Dressing Dad: how to find him the ideal wedding outfit this father’s day

It’s time we shone a light on the other main men at the big day – fathers of the bride and groom, we’re looking at you! In days gone by, their wedding wardrobe was often overlooked or left to the last minute, but no more… Here’s our top tips for suiting and booting your old man

Master Debonair Marc Darcy tweed three-piece suits
Marc Darcy tweed herringbone three-piece suits, from a selection, Master Debonair

1. Matchy-matchy? A look all of his own? What’s the vision for the outfit?

From the outset, you have some decisions to make together.

For Steven Angus at McCalls, it all starts with the aesthetics. “First thoughts should be whether there is a specific tartan or colour scheme that the bride or groom would like their dads to wear on the big day,” he says. “From there, it would be a case of viewing each outfitter’s range in store or online to find what you’re looking for, at least six months beforehand.

“We have a variety of clan tartans for hire, as well as our exclusive Pride collection, which offers something in every shade. You can browse the entire line from the comfort of your own home using the Outfit Designer feature on our website.”

“The first thing would be whether he might want to be the same or different to the rest of the party,” agrees Izzy Tetlow from Glasgow-based Highlandwear specialists MacGregor and MacDuff.

There’s so much inspiration out there – what if you and your father feel like you’re drowning in it?

“My advice would be to approach the hunt as naturally as possible,” urges Walker Slater’s Michael Dixon. “Sometimes deciding what you don’t like can really focus your mind.”

Ventura three-piece suits by Slater Menswear
Ventura three-piece suits, £99, Slater Menswear

Which brings us to the next tricky question: how do you both agree on a look? For every trendy, up-for-wearing-anything father, there’s another who’s stuck in the 1980s, or hyperventilating at the thought of formalwear. How to meet in the middle?

“The main collision we tend to see is generational taste – fit, cloth, style and pretty much everything in between!” Michael confirms. “This can be bridged with a few options that we have in store. We offer a made-to-measure service, so the outfit can be tailored to the client and their exact preferences.”

“It’s vital to make sure everyone is comfortable in their outfit,” echoes Izzy. “It’s a collaboration between the couple and their fathers.”

Handmade kilt outfit from Gordon Nicolson Kiltmakers and a bespoke suit by Walker Slater
From left: Handmade Highland Mist kilt, from £595, and Lovat Green tweed jacket and waistcoat, £495, both Gordon Nicolson Kiltmakers; Made-to-measure bespoke suit, £POA, Walker Slater (Photo: Kewin Connin Jackson)

2. What do you have to spend – and how long have you got?

Your decision will depend on the budget and the timeframe you’re working to, as Izzy explains: “Next, you need to think about whether you want to hire or purchase the outfit. This can be a special time to buy, and means your father can wear it to future events, but note that it takes around eight to ten weeks to have an outfit made.

“Alternatively, if hiring, this would be put on the same booking as rest of the wedding party (even if it was a different outfit) and we’d have everyone named and measured 12 weeks before the date.”

One last point: who should foot the bill? The jury’s out. “Sometimes the groom buys for the whole party but there’s definitely no pattern when it comes to paying,” Michael offers.

Silver Mist kilt outfits by MacGregor and MacDuff
Silver Mist kilt outfits with Glen Orchy tweed jacket and waistcoat, from £89 to hire and £850 to buy, MacGregor and MacDuff

3. Ready to shop? Here’s what to expect

Once your dad’s outfit has begun to take shape in your mind, what about the reality of shopping for it?

“Hire appointments usually take around 20 minutes,” Steven says. “The outfit will then be ready to collect on your chosen day (usually the day before the wedding). A made-to-measure fitting, on the other hand, lasts half an hour, and items can take up to six weeks to be made.”

As with brides, what you and your father might think you want can shift the minute you see what’s actually in store. Keep an open mind and listen to the stylists’ suggestions – this is no time to lurk in your comfort zone.

“It’s not uncommon for fathers or older relatives to feel apprehensive at the idea of wearing a kilt,” recognises Steven. “We believe that anybody, regardless of age or size, can look the bee’s knees in a kilt, but there is no pressure – we don’t insist on anything that could make the client feel uneasy. Why not try tartan trews, instead? They’re becoming increasingly popular to hire, as we have availability in any of the Pride tartans, so fathers can still match the groomsmen should they wish.”

Autumn Pride of Scotland kilt and Modern Pride of Scotland trews byMcCalls
From left: Autumn Pride of Scotland kilt with charcoal tweed jacket, £108 to hire and £1,199 to buy made to measure; and Modern Pride of Scotland trews with black Argyll jacket and five-button waistcoat, £69 to hire and £555 to buy made to measure, both McCalls

4. Make the right choices

Breaking away from the status quo can only be a good thing, even if your starting point is your father’s everyday wardrobe.

“What does he normally wear?” asks Michael. “Which colours does he like? This can help either way. For instance, if he wears blue or grey suits in his working life, he’s not looking to replicate that at a wedding. This often leads us to a tweed with a subtle windowpane check or a houndstooth, something to set him apart and stop him feeling he’s heading to the office.”

Black Watch tartan trews and MacLeod of Duart kilt from MacGregor and MacDuff
From left: Black Watch tartan trews and Arran navy tweed jacket and waistcoat, outfits from £565 to buy; MacLeod of Duart kilt with traditional Prince Charlie jacket and waistcoat, outfit from £850 to buy, both MacGregor and MacDuff

5. Get personal

Having seen what’s out there, your dad might even want to inject a little personality into his outfit – imagine that!

“This can be achieved in many ways,” reckons Izzy. “From stand-out accessory choices to more bespoke details, the scope is endless. If you’re purchasing a kilt, everything can be customised, including the engraving on the straps or the colour of the lining, or you could opt for one of our Signature jackets, where every feature is up to you, from the cloth to the buttons.”

“Sporrans can be custom-made, too, and are a great keepsake to hand down to future generations,” adds Steven.