How to Dress Your Groomsmen

How to Dress Your Groomsmen

Maureen Woodman, a wedding planner at The Essex Room, discusses the history and recent trends of how to dress your groomsmen, including classic and modern styles, including whether to match your bridal party, tie trends, and colors.

John: Hi I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Maureen Woodman, a wedding planner for on and off-site catered events at the Essex Room in Essex, Massachusetts. Today we’re talking about how to dress your groomsmen. Welcome, Maureen.

Maureen: Hey John, thanks for having me.

John: Sure. Maureen, do you think that the groom and groomsmen are sometimes overlooked, since the focus of a wedding is often on the bridal gown and the bridesmaids’ dresses?

Maureen: Absolutely. I think that the groomsmen and the groom, and the parents, the fathers of the bride and groom, I think that they have a tendency to go a lot closer to the actual wedding date. I think that’s because the bride and the bridesmaids and probably the bride’s mother are controlling something there, be it color, or texture, or style, and they can’t make their mind up. They are like, “Oh no no, you can wait for like five months out and then you can go pick out your outfit.”

John: Right, and maybe they want the groomsmen and the groom to coordinate with the bridesmaids dresses a little bit. The groomsmen used to wear ties or vests that matched the bridesmaids’ dresses. Is that still the case, or are there other ways to coordinate the groomsmen outfits?

Maureen: I think there’s still a lot of tradition there for sure. What I’m seeing, again, for 2018, and probably 2017 I started to see a lot where the men are going with the colored suits. So whether it’s in the beige, the grey, or that kind of really pretty blue, it’s not really navy blue, it’s not really a royal blue. That seems to be very, very popular. Then, of course, you started to see the father of the bride also getting away from the tuxedo.

I still personally like the father of the bride in a classic tuxedo, because his moment is really when he walks down the aisle with the bride. It’s not so much, other than photos, do you really ever see him with the bridal party. But I like that old fashioned look, when he comes down in a nice, clean, black tux.

But I think there’s a lot more options for men now. You go off to the tux stores or you go to a men’s clothing store. They have so many textures, options, just the cut of the leg of the pants. Whether you want it to be tapered, or you want to have a wide leg, or pleated. It’s just completely different; there’s way, way more choices now for the men than there used to be.

John: These days, a lot of the bridesmaids are dressing in…maybe they have the same color, but they’re wearing a different style of dress, something that suits them. Do groomsmen have that same option to maybe not exactly match each other, but to have some variety?

Maureen: No, I still see the groomsmen going in the same outfit. I think, honestly, it’s because the guys are so much easier to make a decision, where the freestyle on the bridesmaid, now, I think everyone has a different body shape, or height, or weight or whatever. I think that’s kind of nice that the bride is allowing them to pick something that they feel more comfortable in, so that day they’re more confident. Usually it has predominantly to do with the neckline, whether it’s the higher neck or something for the girls.

But the guys, to me, are still staying true to form. The guys are just more behaved, too. When they go, they do what they’re told. I think the girls have more of an opinion. Like in life anyway. What is it? Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. They think differently. I think there’s definitely something there, but the guys seem to…whatever the groom wants, the guys go along. I haven’t really seen them balk too much.

John: Okay. People seem to be getting away from the bow ties in favor of a standard necktie lately. Is that still the trend that you’re seeing, or do you still see some bow ties occasionally?

Maureen: Definitely. I think the bow tie is definitely — you’ll see it for the father of the bride and maybe the groom. But for the groomsmen, a lot of people, really — they’re going with the Vineyard Vines tie. They’re going with a really pretty tie, so you’re not seeing that solid color tie which you used to see a lot, which came from the [tux] store. I think a lot of the gifts that have to do with the groomsmen are around the tie and the belt.

Again, some of the specialty stores, Vineyard Vines just stick out in my head, because you can get so many pretty colors and options there that really make the tie pop. And then, of course, they can keep it, where if you rented everything goes back on Monday.

John: What are some other ways that groomsmen could be dressed besides just the standard three-piece suit and tie?

Maureen: I’m seeing a lot of them wearing really pretty colorful plaid shirts, the small check shirts, or the shirts that have the reversible cuff and collars on them. So, again, once they take their jacket off, they have pretty shirts on — not just a classic white dress shirt. I think that’s where they’re throwing in a lot of their personal style. I’m also seeing a tremendous amount of groomsmen going with the matching socks, something really colorful in the argyle, or something, again, from Vineyard Vines that has fish, or lobsters, or starfish on it.

That’s a pretty iconic shot with the photographers right now, where you’re seeing a shot of all the groomsmen’s socks; that seems to be coming into play. Well, some of them are still wearing pocket scarfs and they’re still having boutonnières. I haven’t seen so much where the boutonnières have gone out, but the boutonnières have changed. You might see some different kinds of flowers, or some different things added into the boutonnière, it might not just be a rose anymore or a carnation. You might see some succulents in there, or some little pieces of wood, almost like a real corsage; a little more fancy on the boutonnières.

John: What are some options for groomsmen shoes? Do you see people sometimes opting for like a sneaker, or like a Converse shoe, or a cowboy boot or something unusual like that?

Maureen: Sure, I think that you’ll see the boat shoes, you see the flip-flops, you’ll see those fancy brown leather tie shoes; those really had a run for a while. Then, of course, a lot of them are wearing the Jordan sneakers. Again that’s another great groomsman gift, where they’re going out, and they are purchasing shoes, as opposed to renting traditional tux shoes or suit shoes, just regular black loafers or something, and that seems to be becoming a gift. A lot of them were getting messages written on the bottom of their shoe. That’s something that’s really popular right now too, where if they are a gift, they’re writing the message either inside the shoe for them, or on the bottom of their shoe.

John: Are there other ways to make groomsmen clothes more unique or interesting? Are people going more casual sometimes?

Maureen: I think a lot of them are buying their suit, and they’re having them monogrammed inside with the name and date of the wedding, or they’re having the date and their name put on their ties for them. I can’t really say that the clothes have gotten that much more different. The only thing I would say, is that color is way more popular than it used to be. An old morning suit, which was gray, or a traditional black suit; you really don’t see too many people wearing the black suit anymore at a wedding, probably at a black tie [event] only.

John: Is there much less emphasis now on matching your tie exactly to the bridesmaids’ color and that sort of thing?

Maureen: I think so. I think the girls have been wearing a lot more metallics and neutrals in the last five years. Anything that the groomsmen choose, I think the groomsmen are more matching the flowers or the theme of the wedding, and not necessarily going exactly with the bridesmaids. A lot of girls have a tendency to go into a pink or blush tone, or peach, and I think a lot of guys would rather wear something in the blue and the green primary family. They are not so fond of the pink bow tie anymore like they used to be.

John: Yes, that’s an option for them, then, to not necessarily match, but just pick a color that, kind of like you said, goes with the theme, matches the flowers, and as long as they look decent together then that’s okay.

Maureen: Yes, I think so. I think that you’re starting to see a little bit more freedom on their side, with the color. I would say that’s the biggest thing that I see changing in 2017, probably 2018 going forward.

John: All right, that’s great information, Maureen. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

Maureen: Thanks, John. Thanks for having me.

John: For more information, you can visit the Essex Room website at or call 978-768-7335.