The experts talk us through styling your groom squad

You’ve got more than just your own outfit to think about – what will your groomsmen be wearing to the wedding? Those in the know talk outfits, timings and how to make you stand out from the crowd

When was the last time you and your gang donned matching outfits? If the answers are “never” or “stag-do T-shirts”, you might be wondering how on earth you’re going to get everyone looking remotely on the same page on your wedding day. Do you know what sort of style will suit all your groomsmen? Any clue when you should start the hunt for the perfect look? Is it wise (or dangerous) for everyone to be fitted at the same time?

If these questions are running wild in your mind, we’ve got the experts with the answers. They’re here to chat all things groomswear, from Highland kilts to smart, slimline suits, so you can start shopping armed with all you need to know.

MacGregor and MacDuff real groom and his groomsmen
Groom Jimmy and his gang look the part in their Glen Orchy tweed outfits with Silver Mist tartan, from £109 to hire and £1,095 to buy, MacGregor and MacDuff (photo: Rashida Keenan Photography)

Dress to impress

Cousins, brothers, best mates – it’s likely your team will all be different shapes and sizes, so how do you go about finding a look that celebrates this diversity (while helping everyone feel comfortable and confident, of course), yet also sets these guys apart from the rest of the male guests?

McCalls, the Highlandwear specialist, always recommends a face-to-face consultation; this allows the shop assistants to measure you and your groomsmen correctly and share their expertise before you get to narrowing down the options. “One piece of advice we give grooms who come in with their wedding party is to believe in their own vision yet still be flexible,” says Simone Waters of McCalls. “It’s your wedding, yes, but try to make sure everyone feels comfortable in the outfit they’ll be wearing for your special day.”

Suits at Slater Menswear, meanwhile, come in a wide selection of colours, styles and fits. Short, regular and long lengths are offered to make sure every member of your party is comfy (and looks good!).

Make a stand

Getting the right blend of uniformity (which will look great in the wedding snaps) while still allowing you as the main man to stand out can be a tricky balancing act. One way to make it clear who is the star of the show is to give your outfit some subtle differences. MacGregor and MacDuff, who’ve been kitting out wedding parties for decades, have one big tip for grooms who wear the same tartan outfit (kilt, jacket, waistcoat, socks and brogues) as their pals: add a fly plaid.

This is a long piece of cloth worn over the left shoulder that’s typically in the same tartan as your kilt. “It really makes you stand out,” says the company’s Holly Nicholl. “The dramatic drape of tartan is a nod to Scottish history when Highlanders once wore what was known as a ‘great kilt’. A pleated plaid is good as a dapper and more subtle way to distinguish you as the groom. We have fly plaids available in our hire tartan range.”

Left: McCalls models; right: Remus Uomo model
Left: Hunting Pride kilt outfit, from £100 to hire and from £615 to buy, McCalls; right: Suit, from a selection, Remus Uomo

Likewise, you could choose a sporran in a different colour or style of cantle (the metal bit at the top of a sporran) from what the rest of the guys are wearing. There’s a lot of variety out there, and they make a lovely keepsake of your wedding day. Holly suggests looking to accessories as well: “Use small details such as the sgian dubh or kilt pin to show off your personal style,” she says.

For Martin Rennie of Glasgow’s Remus Uomo, there’s no two ways about it: “The groom should always stand out from the rest, even if it’s just subtly,” he stresses, “and with a suit, it’s relatively easy to make small changes.” These tweaks could be to the style or hue of your waistcoat. “Or you could wear a different tie colour – it doesn’t need to be over the top.” The best man, he adds, will often share some of the groom’s tweaks. “You still have to be easily identified, though.”

Looking to really elevate your attire and get something totally unlike your groomsmen’s outfits? Try Slater Menswear’s Made to Order service. This was born from grooms wanting to spend a little more on their clothes, by adding personal touches and getting creative with the design.

“We have this service next to the main shop floor in our Glasgow store, so you can design the outfit you want, and then go and browse for the rest of the party,” the store’s Ashley Hill informs us. You won’t have to become a fashion designer overnight, in case you’re wondering. The staff will explain the possibilities and guide you through the whole process.

MacGregor and MacDuff real groom and his groomsmen giving bride and bridesmaids piggy backs
MacGregor and MacDuff groom Jimmy stood out with a fly plaid and a white sporran to coordinate with his bride Lizzy’s dress, while the groomsmen wore black sporrans (photo: Rashida Keenan Photography)

Time is right

Don’t leave dressing your gents until the last minute: that’s the top tip of Martin Rennie at Remus Uomo. “I’d suggest getting the suits sorted as soon as you can – you don’t want to risk the garments you like being out of stock in the colour or size you need.”

It’s much the same situation if you’re hiring Highlandwear – so give yourself plenty of time as the process can take longer than you might think. “Once you’ve chosen your outfit and you know what your best man and ushers will be wearing, we recommend that they come for a fitting 12 weeks before the event date,” says Holly Nicholl at MacGregor and MacDuff. “This allows plenty of time for any adjustments to be made to the fit and to ensure that the particular outfits and accessories you want are available.”

If you plan on buying any of your outfits, rather than simply hiring them, it can be worth placing your order up to 16 weeks before the wedding, she advises. “Again, this is to allow time for particular tartans to be available or if the kilts are being handmade.”

Hire ground

It is more than likely, with weddings being as costly as they are, that you’ll be wanting to keep your spending down, and one way to do that is by hiring rather than buying.

McCalls has a ‘groom goes free’ deal – if you rent five outfits, you get the sixth at no cost. “This is great for budgeting and making sure all your special guys look the part,” explains Simone Waters. The shop’s collection routine for hire garments couldn’t be simpler: you pick up your outfit the day before the wedding (or the morning of) and everything comes packed and ready to go.

Models for Slater Menswear
Dinner suits from a selection, Slater Menswear

At Slater Menswear too, you’re well covered. “Everything we offer to hire comes as a complete package, so you can get dressed top to toe without worrying that you’ve forgotten anything,” says Ashley Hill. “We offer an extensive range of both kilts and tartan trews to hire and to buy, as well as traditional formalwear like tails.”

If you’re looking to buy outfits for your ushers, Slater has a vast selection of styles, colours and fits so that every taste can be catered for, whether you want slim, dark two-piece suits or bright three-piece outfits, and everything in between. Shirts, ties, shoes and accessories are all available to purchase separately. An in-house alteration service is also included.

Grooms will traditionally pay for the hire of their squad’s outfits, as it is likely they will have a vision they want everyone to follow, whether this be Highland dress or formalwear. However, when it comes to purchasing, the onus usually falls on the groomsmen.

Although it might be fun to have all the guys head to the store together to get fitted, it’s not essential. “Grooms are welcome to bring along the rest of the party but we often find it is easier for each individual to do this in their own time,” notes Holly at MacGregor and MacDuff.

It has four stores in Scotland (in central Glasgow and the west end, and in Prestwick and Edinburgh), but also offers virtual appointments, as well as fitting services in London, Manchester and across the pond in both New York and Toronto, so your team can be fitted at a time and place that’s convenient for them, wherever they are. “We have a dedicated Wedding Party Service which can handle details such as arranging for your party to be measured and when to collect your outfits,” she adds.

Sounds like that’s you sorted, then!

McCalls real groom and his groomsmen
Kevin McDonagh and his groomsmen wear Hunting Pride kilt outfits with green tweed jackets, from £100 to hire and from £615 to buy, McCalls (photo: Corinne Moffat Photo and John Clark Photos)