Men have a lot of formalwear options for the big wedding day. You don’t have to buy a tux (you can get a suit) and it doesn’t have to be black (it can be various shades of blue) and you don’t even have to have a suit — it’s your wedding after all.
That said, assuming you want to look sharp and modern, you’ll want to keep these next-level tips in mind when you’re doing your wedding suit shopping (please buy your clothes at least a month in advance so there’s time for alterations).
Avoid Designer Labels If You Want to Save Money
“Often times those [designer labels] are the least worth it,” says Jesse, a New York-based menswear designer who worked on design teams at J. Crew and Club Monaco. “They’re much more expensive than a brand like Bonobos or J. Crew, but the quality does not [always] reflect that.” For instance, you may see a two-piece, designer, wool suit for $1,695, while a similar style suit in a comparable fabric from Bonobos goes for $750.
What you are paying for is the cost of marketing, the vision of the designer, and the privilege of saying that you have a brand-name suit. Sometimes you will indeed get superior material and craftsmanship, but do not assume pricier is better.
When you’re shopping for a suit, instead of going by the label, use your senses to gauge the quality. Touch the fabric and see how it feels (it should be soft, not scratchy or stiff). Look inside the jacket for a tag that indicates if the textile comes from an Italian or English mill, which can be a sign of pedigree more significant than the designer, and won’t dictate as dramatic a leap in price. Most importantly, when you put it on, you should feel like a million bucks. “When looking for a suit, there is a gut intuitive process that should happen that drowns out the marketing noise,” says Jesse.
Designers also have different overall fits: boxy vs. body-hugging, long vs. short, slim vs. non-tapered. Find out what kind of body you have (ask a tailor) and then try to match that with designers who work well with your body type.
Buy a Wedding Suit Instead of a Tux
There’s no rule that the groom has to wear a tuxedo. “Guys are not limited to black tie,” says Jesse. “I’ve seen guys wear the most ostentatious printed suit or jacquard weave suit, something that would be considered a fashion suit as a wedding suit, because it makes them feel special.” A well-tailored suit in a fabric you like, or a jacket with a dress shirt, trousers and a bow tie, can work, too. You can even trade in leather loafers for sneakers (they should be new or in impeccable shape). Less formal options can make you feel more like yourself, and end up saving you money. Your wedding, your rules.
Get a Wedding Outfit You Will Wear Again
So you’re still debating whether to go with a tuxedo or something less formal. Ask yourself: How many times will I wear this after the wedding? If you’re looking to get the best value out of your purchase, the answer should be many. For most men, that means choosing a suit. “A tux is often more expensive than a suit, and it has a very specific use,” says Jesse. “A tux is for a formal event, but a suit can take you to a job interview, a wedding, or a religious ceremony.” Or, you can repurpose it for everyday wear.
“Once the wedding is over, you can put that jacket on with a t-shirt, jeans, and nice sneakers, and get more use out of it,” says Waraire Boswell, designer and proprietor of Waraire Boswell, maker of custom suiting for men and women. He also recommends taking the opportunity to round out your wardrobe. “If you don’t have a black, a gray, or a navy suit, make sure you get something in that realm before you get a plaid. You don’t want to do too much before you have your bases covered.” In other words, invest in a staple that will stay in style.
Rent a Wedding Suit or Tux Instead of Buying
A tuxedo can be a great investment. But renting one is a less serious commitment, and often it’s a fraction of the price. Modern rental services like The Black Tux, are making this option pretty attractive. You can rent a tux in stylish silhouettes, together with accessories—including shoes, shirt, tie, cufflinks, and button studs—for around $200 or less, whereas buying can cost upwards of $1,000 for a quality suit. If you’re concerned about online fitting, there are on-site Black Tux tailoring outposts in 13 states. Men’s Wearhouse also offers suits for rent, in addition to their for-sale options, and they have more than 700 stores.
No matter where you’re renting, look for hidden perks. For instance, if your groomsmen rent from The Black Tux, the company will throw in the cost of your suit for free, a practice that is fairly common among other formal-wear rental spots.
Choose a Wedding Suit That Fits
The better the garment fits, the less money you will have to spend on tailoring. Even if you find a suit that fits beautifully off the rack, chances are you will still need some alterations (sleeves, trousers, chest). To save some money, consider shopping at a store that offers free tailoring. Being a member of the Hugo Boss Experience loyalty program (joining is free) makes you eligible for an impressive menu of complimentary tailoring on items purchased at their stores. J. Crew will also hem pants and shorten sleeves (from the cuff only) gratis on non-sale items. No matter where you’re shopping, it’s worth inquiring about free tailoring—you may be surprised. And more important than even the savings is the fact that finely tailored garments make men look fitter and more stylish. If you have any suits in the closet that just don’t fit anymore consider bringing them to a tailor, too. $75 of tailoring could save you hundreds.