Gentleman’s Query – Choosing Wedding Attire
In the past couple of months, quite a few gentlemen have made use of our Gentleman’s Query section and have asked us for help in matters of dress and etiquette. Today, we want to present to you one of these email exchanges that may help a groom-to-be to decide on what to wear on his wedding day. Of course, we only publish these emails anonymously with prior consent.
Initial Email Asking About What to Wear For a Wedding
Good Afternoon Mr. Schneider,
I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. There was an outfit that I had in mind for my wedding before finding your entry about the Stresemann Stroller Suit on your website, and you convinced me that I was headed in the right direction. The ceremony, which will be in a church, will take place at either 12:30 or 2:00 in the fall. The reception in a tent overlooking the river would start at 3pm or 4:30 and will last 5 hours. I planned to wear a stroller/ Stresemann to my wedding. Then I came across the following statement by Nicholas Antongiavanni (author of the book The Suit) about the Stresemann which gave me reason to pause:
“It’s a nice garment, but hardly practical, in that you won’t ever have an occasion to wear it again. In the days of yore, you could haul it out for Easter services, baptisms, things like that, but no more. I figure, if a man wants to dress up in something thoroughly impractical for his wedding, he may as well go with the morning coat.”
Here is my problem. I already own a dark gray suit with a double-breasted waistcoat. And certainly, I do not wish to wear my old suit for my wedding. Since I do not own a black suit, I figured that I would get the black jacket, striped or check gray trousers and have an extra pair of black trousers made (as you suggested) so I can still get use out of the outfit at a later date. For the wedding, I would wear a buff waistcoat, light blue shirt with a white collar, the black coat and the stripped pants. Yes, I am going for the vintage-classic look. I would put the best man in a gray SB or DB suit.
Do you have any thoughts or suggestions about such an outfit? Perhaps change the waistcoat color? Shirt?
Also, if I were to go with a blue double-breasted (something that is missing from my closet), in what outfit would you put the best man. FYI, there are no other groomsmen.
Thank you for your time and help.
Arbiter Elegantiarum’s Reply: The Stresemann
First of all, thank you for your kind words. I got married in 2009 and hence can relate to your situation quite well.
The Stresemann Stroller is indeed a very nice garment that used to be worn rather frequently in the past for business occasions and weddings. Especially in the US, many seem to have forgotten about this garment, while the tuxedo in all shapes and forms prevails. Nevertheless, the Stresemann is both correct and looks attractive on most men.
Historically, the Stresemann is the second most formal garment for daywear and as such, the equivalent to the tuxedo / dinner jacket (with the morning coat being the most formal daywear equivalent of the tailcoat). It is an ideal wedding garment for men who do not want to invest in a morning coat but nevertheless want to look dapper. I wholeheartedly disagree with Nicholas Antongiavanni aka Michael Anton about the usefulness of a stroller after the wedding. You could wear it to business occasions instead of a suit or, as a guest to other weddings. I do own a stroller myself and I wear it about 6 to 8 times a year. So if you like to dress in a classic way – and to me it seems you do – please do not worry that it will be a single-use garment.
Considering the fact that you will get married mid-day with a reception following afterwards, traditional etiquette would dictate changing into a tuxedo. Now, your guests will probably never know nor expect this, so it is completely optional, and yet ideal if you’d like to mix up your look.
If you are open to the idea of changing, you can buy a tuxedo, or you could get a charcoal Stresemann jacket with matching pants as well as a pair of striped trousers. For the ceremony, you could wear the Stresemann and for the reception you could wear the matching pants, a dark matching vest and maybe a bow tie or a different tie. Your dark gray suit would do also work for this purpose.
Otherwise, wear a Stresemann first and switch to a tuxedo later. If money is of no concern, you could also go with a morning coat and tails, though you might feel overly formal in it since the reception will be in a garden and not a ballroom.
With regard to the waistcoat, buff is fine but pearl grey a good classic alternative. In general, I think it is important that you like the look and feel comfortable in it. Do not worry about what certain books say. Of course, you can wear a silver-grey necktie with a white shirt and a lily of the valley in your buttonhole. But if you like the light blue with a white contrast collar and a yellow tie, go for it. Just bear in mind, it is the day of your bride and you. You celebrate the commitment to each other – that’s what it is all about. Especially in the US, is sometimes seems like the day is entirely about the bride. While I agree that she is the main character, but you will both be equally represented in the photos. What colors does she wear, what colors does her bouquet have? Maybe you want to match your socks, waistcoat or boutonniere.
I’d be very curious to know what outfit you decide on and I would appreciate a picture!
Best of luck, Arbiter Elegantiarum
PS: Do you mind if I publish your email anonymously as part of our Gentleman’s Query Section?
Anonymous Replies – Stresemann It Is
Arbiter elegantiarum -
Thank you very much for your detailed response! I appreciate your taking the time to respond to my inquiry.
We need to bring proper dress back to the U.S.
My mind is resolved – I will wear the Stresemann to my wedding. Now, I need to determine whether to wear a black or gray jacket with peak lapels. While I love gray, I already have a charcoal gray suit with a dashing double-breasted waistcoat and a light gray pinstripe suit. In my mind, I am unable to justify my purchasing another gray suit. Additionally, since I have neither a black suit nor a black jacket, I figure that it makes sense for me to add a black outfit to the collection. As much as I would love to wear a double breasted jacket, I am leaning towards a single-breasted jacket with a pair of sharp gray trousers (pinstripe, check, or herringbone).
The bride is wearing diamond white, I think. You know how it goes: very few details are shared. The maid of honor is wearing persimmon.
Waistcoat – duff or dove gray – that is the question.
It would be my pleasure to share a photo or two from my wedding day. The wedding will be in October. So, if you don’t receive a photo until early November, it is not because I have forgotten.
I do not mind if you use my question in the query section, and I give you permission to edit it as you see fit.
It is funny how paths almost cross. I used to live in St. Paul in the early 90s.
Arbiter Elegantiarum’s Second Reply
I am glad to hear you decided on the Stresemann! I would have chosen it as well if I would not have acquired a superb morning coat from 1926 a couple of years ago… but that’s another story.
In your case, you should probably go with black. Since you want a double breasted waistcoat, I suggest you go with a single breasted coat. That way you display more of the waistcoat and it should not be too warm. Also, I would recommend to wear peaked lapels, it simply adds some formality and is the classic lapel style for the Stresemann.
Your Best Man can wear a normal suit, that should be fine. My Best Man wore a tuxedo all day, and I chose a tailcoat for the evening. Since you are the bridegroom, you should be dressed a notch above the other men.
Kind regards, arbiter elegantiarum
In case you do have a question as well, please do not hesitate to ask and we will try to help you.