Ask Lily Beth ☞ An alternative to groomsmen boutonnieres

So Isabel writes:

I am having a major dilemma over boutonnieres for my wedding. I don’t like them, but I want to make sure the groom stands out. I want him to look very “Mad Men” with a black suit, white pocket square. Do you think if the best man and fathers wear one in a different color or folded different it will allow him to still “stand out.” They are all wearing black suits.

We had boutonnieres for our wedding, mainly because I like flowers. And also, because none of the groomsmen or bridesmaids were wearing matching suits or dresses, it was extra important that they have something to visually distinguish them as “the wedding party.”

So we went with boutonnieres and corsages, because I was just at a loss for how to do it any other way. And I hated it.

They looked lovely, don’t get me wrong, but in every photograph I see, I think to myself, “My god, those were such a pain in everyone’s ass.”

Isabel, smart woman that she is, already knows that boutonnieres should go to hell in a hand-basket. And also, Isabel apparently knows that if there’s anything Lily Beth loves more than freshly baked pastries, it’s Mad Men.

Isabel, my darling, I commend you for your excellent taste.

Simple pocket squares of different colors are a lovely way to differentiate who’s who, as well as different styles. Caroline over at FlavorWire celebrates the three different types of pocket squares worn by the gentlemen at Sterling-Cooper; graphic artist Christina Perry demonstrates with images.

I think this is a brilliant template to go off of – Don Draper, the youngest of the partners, wears his in a simple square. Roger Sterling, the slightly older partner, has apparently earned enough clout for an eye catching but not ostentatious descending three point fold or a winged puff fold. And Bertram Cooper, the most senior partner, opts for a quite fancy four point crown fold, as if to say, “It’s good to be king.”

I think this would be a piece of cake to break up for your groomsmen this way – groom, groomsmen, and fathers. I cover three basic types of folds in my article “Fashion is Architecture: Navigating Men’s Clothing,” as well as a link and hat-tip to Sam Hober’s great how-to illustrations for many more.

Since you’re going to be a pocket square Nazi, it would be nice if you made them into keepsakes for the wedding party by having them monogrammed. (At a loss for monogramming advice? I’ve got a whole article on that very subject.)

Like the idea of a pocket square but still love flowers? Try a floral pocket square – and no, we don’t mean floral fabric. We mean real flowers. Check out Junebug at Junebug Weddings for her post on floral pocket squares.

Another alternative, since you’re keeping things simple, is to differentiate with ties. As with pocket squares, you can do this with color or shape (although I wouldn’t recommend both). Either:

1. Have all your gentlemen in varying shades of your wedding colors (for example, if your colors are purple and green, you can put your gentlemen in plum, royal, and lilac, or split them and have your groomsmen in mint colored ties with your groom in plum purple.)

– or –

2. Have all your gentlemen in the same color of tie with varying shapes. Don from Mad Men sports a skinny tie complete with tie clip, while Roger Sterling opts for a fuller tie (always silk), and Bertram Cooper unfailingly chooses bow ties with his suits.

Any way you slice it, it’s obvious your wedding party will be the best dressed gentlemen there.

One Response to “Ask Lily Beth ☞ An alternative to groomsmen boutonnieres”
  1. Lisa says:

    You saved the day! I have been so troubled over this… I know it sounds silly, but I have been you have confirmed my thoughts on the subject and have given me the confidence I needed. thanks so much!! It’s the little details you know… =) of course i am now confused with ties. the groom will be wearing a black suit with black skinny tie. the best man (only groomsmen) will have a black suit and so will the dads. my wedding is mostly white with robins egg blue accents. I don’t want to add to much color. do you think they should all wear grey ties with grey pocket squares folded differently? thanks!

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