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Author Topic: Wearing wedding attire pre-wedding?  (Read 10659 times)

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Wintergreen

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Re: Wearing wedding attire pre-wedding?
« Reply #30 on: September 28, 2015, 01:20:40 PM »
Interestingly, that's not true of men's attire, especially a tuxedo (or a black suit).

Yes, it really is not. Those are kind of "I own this one and use it everywhere" -things. But I wondered if the attitude or uneasiness comes from it. Subconscious is not always the most rational one :D

LtPowers

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Re: Wearing wedding attire pre-wedding?
« Reply #31 on: October 01, 2015, 12:39:11 PM »
Interestingly, that's not true of men's attire, especially a tuxedo (or a black suit).

Traditionally, women's fashion has been based on how unique she can appear from the other women, while men's fashion has been based on how closely he can hew to the uniform standard.

Thusly, we must now remember that this is a suit. It is everyday wear for businessmen. It is not likely to be particularly special visually, even if high quality. It just looks like a suit.

It has been gifted, and the only requirement is that it be present and presentable on the day of the wedding. Concerns over whatever minor wear may result from a handful of wearings strike me as baffling. I can't imagine anything being visible enough to be noticed, either in pictures or in person.

It's just a suit. It's not a boutonniere or a hairdo or even a pair of patent leather shoes. Properly cared for, it's going to look just fine on the big day.


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EllenS

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Re: Wearing wedding attire pre-wedding?
« Reply #32 on: October 01, 2015, 12:59:20 PM »
Of course, once upon a time it was considered tacky for a gentleman to wear a suit that was obviously fresh from the shop. I remember a passage in a Dorothy Sayers novel about Lord Peter Wimsey having his valet beat up a suit to get all the "new" off of it.

I think this only survives today in the faux pas of accidentally leaving price tags on your clothes.

Winterlight

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Re: Wearing wedding attire pre-wedding?
« Reply #33 on: October 01, 2015, 05:41:25 PM »
I would personally save the suit for the wedding because I don't want to invoke Murphy's Law all over it, and knowing me I would.

I think if it gets messed up, it's on him to repair/replace things.
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Rapunzel1974

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Re: Wearing wedding attire pre-wedding?
« Reply #34 on: October 01, 2015, 05:44:45 PM »
One thing that popped in my mind later was that I know some people hold the idea that person (I think especially woman) should not use same dress to different events. Especially if those events have overlapping guest list. As far as I know this probably has never been part of any "official" etiquette rules, more likely bit outdated habit from the time when upper class was supposed to uphold the reputation of the rank and looking poor (because of course it's sign of being poor if you can't get new dress to the important events of the society) would be utterly horrible. I don't know, just guessing and if somebody has knowledge, let me know.

However, I think there still are remnants of this type of thinking, even if straight out asked most might say it's obviously okay to use same dress in two different events. I mean, if celebrity uses same dress twice, it's quite likely to make headlines in certain magazines. Even if lately it's been more of a "X.X. is recycling a derss! See pictures from both events!" rather than mocking her for it, it still feels bit odd that using same dress twice would be considered recycling it and requires headlines.

So I wonder, if this uneasy feeling comes from this kind of old habits. I don't even agree with the idea one should not use same dress twice. But... I still know the idea exists. And if you use the clothing item before the actual event, well, you are not supposed to use it anymore there. It has expired.

Amateur historian here.  >:D Dishing some stuff from research by Olwen Hufton, Cynthia Amneus, and others.

Upper class (old money) women used to always make sure that people knew they owned the clothing and jewelry they wore. At times, that required deliberately wearing the same attire to events with overlapping guest lists, with a few weeks or even months in between. That way, they were proving that their dress or jewelry was something they owned, and that it hadn't been borrowed or rented. It wasn't an etiquette thing, it was more of a conspicuous consumption gesture intended to show the people in their social and business circles that their household was (still) financially stable. As in: "I can afford to buy; I don't have to borrow. So it's OK to continue doing business with me."

The habit of using clothing more than once was also a useful gesture toward lower classes during times of political unrest, war, or massive social inequality. It was also useful to appear frugal, and not wasteful, because old-money families learned from the lesson of the French Revolution. During World War I and World War II, when so much cloth was needed for uniforms and silk was needed for parachute fabric, nobody wanted to be the treasonous jerk who hogged all the war material. Clothing in wartime generally became minimalist for that reason.

Frugality had its limits; like I said old-money families did not borrow clothing or jewelry. It has always been OK for celebrities, people of fashion (aka new money), and other less respectable individuals to do it, because the business angle didn't apply and the people involved had no real clue what the French Revolution was or why they should worry about a repeat incident. So the stigma didn't apply to them.

Even royalty wore their clothing more than once, or at least altered it, tailored it for a new look, or gave it away to someone else after it was used. Tales of someone using and then discarding clothing, as Anne Boleyn and Marie-Antoinette are sometimes accused of having done, were generally spread as part of a slander campaign (and it worked: look at what happened to those ladies, and what they're remembered for). But there were a few individuals who really did discard expensive clothing and wear a new gown each day... the courtesans, who dressed as ostentatiously as possible, and sometimes even wore diamond-soled shoes to flaunt their wealth.

Back then, no women really wanted to imitate the courtesans, unless they were trying to give the impression of aspiring to that role. For an illustration as to how that dynamic worked, read Edith Wharton's "The House Of Mirth" (a well known novel about manners and etiquette) and pay special attention to the way Lily Bart unintentionally came across to other people.

Anyway... wedding dress etiquette. Prior to the late 1800s, when cloth manufacturing started to go mainstream, clothing was expensive and most people didn't have a lot. People got married in the best they could afford, and that clothing was seldom completely new. It was not unusual for working or middle-class people to borrow clothing from friends or relatives. At the start of the 20th century, automated manufacture made clothing cheaper, but there was still no expectation that wedding attire should be single-use or even new. The goal was to show respect by wearing one's best, which was usually church clothes.

Buying new clothes for your own wedding was optional in the middle class, but desirable in the working class. Upper-class people bought their clothes bespoke, and never bought off the rack. Wearing clothing that looked like it had just come from a store was considered to be lower-class, and buying new clothes for someone else's wedding was not something that occurred to most people. There were royal weddings, where the couple bought clothes for their attendants in the heraldic colors of the respective houses, but generally when someone dressed another adult in livery it was an example of feudal behavior: treating that person as a kind of social inferior. (I suppose some bridezillas still think of their attendants as social inferiors, but they lack the rank and wealth to carry it off for real.) But not one of these behaviors is etiquette related. It's all a bunch of class signals.

The only etiquette requirement was that people showed respect to the church, the community, and each other by dressing as well as they could afford, without being excessive. Under those circumstances, buying someone a groomsman a suit for the wedding, giving it to him early, and seeing him wear it around town prior to a wedding would have raised no eyebrows at all. The assumption would be that the groom had given a suit to a friend in need. That's all.

After 1950, there was a global industrial boom, starting with the United States which was the only industrial economy left standing after WWII. For the very first time in human history, it was briefly possible for nearly everyone to live at a standard of living previously only enjoyed by the elite. A single income-earner, for example, could expect to support an entire family and own a home by working only forty hours a week. The middle-class standard of living went way up, and one of the things people decided to buy was clothing. One of the things people decided to do, as well, was move up a social class or five. Hence the birth of the wedding industrial complex.

The massive increase in first-generation wealth meant that a whole bunch of people suddenly had money to burn, but they had not learned the unwritten rules of conspicuous consumption. Some of the ways they spent that money imitated not the upper-class "old money" families they sought to join, but the flashy courtesans and disreputable people who flaunted wealth. A surprising number of people decided that spending money, or more accurately wasting money in public, was a good way to show respect or display social status. Hence the rise of single-use dresses, for weddings and for other purposes. It eventually became fashionable to behave like an 18th century courtesan who was only seen wearing each dress once. Yes, I find that ironic. The old money families probably had a good (discreet) laugh, but lost the culture war chiefly due to their unwillingness to be seen participating in it.

Anyway, since 1950, what most people think of as elite society has been dominated by celebrities and new money. Different times, different standards. There's no longer a stigma associated with wearing a dress only once. Nor is there a stigma associated with borrowing clothes or jewelry. Singers, actresses, and models do it all the time, and a few are even paid to do so. It's even considered a sign of respect to have a designer offer to lend or give you product to wear to a big, public splash like Cannes film festival. So, people of lesser means often try to imitate the celebrities, only they don't have a stable of designers to borrow from. Thus, they end up buying.

It's a cruel irony, but a celebrity bride who sells photo rights to a tabloid and who wears a borrowed gown and jewelry from some famous designer may well end up out of pocket less for her wedding ceremony than the average bride does... and none of the spending is actually etiquette related.

For a celebrity to actually "recycle" a dress by wearing it twice might indeed be news, but not for the usual reasons... it means she actually went to the trouble of buying something she liked and wanted.

EllenS

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Re: Wearing wedding attire pre-wedding?
« Reply #35 on: October 01, 2015, 05:50:32 PM »
Fascinating. I never associated the matching bridal party outfits with the older notion of liveried servants, but it makes complete sense, right down to the terms "maid" and "man."

Lynn2000

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Re: Wearing wedding attire pre-wedding?
« Reply #36 on: October 02, 2015, 09:50:50 AM »
Thank you, that was really interesting!
~Lynn2000

TootsNYC

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Re: Wearing wedding attire pre-wedding?
« Reply #37 on: October 02, 2015, 10:37:17 AM »
I'm w/ Lynn2000--thank you! That was interesting.

I know that my grandmother bought a new dress for her wedding (people on the lower economic spectrum might well have splurged a bit because it was a special occasion and they didn't own that much that was nice). She told me, with a bit of a cute little giggle, that she scandalized people because she spent so much. But she also pointed out that she wore it for years--years--afterward, because as a teacher's wife she had luncheons to go to, etc.
   It was white, but only because she liked it, not because brides were supposed to wear white.

She married in the late 1920s (her oldest, my dad, was born in 1930).

EllenS

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Re: Wearing wedding attire pre-wedding?
« Reply #38 on: October 02, 2015, 11:02:36 AM »
My parents got married in the early 60's in a church wedding, but a very tiny one (less than a dozen people, not even all the immediate family, a couple of friends, no attendants.)

Mom wore a very smashing cream colored knit skirt-suit with a Chanel style jacket and bracelet sleeves. She wore that suit as long as she could fit into it, and I wore the jacket for years. Her wedding was considered pretty old-fashioned. Today it would be considered "nontraditonal."

LtPowers

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Re: Wearing wedding attire pre-wedding?
« Reply #39 on: October 06, 2015, 12:47:53 PM »
Fascinating. I never associated the matching bridal party outfits with the older notion of liveried servants, but it makes complete sense, right down to the terms "maid" and "man."

Heh. Now consider the implications of the word "bridegroom".


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gellchom

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Re: Wearing wedding attire pre-wedding?
« Reply #40 on: October 06, 2015, 04:23:03 PM »
I think that the suit has to be in absolutely perfect, like-new shape for the wedding.  If he is prepared to make sure that happens -- including buying a new one if necessary -- then I'd say go ahead and wear it at your own risk.

It's the same principle as using wedding gifts before the wedding.  You aren't supposed to.  But if you really need a mixer, timer, or toaster and don't have one at all or yours breaks (this does not apply if you do have one but you'd prefer to use the new one!), and there is one that has been received as a wedding gift and is sitting in the corner of your room in a box, it's nonsensical to go buy one to use in the meantime.  In that case, I'd say use it, but only if you are prepared to buy the identical item promptly and return it to the giver in case the wedding does not occur.

What makes this confusing is that the suit was in hand so far in advance of the wedding; that's unusual.  It's also unusual (at least where I live) for the HC to buy it for the attendant; I agree that this does make it more reasonable for them to expect it not to be used before the wedding.

I do not consider the chance of other dye lots or something to be a valid consideration for a man's suit.  How different is it going to be?  I'm not even sure why they have to match absolutely exactly anyway -- the fit and size are going to vary more than a slight difference in shade would.  When grooms, groomsmen, and fathers wear basic black tuxedos, there is really no reason to insist that they rent or purchase ones that match in every tiny detail (lapel, pocket, exact shade of black) if they already own basic black tuxedos.  My son and my husband both wore their own for DD's wedding (a Jewish wedding, so fathers are up there, too, and DS was in the wedding), and it didn't occur to me until this minute to wonder whether they were identical to each other or to the groom's, his father's, or the best man's rentals.  I certainly didn't notice, and looking now at the photos, I cannot tell.

Rapunzel1974

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Re: Wearing wedding attire pre-wedding?
« Reply #41 on: October 08, 2015, 12:33:33 AM »
Fascinating. I never associated the matching bridal party outfits with the older notion of liveried servants, but it makes complete sense, right down to the terms "maid" and "man."

Heh. Now consider the implications of the word "bridegroom".


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Elisabunny

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Re: Wearing wedding attire pre-wedding?
« Reply #42 on: October 08, 2015, 10:22:29 AM »
So- singers, models, and actors really are tacky.  ;)
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Deetee

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Re: Wearing wedding attire pre-wedding?
« Reply #43 on: October 08, 2015, 12:20:53 PM »
I read a similar issue where the best man was wearing the suit before the wedding.

In that case, he had purchased the suit himself and wore it to another wedding beforehand. The happy couple was very upset. I fell firmly in camp "best man" there. It was his suit and he wore it to one other special event.

In this case, the HC purchased the suit and the guy is wearing to work in rotation? I am in camp "happy couple". It's not really his yet and that much wear could lead to a slightly less new look.

lowspark

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Re: Wearing wedding attire pre-wedding?
« Reply #44 on: October 08, 2015, 12:55:53 PM »
Interesting thread. I, too, puzzled over whether it would make a difference if the suit had been purchased by the wearer instead of the HC. This is touchy kind of stuff and I can really see it from both points of view. Particularly in the case that Deetee is quoting.

You have a perfectly good suit, why let it gather dust in your closet simply because the wedding isn't for a couple of months, when you could be wearing it and getting good use out of it?

From the female point of view, I wouldn't dream of wearing a bridesmaid dress in advance of the wedding. But a suit is somehow different.

Don't get me wrong, though. I do fall on the side of the couple in this case, and agree he shouldn't have worn the suit. I'm just not sure that there would be a way to deal with that, now that he's done it, and the only way I could see to avoid it (with 20/20 hindsight) would have been for the HC to hang onto it.

This is one of those very gray area kind of situations where there is no real definitive answer. I think it's a pretty forgivable and forgettable faux pas, particularly if the suit is still in really good condition on the day of the wedding. And also because it clearly never occurred to him that he was doing anything wrong so there was zero ill-intent. About the only thing I could see doing now is for the groom to say, "dude, would you mind not wearing the suit again till the wedding? I'm just kind of nervous about it getting damaged accidentally before the big day. Chalk it up to wedding jitters and I know it's kinda touchy on my party, but I'd appreciate it if you'd humor me on this. Once the wedding is over, I'll be much more relaxed!"

So yeah, put it all on yourself to sort of communicate that you know you might be oversensitive but blame it on the circumstances and ask for indulgence. I'm a big believer in taking full blame for something if it means I can get someone else to do what I want.  ;D
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