Sartorial emergency for impending wedding
May 11, 2014 1:22 PM   Subscribe

I'm attending a wedding in a week and have been told by a relative that I should bring a suit. I don't have a suit, haven't owned one in a long time. I'm needing to unearth my inner Italian to get some threads that work for this occasion.

Back story - at my brother's first wedding, I was woefully under-dressed and compared to my bro's tux the contrast was somewhat dramatic. At his second wedding, though I did a credible job of dressing for the occasion (lesson learned from previous botch) still the get up was a bit shaky and I had to make up for that with youthful panache.

Cut to the present. I'm attending my brother's daughter's wedding in Palm Springs. Weather is likely to be desert hot. Attendees are southern California upscale types who likely have summer weight suits in their closets, maybe 2 or 3. Who knows!

I shop at thrifts and Costco and it works for me. I just did a buzz through the local mall looking for something appropriate and spent more time crafting this post than my run through. It's looking grim, Mefi's. I had hoped to find a light weight sweater I could wear but it's the wrong season.

I have what composes my interview outfit, a grey long sleeve Pierre Cardin shirt and neutral tie, plus some nice black pants. I have suede brown Clarke shoes, comfortable walking shoes. That's it. My dressy black shoes have been lost to the sands of time, though there's a chance I've got them stashed somewhere.

Budget-wise, I'm somewhat reluctant to go drop 2-3 hunnerd on a suit I'm likely to wear once a decade if that. If I could find a decent jacket in a thrift that's a possibility, but you never know when you'll find something decent that will fit properly.

I'm hoping the hivemind has faced this onerous proposition and will come up with a solution to help me channel my inner Italian here. Barring that I'll have to contact my niece, explain my predicament and see if I can negotiate a garment agreement that works for her.
posted by diode to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Why don't you just rent one or go to some kind of discount suit store. The employees at any of those places will be able to figure out what you need so that you don't have to overthink it. For instance if you're in LA, this place has very good reviews.
posted by acidic at 1:31 PM on May 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Not sure what you mean about your "inner Italian," but at any rate do not call your niece to "negotiate" what's acceptable. That puts her in an awkward position and she has enough to worry about without dressing her guests.

Assuming that this is not a black tie affair, your interview attire wth a sports jacket should be fine. You can find a reasonably low-priced sports jacket at somewhere like Kohl's if you can't find anything at thrift stores.
posted by amro at 1:34 PM on May 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

Based on previous questions, you're at least 55 years old. You should own a suit, period.

Go here, buy suit separates (of the same suit, not the cheapest jacket and the cheapest pants) in navy or dark gray (not black) in your size (you probably know your pants size, hopefully you can go somewhere and have them tell you your jacket size, which is NOT M, L, or XL), and have them overnighted. Yes, this is the "cheap" option.

You also need black or dark brown dress shoes in your size ("comfortable suede walking shoes" are not appropriate), a white shirt with a point or spread collar, and a tie. The one (ONE???) tie you own is fine, I guess, if you're really dead set on not buying one, but otherwise buy this one for $15 and have it express-shipped; glen plaid is the traditional wedding tie.

This is your niece's wedding. You owe her and your brother and the rest of your family the courtesy and respect of being appropriately dressed for their event. Maybe you won't wear this again for a decade (though I bet once you have it, you will find that there are occasions where it is far more appropriate than what passes for 'dress clothes' in your wardrobe), but that's irrelevant: it is what is required now for this event.
posted by The Michael The at 1:51 PM on May 11, 2014 [32 favorites]

Please, whatever happens suit-wise, do not call your niece about this. I am kinda hoping that part was a joke.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:56 PM on May 11, 2014 [11 favorites]

I bet there is a Burlington Coat Factory near you somewhere. Go there, ask the menswear guy to help you find a jacket and matching pants (flat front, please) that fit. They'll hem the pants for you at no extra charge. Probably will cost you around $100 total. Won't be the greatest suit in the world, but will be worlds better than what you have. You can even wear your current shirt and tie, if you want. Or, if you can't find Burlington Coat, try Men's Wearhouse.

I know you hate suits. I know you're being true to yourself (or whatever) by not owning a suit for all these years. You are my brother-in-law, who did not wear a suit to our wedding, when everyone else did (even their dad, who was an auto mechanic, and hadn't owned a suit in 40 years), and although I like him very much, I've never forgotten that -- because his flat refusal to wear a suit basically said "yeah, you're not important enough for me to do this for".

Take a day. Buy a suit. Don't make it about you. Let it be about her.
posted by anastasiav at 2:11 PM on May 11, 2014 [10 favorites]

People who only wear a suit once in a decade are precisely the people who need to own a suit, because those once-in-a-decade events are very important. So buy a suit. Go to Dallas Shoe Warehouse or Nordstrom Rack and buy an inexpensive pair of black shoes that look like this. Wear socks that match the pants on your suit. Keep them in the back of your closet for when these occasions are necessary.

Take it from a guy who used to be a scruffy grad student and scruff resarcher-- being "the guy who never wears suits" is making a statement of, "I am so adult and enough of an independent free spirit that no one tells me how to dress." The flip side of this is that you need to be adult and independent enough to perfectly pull off a suit when the occasion calls for it.
posted by deanc at 2:13 PM on May 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Can't you buy a sport coat? I don't think you really need a suit, if you don't dress up that often. But if the wedding is inside, the AC will be at full blast. A shirt and tie and no jacket looks too casual to me. I'd rather see a western shirt, bolo and boots if you can pull that off.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:13 PM on May 11, 2014

If your relatives felt it necessary to tell you that you need to wear a suit, you should wear a suit. Unless you're incredibly close to your niece, you should not be negotiating what you're going to wear. That's just not cool.

I strongly dislike getting dressed up but I still own the female versions of a suit. I have things that work for weddings, funerals, work-related occasions and interviews. You're lucky to be male, a single suit can work for all of those occasions (more or less). It is something that while you don't wear it often, when you need it, it is necessary.

Go to Macy's, or Men's Wearhouse, or Burlington. Ask for help. Tell the person helping you how much you want to spend. If you're feeling financially pinched, feel free to decrease your wedding present to your niece.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:29 PM on May 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks for all the replies. Yes, I've procrastinated a bit on this. Off now to Men's Wearhouse to consider getting a sport jacket, or the full ensemble, whatever seems best suited to what I can find. Yes, I realize this is about my niece, thanks for the reminder, that's why I posted here to get some pointers for getting this done correctly.
posted by diode at 2:45 PM on May 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

I would strongly suggest you get a dark grey suit in an all-season fabric like a tropical wool or a silk blend.

A dark grey suit will get you through almost any formal occasion, including weddings and funerals, and even black tie events if you have legit reasons for not being able to wear a tux (not wanting to rent one doesn't count, sorry). And of course, job interviews.

I hate to say it, but... I've attended at least one funeral a year for the last ten years, so you may be underestimating how often you'd need this kind of suit. Obviously avoid paying full price if you can, but if not, it will probably still turn out to be money well spent. You can get your suit, have it tailored, get a couple of white shirts and a tie added in, and you will be That Guy Who Scrubs Up Really Well, I'm Impressed.
posted by tel3path at 2:49 PM on May 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

If you can swing it I would really get a suit. Sport coat still makes you a bit of a That Guy. Don't worry about getting the exact right weight or whatever though - as tel3path indicated, a dark grey suit will be fine for anything, and wearing the wrong weight/color of suit will never make you a That Guy in normal circles.
posted by ftm at 3:05 PM on May 11, 2014

Suit, not a sports jacket, no way. And real dress shoes. FYI, a sweater is not appropriate garb for a wedding any time of year, always wear a jacket (I would throw in some qualifiers but I worry you would abuse them).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:11 PM on May 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Okay then. Yes, I was joking, this post is a bit overboard. I'm sure I can manage the costs involved, and yes, I'd rather do the right thing and show up looking good. Yes, I'm overdue for a suit, and yes, I've taken the attitude thing a bit too far in that respect.
posted by diode at 4:13 PM on May 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Readers of this column will be gratified to learn I am now the proud owner of a tropical wool dark grey suit with white shirt, alterations to be completed before I leave. Thanks tel3path for that particular bit of information. Mission accomplished. Sometimes knowing what to do is 90% of the job. Still need to find some black shoes and yes, there were a couple of 'gulp' moments. They treated me well at Men's Wearhouse, and hey, I clean up good it seems.
posted by diode at 4:17 PM on May 11, 2014 [41 favorites]

Good for you! It is possible to buy dress shoes that don't hurt your feet. Have faith. Try things on. Expect to spend $100+

Comfortable feet matter for you.

Enjoy the wedding - it's a better reason than a funeral.
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 10:28 PM on May 11, 2014

Guess a follow up wouldn't hurt. Great suit. I was surprised by how casual the attire at the wedding could be ranging from suits, to linen, to casual nice. I was about the most snappy dresser there if I do say so myself. Even the guys in the wedding party were wearing converse tennis shoes along with their suits. Still, I'm glad I have this very nice get-up now and it was worth it simply to see my family goggle at the dressed up guy who usually shows up in something a little off the wall. I managed to find some thrift store shoes in good condition (black of course) that flew under the radar and saved 80 bux there so face was saved in that department.

Thanks for all the helpful hints and occasional barb that got me hence to the men's shoppe.
posted by diode at 7:15 PM on June 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

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