What to wear as a groom who hates formal wear?
May 18, 2016 1:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm getting married this summer :D and can't decide what to wear D: I really bristle at the idea of wearing traditional men's formal wear, especially a tux—it just feels wrong and inauthentic for who I am. I need help finding something that feels right and while we've had no trouble saying 'screw tradition we'll do it our way' for pretty much everything else wedding wise I'm struggling in figuring out what that is for me in this case.

To set the tone a little, our wedding will be pretty non-traditional—outdoors, in the round with guests sitting on blankets and lawn chairs, non-religious, self-uniting. The most traditional element is probably that my bride will be wearing the white dress of her dreams (I don't have too many details as it will be a surprise reveal) but she was very clear that we don't need to match color or formality wise. It will be quite hot and humid and I'd really like an outfit that I can wear from the ceremony in the afternoon until I pass out in our tent late that night.

Fashion-wise I'm pretty jeans-and-t-shirt day-to-day. I like clothes that are loose and flowy. I'm not exactly gender-conforming but I don't want to go the dress/skirt route as it would divert attention from my bride and her beautiful dress and because it would make these decisions even more fraught. Skewing androgynous or queer is fine though. I just want something practical and anti-formal enough that I feel comfortable in it but that still feels special.

Ugh, I feel like such a mess—hopefully there is enough here for you to understand where I'm coming from, if not I can try to clarify. Off the wall and out of the box suggestions encouraged. Thanks!
posted by metaphorever to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (34 answers total)
A tuxedo would be overkill and inappropriate for the wedding you describe anyway, so don't worry about that. Googling "casual outdoor wedding men's attire" will give you some pretty solid ideas.
posted by cakelite at 1:41 PM on May 18, 2016

Sounds a lot like my brother and sister-in-law's wedding. He was, I think, going to wear jeans and a button-down, but at the last minute decided to get a nice gray suit that he wore with a purple shirt and flip-flops. It was very "him," and it was a great look.

My husband and I eloped, but I still wore a white dress, just short jersey. He wore khaki shorts and a Hawaiian wedding shirt (white with white pattern, not a loud Hawaiian shirt). He got the shirt from lavahut.com; it's nice. If it suits the rest of your wedding or style at all, I'd recommend it.
posted by Kriesa at 1:41 PM on May 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

You could look into a embroidered linen shirt (other places have ones without collars).
posted by wintersweet at 1:43 PM on May 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

My wife and I are doing a vow renewal thing this summer and I am looking at doing some sort of vest & tie thing. You can even pair it with jeans for less formality.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:43 PM on May 18, 2016

My husband worn relaxed linen tan pants with a white linen shirt with the sleeves rolled up.
I had a special tie made at etsy with a personal message embroidered on the back.
posted by ReluctantViking at 1:43 PM on May 18, 2016 [14 favorites]

A linen suit in a light color would be very nice.

A linen, silk, or nice cotton tunic over pants of the same material?
posted by sallybrown at 1:45 PM on May 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I am thinking beach-wedding attire works here, nice loose white linen pants, and a similar, simple tunic sort of top, maybe a nice piece of jewelry at you neck or wrist to accent and some nice natural-material sort of sandals or moccasin type shoes.
posted by Iteki at 1:45 PM on May 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

This pretty much describes my wedding. I wore a white sundress, my hubby wore a shirt and tie for the ceremony and then changed in to regular old shorts and a t-shirt. Everybody else wore something slightly fancier than their usual summer ware.

I would say something like "Classy country club summer casual"? Something like these shorts and this shirt?
posted by bleep at 1:46 PM on May 18, 2016

Other ideas: embroidered Western shirts, "androgynous wedding attire" at DapperQ (half of them are still basically tuxes, but there are some other cool outfits).
posted by wintersweet at 1:48 PM on May 18, 2016

Do you want a suit at all, even? What is your budget?

Me, I am thinking maybe some kind of really lovely band collar shirt and silk pants - you could even get luxurious women's/androgynous silk pants if they would fit.

Hell, you could go head to toe androgynous women's flowy silk if you wanted.

If this were me, I would get a really, really nice shirt from an unusual maker - check around Unionmade generally, or look at the Engineered Garments collarless shirts at the Bureau. (I once bought a clearance scarf from the Bureau - they are very reliable, shipping-wise.)
posted by Frowner at 1:51 PM on May 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

You could just wear a suit and not a tux. In my research on wedding blogs, I also see a lot of suit-like options, such as khakis and a sport-coat, a three piece suit worn without the jacket because it's hot, or a nice pair of trousers with a collared shirt, tie, and maybe suspenders. Basically "festive business/business casual". Summer weight suits exist, in lighter colors and fabrics. Seersucker would be dapper as hell.

You mention it doesn't bother your fiancee, but it always seems weird to me when brides pull out all the stops on the poufy silk gown with cathedral train and the guy couldn't even be bothered to wear a tie. But again, it's your day, be the princess of your dreams, etc.

Jeans are an option, but that seems especially silly if your issue is the heat. In that case, seersucker trousers and a bow tie are going to be a million times cooler than anything you could come up with to dress up a pair of jeans.

Other options that are far from suit/business-esque looks would be:

- Something linen? Linen trousers and guyabera, or just a simple linen shirt?

- A kilt? Traditional ones are wool and, again, worn with a lot of accessories that would be no better in heat than a suit. But maybe you can come up with a hot weather kilt option?

- Offbeat Bride has this great post about unconventional groomwear. A lot of this is traditional cultural attire, so YMMV whether it would be appropriate for your wedding. There are a lot of period looks that seem like they might be more forgiving in the heat, if you can find any context for dressing like a Venetian nobleman or the like.

- My fiance is not really much of a suit guy, so I floated good quality shorts, a great pair of shoes, and something like a really fantastic Hawaiian shirt or guyabera or some other top that would read as festive and exciting rather than stuffy. It turned out he wanted to wear a suit and tie, so go figure I guess. But yeah, you could do that.
posted by Sara C. at 1:52 PM on May 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

What about a kilt? Any other heritage on either of your family's sides that you can mine?

We got married outside in the woods. It was a pretty casual affair (although we weren't camping). I wore the dress of my dreams, which was not white and not floor length. My husband wore a grey suit, and took the jacket & tie off after the ceremony. On the practical side of things, there's something to be said for using getting married as an "excuse" to get a nice (not necessarily expensive--it wasn't in our case), properly fitting (!) suit & shoes.

For some visual ideas, google "groom casual wedding" as a poster above suggested, and check out Offbeat Bride and A Practical Wedding if you haven't yet.
posted by quaking fajita at 1:53 PM on May 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is for summer, right?

I think your best bet would be a trouser suit in white (make sure it matches the white of your bride's dress) or pearl grey. This could be made out of tropical wool, silk, or (very tricky because of the wrinkles) linen. Skinny fit, if that suits your build.

Ah, yessss... I'm visualizing the very bluest of blue silk dress shirts to go with that. And at the neck, a white ribbon tied with a bow.

On your feet, I see leather lace-up Oxfords in a nice shade of tan. I'm toying with the idea of silver leather Oxfords, but it's fifty-fifty whether that would make you look like a bellend, so get an honest opinion if you try this.

BTW, there's no way a tuxedo is "traditional" for what sounds like an informal afternoon wedding. Tuxedos are for formal weddings held after 6pm.
posted by tel3path at 2:00 PM on May 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

Be mindful of going overboard on cultural appropriation, but something in the vein of linen slacks and one of the simpler styles of guayabera wedding shirts would probably be very nice in that kind of environment.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:00 PM on May 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

My friend and her husband got married in a casual tropical setting and he dressed similarly to what a lot of people are suggesting here: loose linen short-sleeved button-down and longish shorts. The key was that everything he wore was new and pressed, so that it looked really nice despite being casual.
posted by lunasol at 2:18 PM on May 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Guayabera Wedding Shirt is what you want!

I wanted Husbunny to wear one at our wedding (we went slightly more formal and I regret it to this day.)

You can get them on line or Macy's has them perennially.

Wear over comfy cotton or linen pants, and a nice pair of slip on shoes,

A lei or flower garland would be a lovely touch.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:55 PM on May 18, 2016

Seconding the suggestion upthread for a vest which implies some sort of formality (and distinguishes that day and the way you are dressed from all other days - unless you are a big vest wearer) but itsn't too formal.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 2:56 PM on May 18, 2016

You say you like loose/flowy clothes, what about a poet-smock type shirt, or one with a lace-up placket? You might want to stay away from the ones that look totally like pirate costumes (or heck, you might not!) but there are some that are simply a cream-colored shirt with a wide collar and a loose open neckline, and the cord can be simple or elegant or rugged.
posted by aimedwander at 3:02 PM on May 18, 2016

I'm seriously trying not to be snarky here, but this question reads as if you have literally never looked at anyone else's wedding online. This is not an unsolved problem! You can wear a cool suit. You can wear a casual linen suit and converse. You can wear jeans. You can wear flipflops. You can wear beach casual. It's going to be OK, and also nobody is looking at you :)
posted by DarlingBri at 3:04 PM on May 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'm here to nth checking out Offbeat Bride, especially if you spend some time scrolling through the Real Weddings tag.

Lots of the dudes are still in the traditional tux, but you'll see a few formal-but-fun ideas too.
posted by sparklemotion at 3:07 PM on May 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Offbeat Bride is indeed your friend here. We went pretty non-traditional as well and my husband wore a black Utilikilt, black boots and a black shirt kind of like this. Quite dashing and I say it myself.

Oh and congratulations!
posted by Beti at 3:14 PM on May 18, 2016

Lots of great ideas above. I think the trick is to think of the event not as a ~formal~ one, but a ~special~ one. So something you wouldn't otherwise normally wear.

I'd also look into hair and makeup things that you could do to up the specialness of the day. It's basically a costume opportunity and adornment of all types are on the table.

Here's a wedding with a very non-trad everything, and it is awsome. (I know the groom and my friend's shot it, so I am biased :)
posted by wemayfreeze at 3:17 PM on May 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Here's a picture of legendary dirtbag climber Yvon Choinard wearing a Pataloha Hawaiian shirt with a tux and bowtie.
posted by furtive at 3:55 PM on May 18, 2016

Filipino men wear a gorgeous, extremely light weight embroidered shirt at their weddings called a barong (examples here or just google "filipino barong shirt") It would be perfect for an outdoor wedding on a hot and humid day while still maintaining a connection to wedding traditions (although not yours)
posted by metahawk at 4:40 PM on May 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Sorry for my imprecise language. I should have said no suits at all. Some of the pants Frowner linked to look lovely, but I worry about the legs being too short for me. DarlingBri, I think perhaps the problem is that I have spent too much time pouring over Offbeat Bride. I know I sound clueless but it's not for a lack of looking and studying what other people have done-it's that I don't see myself reflected in those people. I keep hoping to find someone to point to to say 'they did it, it's okay for you to too' but I can see how that has been counter productive. You're right, though, everything will be fine and everyone will be too distracted watching my bride to worry too much about my outfit so I should do what feels right.

I guess maybe I'm just looking for permission buy a new pair of my favorite pants from high school and dress it up with a very nice shirt (lots of good suggestions here). That's what is going to win in terms of not making me feel self conscious so that's probably the best choice, even if it's not what's correct in terms of avoiding fashion faux-pas or whatever, right?
posted by metaphorever at 9:03 PM on May 18, 2016

My take-away from wedding planning is that there isn't that much fashion faux pas to worry about if if it's your wedding. The only 2 opinions that matter are yours and the bride's. Pick something you know will be comfy and that she's ok with and everything will be great.
posted by bleep at 10:52 PM on May 18, 2016

Yes, you have permission to buy your favourite pants from highschool. Maybe pair them with a white shirt and some white converse. You could even wear a white tee and pair it with a cool vest! Or a gender-neutral cool vest! (I'm not trying to over-dress you, I'm just pointing out that the pants are 100% fine and give you plenty of scope, however you want to roll the rest of this.)
posted by DarlingBri at 12:14 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

I am not super into your favorite pants from HS, and I think you could probably find (especially now in this fashion moment) something dressier/flowier and fancier by browsing Zara, Ssense, even ASOS or End Clothing. There should be lots of dark flowy unusual men's pants at various price points (End and Ssense are expensive, Zara is midpoint, ASOS is cheap). If you do get your favorite pants from HS, here is one thing I implore of you: take them to a tailor if they are so long that they sometimes drag upon the ground. One cheap fix that can really improve the look of any pair of pants is simply to make sure they are the right length. Every time I see someone who can't be arsed to shorten their pants, I cry a little inside (especially because you can shorten standard, casual pants yourself with a little care - but take the wedding ones to the tailor).

But at the same time, I think that as long as your girlfriend doesn't mind what you wear and your family isn't going to make your life unbearable, you should just wear what you like best. I like fancy clothes very much, but I would much rather go to a wedding where people are dressed in a way that makes them happy than a wedding where they're all trussed up in costly clothes they hate.
posted by Frowner at 5:20 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

I wore a vaguely Zoot-Suit-ish combo to my wedding, so git a light floppy blazer to go with the baggy pants.
posted by ovvl at 6:11 AM on May 19, 2016

Thanks for the online browsing suggestions Frowner. It's such a relief to finally see some stuff in silhouettes that could actually see myself wearing that also tick the 'fancy pants for a fancy occasion' box! I've got a few favs from Zara 1 2 3 and ASOS 1 2 3 (and, yes, I'd get whatever I pick properly hemmed). I'm still undecided on shirts but I am more flexible there in terms of not hating what most places have in their men's department. I'd love suggestions from anyone about what tops to pair with any of the pants I linked. Thanks everyone!
posted by metaphorever at 8:56 AM on May 19, 2016

OK I'm just going to exercise the veto I don't have on ASOS #3 because "jersey" is basically sweatpants.

In terms of tops you have not told us about yourself -- do you want short sleeves? Long sleeves? Are you trim? Are you tubby? And do you have thoughts or feelings about vests because I think this is cool and would be an awesome play on the occasion and would look amazing with these ASOS pants you flagged.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:13 AM on May 19, 2016

I'm 6' tall with a 36" waist (In men's pant sizes, not sure if that's vanity sizing or a real number), medium build. I'm pretty flexible on sleeves as long as long sleeves can be rolled up or are loose enough to stay cool and not restrict movement. I'm kinda meh on vests in general but I do get that they are a great signifier. I am much more willing to go more traditional/masculine coded on the top if it will still work with the pants. Also, budget-wise I forgot to mention that I'm probably on the low-to-mid range not just because that leaves more cash for the open bar tab but also so I won't feel as guilty if we go all trash-the-dress and I want to join in.
posted by metaphorever at 10:11 AM on May 19, 2016

I think that, if I were you, I'd go back to first principles here.

If you could wear anything at your wedding, what would you want it to be like? Do you want to wear something more festive than your usual clothes? Do you want to feel very much like yourself* and not have attire that signals that this day is different from all other days? Is your priority comfort?

I think "what kinds of garments have I enjoyed wearing in the past" or "what is the ideal form of the clothes I already wear" might not be what you're looking for, here. That's generally not how people arrive at what to wear to their own wedding. Which might be why nothing you've seen in a bunch of examples of what people have worn to their own wedding has really called out to you. (I would bet money that most of the people getting married in tuxedos have never even worn a tuxedo before, and probably don't even particularly like tuxedos.)

On the other hand, if you're really really 100% positive that you want to stand at one end of the aisle in a pair of jncos and a t-shirt, while you watch your future wife walk up the aisle in a traditional wedding gown, again, it's your day. Nobody is going to take that away from you.

So, yeah. Go back to what you want to wear, rather than a list of garments you don't want to wear. You can start as conceptual as you want, even something as simple as "I'd like to wear something special" or "I'd like to be as comfortable as possible and don't care about social signals at all". That will help you get to your destination.

(Also looking in person is going to be a HUGE help here. One thing that's hard about wedding dresses is that, in an online storefront interface, they kind of all look the same. Seeing pictures from actual weddings has helped, but I kind of understand that I'm not going to know what I want until I'm physically in a store trying things on. It will also help you avoid ordering wedding sweat pants.)

*This is very much an issue I'm dealing with in my own wedding dress hunt, so I totally feel you.
posted by Sara C. at 10:13 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you've decided what silhouette you like, getting it in a good quality fabric (linen or cotton are great for heat and humidity, and if good quality can look very nice) and well tailored will make it feel special, imo. Embroidery is another good way to make clothes feel fancy, and something along the lines of a kurta shirt (like the guayabera shirts mentioned above) could be very comfortable if it fits well and is good quality, but still special.
posted by rafaella gabriela sarsaparilla at 6:54 AM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

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