Getting married in a suit isn’t exactly an original concept. World War II brides popularized them out of necessity, wearing the best they could find in their closets for ‘on the fly’ nuptials. Mia Farrow wore one when she married Frank Sinatra, and more recently, Camilla Parker-Bowles wore coat/dress ensembles for both her civil and church ceremonies. So what differentiates the wedding suit from the everyday business suit? Typically, the fabric in a wedding suit or coat will be special. Considering the season, winter for example, peau de soie and brocade are luxe, heavier materials that sculpt to the body well and hold their shape. A high quality wool suit fabric can go any season. Imagine a wool crepe suit in white or ivory, lined in a lightweight pure silk; it will have a totally different appearance than what you wear in the office or boardroom. Linens and medium weight silk shantung or dupioni have just enough weight to tailor well and look chic for spring-summer weddings.
The basic cut of the jacket is going to be the same one you are used to—either single or double breasted. More radical styles would include Neru, Mandarin or Cossack. Shorter jackets like the Eisenhower and Bolero look best with skirts having higher waistbands, giving you a more column-like look.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Accessorizing a suit with bridal touches is one of the ways you can customize it for a wedding. Everyday buttons on a jacket for instance can be replaced with fabric covered or jeweled ones. Your jacket can also have couture techniques such as hand-bound buttonholes. If your suit has a formal floor-length skirt, topping it off with a longer veil really gives it that wedding feel without going ‘all out’ as a sweetheart bride. Shorter veils like fly aways (shoulder length and above) or poufs of netting go great with suits. If you’re not the veil type, consider a hat or headpiece that compliments. Hats and suits go together, especially a hat with some kind of veiling over the eyes. It takes the place of a blusher and offers a certain sophistication to being veiled rather than that symbolic ‘being given away’ business. Gloves really tie your whole look together and add a touch of formality when you want it. Kid gloves are the most elegant; net and crocheted ones give a more vintage or feminine feel to your ensemble.
WHERE TO SHOP
The trick here is to shop in the opposite direction the traditional bride would. The exception is the bridal salon that features one or more of the few designer lines that offer suits. Selections as of this writing are still pretty limited though. Initially your search for ideas will probably begin online. Once you get a thought of how you want the skirt and jacket to look,store or print out the combinations. From there sketch them how you want. Next you might go to a fabric shop. Yes, to look at fabrics but also to comb through the pattern books. Pattern books are great for finding looks you can take with you. Or go online to www.vogue patterns.com. Look under coats and suits and you’ll find plenty to browse through and get inspired.
If you take the department store route for buying a suit, you might find a particular designer has the suit you like but it’s available in every color but white. The designer or store carrying it may be able to special order it in white. If you’re satisfied with the idea of a ready-made suit, department stores might be a better option than anywhere, especially if they have an established relationship with the manufacturer. Salespeople within departments know their lines and designers well and can steer you in the right direction. You might be able to find your jacket by one designer—your skirt by another. Be warned though. Just make sure the shades of white aren’t too far off that they can’t be worn together.
There is on the other hand a down side to department stores: If you want that particular fashion edge their merchandise probably isn’t as forward-looking as say, the one-of-a-kind boutique or specialty store. And believe me, a bridal suit should be classic, yes, but something about it has to be different. The kind of different only a tailor or designer can translate. Check out boutiques and specialty stores. They may not have the exact suit you want but they may be able to create one or point you to a first-rate tailor or custom designers who can. . If you can’t find what you want in a salon, department store or boutique and are serious about that real ‘tailored look’, find a good tailor, preferably a men’s tailor (they’re so skilled). Use some of the same guidelines for finding a tailor that you would a designer or dressmaker. We covered it in chapter one—in this case follow the most important rule: ask around and word of mouth. Once you find your good tailor, he (most likely a he) will either have an array of fabrics in house or help you scout your desired materials out. Chances are you’ll want an exclusive fabric you can only find in a specialty store. A tailor knows how tol take all the proper measurements and look you want . . . the look that undoubtedly says, You and sets you apart.