Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Right Tux: 3 easy steps.

Wedding season is just around the corner. Guys either end up being the groom, the groomsman, or simply an attendee. Regardless of whether you are renting or buying one, every guy needs to understand what to look for in a tuxedo. Just like a suit, your goal when buying or renting a tuxedo is to get one that fits “perfectly” and defines your personal style. There are 3 steps to a finding the right tuxedo.

1) Know thy PARTS of a Tuxedo

Jacket, trousers (usually with a silk stripe down the side), a bow tie, vest or cummerbund, shirt and shoes . The tux jacket comes in a variety of styles. When you go to a store or a rental house, you’ll classic styles such as the Cutaway Jacket (you’ll notice this when you see the “tails” in the back) or more modern tailored cuts attuned to current trends. Basically, a regular tuxedo jacket features satin lapels and boutonniere hole. A boutonniere is that flower, usually a rose, worn by men.

In terms of styles, the most popular choice is a single breasted jacket with notch lapels. Other options can be double or triple breasted jackets with peak lapels, regular or shawl collars, 1, 2 or 3 buttons.

Single Breasted, 3 button, Notch Lapel Tuxedo by Calvin Klein with a Wing Collar Shirt

Single Breasted, Notch Lapel Tuxedo by Calvin Klein with a Turndown collar shirt

Tux trousers are usually easy to spot because of the black satin strip along the outside seams. Tuxedo trousers unlike other trousers don’t have belt loops, so make sure they are tailored to your exact measurements. The other option is to hold your pants with either black or white button in suspenders. Lastly, never cuff your trousers. Like any formal pant, the same rule applies.

A classic tuxedo is generally worn with a bow tie and a vest or cummerbund. A cummerbund is a sash-like accessory (usually pleated) worn around the waist. Its pleats should always be facing up and should match your bow tie.

You can wear three basic types of shirts with a tuxedo: wing collar, turndown collar and mandarin collar. A wing collar is found in the traditional shirt and is typically coupled with a bow tie and cummerbund. A turndown collar is short with the tips facing down. A mandarin collar is round, and wraps around your collarbone.

Remember what I said on my last article about how shoes and watches are very telling of where a man is at in his life. What a better opportunity to show that you’re classy, elegant and successful than at a wedding or black tie event. Picking the right shoes can be critical to the final touches your look for the evening. Most shoes for tuxedos are made of patent leather. Its that shiny kind of leather popular in the 50s, 60s and 70s. They can be plain, wing tipped or capped. Regardless of the type of shoes you wear, my biggest advice is to wear one that is freshly polished. There’s nothing worse than a fine tuxedo with dull looking shoes.

Radio City Formal Tuxedo Shoes by After Six

2) The Occasion – Dress the part for the scene
If you were going to a job interview, would you wear shorts? Probably not. Just the same, you need to understand the kind of occasion you’ll need the tux for. Is it a black-tie or white-tie event? Is it at night or during the day? Should you opt for a classic, more conservative tuxedo or go all out and choose something more stylish? Find out the dress code for the affair and use your judgment appropriately. If you’re bringing a date, it’s worthwhile asking her what she plans to wear, so you can complement her out while showcasing your own style.

3) Timing is everything.

When do you need it? As guys, we tend to leave things to the last minute. Not a good idea when you’re looking to buy or rent a tux. Know what you want. Search around. But most importantly get your dates straight. 3 weeks from the event is usually okay for typical black/white tie functions. However for weddings, I would recommend reserving one a few months in advance. Pricing also varies depending on where and when you buy/rent your tux. So shop around!

Once everything is all put together, remember to carry your tux well. Look and act polished. Strong posture. And lastly, be positive!