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Sporty, monochrome wedding

8 July 2009

Here’s a thought on wedding attire. It’s not really traditional and it doesn’t really fit with the rules. In that sense I suppose it is a way to break the rules.

Anyway. I’ve written before how the default attire at a wedding should be the smartest thing you have. If morning dress is not required or suitable, it should be smart, discreet and dignified. The best combination might be a navy blue suit in a smooth, worsted wool, white cotton shirt and satin tie. Single breasted. White linen handkerchief. Black shoes. It’s hard to think of anything smarter in a lounge suit; though perhaps a Macclesfield check in the tie would be a nice nod to tradition.

However, it does strike me as a shame that a man following this advice will end up wearing to a wedding pretty much what he wears to work.

It is a shame because today not many men wear suits casually. They don’t wear them at the weekend and they don’t wear them for sport. So the sporty end of the lounge-suit range is criminally underused.

Men don’t wear strong checks; they don’t wear cottons or linens; they don’t wear great weaves like hopsack. These patterns and materials are unsuited to the dignity of business, so they rarely make it into the office. And at the weekend jeans and sweatshirts dominate.

So social occasions like weddings are a glorious opportunity to wear these sporty combinations. At a wedding I went to recently a friend was wearing a bespoke tan linen suit, brown oxfords, a pink-and-white striped shirt, a sky-blue tie and a pocket handkerchief. He looked great – but it’s hard to imagine any other scenario where he or any other of my friends would wear a combination like this. The joy of rough cloths and bright colours would be lost.


As a defence to this flouting of the rules, I would also point out that weddings today really are more casual than they used to be. There are fewer formalities, there is less prescribed structure, hell most of them aren’t even religious. So while the sanctity of marriage certainly demands dignity in dress, people shouldn’t follow ideas of propriety derived from an entirely different occasion.

It is always good to draw in one or two ideas of tradition though, if only because they have created such beautiful archetypes for us. In this case I would highlight the use of monochrome as smarter and more formal. Paring down the use of colour immediately makes things more dignified.

For all these reasons my outfit to this recent wedding was: a pale grey Glen-check suit, white cotton shirt, dark silver tie, white linen handkerchief and brown shoes. Sporty in the pattern of the suit, but retaining formality through monochrome.

So this is one long self-justification, basically.

I did say someone else looked good though, right?