How (And Why) To Buy A Tuxedo
You’re not James Bond (are you?), but buying a tuxedo may make more sense than you think. We’ll explain how to decide whether to buy, and what to buy if you do.
By Lauren Finney
The very thought of wearing a tuxedo may stress you out. Well, that immediately tells me a couple of things. One, you don’t own your own tuxedo. Two, you may be suffering from social anxiety disorder. I can’t help you with the anxiety — seriously, relax, it’s just a fancy suit — but I can help you decide whether or not you should own your own tuxedo. And tell you how to buy it.
But before I do that, let me make something clear: If you’re sent an expensive-looking engraved invitation to some sort of shindig that calls for black-tie or formal dress, wear a tuxedo. If you simply wear a suit, you’ll feel out of place and annoy your hosts.
Now, should you rent or buy? Let’s assume that a tuxedo rental will cost you about $200. And let’s also assume that you’d be able to wear your own tuxedo for 10 years (or until you get too fat to shoehorn yourself into it). So according to my girl math, even if you spend $1,000 on your tux (you can spend less or you can spend more, as you’ll see below) and wear it only once every two years, it’s still the way to go. Yes, $1,000 is a lot for something you wear so seldom. But if it ends up being cheaper over the long run and means you never have to think about renting a tux? It’s worth it.
There are several parts to a tuxedo, and each presents you with several options — many of them bad. But you can’t go wrong by keeping it simple and going for a classic look:
JACKET: It must be black or midnight blue with a satin or grosgrain lapel. It should have a peaked collar and one or two buttons. It also must fit you in the shoulder like a regular suit; you shouldn’t look like a skinny 15-year-old borrowing Daddy’s tux.
TROUSERS: The trousers should have a single braid of satin or grosgrain (the person selling you the tux will know what that is) at the outer seam that matches the lapel fabric. They should also have a clean break with no cuffs, and they can be either pleated or flat front.
SHIRT: The shirt must be a white point-collar dress shirt with studs and matching cuff links, and about 1 inch of the cuff should show when your arms are hanging at your sides. That means no powder-blue, ruffled shirt, and no substituting your work button-down in a pinch.
SHOES: The shoes should be black, shiny lace-ups, and they should be worn with black socks. This is not the time to get cute with funky socks like you’re some droll English guy on a BBC America show.
ACCESSORIES: Wear a black satin or grosgrain bow tie. Oh, and learn how to tie a bow tie. No, really — it’s a major turn on for women because it demonstrates that you’re detail oriented, that you can use your hands, and that you’re not completely helpless. These days a cummerbund is optional, but if you do wear one, remember that it’s worn with the pleats facing up, not down. And leave colored, “festive” bow tie and cummerbund sets for kids going to prom. Oh, and since I hate vests with tuxedos, I’m going to tell you not to wear a vest.
Jos. A. Bank Traveler Tailored Fit Tuxedo ($582.35)
Jacket and trousers: $278.35
Bow Tie: $59.50
Hugo Boss Black Cary Grant Tuxedo ($1,220)
Jacket and trousers: $795
Bow tie: $95
Brooks Brothers 1818 One-Button Fitzgerald Tuxedo ($1,903)
Jacket and trousers: $1,098
Bow Tie: $60