I met Ryan of Bespoke Edge Men’s Custom Clothing at a wedding industry event and immediately thought he’d be a great resource for our brides. In this blog, he clarifies the differences between suits and tuxedos and has some wonderful fashion tips too. Enjoy!
As a men’s clothier, this is a question I’m asked quite often. And I must admit, that as a young man, I didn’t fully understand the difference either!
Here’s what you need to know: the main difference between a tuxedo and a suit is that a tuxedo has satin on it. The real question, however, is when should your groom wear a tuxedo over a suit? To answer this question, we need to take a look at how formal your wedding is going to be.
Let’s talk about formality
When buying your gown and shopping around for a venue, you’re starting to define the level of formality in your wedding ceremony and reception. My friends at The Bridal Collection certainly understand better than I do how the interplay between vendors reinforces a wedding’s level of formality, but here’s the general advice I give my clients: if you’re planning a more casual and bohemian style wedding, then a tuxedo will probably clash and be too dressy looking; it won’t complement the gown. On the other hand, if your wedding gown is very elegant and your reception held in a beautiful ballroom fit for a queen and king, then a 2-piece grey suit might be a bit under-dressed.
That being said, let’s take a closer look at the tuxedo.
What exactly is a Tuxedo?
Simply put, tuxedo defines black tie attire and every man looks good wearing one.
You already know that it has satin on it, but where? The satin will always be on the lapel facings and buttons, but sometimes on the pockets and on the side of the pant leg. Regarding the lapel style, in my opinion, a shawl lapel looks best on a tuxedo (think James Bond). However, a peaked lapel is also very dressy and is probably most common, as in the image below. Note the “peaks” on the lapel that point towards the shoulders.
How about fabric? What should you and your groom choose? I tend to lean towards recommending the traditional black tie look and wearing a dark cloth. That might mean black, a dark navy, or a sleek midnight blue. Then again, if you’re planning a wedding with a festive aesthetic, then you have the freedom to consider a non-traditional cloth like a burgundy or even a plaid!
By the way, ivory and off-white tuxedos can be great looks. However, please note that traditional tuxedo etiquette states that an ivory tuxedo should be reserved for use in warm locales or during summer events only. That’s the rule anyway, and it’s up to you if you want to bend or break it!
You’re probably most familiar with the suit. Free of the dressy satin, the standard suit is a touch more relaxed. Depending on the fabric and styling, it can still be dressy or relatively casual. The majority of my clients end up buying a suit over a tuxedo. Usually, their rationale is simply that a tuxedo is too dressy for their wedding. Also, that they want something they can wear after the wedding.
Here’s an example of a dressy suit in a dark cloth. This is a common look and one that will be super versatile for the groom after the wedding.
On the other end of the spectrum, here’s a more casual sport coat option, but in a fine cloth and with a very unique pattern.
The key takeaway here is that, yes, a suit will inherently be less dressy than a tuxedo, but you can still carefully choose a cloth and style that’s perfect for the formality and aesthetic of your unique wedding.
I hope that this article helps you to choose your groom’s attire! Rest assured, that whether you opt for a dressy tuxedo or a more versatile suit, your groom is going to look great! Also, whether you’re renting, buying something off the rack, or going custom, begin the process earlier than you think you should. Just like your gown, it’s best to get things going early in the wedding planning process.
About Ryan Wagner
Ryan co-founded Bespoke Edge along with his father and brother in 2012. BE has helped hundreds of grooms to look their best and has twice been awarded a Top of the Town distinction by 5280 magazine. He writes regularly on the BE blog and his style advice has appeared in Destination I Do magazine and local Denver publications. Feel free to reach out to him anytime with your style questions!