I am helping a friend pick out a tux for his wedding, and was wondering what suggestions you would have for a tall, portly man looking for something classy but conservative. Would a vest be better than a cumberbun to give a slimmer appearance? What about straight tie vs. bow tie? Shawl lapel vs. peak? Thanks for the help!
Great question! If there is ever a time when a man wants to look his best, it's when he is wearing a tuxedo. For a "portly" man, dressing for your body type is all about drawing attention to your "assets" rather than your "liabilities". With that said, I would suggest a two-piece peak lapel tuxedo with a straight tie.
The peak lapels will draw attention to the shoulders (thus taking attention away from the mid-section). Stay away from the vest, it will make your friend look too "stuffed" and it distorts the perfect black/white ratio that makes a classic tuxedo so sharp. Same goes for cumberbuns; they are outdated and will only draw eyes to the stomach. Also, consider a white cotton or linen pocket square folded straight and just peaking from the breast pocket, again, to accentuate the chest.
Your friend should wear a long tie rather than a bow tie on his big day because the north-south line will offer a slimming effect. Along that same line (no pun intended) your friend should leave the belt at home and wear black suspenders. This will allow him to "float" his waist, rather than choosing to strap his pants above or below his belly. Also, a belt (like any accessories, lines, or stripes that run east-west) would only draw attention to his width.
Also, keep in mind that fit is even more important if you are a heavy guy. Some big guys think that a "roomy" suit will hide the fact that they are overweight. This is not true. A bad fit makes you look sloppy, not slimmer. Lastly, a clean shave and a fresh haircut can go a looong way to looking more put-together.
photo by GQ
(not a tuxedo, but a great example of a heavy-set guy cleaning up nicely)
Some other general tuxedo guidelines:
- 1 button is best
- The lapels should be 100% satin, and ideally your tie should be made from the same bolt of fabric
- Like a suit, double vented looks best (in my opinion)
- No collar pins, tie bars, brooches, lapel pins, stripes socks, chunky bracelets, oversized watches...or other "statement" accessories. Its a tuxedo, keep in simple, keep it classic
- No button-down collar shirts. Semi-spread is best
- French cuffs with small, simple cuff links
- Keep your jacket buttoned when standing
- Black socks, simple elegant black leather lace-up shoes, freshly shined (skip the cheap-looking patent leather shoes)