You’re getting married, which probably means you’re spending more money on an outfit than ever before. Before you commit to a look, consider these issues.
Is It a Wedding Suit or Tux?
Tuxedos tend to be more expensive than suits, full stop, as are the accessories that go with them. For instance, Bonobos tuxedos start at $900, whereas Bonobos two-piece wool suits start at $500. If you’re having a more relaxed wedding, consider investing in a suit that you’ll wear over and over again. On that note, a black tux will be more appropriate for most occasions than, say, an electric blue one that screams look-at-me. Buying “separates” — a jacket, shirt, tie, and pants — is yet another viable option that can potentially save you money, but you don’t want to be the most casually dressed person at your own wedding.
Are you buying or renting the wedding suit?
If you’re having a formal wedding but generally don’t have many occasions to wear a tux, consider renting. Whereas the average price of a tuxedo starts at $200 at the low end and rises quickly (up to $5,000 for designer tuxes), a tuxedo rental starts at about $100 and rarely creeps above a few hundred bucks. While a rental might sound old-fashioned, there are newer, hipper online companies that are worth checking out.
Is it a custom or mass-produced wedding suit, or somewhere in between?
“When I meet a client, I tell them that the suits start at a Volkswagon and go up to a Maybach [Mercedes],” says Waraire Boswell, designer and proprietor at Waraire Boswell, which specializes in custom suiting. The price of a suit or tuxedo depends on where it falls in the marketplace. At the highest end is a bespoke suit, which is custom-made to your specific measurements.. It’s an amazing investment if you can afford it and plan on staying the same size for a while. But the price hits four digits rather quickly.
A few notes on the vocabulary of suits: You will see some shops, online and brick-and-mortar, boasting about their bespoke, custom or made-to-measure suits. In all cases, a tailor will be measuring your body and creating custom pieces (pants, jacket), but there are no laws about how many fitting stages you’ll get or what kind of fabric is used or how many stitches you’ll see. It’s safest to ask just what is meant by “custom.”
There is a whole world of inexpensive custom suit makers and it is beyond the scope of this article to explain how each differs. Popular custom-suit companies include Suit Supply, The Men’s Wearhouse, Alton Lane, Astor & Black, J. Hilburn, Indochino, Hockerty and ITailor (which claims it can make a custom suit for $179 and up). If you’re considering using one of them, first find out if they are available in your area. Then ask how the process works: how many time you will meet with a tailor and how long it takes to get a final product (and what happens if it doesn’t fit correctly at that point). And, of course, get clarity on the price range in advance.
“For guys who are sample size, they can knock it out of the park and buy it off the rack,” says Waraire. For men who are an atypical size (Waraire himself is 6’ 7”, and started designing to dress himself), custom might be an option worth considering, bearing in mind that dramatic alterations on an off-the-rack suit can add up fast. For instance, Suit Supply charges $13 for hemming pants, $28 for letting out or taking in jacket seams, and $28 for shortening or lengthening sleeves. (NB: no one recommends narrowing a lapel, which can be expensive, so you better like the lapel width you’re buying.)
The next level down would be a designer suit, which usually costs less than bespoke, and while it can be a stunner, often has a hefty price tag due to the brand name (think about $1,500 for Emporio Armani, in the $3,000 range for Zegna, and around $5,000 for Tom Ford).
Below that would be a machine-made suit with an eye for construction and quality fabrics, such as a Bonobos or a J. Crew, that has a high-end look for a more attainable price (think $500 to $900 for a Bonobos wool suit, or less than $500 for a J. Crew suit in Italian wool).
And then, there are even more accessible suits and tuxedos that can be had for a few hundred dollars, but which tend to be mass manufactured (AKA “fast fashion”). These might be fine for a one-time occasion or if you rarely wear suits, but they may feature lower quality textiles (a polyester lining for example) or construction (plastic buttons, no material in the hem to elongate the leg). While a “Made in China” label doesn’t guarantee poor quality, be on the lookout for a stiff or scratchy fabric, and/or an ill fit.
Have you figured in the cost of alterations?
Unless you’re buying a garment made just for you, your wedding suit will need tailoring for that perfect fit. “Do you feel like it’s suffocating you, or like it’s perfectly hugging your body?” says Jesse, a New York based menswear designer who worked at J. Crew and Club Monaco. “Do you feel like a million bucks, or like you’re going to a job interview?” Depending on where you shop, you can get some basic tailoring for free (hems usually), but anything more involved will add significantly to your tab (see rates above).
The Men’s Wearhouse lists the prices of all its alterations in this guide. Prices elsewhere will vary depending on the complexity of the job and the going rates in the area.
Have you factored in wedding suit accessories?
You’re not only buying a suit or a tux when you get married. You also need a shirt, a tie, tie clip, shoes, socks, possibly a vest, pocket square and cufflinks, depending on how natty you want to be. These add-ons could easily double your suit budget. But you’ll also have some really great clothes for future use.
Ridiculous Price Story: If you want a suit fit for royalty, it will cost you. In an interview with GQ.com, William Skinner, managing director of the bespoke tailors Dege & Skinner, who created Prince Harry’s wedding uniform, said the cost of his suit would run about £6500 for the coat and £1350 for the pants—roughly $10,000 total.
Biggest Mistake People Make: The biggest mistake you can make is buying something that you’re having doubts about. Chances are if you don’t love it in the store, you won’t love it once it’s on our body (true for so many things…). “Let common sense be your guide,” says Waraire. “If you are looking at a suit and you’re already having second thoughts about it and you don’t even own it, you should leave it be.”