Image Credit: Ashleigh Sky Photography

Laid-Back To


It is a common occurrence for style to fall victim to the homogenising effect of fashion, and none witness more casualties than men’s fashion. Long gone are the days where grooms are restricted by monochromatic colours and rigid styles. As the number of couples deviating from traditional weddings continues to rise, so too does the number of laid-back weddings. Navigating the ultimate styling tips for a relaxed wedding, Emma Warner Allen seeks the sage counsel of Alexander Pillai – owner, founder, and senior wedding consultant at Suitably.

Image Credit: Ashleigh Sky Photography

When opting for a laid-back wedding, the prospect of standing out – while still dressing down – can be a daunting one. “I’ve had a lot of grooms say that they want something casual or laid-back, but I’ve never heard anyone say that they don’t care what they’re wearing on the big day. I think that there is an important distinction between the two that needs to be considered and addressed,” Pillai explains. “I find myself using this adage all the time – you want a complete stranger to be able to look at the photos in ten years’ time and be able to pick out who the groom is. The main recommendation I make to achieve this is ‘dressing down’ your groomsmen,” the wedding consultant continues. Before delving further into the specifics, Pillai affirms that the most important thing is to “stay true to yourself, your partner, and the spirit of your union”. “Above all else, if you do that then you will always look great,” he concludes.

A Material World

There are so many options available for men seeking to incorporate their personality into their attire. Materials alone can set the tone for formality, but colours and styles are “a more important consideration than the actual material itself”. “Things like theme, vibe, formality, season, and colour palette should always be the focus,” Pillai asserts.

Having said that, it is still important to understand the types of material available, as they will contribute to your overall look. Typically, men’s formalwear, even when seeking to achieve a casual look, are made from a few tried-and-tested materials. For suits, “the traditional choice is a worsted wool”. Pillai explains that worsted wool is “wool that’s been spun in a way that makes it fine and smooth”, and most will find that a typical business suit is usually made from worsted wool. Three other materials remain a popular choice – woollens, linens, and velvets. Most people who choose a woollen suit “are often seeking tweed, often with a very classically British style or with a classical check or herringbone pattern,” Pillai notes. Velvet is a rich, opulent, and bold fabric to work with. “Velvet has an effortless cool and

mystery about it which could potentially suit the laid-back groom that also wants to bring some class to the occasion.” On the opposite end of the spectrum, is linen. Light, effortlessly cool and elegant, Pillai notes that “linen is enjoying a huge surge in popularity over the last few years”. “It’s typically a lighter material with summery connotations. Unlike wool, when linen wrinkles it looks quite elegant and it’s not a material that you need to be precious with. I think for that reason, it’s been adopted as the laid-back or easy-going fabric of choice,” he observes.

However, all in all, when it comes to material, Pillai’s first bit of advice is absolutely the most important: “The material itself isn’t really that important. Think about the sort of event you are wanting to create and make a decision around that.”

Colour Me Beautiful

Rather than focusing on materials, the expert recommends placing more importance on colours, theme, and styling. “The formality of a suit is heavily linked to the colour. The darker the suit, the more formal it is,” Pillai explains. If you are opting to wear a traditional suit, consider beiges and lighter greys instead as, “with a little bit of forethought, you can use this to your advantage”. “A light grey suit can be used time and time again in the  warmer seasons and in so many situations,” Pillai elaborates. “Speaking of seasons, be aware that this is an important consideration. Like formality, lighter tones tend to favour warmer weather and darker colours work better in the cold.” That is not to say that you can’t couple lighter hues with a winter wedding – think “mid-greys and stone colours” for the colder months. “If you have the right location with lots of beautiful Australian native flowers, I’ve found that off-whites can also work a treat,” Pillai notes.

If you are seeking to incorporate a pop of colour, one overarching factor to consider is to “master the colour science that makes up your outfit”. To do this, first you must consult a colour wheel. “Pick a core colour, which is typically the colour of your suit, or the most predominant colour in the outfit, and follow a complementary, triad, or analogous colour strategy.” “Complementary means that you match

the core colour with colours exactly opposite it on the wheel,” Pillai explains. “Triad colours match the [specific] colour with the colour one-third of the way on either side of the wheel, giving you three colours. Analogous colours means that you match the core colour with the colours neighbouring it.” While this may seem complicated, Pillai advises not to be intimidated by it as it’s more of a rough guideline. “Your eye will most likely be drawn to colours and colour combinations that work to these principles anyway.” Applying these principles is a sure-fire way to ensure you look smart while still achieving a more relaxed wedding look.

Don’t Cramp Your Style

Last but not least, is styling the entire look as a whole. While the concept of styling can be overwhelming, it can actually be “something as simple as foregoing a tie” to make that point of difference to the overall look. When achieving a laid-back look it is important to ‘dress-down’ what is typically considered a formal look. To help you achieve this, using the right accessories cancertainly dress you down. “A nonchalantly placed pocket square in the right tone, texture or pattern can look playful and casual,” Pillai advises. A strong believer in the Italian term, ‘sprezzatura’ which Pillai consistently relies on, “it basically means ‘studied carelessness’ or alternatively, ‘the art of seeming art-less’. In this context, it’s about adding elements to your outfit that are actually well thought-out and are very much intentional,” the Suitably founder notes. “I find suspenders are always popular in casual settings. I think a crisp white pocket square in a presidential fold on a classic tuxedo looks sensational. A boutonniere helps to tie you into your party and surroundings. Perhaps you have some meaningful family heirlooms or hand-me-downs? There are so many men’s accessories,” so be sure to have fun finding the ones you love.

One need not be intimidated by the prospect of attending a relaxed formal event – let alone on your wedding day. Utilising Pillai’s wisdom will ensure that you are well on your way to ensuring you feel confident – and look spectacular – on what is one of the most pivotal days of your life to date.