Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How to Choose the Right Tuxedo

photo by Redken tux by Marc Jacobs

I worked as a bridal consultant for several years during college, and one of the most fun places I worked in was the tux shop.  Guys (usually) have a totally different outlook of the wedding, especially the day or two before.  They are together with all their best buds, golfing, paint-balling, going out for steaks and cigars.  They are TOTALLY relaxed compared to the frantic bride who often feels like the entire event is resting on her ability to stay organized. 

They pop in the Thursday before the wedding to get a final tux fitting, and this pit stop is just one of many fun dude-things they plan to do before they tie the knot.  Although the tuxes are often picked in conjunction with the bride (read: she picks it out for fear of having a baby-blue polyester nightmare waiting for her at the alter), sometimes she is brave enough to let the guy do his thing.  I have a few tips for guys and their brave brides who let their guys go fashion crazy.

FIT YOUR BODY: Keep in mind if you are renting a tux the alterations will most likely be minimal (sleeves up, hem pants, most come with adjustable waist). Most tux rental shops will not alter dart lines, so the jacket you get will need to fit your body.  If you have very wide shoulders but a slender build, find a jacket that has a naturally slender fit in the waist -- usually a one or two button jacket.  The jacket should fit your shoulders well, and should not be baggy in the waist when buttoned.  A baggy jacket is usually not something a rental shop can fix.

IF YOU'RE SHORT: Stay away from double-breasted jackets, and four or five button jackets. The longer the jacket, the shorter the distance from the tail to your feet, which only makes your legs look shorter (read: you don't want to look like Dr. Evil).  Two button jackets are good alternatives to the traditional single button, as they still have an elongating effect due to the openness of the collar.

two button notch by Calvin Klein

Double breasted jackets are hard to fit, and often make anyone except a tall slender supermodel look heavier than they are, or frumpy (shoulders too big in comparision to the belly area).  Short and stocky guys should  opt for a single button jacket, which elongates your upper body.  I find just about anyone looks great in a two button jacket so this may be a good option too.

IF YOU'RE TALL: Tall, heftier guys should stay away from the long jackets (no more than three buttons). These jackets tend to be boxy, and depending on your body, you may have baggage in the back of the jacket, while the front may fit well.  Run away from long jackets with mandarin collars. These jackets create bulk in the upper body.  You may also consider sticking to a traditional notch jacket.  Some of the slimmer lapels can tend to draw the eye to a contrast between your width and your height, making you seem wider. 

Geoffrey Beene Single button Notch Tux

Tall slim guys can get away with just about anything (just like with the ladies... it sucks, but it is true). The sleek four and five button jackets were made for you. You can get away with a mandarin collar, however if you are very thin it may make you look more like a night kitchen chef.

Joseph + Feiss five button peak collar tux

1) Wear your pants at your natural waist.  This is a major challenge for most guys.  However, if you don't, the crotch WILL look like you could stuff a holiday ham in it and still have room.  Not a good look.
2) Don't do a cummerbund unless you are wearing tails or a cutaway jacket.  This day and age, it has become a very formal accessory, and will simply look weird with a modern jacket style.
3) Only wear a cutaway jacket at a very formal daytime (pre-2pm) wedding.
4) Do a standard tie.  Although bowties look good with a vest, a long tie looks better. Euro ties give a bit more of a formal look than standard Windsor knot ties, ascots are suitable for cutaway jackets (read: daytie only).
5) A traditional wing collar looks great with bowties or long ties, a spread collar should only be worn with a standard windsor knot tie.
6) BRING SOCKS!  They are not included with your tux , however shirt jewelry for buttons and cuffs are.
7) The more contemporary wider tow shoes are WAY more comfortable than the standard penguin suit shoes.  They are worth the additional cost.
8) DO NOT make rude innuendos or comments to women who work in the shop.  They are not interested in checking your in-seam.  They do not believe the crotch of your pants is too tight.  They will not under any circumstances help you put your pants on.  Underwear is not optional.  Behave.

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