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I’m a 20 year-old student and I’ve got a slight style predicament. My step-brother’s wedding is coming up in a little more than a month and a half. He and I are pretty close, but I won’t be a groomsmen, so I won’t be renting a tux to match. I also have no idea what the dress code will be, so I’m assuming it will be standard formal wear. The problem is I’m a poor student without a suit to wear.
My one and only suit is from my high school graduation, and to put quite simply, it fits me like a potato sack. It was bought and tailored for me when I was shorter and twenty pounds fatter, (thank you gym membership) and recently wearing it to a funeral made me realize that it really just does not look good on me at all. I have a small collection of dress shirts and shoes, and was considering maybe going with just dress pants and a tie with a tie bar.
So, my question is, do I go to this wedding in a poorly-fitting suit, or do I go without the suit in better-looking clothes?
Good question. First, shoot your stepbrother an email (or your parents) to make sure it’s standard formal wear. The vast majority of weddings these days are not black tie, but it would be good to confirm that. If you have that invitation laying around, that would also mention if it’s black tie. Then check that it’s not an informal backyard/beach/park/BYOB and grill-out wedding. Many couples are opting to marry in simpler fashion, and you don’t want to be more dressed up than the groom. (If you know for sure that the groomsmen are renting tuxes, though, that’s a good indication that the dress isn’t casual.)
If indeed the attire is what most of us are used to expecting from a wedding–women in skirts or dresses, men in suits and/or ties–then you absolutely want to leave that ill-fitting suit at home. Even better, pawn it off on a friend who could make use of it, or the Goodwill. Unless you have an unfortunate incident with an angry bandsaw in a dark alley, you’re not going to get any shorter, so there’s no point in keeping the suit around.
But then again, you could fully embrace it, and kill it on the dance floor during the reception…
Your instinct to opt for clothing that fits but is slightly less formal, is right on. Poorly fitting clothing is a much bigger faux pas. Wear a pair of pressed, clean dress pants, an ironed collared shirt, decent shoes, and a tie. You won’t shame your family in this ensemble, trust me. And I suspect many men will be similarly attired. I often seen men in just dress pants and a button up shirt (sometimes not even a tie) at weddings, and they aren’t being hauled out by the banquet hall’s henchmen. At the age of 20, in college, with limited funds, you’re not expected to be wearing a bespoke Italian suit. You’ll look age and situation appropriate, plus, that’s a good look no matter the circumstances of the man!
On that note…When readers tell me they’re poor students, I suspect that runs the gamut of “too poor to afford the cable package that includes Big Ten Network and porn” to “too poor to afford name-brand ramen.” If you’re in the latter category, stick with your plan; you’ll look just fine. If you’re in the former category, it might behoove you to invest in a blazer.
Three blazers with some polish, all under $100, and none of them all-poly (which is tough to find.)
From left: Kenneth Cole New York Wool Blend – $84.99, Uniqlo Stretch Cotton – $59.90 (how to get it here),
GAP 3-button wool blend – $56.99 (limited sizes)
Something you can wear with several different pairs of dress pants, or even jeans, that can get you through a wedding, funeral, New Year’s Eve, the party celebrating Uncle Ronnie’s parole, and other formal events, without you having to shell out the big bucks for a full suit.
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