Beyond Bowties: 10 Formal Looks for Your Groomsmen

By: Alia Hoyt

The classic tux is great, but what if your groom is a little more style-savvy than the average guy?
The classic tux is great, but what if your groom is a little more style-savvy than the average guy?
Buccina Studios/Thinkstock

Let's face the truth. From birth on up to adulthood, boy clothes just aren't as adorable or creative as girl clothes. Even as grown-ups, when a couple enters the room, your eye is probably drawn to whatever colorful frock the feminine half is sporting. Who could blame you? The guy is probably in the standard khakis and polo shirt combo that's the male default dress-up outfit.

If you're worried about the dismal fashion forecast for your wedding day, we've got good news. Ever-evolving wedding trends include more creative and flexible attire options for the groom and his attendants. Gone are the days when men were limited to 007-style penguin suits (although this classic is still a handsome option). Brides and grooms looking to shake up things a bit can choose from a variety of colors and styles from the casual, elegant look to ultra-chic.


Looking for the perfect fit for your tall, dark and handsome attendants? Keep reading for 10 looks to suit every type of nuptial.

10: Just Beachy

Would anything look more out of place than a tux on a beach?

For seaside nuptials, many brides choose to go casual, with lighter, simpler gowns instead of cathedral-appropriate ball gowns. So, why not let the guys reap the same chilled-out benefit?


Beach-appropriate attire can range from chinos and a linen or Hawaiian shirt, to pressed slacks and a navy blazer. Since walking on the sand in shoes is often tricky, consider giving everyone a pass to roll up their slacks and go barefoot. By instituting such a lax dress code, you'll probably go down in the Wedding Hall of Fame among your circle of friends. It's widely accepted that most guys detest dressing up with a passion similar to that reserved for watching chick flicks.

9: The Linen Look

A linen suit is a breezy alternative for outdoor weddings in warm seasons.
A linen suit is a breezy alternative for outdoor weddings in warm seasons.

Still casual, but slightly dressier than beach attire, is the linen suit option. Perfect for daytime events, the light-colored linen suit is sure to make its wearer achieve that elegant-but-not-trying-too-hard look.

Of course, linen wrinkles easily, so caution your groomsmen ahead of time to be careful about lounging pre-ceremony. Be sure to have an iron on hand in case last minute touch-ups are necessary. Also, appoint a qualified ironer to tackle the task. Chances are if you let your future brother-in-law do it himself, he'll end up with a giant burn mark smack in the middle of his thigh. That will make for hilarious (but not so lovely) photos!


8: Consider Some Color

If you enjoy the look of a standard tuxedo, but yearn to liven it up a little, consider going the creative black tie route, which pairs the classic black jacket and trousers with bright, colorful shirts and accessories.

Besides giving your men the chance to stand out, this option also pulls together the look of your entire wedding party, since groomsman accessories (vest, cummerbund, bowtie) can be matched to bridesmaid gowns. Play it safe and have a trusted bridesmaid or family member double-check each of the groomsmen's outfits well before the ceremony begins. Twenty minutes before the ceremony isn't the time to discover that just one of eight guys left his special-order, custom-color pocket square at home!


7: Try Tails

Long before Brad, George or Matt hit the silver screen, there was Fred -- as in Astaire. He was the ultimate dancer, actor and on-screen romancer from the days when movies were still called "pictures" and were shown in black and white, no less. Among other qualities, Fred Astaire was dapper beyond belief and rocked tuxedo tails with his trademark suave sophistication.

If you're dying to channel some Old Hollywood glamour at your ceremony, simply outfit your groomsmen in throwback tuxedos featuring this underrated embellishment. Feeling extra spunky? You can even throw in a top hat and cane to complete the look! But it's probably best to leave the tap shoes at home unless you want your rambunctious groomsmen to drown out the band when they hit the dance floor.


6: Sport a Suit

The tailored suit option is a win-win situation for grooms and their attendants. Every member of the wedding party can be measured for a suit that will fit each person perfectly. In addition, the guys are sure to wear suits again in the future with much more regularity than your average tux.

If the cost of a new suit is too much for all your groomsmen, just give them a dress code to abide by. Whether you select navy, gray or black, chances are your attendants have something that will do already hanging in their closets. Plus, coordinating neckties and silk handkerchiefs make excellent groomsmen gifts!


5: Aim for an Ascot

Nothing says "cooler than thou" quite like an ascot.
Nothing says "cooler than thou" quite like an ascot.

If you prefer the distinguished country gentleman look over Hollywood glitz, you might consider outfitting your groomsmen in tuxedos featuring elegant, Old World ascots.

Never heard of an ascot? Picture a necktie with wide ends on either side that are looped under the chin or double-knotted. Don't fret if you think your groomsmen aren't coordinated enough to handle such a feat. Although complicated in theory, ascots are actually very easy to handle (and you can always assign a bridesmaid or family member the task of making sure the guys get it right). Pair an ascot with a cutaway jacket, and you'll be sure to have the classiest wedding and reception around. That is, until your Uncle Ned gets drunk and does the Macarena. Nothing's going to class that up.


4: Get Blazin' Hot

Every guy owns a blazer and a pair of khaki pants. If your nuptials are leaning toward a casual, daytime affair, let your groomsmen rifle through their existing wardrobes for wedding-day attire. Be sure to stipulate and personally double-check the color of all items involved, from shoes on up. Not all men (or women, for that matter) are terribly savvy when it comes to color-coordinating, and a well-meaning groomsman might truly believe a button-up shirt to be white when, in fact, it's actually cream.

Again, this is an excellent opportunity to present them with a necktie that coordinates with the rest of your colors. If you're tempted to go ultra-casual, you could skip the tie altogether and allow them to leave their top buttons undone. Chic and practical -- particularly if the weather's going to be on the warmer side.


3: Don Double-breasted Jackets

The double-breasted jacket is an ideal option for almost anyone, but especially for plus-sized groomsmen. The extra row of buttons and forgiving style of jacket are flattering on larger body types, which your guys will appreciate when they're on display in front of a few hundred people.

Single-breasted jackets can be worn by practically anyone, but they look especially flattering on men who are tall and thin. Either style can be paired with a cummerbund or high-button vest, although some experts will tell you that neither is required. It's widely accepted that jackets shouldn't be left unbuttoned, so most accessories would be minimally visible, therefore rendering them, well, pointless.


2: Go Country

If you commit to Western wear, go all the way. Suits and cowboy hats don't mix!
If you commit to Western wear, go all the way. Suits and cowboy hats don't mix!
Sean Murphy/Thinkstock

If you're more inclined to mosey than strut or serve potato salad instead of paté, a cowboy-inspired wedding might just be the route for you.

When you choose this theme, truly commit to it by outfitting your groomsmen in blue jeans, blazers and the requisite cowboy boots and hats. After all, if Tim McGraw has taught us anything, it's that this look can be every bit as handsome as a tux when done correctly.


You might want to skip the spurs, though. Those are just an accident waiting to happen, particularly once the bar opens at the reception.

1: Wear White

Some men will balk at the idea of a white dinner jacket because it makes them feel a little too much like a cruise ship captain. And the white jacket option does fit select social situations. A reception held in an upscale venue is really more appropriate for this style than your typical church hall affair. White accessories (bowtie, cummerbund, vest) should be avoided unless your wedding is a top-of-the-line shindig; after all, white tie is the fanciest form of tuxedo wear. Although, who's really going to have the nerve to confront you about having over-dressed groomsman, anyway?

Lots More Information

Related Links


  • "African-American Wedding Style: The Groom's Look." Wedding Channel. (April 27, 2011).
  • "Groom's Attire For a Beach Wedding." Wedding Channel. (April 27, 2011).
  • "Groomsmen: Top 5 Trends." The Knot. (April 27, 2011).
  • "How to Wear a Tuxedo." AskMen. (April 27, 2011).
  • "Men's Wedding Attire Gets Groomed For Success." MSNBC. June 16, 2008. (April 27, 2011).
  • O'Brien, Glenn. "What to Wear With a Single-Breasted Tux Jacket." GQ. (April 27, 2011).
  • Saltz, Joanna. "Grooms: 7 Tips For a Perfect Tux Fit." The Knot. (April 27, 2011).
  • "Tuxedo & Suit Glossary: Accessories." Wedding Channel. (April 27, 2011).
  • "Tuxedo Style Types." National Tux Rentals. (April 27, 2011).
  • "Wedding Guest Attire." Martha Stewart Weddings. (April 27, 2011).