Experts, Fall/Winter 2012
The Tailor Maid
Why settle for a baggy rental tux when your groom can don a dapper suit that’s made to fit? Samantha Shih of 9tailors helps guys look smart on their wedding day.
Credit Don Draper: Men have finally started to care about what they wear. The ’60s ad exec on Mad Men “always wears a well-tailored suit, tapered in the leg and body,” says Samantha Shih, owner of 9tailors, a custom-clothing company in Downtown Crossing. “Men are very excited by this. They’ll come in and say, ‘I want to look like Don Draper.'” Hallelujah!
But given its high cost, bespoke clothing isn’t an option for most men — unless, that is, they connect with Shih, who offers made-to-measure suits and shirts perfect for bridal parties.
Here she dishes on fabrics, fasteners, and wedding-fashion faux pas.
How do you work with grooms?
First I ask what the client is looking for — what his style is, what colors he will or won’t wear, what’s in his closet right now. And then wedding-specific questions: Where’s the event being held? What season? Indoors or outdoors? Evening or daytime? And then we go through the process of selecting the fabric of the suit, the seam. We decide the perfect cut, the perfect buttons — everything that goes into creating a garment. There are an infinite number of buttons and fabrics to choose from, so our style consultant pre-selects for the couple after they’ve had a phone consultation.
We assume the bride weighs in on a lot of these decisions.
Usually the bride has chosen the location, the color scheme, the bridesmaids’ dresses, and her own dress. And that’s not necessarily information the groom is privy to — or interested in knowing. Maybe he’ll know their colors are green and blue. But what kind of green and blue? It’s definitely easier if the bride is there.
What are some factors you consider when helping a groom choose his wedding-day wear?
We help put together an outfit that’s both stylish and functional. Heat is a huge consideration for grooms, especially if it’s going to be 90 degrees. We want the groom to be comfortable, so we’ll put out a selection of lightweight fabrics that drape nicely but don’t sacrifice style. If he loves to dance, we might suggest he not go with a skinny fit. It’s going to be uncomfortable, and you run the risk of tearing the garment.
Once a groom picks a design, where do you go from there?
We get him measured. We use master tailors in Shanghai to make shirts, and suiting tailors in Hong Kong, and we make everything to the man’s specifications and size.
What trends are you seeing in wedding menswear?
A lot of grays, particularly charcoals, which are useful for the wedding day and after. It’s not as formal as black, and not as professional-looking as navy. We’re also seeing men returning to three-piece suits. Some don’t want to wear a tuxedo, but still want to look handsome, sophisticated, and well dressed. They don’t want to be mistaken for just another wedding guest, and the vest underneath makes them look that much more put-together. I’ve also seen a growing interest in custom tuxedos. The men on Mad Men and Downton Abbey are wearing formal tuxes. We can make a custom one for under $600.
Are there simple ways to personalize the groom’s outfit?
We can customize his shirt by lining the inside of his collar with another fabric — one couple did this with brilliant red-and-black buffalo checks for all the groomsmen. Another gentleman was marrying a Brazilian woman in her hometown. As a surprise, he had “Duas Almas, Um Coracao” (Two Hearts, One Soul) monogrammed inside his suit. It was a very cute and touching surprise for his bride.
Can you suggest ways to make an off-the-rack suit look smart?
I cannot stress enough that it has to fit you right, whether you spend $2,000 or $100. You need to bring it to a trusted tailor who knows how to alter a suit — and I’m not talking about a seamstress. The person who’s working on it should be a reputable suit tailor who can cut and alter it to fit your proportions. The other thing is, the fabric itself is really important. The nicer the drape, the more it’s going to feel like it was made for you.
Any major fashion faux pas that guys should be aware of?
Men are wearing their garments too large. Hemming your pants and sleeves can make you look a lot smarter.
Does a groom’s suit have to match his bride’s gown?
Yes, I think that’s important. You don’t want to be opposite, but you also don’t want to be too matchy-matchy. You want your outfits to be complementary.
24 School St., Ste. 500, Boston, 877-513-1898, 9tailors.com.
Samantha Shih offers advice for the sartorially challenged groom.
Start planning your outfit no later than six months before the wedding. The earlier you begin, the more options you’ll have, so you won’t be stuck with something you feel terrible in.
Consider a Threesome
Don’t under-estimate the power of a three-piece suit. Wear all three pieces for the ceremony and photo session, then strip down to the vest for the reception — you’ll still look put-together.
Get Hip to the Square
Instead of the ubiquitous boutonniere, try a pocket square; it instantly dresses up a suit. Classic looks call for white silk, while a casual getup can carry everything from gingham to paisley.