Are ‘Dad’ and ‘style’ two words you’ve never seen together? Time to change that! Let’s get your old man looking good
Dressing your groomsmen is often a fairly simple task: you pick them an outfit that matches your colour scheme and suits their various shapes and statures, and Bob’s your uncle. But things can be far less straightforward when it comes to what the father of the bride (aka the FoB) and the father of the groom (the FoG) will be wearing.
Should they coordinate with each other? Should they wear something similar to the groomsmen’s outfits? Or should they tie in with the bridesmaids’ colours instead? What if they really don’t want to fit in with the rest of the boys, even though you’d prefer them to?
Thankfully, we have experts on hand to talk us through all these styling dilemmas and more, with advice and tips to get your auld Da’ comfortable with looking good and ready to play a starring role in the day.
Where to begin?
Before the FoG or FoB takes himself off to the nearest menswear store to play dress-up, it’s best he consults the bride and groom about what they’re thinking in terms of styles and colours. You don’t want him done up to the nines in a formal morning suit and top hat if the rest of the guys are going for a casual linen look, for instance. “The couple will normally have a colour scheme in mind, and if either dad turns up wearing something very different, he will not be popular!” laughs Ross Lyall at Slanj Kilts.
This is why Simone Waters at Highlandwear specialist McCalls advises couples to include their fathers in their w-day fashion plans pretty early on, as it will circumvent any style or colour clashes further down the line. “If you’re leaving him in charge of choosing his own outfit, make sure he’s aware of what everyone else is wearing,” she tells us. “He’ll be in lots of the photos, so you’ll want to avoid things like mismatched tartans and styles.”
If you’ve decided you’re going to pick everyone’s outfits for them to guarantee uniformity (including what the two dads will be wearing), it is best that you or your partner are present when they start shopping and trying on their looks. “Whoever gets the honour of accompanying the dads to give style advice needs to go into the situation with understanding and enthusiasm,” stresses Simone.
Unless your old man is an extra in Peaky Blinders or Outlander, it’s unlikely he sports suave three-piece suits or Highlandwear every day, so the hunt for formal wedding attire might strike him as a bit daunting. “The fitting room and dress-up situation is outside the comfort zone of many men, so we tell fathers to go in with an open mind and heart,” Simone continues. “Perhaps most importantly, though, you should enjoy this special time with your father, who is probably just as proud and excited as you to share the moment together.”
Martin Rennie at tailoring specialist Remus Uomo suggests inviting the dads to join the groom when he begins looking for his outfit: they might not have much of a say in what he chooses, but they’ll be great support should he need a second opinion. It’ll also clue them into what sort of style they should be thinking of for themselves.
This is something that Holly Nicholl from kilt supplier MacGregor and MacDuff believes too, adding that if the FoB or FoG knows what to expect from watching their son or soon-to-be son-in-law try his look, he might be more at ease when getting started on the process himself. “Dads can accompany grooms to their initial fittings and enjoy helping to choose jacket styles and tartans. Then, when it comes to getting their own measurements taken, they’ll know what to expect,” she adds.
If your father isn’t particularly keen on having an in-store appointment to look for an outfit, Holly points out that he can opt for a virtual one instead. As with most wedding-related shopping, it’s always worth giving yourself plenty of time to browse for your outfit. Ross at Slanj, for one, recommends beginning the hunt at least six months prior to the big day.
Loving the look
Different generations can have very different views about style and fashion, and this may present a few problems if you’re trying to get your dad into a cool new look. Have our experts spotted stubborn resistance to any particular gear? “We find that a lot of fathers aren’t so keen on kilts as they get older,” notes Ross. That’s no surprise – a lot of dads might not have worn a kilt since they tied the knot themselves! “If that’s the case with your old man, tartan trews might be a better option. These can be made in the same tartan that the rest of the wedding party is wearing.”
Holly is a fan of tartan trews too, calling them “a fantastic alternative for fathers who want to embrace their Scottish roots while wearing something they’re more comfortable in”. If your dad is happy to go down the kilt route, that’s great – but, again, a quick consultation about tartans before any purchase (or hire) is made will avoid a lot of pain, says Ross.
MacGregor and MacDuff find that tweed jackets are a firm fave among older gents: “They flatter all shapes, styles and ages, and add a more contemporary look to the traditional kilt outfit,” notes Holly.
Martin has found that dads shopping at Remus Uomo tend to steer clear of fashionably slim-cut suits or particularly bold colours: “Most dads hate the tighter fit of slim suits. A lot of them think they’re ‘too old’ or the style won’t look good on their bodies – before they’ve even tried it on. We get the same negative reaction to bold checks or colours, so it’s worth bearing this in mind when working out the style of your bridal party – you want everyone to feel comfortable on the day.”
One of the team
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to dressing the gents in your wedding party: your dad could wear the same as the groomsmen; you could have the fathers of both the bride and groom in a complementary ensemble with nods to the colour theme of the big day; or they could pick a look that is entirely their own. It all depends on the vision you have for your celebrations.
“Our Mist tartans were specifically designed to complement various wedding themes, thanks to the pops of colour in the yarns,” says Holly at MacGregor and MacDuff. “It makes them especially popular as they allow the fathers of the bride and groom to coordinate with the wedding theme and bridesmaid dresses.”
She feels it’s more popular these days for dads to embrace their own style, and finds that the FoB and FoG aren’t as focused on matching each other or the groomsmen as perhaps they once were. And if they do pick a different tartan to the one worn by the groom and his team, it could be nice to go for something in a similar hue or complementary tone.
“Fathers can coordinate with matching jackets and show their personality with different tartans from our Choose Any Tartan kilt hire,” says Holly. “We have a large selection of jacket styles and tartans that will match any preference.”
Depending on your vision for the bridal party, a matching group of ushers and fathers can look great in pictures; if you do go down this route, perhaps think about allowing the main men to have their own unique touches, suggests Simone. This could be minor (the fathers wearing different sporrans, say) or major (letting them choose trews in the same tartan, rather than a kilt). A little bit of variation can be very attractive but still keeps everyone feeling like part of the group.
At Remus Uomo, Martin suggests doing something similar with a suit: your dad could wear a different waistcoat or choose a contrasting jacket or tie: “This helps them stand out from the mass of groomsmen while at the same time linking them to the outfits worn by the rest of the guys,” he says.
Weddings are a pricey business, so you’ll be wanting to know who pays for what. As grooms will usually be paying for their groomsmen’s outfits, hiring these is often the most cost-effective option. Many stores have hire deals – McCalls, for example, does a ‘grooms go free’ deal where, if you rent five outfits, you get a sixth at no cost, so a father’s hire outfit could be included in this.
“Who pays for the FoG or FoB outfit will be different for each family, but in our experience it normally lies with Dad,” notes Ross at Slanj. Prices at the Glasgow-based store vary, but hiring a kilt costs about £100. A trews outfit is between £200 and £300, and to buy a full kilt outfit is about £1,000. It’s a lot of money, but a kilt can be worn to weddings again and again – just the thing if you have siblings who’re still to marry!