Groom Style Breakdown

When a wedding ceremony begins and the music swells, all eyes go to the bride and more specifically, her dress. Let’s face it, that’s one of the biggest aspects of the big day. However, that doesn’t mean you can neglect the other very important person at the other end of the aisle. While there may be no TLC shows dedicated to what the groom wears, it really is just as important and can be just as fun to choose as a wedding gown.

Suit or Tux?

First, you and your groom should decide if you want to go with a suit or tuxedo. But what’s the difference between these two? To break it down, a tuxedo is made to look more formal. It usually features some sort of silk material somewhere on the ensemble, whether it’s on the buttons, lapels, trim or leg. Tuxedoes are also usually worn with a matching cummerbund and bowtie. Suits tend to feature plastic buttons and are worn with a vest and long tie. In general, tuxedoes give more of a formal look than a suit.

Dress Shirts

Now that you’ve decided which look to go for, it’s time to customize the rest of your wedding day look. You should start with the dress shirt. This is the shirt that’s worn underneath the jacket of the suit. While it seems like a given to go with a plain, white dress shirt, there are a few different options you can go with for this first layer.

First there’s the collar: the most traditional collar is the lay-down collar that sits flat on the shirt. For alternatives, there’s a wing collar, which sticks up at the neck or the band collar that surrounds the neck like a band.

There’s also the matter of sleeves. Do you want a traditional sleeve with buttons or one with cuff links? Or do you want the sleeves rolled back altogether?

And finally, there’s the color to consider. Most grooms go with a plain white dress shirt, however, you can use the shirt to add a pop of color or match your color scheme. Many men also wear a vest over their dress shirt, so you can choose what color or print that you’d like that to be. A good tip: Try to match the shade of your shirt with your bride’s dress. If her gown is closer to ivory than white then it’ll be better if you go with an ivory shade too so you coordinate.


Now for the jacket. You can choose from single-breasted, double-breasted, or full dress tails. Single-breasted features one row of buttons, while double-breasted has two rows for a wider overlap. Full dress tails do not button at all, but rather, feature long tails in the back. These are considered the most formal and are good for eveningwear. Consider this only if your wedding is occurring after 6 p.m.

Once you have the buttons down, it’s time to make a decision about the lapels, which are the folds on the top of the jacket. A notch lapel will feature a cut in the lapel, giving it the appearance of a second collar. Meanwhile, a peak lapel has a sharp corner at the top, and remains straight all the way down the jacket. In contrast, a shawl lapel curves with the outline of the jacket, with no corners at all.


The choices don’t just stop above the waist. Some pants feature flat front, while others have pleats. The pleated look tends to work better on men with larger thighs and can be overwhelming for more slender men. Once you decide which pleat option works, consider whether or not you’d like to cuff the pants as well. Pants without cuffs can make short men look taller, while cuffs tend to work well for tall, thin men. However, keep in mind that pants with pleats need cuffs to hold the pleats in place.

Going Beyond Tradition

black_full_dress_tails_467_700_80_sThere are also plenty of style alternatives for nontraditional weddings. Jeff Lahens, who manages DressCode Boston, a men’s style site, says that a couple’s personal culture, taste, wedding theme, and lifestyle can all be factors in choosing what sort of alternative outfits you want for your wedding day. If you’re hosting a beach themed wedding, for example, consider a beachy linen suit. If you want a more classic, yet quirky look, try a seersucker suit.

Once you’ve worked out the anatomy of your groom’s outfit, you have several other options to customize your formalwear. Lahens says that the possibilities can be endless when it comes to wedding day style for men.

“Once you determine the theme of the wedding, then you can find what shade of black, grey, blue, or tan that will best complement the theme,” says Lahens. “What a white canvas is to a painter, these solid colors are to men to create transitional looks for the wedding day. The solid color jacket and white shirt combination gives the groom more opportunities to personalize the look with accessories, prints, patterns, and other colorful options. Whatever color you decide, keep in mind that the day is about you and your partner. You should keep the focus of the audience near your faces with the help of boutonnieres on the jacket lapel, cool neckwear, and sometimes hats.”

When it comes to choosing these facial focus points, you have plenty of options. You can choose to wear a bow tie or a regular tie. You can go with different types of pocket squares as well in a variety of materials, colors, and patterns. Boutonnieres are also a great place to get creative. “Personalized and creative boutonnieres on the groom’s jacket lapel are great accessories for non-traditional wedding venues,” Lahens says. “For a beach wedding theme, you could complete the look with a boutonniere made with exotic flowers and/or sea shells.”

Another fun option? Socks. True, they won’t be seen much, but you can always do the classic “feet pic” where you and the bride show off your wedding shoes. Balitello makes fun (and comfortable) printed dress socks, with enough patterns and colors to work with almost any wedding.

Photo credit: Weddingbee

Photo credit: Weddingbee

Whatever you decide, remember that you should choose the look that’s best for your wedding and groom. “The groom’s look should help him stand out,” Lahens says. “His partner needs to love seeing him in his wedding look. Generally brides spend time and effort to look like the most beautiful woman on the planet. Ultimately, the groom should also show up in his A-game to match her in all her splendor.”

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Erin Kayata

Erin is a Massachusetts native currently studying journalism at Emerson College. Fresh out of a semester studying in Europe, she enjoys exploring her native New England and writing about her experiences. Find her on Twitter at @erin_kayata.

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