The Glossary of Groomswear

The ABG of groomswear jargon

Groomswear: bespoke


A suit made from scratch to your own specifications. The crème de la crème of personal tailoring


Expect your tailor to whip his tape measure up, down and every which way before you get to choose the cut, length, buttons and lapels for a suit that’s as unique as your fingerprint. This is design-from-scratch tailoring – taking up to 50 craftsmen hours according to tailors’ association Savile Row Bespoke – so if you’re paying for bespoke make sure that’s what you get. The term is sometimes used to describe something that’s more made-to-measure.

Great… if you have the budget and are marrying a girl who has no qualms about spending thousands on her dress! Suits any style of wedding and – because you’re choosing the cloth – works for any season.

Names to bookmark… favourbrook.com, markpowellbespoke.co.uk, forbesandharper.com, spencerhart.com, richardjames.co.uk, udeshi.co.uk, edeandravenscroft.co.uk, kingandallen.co.uk

Image courtesy of lutwyche.co.uk

Groomswear: black tie


Formal dress code that calls for dinner jacket and bow tie

Also known as evening wear, dinner suit, tuxedo and penguin suit, the key elements here are a black smoking-style jacket, white dress shirt and a black silk bow tie. (Don’t buy ready-knotted, you’re not twelve! Learn to tie one yourself and practise looking dangerously cool when it’s hanging casually undone at the end of the night.) Modern tastes tend to shun the traditional cummerbund, first introduced to disguise pot-bellied colonial gentleman after a big meal (and named after the Hindi for loin cloth!).

Great… for late afternoon / early evening celebrations when you want the boys looking smooth and the ladies doing long. If you don’t own a dinner jacket, it can be rented; you supply the black lace-up shoes and (slick) cufflinks. Leave the Bart Simpsons in the drawer.

Names to bookmark…austinreed.co.uk, hackett.com,bhs.co.uk, spencerhart.com, ozwaldboateng.co.uk, jaeger.co.uk

Image courtesy of jeffbanks.co.uk

Groomswear: made-to-measure


A suit made to your own specific measurements but using an existing pattern

A halfway house between bespoke and off-the-peg, this is where you choose the suit from a standard pattern and have it made to your own measurements. So although it’s not a one-off, it’s more affordable than bespoke because it cuts out the pattern-cutting and basting stages (where the pieces are all tacked together at the first fitting), and is a good way to get a snug fit without the price tag.

Great for… most styles of wedding from cathedral to city gallery, and ideal for the groom who finds a standard size is always a bit short on the arm or wide at the shoulder.

Names to bookmark…
duchamplondon.com, edeandravenscroft.co.uk,
marcwallace.com, austinreed.co.uk, dress2kill.com,

Image courtesy of favourbrook.com

Groomswear: morning suits


Formalwear featuring the traditional cutaway tail coat and a top hat

What City gents wore to work 100 years ago, this dress code is now more at home in the Royal Enclosure and weddings. Traditionally worn at morning celebrations (the clue’s in the name), nowadays it’s fine for afternoon dos, too. Morning wear consist of black coat with a cutaway skirt (the part of the jacket that hangs below the waist; a fact to keep under your top hat!) with striped trousers, although it can be all grey, worn with a coloured waistcoat and a cravat or tie. Top hat optional.

Great for… more traditional weddings, although looks a bit formal at a register office and is OTT at the beachside. Most groom’s parties (dads, best man, ushers) co-ordinate their look by renting matching suits

Names to bookmark… hughharris.co.uk,
garyanderson.com, hire-society.com, dapper.co.uk, mossbros.co.uk, nealandpalmer.com,
edeandravenscroft.co.uk, hardyamies.com,

Groomswear: Working the look


Editor at large Peta Hunt on how to rock…black tie

“Bring the look bang up to date with a large velvet tie – this season’s must-wear – and finish with patent shoes to bring out your inner 007. If you don’t want to wear a bow tie, a standard black tie with silk lapels looks sharp. For a variation on a theme, introduce a bit of Casablanca Forties glamour with a white tux jacket (not to be confused with white tie, you still wear the black dickie bow).”

Image courtesy of matalan.co.uk

Groomswear: working the look


Editor at large Peta Hunt on how to rock…tails

“You can get brightly coloured tails now in lilacs and purples but these are best kept for fun weddings rather than the Abbey. Go for a neutral waistcoat and cravat and always keep the top hat level, to the front of the head (theoretically, you should be able to balance a pint of beer on it). No jaunty angles.”

Image courtesy of marcwallace.com

Groomswear: working the look


Editor at large Peta Hunt on how to rock…a lounge suit

“This season it’s all about the single-breasted, one-button style. Neat fitting, slightly Sixties and suave rather than city,so leave pinstripes at the office. Don’t forget accessories – add a hint of flamboyance with a bright shoe, colourful tie or show-stopping buttonhole.”

Image courtesy of jeffbanks.co.uk

Groomswear: busting the jargon



High-fashion (haute) design, usually associated with womenswear


Semi-formal evening jacket, usually black, often with satin lapels


Dress code that includes black tie and white tie


Umbrella term that covers morning dress, black tie and full evening dress


Long ‘skirted’ formal coat hence the name – think Beckham at the royal wedding


Sometimes called day suit and the male equivalent of the cocktail dress


(Well, it may need an iron!) A suit straight off the peg in a standard size


Relaxed, no tie, chinos, polo tops. More PTA barbecue than big day


Formal coat, cut across the hips and tapering to a tail (see morning wear)


American term for dinner jacket, named after a NY country club in the 19th century


Also known as full evening dress and usually only seen at Ferrero Rocher-style ambassadors’ balls and Elton John’s White Tie & Tiara Ball


Image courtesy of austinreed.co.uk