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Weddings

How to choose a vintage wedding suit

By on March 29th, 2015

Vintage weddings seem to be all the rage right now.

A quick survey on Pinterest will show a whole range of different men’s style when searching for “vintage wedding.” Some grooms are wearing 3-piece suits, whereas others are skipping the suit altogether! Some have bow ties. Some have neck ties, both skinny and wide. Some grooms wear a wide jacket lapel while others, the more Mad Men-style slim suit. The list goes on and on.

And so it is with a little bit of hesitation, and a bit of a disclaimer, that I say a vintage wedding is whatever you make it.

If by vintage you are aiming for somewhere around 1970, then your suit is going to look a whole lot different that one modeled after the 1950’s, or the 1920’s for that matter.

Nevertheless, those of us at Bespoke Edge are never short of an opinion. And so here we go, here’s our take on what a vintage wedding suit ought to look like.

The suit

So the elephant in the room is that a lot of vintage weddings out there look like the groom forgot his jacket in the car. Because there he is, standing next to his beautiful bride wearing only a vest.

Obviously, I’m a little biased since I’m in the suiting business, but I think that most brides would agree with me that they would prefer their groom be dressed in a suit.

That being said, you have a couple of options.

For a refresher on notched versus peaked lapels, check out one of my older blogs here. The takeaway is that a peaked lapel is going to be a bit more formal and the notched lapel is going to come off looking more traditional.

So you have to ask yourself, is the wedding theme going to lean towards the 1920s-Great-Gatsby-all-dressed-up look, or more like a casual outdoor gathering with a nod to the past? The former scenario may call for a peaked lapel on your jacket, and for the latter you could probably go either way, depending on the suit fabric.

And as I eluded to earlier, the lapel width will be dictated by the period. Lapels on men’s jackets were once very wide in the early 20th century, then they narrowed during the 1950s and 1960s, only to swell once more in the 1970s and 1980s (something else to bear in mind).

Wedding photographer Ashley Kidder has seen a lot of weddings and she says that “a vintage style for grooms almost always involves a fitted suit, and not the standard tuxedo. Colors other than black are very common, and navy has been a huge hit for my grooms who have looked to add a bit of vintage flair to their suit.”

Whew. Suddenly men’s style is sounding a bit complicated!

But don’t worry. Pick a time period, talk it over with your bride, and stick to it. You’re going to look great.

The tie, or bow tie

Let’s talk about the bow tie first. Because this is personally what I see most often in “vintage wedding” photos.

They are usually colorful, and that’s a great thing. It should be easy to match your bow tie to your overall wedding colors, so be sure to do that.

But what about the size? Similar to how lapels on jackets have changed over the years, so too has the width of bow ties and neck ties. There are many different styles, so many in fact, that I’m going to defer to the experts on this one.

So what about neck ties? Well, if you can find a neck tie that is actually vintage (i.e. it’s decades old!), lucky you. Just be sure that it still looks great and not like you literally found it in the bottom of an unmarked clothing trunk and didn’t bother to clean it first.

Wear a tie bar too. Tie bars sort of went away in the 1990s and early 2000s, but now they are back, and they were certainly in style during any of the vintage time periods you’re eye-balling. And nothing too flashy – the center piece is your tie, wait, scratch that – it’s your bride.

Accessories

A great fitting suit is mandatory for your wedding. But it’s the well chosen accessories will say “I know what I’m doing.”

Suspenders

Vintage weddings often have a knack for the accessories. And one that often finds its way into the limelight are suspenders. They are undoubtedly a nod to the past. Your grandpa wore suspenders and probably still does.

You should be wearing them too. Whether they are for your wedding attire or not.

But I digress.

If you are going to wear suspenders to your vintage wedding, there is really only one rule you absolutely must follow:

No belt when wearing suspenders.

One is a substitute for the other. You can wear either one, but not both.

Beyond that, have fun with it. Find something that subtly refers to your neck tie or bow tie, but that doesn’t match it exactly.

Cuff links

If you’re getting all dressed up, nothing beats cuff links.

They may take a little getting used to at first, but once you get the hang of them, you’ll be popping them through your cuffs like a pro!

Cuff links are the singular item most akin to jewelry for men. And that’s why they are usually gold, nickel plated, platinum, or something else shiny.

But for a vintage wedding, you’ll want to go a little less shiny.

And ideally, you’ll find a pair of cuff links that have just a touch of color and match the rest of your outfit. Bonus points if your cuff links refer to your neck tie.

Wrap up

One last thing to bear in mind is that certain fabrics photograph better than others. According to Ashley, “…suits with simple fabrics that don’t have much texture photograph just fine, but those with materials such as tweed, suede, or corduroy, for example, always add depth to the photos.”

Are you planning a vintage wedding? Did you find this post helpful? Let me know in the comments below.

Alternatively, did I miss my mark? Do you have a completely different interpretation of what a vintage wedding is or should be? Let’s hear your thoughts below.