Sartorial Ideas for a Wedding

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Alright, hands up anyone off to a spring/summer wedding. The chances that a good number of maulers would be lifted on reading this are extremely good indeed. Spring and summer weddings are an inevitability; they are the cliché of clichés. Just as thousands of perspiring tourists descend upon poor Venice every summer, thumping along the preciously perched structures like a herd of Wildebeest marching across a spider’s web, thousands of people will choose to have an ‘in season’ wedding; “Shall we do it in winter darling? It’ll be novel!” “No darling, let’s congest the precious and few summer days…everyone expects us to.” It is true – we do expect, often with bated breath, at least a few invitations for nuptials in the sunny season. For most people in the UK, incapable of flying a couple of hundred people off to the Caribbean or the Maldives in the less clement months of December or February, the marriage can be given no greater head start than the perfect spring or summer wedding; the pleasant church surrounded by blossom, the magnificence of a garden marquee and the utter embarrassment of drunken relatives tripping into the pool.

As the days lengthen across the Northern hemisphere, the gentle sound of gold and silver lettered envelopes tumbling to the floor reaches a crescendo. Should you find the functions mounting up and encounter a clash, fear not. There is a sure-fire way to guarantee your attendance at the most worthy function. Stand in the corner of a large room and throw the clashing invitations, one by one, to the other side. The sturdiest invitation will be that which reaches the other side, or comes closest to it. This is the invitation that should take preference over the other.

Once you have chosen the wedding which, you feel, would most suit your attendance, it is time to give some thought to clothing. Most chaps I know consider a wedding to be ‘someone else’s day’, thus shunning the philosophy of the peacock; they dress arbitrarily and even poorly with the excuse that dressing well would somehow upset the bride and groom, especially if you were better dressed than they. Whilst I can appreciate the sensitivity, this is absolute nonsense. The bride and groom are far more likely to clasp your hands warmly in gratitude that someone took their well planned and painstakingly produced function seriously and dressed up accordingly.

It’s a wedding, not a conference

One of the most awful realities of dressing for weddings is that people believe a suit – no matter what type of suit, as long as the trousers match the jacket – is king. Whilst the average suit is a very practical and certainly inoffensive form of clothing, it can also be rather dull and pedestrian. I attended a wedding in a black short jacket, spongebag trousers and patent Oxford shoes only to find the other men had shuffled along in crumpled four button suits and scruffy loafers.

Ironically, some of the worst formally dressed chaps brushed up well later on when they put on their ‘glad rags’ which was even more saddening as it revealed their interest in clothes was merely superficial. I think a pair of smart trousers and a contrasting jacket are perfectly acceptable and far more interesting; a blue blazer with caramel trousers and burgundy Oxford shoes will look urbane and chic, and yet at the same time appropriate ‘costume’ for a wedding. For to me, weddings are a theatrical event that in the past called for the most theatrically grand items of day wear; the morning suit and top hat.

Knowing when to stop…

That last point about morning suits and top hats brings me neatly around to the issue of limits. Having thrown the licence to dazzle and be individual in the air, I think it only sensible to consider the limitations that exist in deciding upon the wedding wardrobe. Firstly, think theatrically but set barriers – there is a fine line between harmonious wedding habiliments and absurd clownishness. By all means be a little experimental and daring but, if you find yourself treading the path of excess, remember the Coco Chanel motto; “always remove one item before leaving the house.”

‘The only link between Art and Nature’

Weddings are a wonderful excuse to wear a buttonhole. I have been known to dabble in orchids, chrysanthemums and black roses (really a very deep red; alluring and frightfully luxurious, though they sound funereal) but the key thing is to buttonhole honestly and appropriately; my chrysanth’ had to match my ivory and blue striped tie and ivory waistcoat or at least depart from it so completely that it did not clash. Another thing to remember is that rarity of flower is not the ultimate; the highest quality rose or carnation will provide greater flourish than the dank and weeping orchid.


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Winston Chesterfield is an amateur composer, fashion blogger, trained lawyer and style aficionado. He lives in Westminster, London and blogs at www.levraiwinston.com.

Comments

  1. Nicola Linza says:

    Bravo! Winston, you did a superior job here, on all counts regarding wedding attire. In your pictures for ‘A vow to be different,’ I especially like that black and white stripe tie on the bright white shirt, with the spread collar. Do we know the tie maker by chance? Thanks.
    Nicola

  2. Nicola,

    Thanks for the fine comment (once again!)The manufacturer of the tie is Banana Republic.

    Winston

  3. Nicola Linza says:

    Winston,
    You’re most welcome, and thank you for the information.
    Nicola

  4. Alessandro says:

    My compliments on your article.
    Would you consider appropriate to make a distinction between daytime (pre 6 p.m.) and otherwise nighttime attire for these occasions?

  5. Alessandro,

    Absolutely. My article is rather limited in that respect but generally, for weddings held in the evening, there is usually a dress code stipulated on the invitation (in my experience, it has predominantly stipulated ‘Black Tie’) . If there is not such stipulation then other ideas need to be considered. The ladies will be wearing dresses of an ‘evening formal’ standard; for the men to turn up in blue blazers would look a little off but I still believe mixing trouser and jacket colours is appropriate as well as appealing. Instead of caramel and navy, one might consider a grey jacket with white trousers and, if it is still a little chilly, perhaps a black waistcoat with a low break. I would avoid the signature ‘daytime wedding’ colours such as the pastels; pink, light green etc.

    Winston

  6. Alessandro says:

    Thank you for the information Winston.

  7. Roderick Mallia says:

    A, perhaps, slightly stupid question. Can anyone ever get away with not wearing a blazer/jacket to a wedding?

  8. Nicola Linza says:

    Roderick,

    Winston may well have a witty solution to your question. I cannot think of one. In my view to answer you, no. I cannot picture under what circumstances one could get away without a jacket or blazer at a wedding (unless it was some foreign affair, where our Western rules of civilized society do not apply.) A sweater wouldn’t work, and a shirt alone would seem so out of place. As for a vest, alone? Even then, it would appear that one simply took their jacket off somewhere at the event.

    I trust Winston’s judgement, so Winston what is your take on this?

    Nicola

  9. Roderick Mallia says:

    Nicola, I’m personally with you on this one, but I love being the devil’s advocate on most days. I’ve always worn suits to wedddings and cannot really envisage myself doing otherwise unless, as you rightly pointed out, it’s a foreign affair.

    On the other hand, I think that the only setback in wearing a suit is that most of the weddings are held in Summer, and, with the climate in Malta being what it is (think 35°C and 99% humidity, on a good day), no matter how much time and consideration you put in to look the part, you’ll inevitably end up being a soaked-up mess.

    In such a case one would be tempted to shout ‘linen’, but I don’t think linen is suited to a formal, evening affair.

  10. Roderick and Nicola,
    My personal thoughts on ‘mock formal’ wedding wear are fairly dim; I agree with Nicola in that wearing a vest or waistcoat alone will result in being mistaken for a waiter or looking like one’s jacket has been draped over a chair somewhere. I think that a wedding, no matter what the temperature, is still a formal event in my view. Turning up without a jacket, especially when one might possess dozens, is almost sacreligious. I can appreciate the discomfort and resulting descent into inelegance from sweating through a suit in 35 degrees centigrade and, although, Roderick, you marked linen as being ill-suited to a formal, evening affair it really does depend how it is worn. If it is held in the evening, for one thing I imagine it will be slightly cooler. Therefore upgrading a caramel brown linen suit with a smart low-break black or ivory waistcoat will add that required touch of ‘eveningwear’. And brown linen looks fantastic with patent black Oxford shoes.