photo credits listed below
Interviewed by Sheena Kalso
If you’ve been in Seattle long enough, there’s a solid chance you’ve already met our styling expert Brent Martin. A true renaissance man, Brent Henry Martin, Image & Wardrobe Coach, works with tech CEOs, rock stars and schleppy husbands. My own husband had his “Pretty Woman” moment a few years ago when a new job required he upped his game. Ever since, I’ve been referring him to any man or woman I meet looking for a wardrobe fix.
I asked Brent, “What are 6 things a groom (or bride!) should know before buying a suit?” Here’s what he had to say:
Sheena: Let’s get right to it: what is THE most important thing to consider when buying or renting a suit?
Brent: Fit. Fit is everything! Your suit should fit your shoulders square and you may even find the arm holes are cut a little higher than you expected or may even feel comfortable with. This is because the suit should compliment your shape. The fabric should drape and fall on your body in a natural way as to neither tent or cling to your body. It’s a nuance that a professional will be able to guide you to. If you’re not going to have a bespoke suit made for you (most of us can’t), find a retailer that you trust that has suit fitters that approach you with questions, lots of questions, before they start telling you what you need or throw a jacket on you. The more questions they ask you, the better they are at their job. Getting fit for a suit should be a conversation.
Sheena: When should you be fitted for your suit?
Brent: Don’t have your suit tailored more than 4 weeks before the event. Bodies can change (I’m looking at you waistline!) with different amounts of stress or exercise having an affect on how that garment will fit you. Also, DO NOT wear that suit before your wedding day, but by all means DO wear it after. Your suit should feel as special to you on your big day as a wedding dress does. The major difference is that you will be able to wear your suit after your event. Every time you do, it should evoke warm and loving memories of your wedding day!
Sheena: What do people assume when dressing for their wedding?
Brent: Your wedding is NOT your prom; don’t be matchy-matchy.
When working with a client, I always ask what that color palate is so that I can make suggestions for accessories based on that palate but NOT to match that palate. Something that will compliment the color scheme is what I look to accomplish.
After all, you don’t want to appear as though you’re a part of the decor by matching the table linens, ribbons, or arrangements.
Sheena: Everyone enjoys looking through dated wedding photos, although no one wants their images to be the butt of jokes. How do couples avoid this?
Brent: Your wedding photos will eventually look dated. It is the nature of this particular beast. Don’t accelerate that process by being overly trendy with your suit wardrobe. I encourage couples to be traditional with a little wink or nod toward what may be current in the world of fashion or style. Think about your uncle that got married in the mid-late 70’s and was wearing that powder blue ruffled tuxedo. At the time, that was the hottest trend in formal wear! Now it just looks campy and comical. Your twee bow tie and leather suspenders without a jacket might be de rigueur, but in 10 years it will look dated and in 20 years it will probably look silly. It is always best to err toward classic in the case of wedding attire.
Sheena: If we’re aiming for “classic,” then let’s talk about the bow tie. It seems to be the definition of “classic,” no?
Brent: Here’s the truth about bow ties. They only look good when they have been tied by hand. If you you’re not going to tie it by hand, don’t wear it.
If you don’t wear bow ties in your life on a somewhat or semi regular basis when you dress up, don’t wear one for you wedding. Bow ties require a certain amount of “owning it”. If you are anything less than that, your photos will tell that tale. However, every good rule has an exception and the one to this rule is; ALWAYS wear a black bow tie with your tuxedo for your wedding. I know, your favorite celebrity seems to pull of that traditional (long) black tie when they are on the red carpet, but they are going to a fashion event. You are hosting a formal event. Refer back to No. 2.
Sheena: What should suit-wearers keep in mind when thinking about accessories?
Brent: There is such thing as too many pieces of flair. I’m talking about lapel pins, tie bars, pocket squares and the like. Some things to know:
Your tie bar is to be worn so it would complete a straight line across your chest to the breast pocket of your jacket, even if you are not wearing one. If you wear a waist coat/vest with or without a jacket you should not wear a tie bar. This isn’t NASA, we don’t need redundant systems.
If you will be wearing a boutonnière, you should not also wear your fraternity lapel pin (or any other lapel pin or jewelry). You must choose one or the other. (If you choose your fraternity pin over the boutonnière your fiancé spent time carefully choosing, you may want to reconsider getting married…) It is just too much to have both and will look junky and unsophisticated.
Pocket squares should be kept tidy and simple (in fold and patter/color) when wearing a tie. If you choose not to wear a tie, then you can have a little more fun with your pocket square’s color and pattern as well as it’s pouf!
Sheena: Let’s close with a short list of your favorite locations to find a suit:
- Suit Supply – Stylish and affordable
- Nordstrom – Solid, traditional suiting options. Choices of cuts for modern men are becoming more prevalent.
- Mario’s – High end labels, with high end pricing. Exceptional quality
- Beckett & Robb – Bespoke custom suiting
From top to bottom: