The Groom Guru: Aoife O’Flaherty of Blank Label
Blank Label’s Aoife O’Flaherty on the perks of going custom.
Jacket? Check. Tie? Check. Vest? Check.
The rental shop down the block has everything you need for your walk down the aisle—as long as you don’t mind wearing the same thing as every other guy getting married this year, that is. Enter Blank Label. With two Boston locations, the custom menswear company designs suits and tuxes made to set a groom apart.
“We try to fix the classics with something versatile that also shows each gentleman’s personal style,” says Aoife O’Flaherty, director of retail at the Downtown Crossing location. “It’s very bottom-up, so every client can make a garment their own.”
“Being comfortable is what’s going to make you feel confident.”
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How would you describe the Blank Label philosophy?
We’re here to make you feel comfortable, because at the end of the day, we believe that being comfortable is what’s going to make you feel confident. We have a motto here; we say we “look to find each client’s unconscious smile.” An overall change in posture comes across when clients wear custom for the first time—they put on their suit and you can see a certain brightness in their face because they feel and look great.
Walk us through the design and fitting process.
There are two options. If you come in knowing what you want, we’ll sit down for an initial conversation to get an understanding of the colors and fit you’re interested in, and then move on to the fitting, where we’ll put you in two try-on garments and take body measurements. The other option is to come in for a consultation dedicated solely to understanding what it is you’re looking for. Generally a client comes into the studio two to three times, for that initial fitting to build out the garment, and then a fit check later on. If adjustments are needed, you would come in a third time just to say, “Okay, the decrease in the midsection feels a lot better. Good to go.”
How far in advance should a groom order his suit or tux?
Our garments are custom, so the timeline actually needed for their construction will be about three months. Custom is an investment, so putting the time and care into the process is important.
What are some common fit problems guys run into with wedding-day attire?
One has to do with weight changes—having an understanding of the state of your body on the wedding day is important, because we’re fitting you ahead of time. Another important thing is not going too slim with the fit. We often try to remind clients that there’s a compromise between comfort and fit, and you need extra fabric in certain places to move around. You’re going to want to dance a little bit on the wedding day!
What are some ways the man of the hour can distinguish himself from his groomsmen?
He could go for a tuxedo while the bridal party wears suits. And I think just throwing in some extra accessories—a pocket square or a vest, even—gives you that little bit of pop. Giving your apparel a little more care looks really nice in photos, as it showcases the groom and establishes the groomsmen as supporting.
Do suiting fabrics and colors change with the seasons?
Yes, absolutely. For summer weddings, we do a lot of linen; we also have a seersucker option. Some guys will try to give themselves a lighter feel and go with a half-lined jacket. In the winter, we offer heavier tweeds and wools for a warmer feel, though I would say we see that less for weddings. Most guys in fall and winter go for a four-season fabric.
What are some of the more-memorable looks that Blank Label has created?
To be honest, I would say most of our clients stick to the classics and add style with customization. We can add a different color threading to the buttonhole and the boutonniere hole of the jacket, or a nice pop of color with the inner lining. We’ve done a white tuxedo with black lapels—that was a fun look.
What’s hot in menswear right now?
Color. For suits, a brighter navy—the classic being that traditional dark navy. It’s still versatile. I’m seeing guys add in a little bit more color in shirts as well, whether in a textured shirt or a little bit of a pattern, and even just with ties.
Do you see grooms come in for their wedding and then return as regular clients?
Yes, absolutely! Most of the time I would say clients return based on the fit; they find a fit that they love or that they haven’t been able to find before, and really can’t turn back. We definitely see guys returning after the wedding: They send us photos, little notes, and things like that. We like to be a big part of the day in more ways than just that initial purchase. And if you’re in need of another suit or another shirt down the line, it’s an easy-peasy reorder with us.
36 Bromfield St., Boston; 27-43 Wormwood St., Boston; 781-236-3559, blanklabel.com.
Not enough time to go bespoke? Jazz up any old suit with these dapper accessories, recommended by Aoife O’Flaherty.
BOW TIE: Most commonly seen with a tuxedo in black satin, a unique bow tie can be a great way to add color and pattern to your look.
CUFF LINKS: They’re necessary for French-cuffed dress shirts and a smart choice for a more-formal look.
MONOGRAM: Stitching your name or initials into a shirt cuff or inner jacket is a nice touch. For your wedding suit, get creative and add the date to create a keepsake.
POCKET SQUARE: A pop of color peeking out of the breast pocket can do wonders to bring an outfit together.
SUSPENDERS: Functionally, they do a good job of holding your pants up throughout the day, and they have a more classic, traditional look when your jacket is off.
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