Is today's casual groom attire tomorrow's 70's blue tuxedo?
June 21, 2013 12:40 PM   Subscribe

We're holding a small, very causal, non-traditional outdoor wedding and are trying to figure out what the groom should wear. There is a trend in various combinations of vests, bowties and suspenders,. We're thinking about going with something like this, but we don't want it to look like a 70s blue tuxedo in a decade. We're excited about everything we've decided so far and we definitely don't want to go with something overly formal. If the groom wears a vest and tie or bowtie and suspenders, is it going to look trendy and terrible in 10 or 15 years?
posted by cnc to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (37 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Suspenders make you look like Larry King.
posted by mollymayhem at 12:45 PM on June 21, 2013

I don't think so. The 70's blue tuxedo is, I think, something that was born of, and then died in, the 70's. Vests, bow ties, elbow patches, cardigans, and suspenders have been around far longer than I've been alive. I mean, you've seen pictures from the early 20th century with that style of dressing, right? Do you think it looks tacky or stylish? My personal vote is for stylish (and timeless). Just don't go overboard, i.e., bow tie + suspenders + vest + grandpa cardigan + hipster glasses + newsboy hat + short pants with argyle socks + elbow patches... you get the point.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 12:46 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

It definitely goes against traditional men's style rules. Vests are meant to be worn with (generally unbuttoned) jackets.

Suspenders would be worn underneath the vest and generally won't/shouldn't be seen; if you decide to go with them, I'd suggest finding "real" braces that button into the inside of the pants waistband instead of the ones with the little clips at the ends. A tailor can add the buttons, but I'd try to find pants made for braces as they also will not have belt loops.

So it's definitely a non-traditional look. Being seen with a vest but no jacket was generally regarded as being somewhat in a state of undress back in the day, but times have obviously changed. I'm firmly of the opinion of "do what makes you happy", though. If it turns out to be a sartorial joke in a decade then you can have a lovely laugh with your future children about your wedding photos - I don't think anyone will really look down on you in the future for following this particular fashion trend.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:49 PM on June 21, 2013

May I suggest the versitile Guayabera shirt? This is MADE to be a wedding shirt. Totally casual, has looked great for decades.

What I really wanted for my wedding was me in a traditional Mexican Wedding dress. And Husbunny in a Guaybera and linen slacks (mandals optional).

Vest, tie etc, too much, especially if you're going casual.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:50 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

As much as anyone can say without a time machine: almost certainly, yes.

And I say that as someone who sort of likes the vest look. But it is, kind of definitionally, time- and fashion-bound. Men's standard conservative style hasn't changed much in the last hundred years -- it doesn't seem like a good bet that it will change radically in the next 20.

When you want to look "dressed," you wear a jacket. Vests and suspenders happen underneath. (Bow ties are cool, though.)
posted by neroli at 12:50 PM on June 21, 2013 [5 favorites]

You used the word yourself: "trend". Anything that is trendy will soon be outdated.
posted by MexicanYenta at 12:51 PM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

All of that stuff is fairly in right now, but it's also not specific to 2013, so I think you're fine on the looking like a 70s blue tuxedo front. Wearing vests without jackets is a little trendy in that way, but you'll probably be fine. My inclination is to wear a jacket with a vest, but I'm a bigger guy and I just look better with a jacket on.

Are you planning on wearing suspenders over the vest or underneath it? If you're wearing them underneath it, they won't be really visible. If you're wearing them over it...I'd suggest you wear them underneath it.

In any event, vest/bow tie (with whatever you want holding your pants up), will probably not look super dated in 10 years. That stuff has been around for ages.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:52 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

If the groom wears a vest and tie or bowtie and suspenders, is it going to look trendy and terrible in 10 or 15 years?

Pretty much anything that isn't the time-tested tuxedo will look, at the very least, nonstandard in a decade. Trendy? Well, those are looks that have been done for decades. Terrible? Probably not, if you go with something in simple colors.

But a man who's not in a tuxedo or a standard suit without the standard accessories will always look "dated" (which may not conform to the actual date on which he wore the non-tuxedo).

But hey, you know what? Who fucking cares. If it brings a smile to his face, then rock the nonstandard look. And when he looks at the photos in fifty years, (we hope) he'll remember the day just as fondly, and may even get a chuckle from how his crazy-ass friends actually let him wear a bowtie at his wedding.
posted by Etrigan at 12:52 PM on June 21, 2013 [5 favorites]

(Personally, for a casual, non-traditional outdoor wedding, I'd recommend cotton khaki suits and sedate, solid ties.)
posted by neroli at 12:53 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

2nding cotton khaki suit for a casual outdoor wedding. But in my opinion, he doesn't even have to wear a tie. Collared shirt with top button open seems fine with this combo, especially if he's not a fan of ties.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 12:57 PM on June 21, 2013

I don't think it will be considered horrible tacky or anything, but it definitely isn't "timeless" so to speak. Slacks and a plain white button up is probably a little more neutral and won't look as dated.
posted by whoaali at 12:59 PM on June 21, 2013

I dunno, is it really the worst thing in the world if when you look at your wedding photos, you see hilaroiusly outdated clothing? That just means you've been married for a very long time, which is kind of what everyone hopes for, right?
posted by Asparagus at 12:59 PM on June 21, 2013 [18 favorites]

Everything looks terrible in 10 or 15 years but at least you can laugh about it.
posted by hiddenknives at 1:03 PM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

I love powder blue 70s style wedding tuxes. Just saying.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:04 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: He'll look like either a member of a jug band or a bartender, which might be what you're going for, but I think a jacket looks better.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:04 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Jesse Thorn has a great post on Putthison about modern wedding attire but the basic consensus is: nice navy suits look classic and good. He looked pretty swell in his!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:08 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

My husband and I discussed timeless v. trendy a lot when we were planning our wedding. At the time, I had a Muppet-bright orange-red bob and he had Jane Austen adaptation sideburns. I worried that we'd look back at our wedding pictures and wish we'd looked more 'traditional'.

Very wisely, he said that no matter what we did, styles come and go, and in 20 years, we'd look dated or funny or weird regardless. He liked the idea that our wedding pictures would be a time capsule of who we were in that moment on that day that was different from every other moment we'd ever shared together.

So is today's vest/bowtie/I'm a quirky guy librarian thing going to look kinda silly in the future? Probably. But who cares?! If y'all think it's cute (and I personally do) and it sends the vibe you want, go for it. Timelessness is a myth we tell ourselves to feel better about spending all that money on a wedding. I say have fun, accept that you are a product of your moment in fashion, and wear what you want.
posted by mostlymartha at 1:15 PM on June 21, 2013 [5 favorites]

Yes, it'll look dated, but pretty much anything you do will look dated. Blue tuxedos may be a punchline now, but pretty much any wedding photo you look at will be easily identifiable as coming from a particular time period, even the groom's outfit. I think the blue tuxedo gets major attention because usually the dated elements of men's formal attire are less noticeable than this ruffled, powder blue, in-your-face trend (beyond the blue tuxedo, dated elements in the groom's look can include the width of ties and lapels, brown suits, the cut of trousers, hairstyle, glasses, etc.). In that sense, I don't think that the current trends in casual grooms' wear will quite rise to the level of blue tuxedo, though they'll certainly be dated in some way.

(As an aside, I was looking at flickr search results for old wedding photos, and I have to say, I think this very 70s, blue tuxedo and matching blue-print dress couple look great. Like, yeah, it's totally a dated look--but, at the same time, don't they look awesome?)
posted by Meg_Murry at 1:17 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

The thing about a tux is that it is formal wear for some. There are people who actually own them and wear them to events at least a few times a year, if not more. In the class that I mostly mingle in, the most dressed up a guy would get in his "normal" life is a nice suit.

So, for me, anything that looks costume-y now is going look even more costume-y later. In other words, if your fiance doesn't usually wear stuff like that in his every day life then it's going to look weird later.

Not saying that's good or bad, that's just my feeling. We had our wedding party just wear something kind of dressy - like something they would wear to a Christmas party.
posted by dawkins_7 at 1:18 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I agree that you will enjoy it more if you're comfortable. If you have dressed up a certain way before, and love the way you look, go for it! but if you are more casual folks usually, you want to make sure that you match, and that you dont regret the way he looks in pictures. When looking at examples, make sure to find pictures that are not models, but real people's wedding photos. It's easily to look swanky in a tweed vest when you're a male fashion model--harder when you're in danger of looking more like some dinner theater detective. That's why my advice is a nice, well tailored suit. They are designed to make folks (like me!) who aren't built like models look great on camera and feel like a million bucks.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:22 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another trick is to have your pictures taken in black and white. That makes everything look classy.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:52 PM on June 21, 2013

. If the groom wears a vest and tie or bowtie and suspenders, is it going to look trendy and terrible in 10 or 15 years?

Absolutely. My advice would be to wear a jacket if you are going to go this route.

If you want to do a casual wedding (eg, button-down oxford shirt and khakis), that would look casual but not dated. But the suspenders/vest/tie thing with no jacket is definitely a "trend".

A recent trend for the groom that won't look dated is a summer suit, particularly in a lighter color if you want to accentuate the casual nature of it. Blue blazer and khakis are also casual yet not overtly trendy for the era.
posted by deanc at 2:21 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

The thing is, everything is going to look terrible in ten years, gently amusing in twenty or thirty and delightfully nostalgic in half a century - even those blue tuxedos, I bet. Every decade has its own version of "timeless" "correct" formal dress - just look at some Brooks Brothers catalogs from the seventies, eighties and nineties if you don't believe me. All of these traddy ivy-style ever-so-correct heritage brand-wearing proclaim-themselves-gentlemen-on-the-internet-lookin' dudes - photos of them will scream "men's style boom of 2013" in 2026. I suggest that you worry less about time's long glass and think more of the comfort, budgets and happiness of your groomsmen, since it will be more satisfying to look back on a really fun, happy wedding with maybe some goofy clothes than to look back on a wedding where everyone was going broke from the expense and wearing unaccustomed clothing but were all properly dressed like a copy of Esquire, 1956 version.

I add that anxiety about "correct" dress and "being a gentleman" is the absolute mark of the petty bourgeoisie, should anyone come the snob about it.

I say this, actually, as someone who really does wear benchmade English shoes and sub fusc colors in natural fabrics and can get quite exercised about trouser breaks.
posted by Frowner at 2:44 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

The thing is, everything is going to look terrible in ten years, gently amusing in twenty or thirty and delightfully nostalgic in half a century

In broad strokes, you're correct, but I think you're wrong on this point specifically. I'm not saying my parents looked especially superfabulous (but they totally did), but my father's tuxedo 40 years ago doesn't look terrible or scream "1970!" It wouldn't have been out of place in this 1945-depicted wedding, wasn't out of place in the weddings I was in back in the 90s, and wouldn't be out of place today (though it would be less common). Not saying it's timeless (it would have been out of place 100 years ago and will probably be out of place 100 years from now), but it doesn't scream "dated-to-a-specific-era."

Going for a casual wedding itself dates you to more casual fashion trends starting in the early 90s. The specific sort of "casual-yet-dressy" of the vest and/or tie with no jacket seems particularly late 200x/early 201x to me in a way that casual wedding styles like blue-blazer-and-khakis, button-down-or-polo-shirt-and-khakis or even a more dressy summer suit would not.
posted by deanc at 3:00 PM on June 21, 2013

I am sort of a historic fashion enthusiast, so I fall on the side of visible vest or suspenders = undressed. And very trendy right now. I think a blazer, with/without a tie is somewhat more timeless, and doesn't have a veneer of barista about it. There's also a nice sort of jackets on= serious, jacket off = party! that I think is nice. But that's just like, my opinion and I really believe you should do what feels good to you now because it's your wedding, and who cares what looks dated in ten years. That's the great thing about fashion history, really; you get to look back at film and photos and admire and laugh and reminisce or sigh with relief.

Just don't do the newsboy cap thing, unless your wedding theme is Lower East Side Street Urchin. Then it's okay.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:29 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Much of the fun of looking at old family pictures is seeing what people wore "back then." Think how disappointed your grandchildren will be if your wedding pictures are all boringly classic and unremarkable.

Think of how many people love vintage clothing and furnishings. It's fun to romanticize what it must have been like back in a time when everything looked old-fashioned and now seems strange and fascinating to modern eyes.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:14 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wore a vest and tie (and actual button braces underneath). It was an outdoor morning wedding. I looked great! The pics look great, even 10 years later.

Be bold, and enjoy it!
posted by gregglind at 5:41 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes - everything worn today will look terrible and trendy in 15 years. In another 15 after that, it will be vintage or period and will look totally awesome. Don't worry too much about then - worry about what will make you happy on your wedding day. (...And let's face it, the clothes, for all their cost and complication, are only going to be a fraction of it.)
posted by maryr at 6:03 PM on June 21, 2013

It probably will look ridiculous in fifteen years then ten years after that it will seem quaint and retro, like Cindy Lauper t-shirts do now. If you really want to throw the look together so that you'll be embarrassed to look at your pictures, bowler hats for all.
posted by mermily at 6:04 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's not just the groom's outfits that are going to look dated (strapless and/or lace dresses, I'm looking at you).

Come to think of it, the celebrant/guests/cars/food will all look dated. May as well embrace being a product of your decade. The next generation is always cooler (or thinks they are).
posted by superfish at 6:35 PM on June 21, 2013

I think if you're going to wear any kind of traditional menswear, you should do the research and make sure to do it right.

I'm pretty sure suspenders and vests are not really supposed to be worn without a jacket, for example. So, if the groom is going for a casual look and isn't planning to wear a jacket, he shouldn't wear either a vest or suspenders, either.

If he is planning to wear a jacket, then yay! But keep in mind that he should wear the right kind of pants if he wants to wear suspenders. You're not supposed to wear suspenders with pants that have belt loops. He should also probably avoid those awful Mork From Ork style elastic suspenders with the stupid metal clips, unless he wants to look like A) Mork, or B) a high school kid in an amateur production of Guys And Dolls.

Likewise, if he's planning on wearing a hat, the hat should be seasonally appropriate as well as appropriate to the formality of the occasion. If he's going for casual and isn't planning to wear a jacket, he probably shouldn't wear a full on wide-brimmed fedora. If he's wearing pale colors and linen or seersucker, he maybe shouldn't wear a felt hat. You get the idea.

In terms of dated, I wouldn't worry to much. Your wedding is happening in a moment in time. There are trends. There are things we consider "classic" now that won't seem so classic in ten years. There are things that will seem delightful and classic in ten years that probably don't seem so now. So just do what you want.

I mean, as long as you wear the right kind of pants with your suspenders.
posted by Sara C. at 7:09 PM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

I also came in here to suggest the guayabera shirt mentioned above. It's classic, cool, and casual.

Vests worn without jackets look strange and undressed to me. I'm not a fan.
posted by apricot at 7:54 PM on June 21, 2013

If the bride is wearing a huge white haystack of a gown, the groom should be on the same formal page. Or the pictures will end up on YouTube.
posted by Cranberry at 12:03 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Consider a light gray suit instead.
posted by iviken at 3:42 AM on June 22, 2013

Hi, I'm Jesse Thorn, name-checked earlier in the thread. I write Put This On, one of the more popular menswear blogs on the internet.

The look you described is very, very trendy and will look dated in two or three years, to say nothing of ten or twenty. It's also very... cute. Cutesy maybe is a better word. Precious? Something like that.

So, sincerely: if that's what you're going for, go for it. Reads like maybe it isn't, in which case, you shouldn't.
posted by YoungAmerican at 8:35 PM on June 22, 2013 [6 favorites]

It's also very... cute. Cutesy maybe is a better word. Precious? Something like that.

You are looking for the word "twee."
posted by deanc at 1:02 PM on June 23, 2013

Response by poster: Checking back in to give some closure to the thread. Thanks for all the feedback and the great discussion. To answer some of the themes that came up in the discussion:
* We're definitely doing what we want with our wedding. This was an idea that we weren't necessarily in love with and that's why we posted the question. If we really wanted to do it, we would have just gone forward and done it.
* We realize anything we do will date us to the current era. That being said, if wanted to go full absurdist, we'd do that. We're good to do something funny, but we don't really want to be unintentionally funny.

We're probably going to go with something slightly more classic (jacket, light colored, lightweight suit), and hope it isn't hot that day. The jacket will come off as soon as the ceremony is over.
posted by cnc at 4:40 PM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

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