Tuesday 17 November 2009

The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Suits - PART ONE

The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Suits

A wedding is a bringing together of people to celebrate the partnership and commitment of two people in love. The wedding industry falls over itself to introduce their business to just one of those people, the bride.
My business is focused upon the Groom, however to reach this particular client I still have to market towards a Bride, after all it is the bride who makes the final decisions, isn’t it? I for one do not think that this is the case for everyone. I meet conscientiousness men all the time who like (want) to be involved in the planning of their wedding. Some men want to consider all of the options before coming to the correct decision, some men just want to be part of the decision making process. It is for these men that I am writing this article. If you want to make the best possible decisions for your wedding day, if you want to feel effortlessly stylish and match your chosen colour schemes or themes then read on. ... This article is for you.
Chapter One – Universal Truth
There are some basic rules to abide by when deciding upon the correct wedding suit for your day, these are universal whether you are hiring, buying or having a suit made.
1. The correct suit for the correct setting. Always consider the venue when deciding upon the correct wedding suit. The overall look of the professional photography will be set by the venue.
2. Remember who you will be standing next to. The brides dress is also another important factor. Although you as a groom cannot see the dress another member of the party could see an image of the dress. You do not want to look under or over dressed standing next to the bride.
3. Themes and Colour Schemes. Always remember to stay within your colour scheme or theme, adding additional colours to a two or three colour theme may well clash or look out of place or unnecessary.
4. Don’t forget the others. The most important members of the Grooms party are: The Groom (obviously), the Best man and the Father or the Bride (or whoever is giving the bride away). Try to imagine the Grooms party as a total entity, although these members of the party maybe wearing different things the above rules must be applied to ensure a collective theme.
5. Complimentary. Although this is your wedding too, it is not all about you. A gentleman will always complement the bride. A harmony must be struck between the groom’s party and the Bridal party to ensure both are synchronised but not crowding or overshadowing the other.
6. Size, Fit and Design. These are your decisions and no matter which method you choose to procure your wedding suit never compromise on the size, fit or design of your wedding suit. An expensive ill fitting suit will look hideous in comparison to a perfect fitting cheaper suit.
7. Do your research. As is the case in choosing any service for your wedding, you must feel comfortable the supplier you have chosen can deliver the goods. Your wedding is a one-off and as such each individual component needs to be correct for that one day. So research every vendor including your suit supplier. Look for reviews from real customers, look at actual finished product, speak to the vendor and understand the information they are telling you and then research what they have told you. Spending an hour researching online can save hours of distress at a later date.

Chapter Two – What are the Options?
There are limitless options for procuring a wedding suit but I will highlight the three most common and the try to inform you as to the pros and cons of each option. We can then look in greater details at each different option.
Hire Pros.
· Price. The cost to hire a wedding suit is far more affordable than purchasing the same suit.
· Choice. Most hire shops will have a selection of suits, waistcoats and other wedding accessories to choose from.
· Sizing & Fit. Most hire shops will have a large selection of sizes.
· After the Wedding. Just return the suits with no need to clean or store the items.
Hire Cons.
· Worn. The item of clothing you are renting has been worn before.
· Choice. Although you have a choice, this choice is not limitless.
· Sizing and Fit. Hire suits can be ill fitting if not correctly measured or fitted.
· After the Wedding. The suits are returned and you have nothing to keep.
Buying Read-to-Wear Pros.
· Price. Sometimes a real bargain can be had by shopping in the sale.
· Choice. There is a vast collection of suit designers out there.
· Sizing and Fit. If you are lucky a suit may fit with little alteration.
· After the Wedding. You now own a suit to wear to other functions.
Buying Read-to-Wear Cons.
· Price. Good quality designers are not always value for money. You are always paying a premium for design.
· Choice. You are limited to what you can buy in the shops at the time (what is in fashion that season)
· Sizing and Fit. Alterations are nearly always required to ready-to-wear suits; these can be expensive and can alter the design of the suit.
· After the wedding. You now have a suit which you have to clean and look after.

Having a Suit Made Pros.
· Price. Although more expensive a made-to-measure or bespoke garment offers great value for money.
· Choice. Endless, limitless and vast choice of fabrics and styles.
· Sizing and fit. A number of fittings ensure the correct fit
· After the Wedding. You now own a perfect fitting suit, which can be looked after for a lifetime.
Having a Suit Made Cons.
· Price. A made-to-measure or bespoke suit is more expensive than a ready-to-wear.
· Choice. A mind boggling quantity of fabrics and styles to wade through can be confusing to the uninitiated.
· Sizing and Fit. The size and fit is decided by yourself and your tailor. You must have a firm idea of what you do and don’t like before starting out on the fittings, which can take up to 12 weeks.
· After the Wedding. You now own an expensive suit which should be looked after correctly and may not be worn very often.

Chapter Three – Accessorise!

The accessories are very important when choosing you wedding suit. The accessories are very often the part of the complete outfit which carries the wedding theme. The waistcoats are used to compliment the suits but are using colours which are part of the overall wedding scheme. The waistcoats then have to coordinate with the neckwear and the buttonholes. And the buttonholes have to match the floral arrangements throughout.
Waistcoats are the most important individual component of a wedding suit. The waistcoat will be carrying the colour scheme colours and it will be the link throughout the whole of the wedding party. Not only this, it will be seen through the whole day and the evening (no doubt the groom will remove his jacket to have a dance in the evening).
Waistcoat backs are also very important. The back is not seen whilst wearing the jacket but once the jacket has been removed the waistcoat back cannot clash with other colours involved in the outfit. A backless waistcoat looks undressed and untidy and a black back can clash with ivory shades and whites.
The waistcoat will very often be used to denote who the Groom (or the Groom and Best man) is, the Groom using slightly bolder designs or more luxurious fabrics to stand out amongst the group.

Cravats, Ties, Ruche Ties or Bows. All types of neckwear are acceptable for weddings; however bow ties are used with evening suits (black tie weddings).
There are a few different types of cravat which are being used at the moment. The Windsor cravat is the most traditional style of cravat and looks like two pieces of fabric with a pin in the middle to hold it all together. These are worn with a traditional wing collar shirt and look their best when worn with traditional suits, like tails suits or frock coats.
The ruche style cravat (scrunch knot style) is the most common at present and is either hand tied (in a four-in-hand knot) or hooked on, ready-tied. The ruche tie is a more contemporary cravat style and looks like a rough scrunched up tie. They work best in fabrics which crumple well, like raw silk. This style of cravat is worn with a larger wing collar called an Edwardian style. They can also be worn with a regular collar shirt but this will give a more casual look to the outfit as a whole.
A Kensington Scarf is a soft silk cravat which is worn inside of the shirt collar. Wrapped around the neck and peaking out the top of the collar of the shirt.
Ties can be in the classic style and tied in a full Windsor knot to give you the symmetry needed for a sharp looking well-tied tie. Alternatively slim (or skinny) ties can be worn; slim ties do not tie well in a full Windsor knot and are very often tied in a half Windsor or four-in-hand knot. A skinny tie will look casual and relaxed.

Your choice of shirt is dependent on other factors such as the style of suit, waistcoat and neckwear already chosen for your complete outfit. The collar style you choose should be the best collar style for the neckwear you have decided upon.
A bow-tie should be worn with a dress shirt (a dress shirt should have a laid on pleated front, double cuff and small wing or regular collar).
A Windsor style of cravat should be worn with a small wing collar shirt, which has a plain body and concealed buttons, also double cuffed.
A ruche tie (scrunch cravat) should be worn with a larger wing collar shirt (almost a cross between a normal and wing collar) which is plain ahs concealed buttons and is double cuffed. A ruche tie can also be worn with a normal collar shirt, this should be a slightly spread collar but not a cut away.
A Kensington scarf should be worn with a shirt with concealed buttons and a deep collar stand, so as the shirt is quite high up the neck.
It is always worth considering the length of time this shirt will be worn for. A heavy cotton shirt will no doubt be warm to wear and may well crease as easily. Creases are formed in a shirt when you are hot or when there is moisture, the two of these things together will cause a large amount of creasing. Non-iron 100% cotton in a lightweight is perfect for wearing on a wedding day. The non-iron treatments prevent creasing throughout the day and the 100% cotton will breathe and keep you cool. However non-iron treatments on shirts can cause a reaction against the skin, have your shirt washed and pressed before the day to rinse off any harmful finish on the shirt.
Slim fit and slim bodied shirts are excellent for weddings as they give a more elegant and tailored look. There is nothing worse than an excess of shirt poking out from under the waistcoat or hanging under the arms like wings. However be wary when purchasing a slim bodied shirt, remember your shirt sleeves should be longer than you suit sleeves (so as to show a line of cuff) and you should be able to move around without your shirt becoming un-tucked from your trousers. You should also be aware of the width of the cuff and how this affects the suit sleeve. You do not want you shirt cuff to be falling over your hand or restricting movement of the sleeve.
Chapter Four – Having a Suit Made
It can be quite a daunting prospect for the uninitiated to have suit made. At first glance your options are so limitless it can feel almost impossible to come to a reasonable decision without endless hours of deliberation. However like most major decisions the process can be simplified by relying on the expertise of professionals. A good tailor will have a lengthy consultation with you to decipher your exact needs and then he will attempt to steer your decision making process in the correct direction. A large part of tailoring skill is the ability to judge a clients requirement and then interpret those requirements into an actual garment.
There is a large variation in price between different vendors and different services. These variations are due to the level of skill involved in producing the garment. Here is a rough guide to pricing when having a suit made.
Made-To-Measure (factory Made outside EU): £
Made-To-Measure (factory Made inside EU): ££ - £££
Bespoke (Hand Made outside Saville Row): £££ - ££££
Bespoke (Hand Made Saville Row): £££££
As you can see there is a major price difference between hand-made and factory made but what are the differences in product?

The major difference is the type of construction used. A made-to-measure suit will be made like a ready-to-wear. It will look like a ready-to-wear and will feel like a ready-to-wear. However the suit is made just for you, it is cut out and constructed to your requirements. It is a lot like buying a ready-to-wear suit but with the alterations already cut into the suit before it is made. You can also customise your suit before it is made, you can decide on style design and fit. You can also choose linings, monogramming, under collar colours or any other personal touches you would like to add.
A Bespoke suit is made using traditional methods. They are hand cut and handmade. The overall finish of the garment is much heavier than a made-to-measure and the finer more luxurious fabrics never make up quite as flat and clean as a ready-to-wear. The look of the suit is more handcrafted, with handmade buttonholes and hand padded collars. The real advantage of a bespoke garment is the fit; a bespoke suit will look perfect when worn by the owner. The number of fittings over a period of weeks will allow an almost perfect approximation of the persons figure.
Made-To-Measure Pros:
o Price: The price is about half of a bespoke suit. Which allows you to choose a more expensive luxurious fabric if you wish.
o Weight: The very best made-to-measure factories can produce very fine extremely luxurious fabrics which use a light weight construction, considerably lighter weight than bespoke.
o Sizing and Fit: The fit and size is determined before the suit is cut, this allows the suit to fit you exact shape.
o Customisation: Fabric, linings, style, design and monogramming. These are all you decisions, you can design your suit just how you would like it.
Made-To-Measure Cons:
o Price: Made-to-measure is more expensive than a ready-to-wear suit.
o Weight: Lightweight fine construction is unlike the sturdier bespoke construction.
o Sizing and Fit: Unlike Bespoke, these suits do not have numerous fittings. Normally 1 or 2 fittings are required. This allows an excellent fit but not perfect.
o Customisation: Yes you can customise your suit, but you are limited to the options the factory can produce. Unlike Bespoke.
Bespoke Pros:
o Price: Although a pricey product, the value for money is self evident as these suits can last a lifetime.
o Weight: With substantial hand work and traditional methods being used these suits feel sturdy and weighty.
o Sizing and Fit: A suit which has been cut for you and then has numerous fittings at each stage of construction will fit perfectly.
o Customisation: If you can imagine a good tailor can make it.
Bespoke Cons:
o Price: A bespoke suit can have a prohibitively high price.
o Weight: Bespoke suits use traditional methods of make and this makes the overall weight much more than a made-to-measure.
o Sizing and Fit: A bespoke suit will fit perfectly. It will how the tailor decides the suit should fit as appose to the client.
o Customisation: The limitless choice can be mind boggling, be sure to have a firm idea of what you do and do not want before entering into a bespoke suit.

When you are having your suit made you should at least have a vague idea of the type of style that you would like. I would suggest buying some men’s magazines like GQ or FHM and flicking through the pages to see what styles people are wearing and what you do and don’t like. Wedding magazines can also be a good source of information. Form some ideas for yourself, even if you can only decide on the details that you definitely do not like, this is all valuable research before having your unique suit made.
Morning Suit (Tail Suit): A tail suit is the most traditional of wedding suits and is also fantastically flattering to most figure shapes. However a tail suit would very rarely be used again after the wedding.
3/4 Length Style (Edward): This style is not very flattering if you do not have the longest leg. It is also unlikely to be worn again after the wedding. It is an excellent contemporary twist on a traditional morning suit.
Evening Suit: A dinner suit (evening suit) is characterised by its satin covered lapels and satin gallon which runs down the leg of the trousers. An evening suit can be used again after the wedding for the correct formal functions. This style can only be used for a black tie themed wedding.

Lounge Suit
A lounge suit is a regular suit and can be worn both for weddings and other occasions after. A lounge suit can always be dressed up for the wedding itself with a wedding style waistcoat and cravat (or tie).
Single Breasted One Button:
A single breasted suit is a suit which does not overlap (unlike a double breasted) they can come with various lapel shapes and quantity of buttons. It is quite fashionable at the moment to choose a one button single breasted in a slim line cut, you can choose the popular high peak lapels or the standard step style lapel.
Single Breasted Two Button:
This style is the most common. It can be used for almost any type of occasion and can look slimming if used in conjunction with side vents and slanted pockets. This style will date and will always be a traditional favourite.
Single Breasted Three Button:
Sometimes this style is called the ‘English Cut’ as it is a Saville Row favourite and has seen a dip in popularity recently and does no suit all shapes and figures. But used with the right fabric (classic worsteds or tweeds) this suit will give a traditionally English look.
Double Breasted:
A double breasted suit is the style of suit where the buttons over lap each other and you fastening the jacket both from the inside and the outside. This style of jacket ahs to be worn with the buttons done up at all times and is not suitable for a waistcoat.

One of the most important choices you will make whilst designing your suit will be your choice of fabric. The fabric will determine the overall look of your suit as an outfit, the fabric will determine how formal or informal your suit will look, the fabric will determine how comfortable you feel in your suit and will determine how much you pay for your suit.
o Mohair: Mohair comes from the Angora goat and South Africa is the n° 1 producer. It is one of man's oldest fibres and was first used 3,400 years ago. The best quality comes from a region of the world that anthropologists call the cradle of the human race: the Camdeboo region. It is a desolate area in South Africa where the Bushmen live in harmony with untamed nature. It gives smooth, shiny and hard wearing fabrics. Fineness is from 24 to 26 micron (µ) for the young mohair (Kid mohair) and 36µ for the adult mohair. Fine mohair is blended with wool

o Cashmere: Cashmere is made from the very fine undercoat of the cashmere goats in Central Asia; cashmere fibre is carefully combed out, not shorn. The finest goats are to be found in Mongolia. Of all natural animal fibres currently available, cashmere is one of the finest and softest. Its limited supply and luxurious texture make it an extremely exclusive and sought after material which provides its wearer with soft, warm and light garments
o Wool: The wool fibre is found in the fleece of the sheep. The fine wools come from the Merino sheep. Australia is the No.1 producer. It is light, voluminous, and able to absorb humidity and an insulator. The length, diameter, amount of crimp and strength between fibres vary. It is these properties that determine the value of wool. The unit of measure for fineness is micron (µ)
Wool is the most common of suit fabrics and the choice in wools alone can be quite startling. Wool is a fibrous protein derived from the specialized skin cells called follicles. Wool is taken from animals in the Caprinae family, principally sheep, but the hair of certain species of other mammals including: goats, llamas, and rabbits may also be called wool. Wool has several qualities that distinguish it from hair or fur: it is crimped, it has a different texture or handle, it is elastic, and it grows in staples (clusters).
The quality of wool is determined by the following factors, fiber diameter, crimp, yield, colour, and staple strength. Fiber diameter is the single most important wool characteristic determining quality and price.
Merino wool is typically 3-5 inches in length and is very fine. The finest and most valuable wool comes from Merino hogget’s. Wool taken from sheep produced for meat is typically coarser, and has fibers that are 1.5 to 6 inches in length. Damage or breaks in the wool can occur if the sheep is stressed while it is growing its fleece, resulting in a thin spot where the fleece is likely to break.
Wool is also separated into grades based on the measurement of the wool's diameter in microns. These grades may vary depending on the breed or purpose of the wool. For example:
< 17.5 - Ultrafine Merino
17.6-18.5 - Superfine Merino
< 19.5 - Fine Merino
19.6-20.5 - Fine medium Merino
20.6-22.5 - Medium Merino
22.6 < - Strong Merino.
The finest Australian and New Zealand Merino wools are known as 1PP which is the industry benchmark of excellence for Merino wool that is 16.9 micron and finer. This style represents the top level of fineness, character, color, and style as determined on the basis of a series of parameters in accordance with the original dictates of British Wool as applied today by the Australian Wool Exchange (AWEX) Council. Only a few dozen of the millions of bales auctioned every year can be classified and marked 1PP.
Wool Worsted:
Worsted cloth, archaically also known as stuff, is lightweight and has a coarse texture. The weave is usually twill or plain. Twilled fabrics such as whipcord, gabardine and serge are often made from worsted yarn. Worsted fabric made from wool has a natural recovery, meaning that it is resilient and quickly returns to its natural shape, but non-glossy worsted will shine with use or abrasion.
Worsteds differ from woolens, in that the natural crimp of the wool fiber is removed in the process of spinning the yarn. In Tropical Worsteds this use of tightly-spun straightened wool combined with a looser weave permits the free flow of air through the fabric.
Super Wools:
The International Wool Textile Organization (IWTO) is the promulgator of the Fabric Labeling Code of Practice which governs the use the "S" and "Super S" designations for fine wool and wool blend fabrics. The Code defines the S number by correlation to maximum fiber diameter. For example, 80s must have maximum fiber diameter of 19.75 micrometers or finer and 90s, 19.25 micrometers or finer. This scale continues to the 210s at 13.25 micrometer or finer. Thus each step of ten (as from 80s to 90s or 90s to 100s) corresponds to 0.5 micrometer less in allowed maximum fiber diameter.
Super 80’s: 19.75 Microns or finer
Super 90’s: 19.25
Super 100’s: 18.75
Super 110’s: 18.25
Super 120’s: 17.75
Super 130’s: 17.25
Super 140’s: 16.75
Super 150’s: 16.25
Super 160’s: 15.75
Super 170’s: 15.25
Super 180’s: 14.75
Super 190’s: 14.25
Super 200’s: 13.75
Super 210’s: 13.25
Super 220’s: 12.75
Super 230’s: 12.25
Super 240’s: 11.75
Super 250’s: 11.25

Other Wool Fabrics:
· Tweed is rough textured wool, originally homespun and slightly felted. This fabric is sturdy with a mottled colour.
· Virgin Wool is wool that has never been processed into fabric.
· Sharkskin is woven with warp and filling yarns of alternating white with black, brown or blue.
· Merino wool is soft and luxurious, resembling cashmere. This term is also used to describe the finest wool’s.
· Melton, a heavy, tick, short napped fabric without a finish press or gloss
· Hounds tooth check has a four pointed star check in a broken twill weave.
· Herringbone wool is woven in twill that is reversed at regular spacing, creating a sawtooth line.
· Harris Tweed is a hand woven fabric from Scotland with a soft feel.
· Gabardine is tightly woven wool twill with a high sheen. This fabric is excellent for tailoring and wears well.

The primary reason for having a suit made (rather than buying ready-to-wear) is the fit of a suit which has been made for you. A good fitting suit will feel comfortable; will look effortlessly formal and well dressed. A good fitting suit will not only maximise masculinity but also hide an imperfections.
The fit of the suit is determined at the very first stage of the process (the cutting). Therefore if you have any personal request regarding fit you should make your feelings known at the very first consultation. A good tailor should ask all of the relevant questions regarding fit whilst consulting with you but even the best tailors are not mind readers and may need your input to determine exactly what fit you require.
It is always worth giving the matter of fit some thought prior to your initial fitting. Try-on any clothing you have which you are happy (or unhappy with) try to determine why you are happy (or unhappy) with this item and consider how this could be improved.
It is always worth remembering your correct shoe and the correct style of shirt when attending all fittings.

Having your own unique suit made allows you to consider personal design options which would otherwise be unavailable to you. These unique touches can include the following:
o Personal Choice of linings
o Sleeve linings
o Button Choice
o Real working cuff buttons
o Coloured buttons holes or lapel holes
o Monogramming
o Embroidery
o Contrast top collar
o Contrast under collar
o Pocket configuration.

And just about any other option you can think can be integrated into your personal design, making your suit a 100% unique bespoke garment.

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Real Weddings - Real People - Real Customers - 2009

Here is a small selection of our wonderful customers on their actual wedding day. Real people, real weddings, real customers.
I would like to say thank you on behalf of Jack Bunneys for all of our fantastic customers. We have had an amazing wedding season this year and we are exceptionally proud of every wedding we have taken part in. Thank YOU!!