For most men, renting a tuxedo is an expensive, surreal experience like watching Cirque du Soleil and then hanging out backstage afterward. The average guy wears a tuxedo once a year at most, some not that often. Luckily, like men themselves, formal wear for men is fairly simple.
The biggest difference between a regular suit and the tuxedo is the satin lapel with a matching satin stripe down the outside of trousers. A good tuxedo is simple, elegant, and classic. It's been the standard for men’s formal wear for years. Be aware of these facts:
- Tuxedo jackets are traditionally one-button jackets, though today, some tuxedo styles have two to three buttons.
- Black tuxedos are cool for any formal event.
- The pants have no belt loops and usually no cuff. Suspenders are part of the attire.
- Cummerbunds are totally over; as outdated as Lethal Weapon 4. Go with a black or silver vest. No Colors.
- Bow ties are still in. Black, white, silver, the bow tie is the mainstay of the classic tuxedo but don't screw around with the kind you have to tie. Clip-ons are best.
- Collared white tux shirts, pleated or fine-ribbed, are the best choice but don't even think about the wing collar. It's over.
- French cuffs and cuff links are a must. While most shops will provide you with a rental, you can make a dashing statement with a personalized pair of your own. But make sure they're not too expensive. It's really easy to lose a cuff link.
- Shoes worn with tuxedos are usually very simple, free of extensive decoration or design. Most are made of plain patent leather.
- Socks are the one accessory that is necessary and not rentable. Invest in a simple black formal sock. Your socks should go unnoticed at a formal event.
- Tails are for orchestra conductors. Unless you have a baton and a hundred musicians following you, no tails.
Chain stores offer a wide range of sizes and styles and are usually the most reasonably priced. Prepare to pay between $100 and $150, excluding tax, for a rental that includes pants, jacket, shirt, tie, vest, shirt buttons, cuff links and shoes. Large chains will usually have many basic styles and colors of ties and vests. Small boutiques offer a greater selection of designer looks, more personalized attention and precise alterations but the price will be higher. Unless you're rolling in dough, go to a large chain store. Ask friends and relatives who have rented formal wear and had good experiences. Word of mouth is really the only way to find a company that you know will fit you in the proper monkey suit for any occasion.
When in doubt, choose conservative and traditional wear over newer, trendier tuxedos. Single-breasted suits can be worn at almost anytime. Consider which style best compliments your figure. A double-breasted jacket can compliment a tall man's figure, while shorter men should definitely opt for a single-breasted jacket.
When renting a tux, it's always best to head to the shop as early as possible. Visit your chosen store four to eight weeks prior to the event to have your measurements taken. Good sales associates measure around your chest (both including and excluding the width of your arms); your naked waist at belt height; your hip girth, including your seat; your neck circumference; and your sleeve length from the center of your back. You usually leave a deposit when you have your measurements taken and pay the balance when you pick up your tux.
A reliable tuxedo shop will guarantee that your order will be ready when you need it. Schedule a final fitting one week before the event. The rental price includes alterations but they need time to do them. And, when your event is over, return the tuxedo and all the accessories when you're supposed to. No sense paying fees because you're forgetful.