Hiring formal wear for the groom and his guys

Published date: 19th January 2019

The wedding suit is often the groom’s biggest contribution to the big day. You know how much work your bride-to-be has put in to make it all wonderful, so make a big effort not to mess up!

There are many reasons why you should hire your suit, but first consider why you may wish to buy one: do that and you can have pretty much whatever you please – style, colour, perfect fit, cloth… But it comes at a price, and there’s the complication – in all probability – of needing the best man, father-of-the-bride, your dad and brother(s) to match you. And if you are going formal, how often will you get to wear tails again (unless you are Hugh Grant in Four Weddings)?

When it’s a formal wedding, then, most choose to hire. Even if you are allergic to shopping you’ll need to do some legwork, but before that, think what you’re after and what you can spend. Again, it’s her big day, get used to it, so your choice must be in keeping with hers (even though you are not allowed to see it before the ceremony). Full meringue means tails or Prince Edward jacket: tails are longer at the back than the front, (der), Prince Edward jacket is one length but comes down to mid-thigh – chic but still classic.

But there are suits and suits. You get what you pay for: hire a cheap suit and you may feel (and soon look) cheap. Great suit and you’ll feel great. Ask around for recommends. Big name chains are unlikely to let you down, but they may tend towards the conservative. Given you’ll probably have at least two generations needing to suit up, the middle way can be sensible. Another advantage the big boys have is that if your Best Man is at the other end of the country, so long as you tell him the shop, style and colour he’ll be able to match you without travelling.

For a funkier look seek out the independents in your area. But funkier shouldn’t mean purple. Or anything ultra-in now (doomed to date rapidly, the curse of the wedding album). It may sound dull, but grey is the kindest colour for a wedding suit – even pale with terror you’ll look ok against it. The waistcoat tends to be where you get to show a bit of style – silver, white, the American patterned silk…

If you have Scottish blood the kilt (or tartan trews) is an option, but think about your guys – will they all feel happy wearing it? And is anything worn beneath the kilt (or is it all in perfect working order?).

At the shop look over their styles and quality, chat to an assistant, and if you don’t feel right about the place, try elsewhere. When it does feel good, above all don’t just give your sizes and run. Try a suit on (you may need to wait a week if yours isn’t in stock, so get this sorted a good couple of months beforehand, especially if you are marrying in prime wedding season when there’ll be high demand). Walk in it. Have a mate with you to give their opinion. And ideally have the shoes you’ll be wearing on the day with you – or hire them along with the suit – so you can see how they match and if the suit hangs well with them. Simple shoes or short lace-up boots work best, not brogues, trainers, cowboy, desert or football boots.

Every hire shop will offer suit, waistcoat and cravat. Some do the shirt, shoes and accessories (cufflinks, tie pin) too. It may be you keep the shirt as part of the deal. Again, try the lot on. And when you collect the outfit (please, at least four days in advance in case of errors) try it on again in the shop (preferably in their changing room!) just in case. If it’s ok, back in the garment bag to hang up safe and dry in your wardrobe (another tip, hang the jacket up in the car on the way to the wedding venue, it avoids creases especially with tails).

Many shops do quantity deals – hire five and the groom goes free for example. This is big business for them, so if you are looking for eight suits they’ll welcome you with open arms and maybe a discount.

Get it right and you’ll feel brilliant, and she’ll love you even more. Get it wrong at your peril.

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