We all want to look nice (well virtually all of us anyway). While you might not ordinarily feel it’s worth the effort, I think most of us if given the choice between looking our best and simply not then we’d rather be looking good. So, on the one day when you really should be making an effort and when you’re going to be photographed more than on any day in your life, then you really should have a good go at doing things right. Some of these may or may be me learning from my mistakes.
1. Make sure your suit fits properly
It’s all well and good spending hundreds of pounds on a beautiful suit, but if it doesn’t fit properly then, well I’m not going to say it’s a waste of money, but it really won’t do you any favours. But anyway, what does “fitting properly” even mean?
The easiest part to sort out and the part I most often notice people “going wrong” is the length of the trousers and sleeves, which are often too long, making your arms and legs look shorter than they really are. It’s all too easy just to accept the length that you buy, but spending just a few pounds can make you look a lot sharper. So what is the “right length”? Well, for the sleeves, start with the length of the sleeve on your shirt. With your arms extended downwards it should come to around about the knuckle at the base of your thumb. Now, your suit sleeve should be maybe half an inch shorter than that, to show a bit of cuff and a little flash of cuff links if you’re wearing them. The trouser legs, when standing should be no shorter than touching your shoes and not more than an inch or so longer than that depending upon your preference.
As for the rest, the jacket should button up comfortably, with little excess space and without putting tension on the buttons. The shoulders should also be comfortable, but not projecting beyond your actual shoulders. Generally the aim is for it to look fitted, but not tight.
2. Know how to tie a tie and how to do it well
You might be in a line of work that expects you to wear a tie or you might not have worn one since school. Either way, the chances are that you’re going to be wearing one on your wedding day, so you should know how to do it properly. There are more variations on the tie knot than you might think, and which one you use depends on a few things: the spread on your collar (the more spread your collar, generally the larger the knot but within reason), the width of the tie (narrower ties obviously go with smaller knots). There are plenty of resources on the internet, particularly videos, showing you how to do it and I particularly like the series on neckties written by the fine chaps at Put This On. The three things you need to be getting right are the shape and size of the knot and the length of the blade (the part going down your front), which should be just down to your belt.
So the arching is a little ostentatious, but that is a nicely tied tie
The main point is to make sure you practise in advance so you can reliably do it without too much fuss on the day. This goes double if you’re wearing a bow tie, as while they’re notoriously tricky to get right, you really owe it to yourself and your bride to do it properly.
3. A good clean shave
If you’re going to make a major change to your shaving routine: like moving from an electric to a blade or on to a different sort of razor, make sure you make this transition well in advance. Firstly you need to get the hang of the technique of it, so you don’t go slashing your face open, and secondly you need to let your skin get used to it. Apparently my own father made this mistake and turned up to his wedding with more than a few little nicks on his face. The same applies to a certain extent, even if you just change the products you use, just to make sure your skin doesn’t have a bad reaction to it.
If you’re new to wet shaving or even if you’re not, then the wonderful people at Gentlemen’s Tonic will be here to help in the not too distant future.
It does occur to me that you might have a beard, or at least plan on having one for the wedding. If you’ve already got a beard, then make sure you know what you’re going to do with it and if there’s a bit of trimming and shaping to be done, have a practise run or two in advance so you know what you’re doing. Also, not to impugn your manhood or anything, but you might want to check with your future wife as she might have some dream or idea that you’ll be clean shaven.
Your hair, well it’s a matter between you and your barber, but I’d just like to say a few words as it’s one of the things I least liked about my appearance on the day. I went and got my hair cut about a week in advance and was really pleased with it, but it just didn’t seem to work out on the day. So I would advise yet more practice , this time with how you’re going to style your hair on the day. Can you reliably recreate the style you want? How long will it stay like that? Don’t be afraid to talk to your barber or stylist to get advice, particularly on what products to use to keep everything in order all through the day.
And don’t fiddle with your hair like I did. It seems to be something I do when I’m stressed or otherwise thinking, and I think it was the main reason my normally slightly wayward hair was other than where I want it to be.
I have no idea what was going on with it by the end of the night
5. Polish your shoes
There’s a bit of received wisdom that one of the first thing a woman looks at on a man is his shoes. I don’t know whether it’s right, but a pair of scruffy, scuffed shoes can pretty much ruin an outfit. Your shoes don’t have to be expensive, but they should be clean and in good repair. Get some good quality shoe polish, a couple of brushes and get to work. Again, practice is the key and I’m not going to pretend I’m more of an expert on this than the professionals at Burlington Arcade, so here’s what they have to say on the matter.
6. Accept your limitations
A lot of us look to lose a bit of weight and maybe get in a bit better shape in the run up to the big day. Now I don’t want to discourage you, but I would urge you to be realistic. Don’t go buying a suit six weeks ahead of the day thinking you’ll lose two inches off your waist so you can fit in it. Come to terms with what you have so you can try to make the best of it.
7. Good posture
This is something I generally have a bit of a problem with. I’ve never had great posture and while I’m not freakishly tall I can feel a little self-conscious about my height. Having a tiny wife doesn’t particularly help with this. So I slouch and stoop a bit, which isn’t great for photos. However you might feel about your height, stand up straight and keep your chin up. If you’re a foot taller than your fiancée, there’s no amount of stooping that’s going to change that.
8. Get used to how you’ll look/feel
While I wear a suit every day to work, I realize that not everyone does and for some it might feel slightly odd or uncomfortable. If this is the case, then try your suit on as often as you can. Wear it round the house and have a bit of a walk around in it, just to get the hang of how it feels. It’ll also let you know what alterations you might have made to the suit to make it a bit more comfortable. Just don’t do anything messy, and probably don’t practice any of the more athletic dance moves. The more comfortable you feel, the more relaxed and natural you’ll be and the better you’ll look.
9. Get a good night’s sleep
I know I’ve said this before (only last week in fact), but you’ve got a long day ahead of you, so do try to avoid staying up until the small hours the night before drinking. It’s tempting to have a few drinks with your friends to celebrate your “last night of freedom”, but you’ll want to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning. There’s going to be plenty for you to be getting on with, and the more well-rested and alert you are the easier and quicker it’s all going to be. You’ll have more time for it all as well, as you won’t be sleeping off a hangover which means less stress.
10. Relax and enjoy yourself
This is really the most important one. There will be a lot going on and a lot of potential for things going wrong, or at least not perfectly, a lot of potential for stress and a lot of demands on your time. Whatever happens, try to relax. If needs be, take a few minutes every now and then just to step out and stop worrying about things. Stressed, sweaty and anxious is never a good look and if you’re relaxed and enjoying yourself, then it’ll show in your face and your body language. Not only will you look better, but you’ll have more fun and everyone around you will have more fun, and isn’t that really the point of the whole thing (that and the actually getting married I guess).