisdom from wedding-porn is that it’s “your wedding” and that you should choose whatever "formalwear" you please, from a casual navy blazer to a khaki suit to a daring orange tailcoat.

Our take? Chuck all that. Ignore it. Instead, stick to this one guiding principle: WWJBD—What Would James Bond Do? Bond would never tolerate the indignity of getting stuffed in a peach cummerbund; he’d demand simplicity, formality...black.

If you drool over GQ every month (the fashion articles, not the models) and obsess over the latest trends from Milan, go ahead and skip this article and start picking the music for the reception. You’re set. Everyone else? Closely follow The Plunge’s 20 rules on formalwear.

Rule 1

Buy the damn thing

Chances are if you’re getting married so are a ton of your friends. The tux will pay for itself in three to four events. Financially, this is the least painful time in your life to fork over hundreds (or thousands) of dollars for the tux; and if your fiancée can spend $3,000 on a dress that she’ll only wear once, why can’t you spend $700 on something you’ll wear repeatedly? Fair’s fair. You might even get someone else to pick up the tab.


Rule 2

Don’t rely on a list like this.

Don’t rely on any website. And for God’s sake, don’t rely on your own taste. Instead, find someone you trust at the store who will put you in an excellent tux. You know who we’re talking about—the stylish, well-groomed salesman who speaks English as a second language. Rely on this guy.


Rule 3

Find a good tailor

Not any random dude from Walma-Suit. Just because you buy the suit somewhere doesn’t mean you need to use their (free) tailor. If you already use someone else for your suits then for God’s sake pay a little extra and take it to them. If not, ask around for recommendations. Chances are your fiancée already has a tailor on her list of contacts.


Rule 4

Coordinate with the bride

She’ll “have some thoughts” about how your tuxes will meld into her aesthetic vision. Luckily, by now this rule should be obvious; you can’t wipe your ass without coordinating with bridezilla


Rule 5

Remember your boys

For the past year you’ve been spending Monopoly Money. Even if you’re paying for the wedding, it doesn’t feel like normal cash; it’s coming from a surreal wedding budget. $700 for you is not the same thing as $700 for your groomsmen. It’s fine to splurge on your own tux—recommended, even—but make sure they have an affordable option.


Rule 6

Geography matters

If your groomsmen live in other cities, consider using a tux shop with a national presence. Alternatively, you can have your buddy from Shit Flip, Idaho get measured locally and pick his tux up elsewhere. Just keep this in mind.


Rule 7

Strike early

Like a trip to the dentist, there’s nothing to be gained by pushing things off. The toothache will only get more painful, not less. Plus, the earlier you get this root canal, the more time you have to recover in case Pothead Chucky (your best man) screws up the order.


Rule 8

Never overshadow the bride

This is impossible if you follow our advice—timeless over trendy, black, classic—but it bears repeating... because she will kill you if you look better than her. (Just look at those hideous dresses she picked out for her friends.)


Rule 9

A suit can work in a pinch

It can be done. Just make sure that it’s perfectly fitted, matches your groomsmen, and that your tie incorporates the wedding’s color scheme. (Jesus. Did we just say “wedding’s color scheme?” Slap us.)


Rule 10


In the grand scheme of things, no one gives a rat’s ass what you wear. Have you ever heard someone say, “Did you see Rachel’s wedding? I just adored the groom’s lapels!” People notice your bride. They’ll whisper about her dress, swoon over her haircut, gush about her overall beauty. (Or they’ll bitchily snicker about her shortcomings. You’ll never know.) As long as you keep things simple and make sure your clothes fit—not a hard job—you’ve done your job.


Rule 11

Don’t mindlessly follow the rules

Look, even 007 knows there are times to follow and times to break the rules. A destination wedding in Hawaii gives you a lot of leeway. But we are not going to be weenies and tell you “either way, it’s your day so you can’t go wrong.” You can go horribly, horribly wrong. On the other hand, no one likes a fashion snob. So take all of this under advisory, but if you feel strongly about wearing a top-hat and tails, fine, “it’s your big day”. Thumb your nose at convention. Remember, in this life you’ll only get married a few times.


Rule 12

Think long-term.

You know when you flip open a wedding album from the 70s, you see disco ruffled tuxes and leopard-print jackets? If you make any “creative” or “fashion-forward” choices that embrace the current trends, this will be you in 2024. Memorize this tongue-twister: Timeless trumps trendy.


Rule 13

Go easy on the colors

It’s impossible to go wrong with black and white. It’s classic. It conveys the weight of formality. When you experiment with the color of your tux, you look like Jim Carrey at the end of Dumb and Dumber. (Caveat: colors like “midnight blue” and “charcoal” fall into the category of black and white. Welcome to the insanity of fashion.)


Rule 14

No pleats.

Your pants should be flat-fronted. For reasons that defy explanation, our society wore pleats throughout the 80s and 90s, even though they made every non-Olympian look fatter. That era of madness is over. Only wear pleats if you’re actively trying to look like a tubby old man.


Rule 15

Go with simple shirts and collars.

The “wing” collar is the most traditional choice (with the points shooting up). Guess what: Bond would not be caught dead in one. Our recommendation—a turndown or spread collar. For more on the other options—turndown collar, spread collar, crosswyck, banded collar—click here. Regarding shirts, go for as plain a shirt as you can stand. You need not ruffle.


Rule 16

Watch the cut and fit

Different cuts and combinations work better for different body types. The highlights:

Short and slender guys: Single breasted jackets with long lines. (Ignore their comments about double-pleated pants.)

Short and stocky guys: Make sure the collar is slim. Absolutely no cummerbunds (you’ll look even stockier.) The top button should “fall at the small of the waist to give the torso a leaner look.”

Tall and muscular guys: Go with classic single-breasted. The double-breasted jacket will make you look too bulky.

Tall and slim guys: You can pretty much get away with anything. The classic single-breasted is probably the best option; the double-breasted will also work (always button it up).

The cut matters. If the jacket almost fits and you have the option of widening the shoulders for forty bucks—but you think maybe you can just squeak by without alteration—open your wallet and spend the dough. You always look better in a properly-fitted suit, whether you have the physique of Tony Romo or Tony Siragusa.


Rule 17

Skip the cummerbund or vest

Heresy? So be it. A great tux does not need a cummerbund unless you have one of those shirts where the ruffles stop halfway down like a napkin. You should not wear one of those shirts, ergo, you don’t need a cummerbund. And colorful cummerbunds that match the bridesmaid dresses, while common, smack of prom and homecoming. Same for vests.


Rule 18

The bow tie is optional

Seriously. In fact, think long and hard before wearing one. Is it allowed? Sure. Millions have. Millions will. However, almost no one with style wears a bow tie anymore; it was even ditched by Tucker Carlson. If you decide to wear one, make sure that you tie it yourself. This is critical. Nothing screws up a look like the side clip showing through your collar. Here’s how to tie it.


Rule 19

Break in your shoes

Don't skip this. First, buy a new pair of shoes for the wedding (more in a minute). Don’t wear your work shoes, wingtips, or normal dress shoes. To repeat: no wingtips. More importantly, you are going to be standing all night—make sure you break them in well before the wedding. What kind to buy? Simple and black. If you wear tassels we reserve the right to ambush your wedding and sucker-punch you in the heart. Do you need patent leather (the shiny ones)? No. Just as long as they are polished, simple, and black.


Rule 20

Less is more

Think of “fashion boldness” like salt: a little will add some flavor, a lot will spoil the dish. If your entire ensemble is classic—simple jacket, pants, tie--then you can add one spicy element (a crimson flower boutonnière, say) and it will pop.

For some more advice, check out the counsel at Men’s Warehouse and GQ’s “How to Buy a Tux.”

And thus concludes your official Groom Duties. For more on the actual Wedding Planning, click here.



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