Four Things You Need to Know About Suits


And how to avoid looking like you're going to the junior prom

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer

apw x gentuxSuiting 101

In the wedding space, there is lots and lots of talk of wedding dresses. If you’re just starting planning now, you’ve probably already skimmed over dozens of articles extolling the virtues of various wedding dress necklines, how to “dress best for your body,” and a bunch of other stuff that assumes ladies are the only people showing up to a wedding wearing clothes. But when it comes to suits… the wedding industry is basically like, “We’re sure you’ll figure it out!” And I’ve been to enough weddings to know that’s not always the case (lots of groomsmen googling “How to tie a bowtie” in the woods with crappy cell reception is all I’m saying). So this year we’re excited to be partnering with Generation Tux, to share tips and advice on how to rock a suit like it’s 2016 and not the junior prom. If you haven’t heard of them yet, Generation Tux rents modern suits and tuxedos for under $100 while handling all your wedding party coordination so you don’t have to. And since they are committed to making sure your suit or tux fits like a glove, we figured we’d kick off our suit style series with four essential things you should know about suits and how they should fit:

tux vs suit

1. The difference between a suit and a tuxedo: I’m totally guilty of thinking the word “tuxedo” and picturing a morning coat or a white tie affair. But the difference between a suit and a tuxedo is actually a lot more subtle than that. Tuxedos generally have satin lapels, satin or cloth covered buttons, and satin piping along the side of the pant leg, where suit detailing matches the rest of the suit. Also hot tip: tuxedo pants don’t typically have belt loops, as the expectation is that you’ll wear suspenders with them, so keep that in mind if you’re the kind of person who wears a belt for function instead of fashion.

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2. The cardinal rule of buttons: The standard classic suit features a two-button suit jacket. Despite having two buttons, you’re only ever supposed to button the top one, never the bottom, even if you’re standing. (I know, I know. But why is it there, you ask? Beats me. Maybe in case you lose one? Maybe for show? Just to keep you guessing? The world is a confusing place.) If you’re tall or have a long torso, a three-button jacket might work for you. In which case the rules adjust accordingly: always button the middle button, never button the bottom button, and sometimes button the top one.

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3. The One About the Break: The trouser break refers to how much creasing happens above your shoe. See this photo from my eighth grade formal above? Notice how all of the pants are kind of… real wrinkly at the bottom? That’s because they’re unhemmed, and you don’t want that. If you’re interested in the full story on the different (dapper) choices for pant breaks, check this article out. But in short, different folks have different tastes when it comes to pant breaks, but if you don’t have a preference, keep in mind that no break is a very modern fashion forward look, a slight break is standard these days, and a deep break tends to make your pants look more old fashioned (or ill-fitting). (We’re not even going to discuss the not-hemming-your-pants-option, since you don’t even have to go down that path with Generation Tux.)

Break CharcoalNotchLapelTux copy

Though there is an exception to this rule: a cropped pant or deep break can look fashion-forward on the person with a strong sense of personal style (a la Wiz Khalifa or Jill Soloway at this year’s Golden Globes).

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4. How to Tie a Tie: It’s probably a sign of our casual dress times that at almost every wedding I ever photographed, at least one member of the wedding party was tasked with finding a YouTube video of how to tie a tie (and your odds increase by about a thousand if bowties are involved). So let’s just save everyone the trouble, and I’ll link them below (you can also check out the Generation Tux blog for tons more how-to videos on everything from cufflinks to pocket squares):

How To Tie a Bow Tie

How to Tie a Windsor Knot

Have more questions about suit style? We’ll be bringing more content to you throughout the year, so leave them here in the comments.

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This post was sponsored by Generation Tux. Founded by George Zimmer (yup, the guy from the commercials), Generation Tux is a new destination for online suit and tuxedo rentals and they are totally hitting the mark. Generation Tux’s styles are modern and the prices are affordable ($95 for a suit or tuxedo rental, or $150 for the whole outfit including shirt, shoes and accessories.) Plus, Generation Tux will coordinate your wedding party so you don’t have to. Click here to see their full line of suit and tuxedo rentals.

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, Maddie currently lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband, Michael and their mastiff puppy. Current hair color: Purple(ish).

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  • anon

    Yes! This is a fantastic guide. Every time I hear someone disregarding things like caring about your dress, or wedding day makeup, or any of those other ‘girl’ things… sure, no one HAS to care, but the lack of guidance is why you see all these super sharp looking brides alongside red-faced grooms (if your photographer doesn’t do editing) with ill-fitting rental suits! They don’t ‘care’ because it’s never been presented to them as an option.

  • The button thing: It’s King Edward. He was too rotund to button his bottom button, so to cull his favor everyone else started keeping theirs unbuttoned. It eventually became a fashion rule that never went away.

    • Sarah E

      That’s a really cool piece of trivia.

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    • Maddie Eisenhart

      I can always count on you.

  • Bethany

    My husband and I had a lot of fun with his suit. My dad has had his suits made for him by a particular company since the early 80s (the styles have changed). They also make at least half of his work shirts. For my sister’s wedding, she treated her fiance to a suit, shirt, and tie from the same company where they come out and measure you and go through colors and fabric choices for everything including the lining of the jacket. My husband is short and has always had a hard time finding a tie that was the right length, let alone a suit that fit right so we decided he’d get a suit, shirt, and tie from the company, and custom length belt from Stitch & Rivet (http://www.shopstitchandrivet.com/shop/hand-dyed-belt). Not only did he look awesome at our wedding, but now that he has a suit that fits him perfectly, he actually enjoys wearing it to dinner with my parents or other occasions where before he’d be counting down until he could change into jeans.

    Plus, every time he wears the suit it’s a reminder of our wedding and makes us both grin. Clothes that fit great aren’t just for the ladies.

    • Eenie

      What company did you use for the suit? My fiance has the worst time finding pants that fit.

      • chrissyc

        My husband did something similar and bought a shirt and suit from J. Hilburn for the wedding. We had a good experience, and his suit is sharp! It was expensive, just over a grand, but I think it was worth it since it fits so well and he gets to wear it over and over. (Sadly, it’s “weird” to wear your wedding dress to job interviews and formal occasions so that wasn’t an option for me. I’m jealous. :D )

        • Bethany

          My dress was from Modcloth and only $90 but I’m still debating having it dyed and shortened so I can wear it as a cocktail dress for date nights.

          • chrissyc

            Awesome, I think it’s so cool when people’s wedding dresses can be transformed into something new. What a fun reminder–and it’s practical, too!

      • Bethany

        Tom James (tomjames.com). We loved the experience. It was a bit of a splurge, but they do lifetime alterations for free. They have different levels and the one that we chose was 100% made in the US which meant a lot to us (labor rights are a big thing for us).

    • emilyg25

      Yes, we bought a custom suit from Duchess Clothier in Portland for my husband. It’s gorgeous and has fun details like pink paisley lining, working button holes, and a functional boutonniere thing. He looks incredibly handsome in it. Wherever you buy suits, the biggest tip is to GET IT TAILORED TO YOU. Makes suuuuuuch a difference.

      • StevenPortland

        I would love to have some $$ that I could spend at Duchess Clothier!

        • emilyg25

          It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime splurge!

  • ZOO

    It’s mentioned above, but for those who don’t know the morning coat is FANTASTIC. It’s essentially the daytime equivalent of a tux, and great for when you want to be fancier than a suit but you’re not having a nighttime wedding. My husband wore one and looked absolutely phenomenal. They can be a bit tricky to find in the US, though, because they’re largely a British thing.

  • Eenie

    I have pinned so many boutonnieres because no one knows how to pin them properly. Not a life skill I thought I’d get to use that much.

    • Scalliwag

      There is a photo from my wedding day of me struggling to pin the boutonniere on my groom, with 3 bridesmaids chipping in. That is absolutely a life skill that I wish I had. Spelling the word is hard enough, let alone pinning it on!

      • Eenie

        For anyone else needing direction: Left side, line the top up with the buttonhole if there is one, always start the pins from the back and end on the back. If you have three pins put one parallel to the stems, otherwise put the other two perpendicular. It gets really tricky if it’s a shirt and not a jacket.

        • Eh

          At my BIL/SIL’s wedding I also pinned corsages on my husband’s grandmother. Her blouse was way too flowy for a pinned corsage. The only way to have it stay was for the corsage to be upside down. We had wrist corsages to avoid that issue (my SIL had ordered wrist corsages but the florist did them with pins instead).

      • Emily

        Haha only one of my bridesmaids could make it work… I have a great set of pics with the boys all standing around her as she fixes them.

    • Jess

      Boutonnieres are black magic.

    • Eh

      I was getting ready down the hall from the groom and groomsmen at my BIL’s wedding (my husband, then bf, was the best man). None of the guys knew how to pin boutonnières. They were trying to put the pin in perpendicular to the stem. So after struggling for a while the asked me to help. To make things worse, the other two groomsmen were married and my husband and my BIL were in their cousin’s wedding (he was one of the groomsmen). At their cousin’s wedding the guys wore the boutonnières upside down. At our wedding my husband wanted magnetic fasteners (he saw them on tv). It was a good idea but it didn’t work and was a waste of money (the magnets were not strong enough for the weight of the boutonnières and the think was of the suit jackets). In the end my friend who was our MC/DOC (and married to the cousin) and out officiant had to make sure all of the boutonnières were pinned correctly

      • KPM

        My grandmother pinned on basically everyone’s boutonnieres. Even my dad’s, who does know roughly what to do (they are easier to do on someone else.) Plus side, I have these adorable pictures of her helping my brother and dad. Come to think of it… who did my husbands?

  • Abe

    Aaaand… forwarded. Great tips!

  • Amber

    Yet another post/vendor that I got excited about that doesn’t ship to Canada :( Great concept thought!

    • Carolyn S

      We got fantastic service and they have fantastic selection in various price points at Simon’s if you happen to live in a Canadian city with one of those!

    • Eh

      We went with a local men’s wear store because we got HORRIBLE service at the national change formalwear stores in Canada. I was actually told that it’s the norm for guys to wear tuxes at weddings eve though when we came in and made it clear that my husband wanted to wear a suit. The sales person kept going on about how if so many guys rent tuxes that the grooms tux is free. I said that we only had a best man and that I wouldn’t expect my father and FIL to rent tuxes (my FIL said he would if we asked as he did from my BIL’s wedding) plus we would still need to get a couple more guys to rent.

    • Alanna Cartier

      Exactly what I was thinking. I’m beginning to think the men are just going to have to buy suits, because the rental options are horrible.

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  • Gabriella

    Any suit tips for queer women who want to go the suit rental route? My partner and I are quite familiar with all the super nice bespoke options that cater to queer and trans people (Bindle and Keep, St. Harridan, Tomboy Tailors etc.), and will probably be getting suit made for at least one of us for our own wedding, but it would be nice to have the option of renting a suit in the mean time, especially since she is her sister’s best person for her April wedding, and way may not have the time or money to get a suit made before then. Has any curvy, female-bodied person successfully rented a suit? We usually get stuff tailored at the waist to fit better, so it seems dicey!

    • Kayla

      Yes! I was really hoping this one was about suits for women. I seriously cannot find a suit that makes me look under 50.

      Rent the Runway does have a few suit jackets (most are more traditional, but this is my personal favorite: https://www.renttherunway.com/shop/designers/hunter_bell/geometric_gold_jacket ). Your partner could possibly rent a fancy jacket and buy pants to have tailored. RTR only goes up to size 12 for most items though, so I’m not sure if that helps.

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