Category Archives: Tom Talks

Your Day, Your Way (Part Two)

Styling Thoughts for the Groom and his Groomsmen

Your groomsmen are your supporting cast. At least those fine gentlemen are the part of the cast of characters who stand on the groom’s side of the altar during the wedding drama. Though according to most historical accounts, it hasn’t always been that way. Originally, from an Anglo-Saxon tradition, the primary role of the groomsmen (then referred to as the bride’s knights) was to protect the bride and her dowry, making certain that she arrived safely to the wedding ceremony and any event related to the wedding. In cases where the bride’s family was opposed to the wedding, the groomsmen would serve as a line of defense to keep the family at bay while the bride and groom made their getaway. Now that could be some pretty good fun! Anyway, most people in that situation today simply choose to elope. Not as much fun, but just try to stop them!

As your supporting cast, the groomsmen should look like they belong with the groom, but none of them should run the risk of being mistaken for the groom. If you will be wearing a tuxedo, then they should too. You know that I always say “Luxe to the Tux,” but there are other options. If you’re in a suit, then they should be in suits too. Should you choose to be fully dressed in morning coat or tailcoat, you probably won’t ask your wedding party to follow suit unless you are commonly referred to as Your Royal Highness or that sort of thing. In that case, your groomsmen should, at a minimum, wear tuxedos. Typically the groomsmen are differentiated from the groom in the finer details such as a vest or tie or both. Other details to consider as a means of coordinating and providing both color and continuity are pocket squares, boutonnieres, or socks. On suits or more casual outfits, matching belts could come into play.

Recently hitched in the City by the Bay, J.T from San Francisco said,

“Probably the most important thing I learned was matching everyone’s clothing–whether it was suits or ties (making sure both suit and tie coloring matches with the wedding colors) the importance of continuity with your groomsman’s clothing is huge. My Bride and I were thinking of having every groomsman wear their own suit but in the end we realized that continuity is key!”

So, choosing ties for the groomsmen’s that coordinate with the color of the bridesmaid’s dresses could be a way to go. Your Tom James clothier has amazing resources to do whatever amount you may need of ties, bow ties, vests, or pocket squares.

With his wedding only a few weeks away, the topic of what everyone will be wearing has been fresh on his mind of Kevin M., from Austin, TX. Kevin says,

“The wedding will be in the Spring and held outside in the bride’s parents back garden. Since it will be before 6:00pm, I will not be wearing a tuxedo and since it will be a bit on the casual side neither will I be wearing a morning suit. I have decided to wear a dark blue suit with a contrasting buff/tan double breasted, straight bottom vest, a white shirt and a blue tie. I am going for a look that does not look like I just came from the office, but that I am getting married. The bridesmaids will be wearing lighter earth tones with some tan and some gold. For the groomsmen we have chosen solid navy blue, single breasted suits, white shirts and gold woven textured solid ties. We want the groomsmen to be dressed very similar to help provide continuity.

All of the groomsmen and I will also be wearing the traditional boutonniere on the lapel of our coats. My best man’s suit will be a slightly lighter shade and along with his name inside the suit he will have a label inside that says “Best man”. Inside my suit I will have my name on one side and on the other side the label will read “Kevin & Erin 4-13-2012”

I’m convinced! There is virtue in continuity when it comes to planning a wedding party. I like Kevin’s comment about making sure that he looks like he’s getting married (aka doing something extraordinarily special). He also told me that “when it comes to groomsmen, they should be dressed just a notch less formal than the groom.” Sounds to me like he has that well figured.

So you’re a groomsman?
Here are a few basics to keep in mind to:

  • Make sure ahead of time that your outfit fits. Ahead of time….meaning not just before show time…just in case it the pant length needs a final adjustment. People will be watching, pictures will be taken.
  • Show up on time.
  • Plan to attend all of the pre and post wedding events (Engagement party, rehearsal dinner, and of course the reception.)
  • Be a great wingman to the Best Man.
  • Be prepared to work as an usher and to be generally helpful. The groom will have enough on his mind without having to worry about a wayward groomsman.

For you who have been there, done that, what additional advice would you offer for turning out a supporting cast who will do the groom (and bride) proud?


Sartorial Regards,


Your Day, Your Way

Styling Thoughts for the Groom and his Groomsmen

Dear Groom:

In case you have yet to be properly informed, your wedding day is “her” day, and you are there to complete the picture.

Congratulations and Sincerest Best Wishes,

All other Grooms who have gone before you

Well, ok, I may have slightly overstated my case, but you get the point. Sinatra made a big hit out of “My Way”, but when you are deciding what you will wear for the big day, a fundamental starting point is: what will she be wearing?

The bride-to-be may have been planning for her wedding day since she was six years old and have everything completely figured out, or she may still be working it out in her head and heart. In either case, with regard to what you will be wearing, find a way to:

  • Appropriately honor the occasion
  • Fit in with the chosen venue
  • Remain true to yourselves
  • Look like you belong together

Your first inclination may be to keep it simple and just rent tuxedos for you and your groomsmen, but may I say, “Not so fast.” That may be the best route to take in some cases, but having a special suit or tuxedo is an increasingly popular choice.

Note: Considering what most brides spend on their wedding dress ($3 – 5K and beyond is not unusual….and never to be worn again in most cases), if you invest even twice as much on your wedding suit as you would typically spend on a suit, you are in good company. And unlike that beautiful dress, you will get to enjoy your suit or tuxedo many, many times after the wedding day.

As the groom, what to wear for your wedding can run the gamut from a full-blown Morning Suit (think Prince William) to a Seersucker Jacket and white cotton or linen pant. One of those would be more appropriate in a Gothic Cathedral and the other on a sandy white beach. I’ll let you decide which is which. The point is: you have options. Your wedding day will be a one-of-a-kind, personally momentous occasion, deserving of an effort that expresses the unique and special qualities of who you are as a couple. So let’s talk about Your Day. Or more precisely, “Your Day, Your Way.”

Even if you decide on the clothes first, and then find a place that perfectly surrounds the stunning couple that you are, let’s begin by asking:

  • Will the ceremony take place in a large church, a small chapel, the backyard of someone’s home, on a coastal bluff or on the beach below or in one of a thousand other possibilities?
  • With the venue decided, are the two of you more formal or casual, sophisticated or bohemian, traditional or artsy, etc., etc.?
  • How would you describe your style as a couple and the style of the day you want to create?

Pearl of Wisdom: Whether you are entering into this union with much in common or from vastly different worlds, some compromises or give-and-take is inevitable. As obvious as that probably sounds, it’s sometimes easier said than done.

Special Touch: When working with your Tom James clothier, you may want to do something like Rudy did to surprise his bride Chloe, and put a special label inside your jacket. Any text that fits on the label and is in good taste is fair game. Your names and the wedding date would be another option. Be creative with one more small way to make it “Your Day, Your Way.”

I doubt that this answers all of your questions, but it should get you moving down the right path. Stay close for additional thoughts on styling your groomsmen and some gift ideas for those same gentleman, what to wear when you’re the guest, and things that no one ever tells the groom from the mouths of recent grooms.

If you’ve already tied-the-knot, what’s one bit of advice that you would like to share with future grooms?
Sartorial (and Nuptial) Regards,

New Year, New Look?

Ten Sure Ways to Successfully Mix Up your Look (part of a series)

I promised ten. I’ve given you seven so far: the ticket pocket, western pocket, striped neckwear, the power of a Holland & Sherry shirt made from Thomas Mason fabric, adding a new color or some working button holes (or both at the same time), and last week I suggested you consider the virtues of a vest. Two more today, then you may have to wait until Spring is here for number ten, but it will be worth the wait.

Square it Up!

Add a pocket square … to finish your look.

I like the crisp, straight fold or straight edge look with suits and the puff fold with sport coats. But there aren’t any hard rules in that regard. It’s part attitude, part personality. You may also want to try “points up.” In my opinion, the straight edge and points up work best with squares of cotton or linen, while the puff requires the more fluid movement you get with a silk square.

To see a demonstration of how to fold and wear each style, take a look at this great, short video. Thanks, Tim!

With respect to color and pattern, there is no reason to be timid when wearing a pocket square. The square should coordinate with your tie but not match it. Either the tie or the square should have top billing, but not both. This is one area of getting dressed to develop some variety and push the boundaries. If the dominant color in the square picks up a color in your jacket or tie pattern, you are sure to have a winning combination. At a minimum, begin with a basic collection of a few solid squares (including white linen) and a couple with more pattern and color.

BTW….your TJ Clothier can help you with pocket squares made from tie silk or cotton shirting fabric.

French Lessons

Voulez-vous parlez la langue d’elegance? Oui.

Then may I suggest that you wear more shirts with cuffs prepared for cuff links. A French cuff (or Double-fold, as the English call it), with a tasteful touch of jewelry to keep your cuff together, epitomizes refined elegance.

Could French cuffs be too much in some cases? Sure they could. I wouldn’t wear them to play in a pick-up hoops game or to stand on the sidelines at my kid’s Saturday soccer game. I wouldn’t even wear them to the Super Bowl (unless I’d been invited to sit in the Owner’s Box.) I might wear them with a bold shirt, some jeans, and a drop dead sport jacket for a guys’ night out. For some men it is part of their everyday look, while for others it is reserved for the most special of occasions.

French cuffs are especially appropriate for your finer white and blue shirts, shirts with medium to spread collars, and any shirts that you do with collars and cuffs of white that contrast with the body and sleeves of the shirt (as shown on the blue striped shirt above left.)

If you already have French cuff shirts in your rotation, you may want to consider trying our newest variation within the range of style options that we call the ‘Mitered’ cuff (shown in the picture above left with the K&E link and in the center photo.) The angled cutaway moves the link slightly further from the wrist and reduces the potential for fraying at the edges. If you get frustrated because your French cuff shirts wear out to easily, this may be your answer.

So, get a couple of new pocket squares and a fresh stack of shirts with French cuffs, and you are sure to make a confident impact.

Sartorial Regards,

Three are Better than Two

I put on one of my three piece custom suits today. I don’t regularly wear a vest, but on certain days, the extra layer sure is a welcome addition. On days that are cold (like today where I live), it provides an extra layer of warmth. On days that are hot, a vest allows the wearer to take off the jacket – to be more comfortable – while still maintaining a noticeably finished appearance, as seen on Mr. Magnana in the picture above. Or, as Alex H. from Houston put it, “a vest can be that extra special piece for events and occasions where one wants to turn the volume up in terms of style and formality.”

Here is Jim Urda from California “Keeping it strong!” in his new three piece suit made from Holland & Sherry Cape Horn cloth, with a peak lapel on the jacket, slanted pockets, and vest with lapels – a look that takes no prisoners.

All of my vests have at least two pockets (sometimes four), which come in handy from time to time. As I have suggested with regard to a ticket or cash pocket on a jacket, the pockets on a tailored vest are an excellent place to keep an extra train ticket (loaded with proper fare), a bit of cash or an extra business card.

Now, I would be the first to tell you that there isn’t a mad rush out there of professional men deciding to wear three piece suits. They are about as rare as a handwritten thank you note, which, come to think of it, may be reason enough to wear a vest…to stand apart from the crowd and get some attention. Herb M. from Louisville reminded me that one of the most welcome benefits that a vest provides is its “slenderizing” effect. Because the vest continues up from the pant in one visually continuous line, it removes the horizontal break of the shirt/belt/trouser line. Truth is, I get the most compliments about my appearance on days when I wear a vest. Especially from attractive, stylish, insightful and intelligent women! But I digress.

While I am advocating three-piece suits, one may also want to consider what is referred to by tailors and clothiers as the “odd” vest. That is, a vest that is not made from the same cloth as the jacket and pant, but which may complement the outfit. The odd vest then is an accessory item that, when properly used in either a harmonizing or contrasting fabric, adds a splash of color and creativity and another layer of interest to a more relaxed suit or sport outfit.

Tom James client Rob Borella, from Pittsburgh, PA says, “My TJ sales rep pitched to me the idea of vests coming back into style several years ago. I gave it a try, starting with a traditional matching fabric, and lining back. I learned to love the flexibility of wearing the vest essentially as a waistcoat, and only adding the suit coat for formal public events. Over the years, I quickly learned to prefer the full fabric back, with a slight contrast to the suit fabric, which provides flexibility and ‘mix and match’ options based on my wardrobe. Nowadays, it seems everyone is wearing vests with their suits, but they often leave out an important feature—add a lapel to the vest. The lapel makes the waistcoat look complete, and is very comfortable and fashionable. I appreciate my rep keeping me well ahead of the trends!”

While Mr. Borella likes lapels on his vests, Jonathan K. from Chicago suggests that the best vest model is the five-button, pointed bottom, no lapel, with the back being made from the same cloth as the front. Keep it clean! If you plan to wear the vest without the jacket a fair amount, the “same cloth” back without the adjustable belt is the way to go. There are a variety of vest styles and options to consider. Some come to a point at the bottom, while others are straight. Be sure to consult with your personal clothier to determine what will work best for you and give it try.

As a final note, Alan M. from Washington D. C. suggests that those who travel frequently, especially both north and south, will find another very practical virtue to a three-piece suit. The same suit worn in London with a vest would be equally as comfortable without the vest in Rome. The same could be said for Seattle to Los Angeles and New York to Miami.

We have heard it said and have experienced the truth that, in many cases and for a variety of reasons, “two are better than one.” In the case of your next custom suit , it may be that “three are better than two.”

Sartorial Regards,