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3 Tips for Buying Your First Tuxedo

Sharing takeaways (and texts)

Need tips for buying your first tuxedo? We’ve got you covered.

Let’s set the scene: It’s October in Orlando, Florida, and my entire family has congregated at the Waldorf Astoria for my middle brother Austin’s wedding. I’m standing in the swanked-out lobby wearing a bedazzled bridesmaid dress, proudly looking on as he and his groomsmen pose for pictures after the ceremony. Drinks in-hand, the longtime friends appear debonair and in control of the room. I take out my phone and snap a photo to blast out to the Style Girlfriend team.

I was proud of what I accomplished. Because in the months leading up to the whole affair, I executed a sophisticated long-con that resulted in these guys investing in brand-new, custom-made tuxedos for the occasion. And let me tell you, I felt great about it.

Below, a ‘tips for buying your first tuxedo’ timeline:

{Above; Aforementioned swanked-out lobby}

MAY

Me: “I hear you’re having a black tie ceremony? Nice! Have you seen how great midnight blue tuxedos look in pictures? A few of my fave brands make them and you can buy online, then alter.”

Brother: “Oh that does sound sweet. Hmm…dark blue or black…”

Future Sister-In-Law in background: “…I think I had imagined black.”

Brother and I (likely in unison): “Black tuxes it is!”

JUNE

Me: *peruses future sister-in-law’s Pinterest board*

Also me: *texts brother multiple links to get fit for a tux in NYC*

Me again: *mentions it would be a good idea to buy a tuxedo*

Brother: …

(Editor’s Note: Brothers are allowed to low-key ignore their sisters)

JULY

Brother: *texts photo of tuxedo from his fiance’s Pinterest board* “Can we find this exact one?”

Me: “I think so, but you’ll definitely have to buy it. Which is a better idea anyway…”

AUGUST

Brother: “Bought the suit and got it altered today. Looks awesome.”

Me: “Lemme see! Oh and I’d tell your groomsmen how easy it was and show ‘em how good it looks.”

SEPTEMBER

Brother: “I was thinking that it would be better to have all my groomsmen buy tuxedos since we’re at that age where everyone is getting married and going to formal events.”

Me: “That’s a great idea!”

Aaand, scene.

I’m basically Huckleberry Finn with an iPhone instead of a paintbrush.

Leading up to the big day, I dished out style advice aplenty to both my brothers and a few groomsmen on everything from choosing lapels to contemplating budgets. Below, scroll through the tuxedo takeaways from a con (wo)man who cares.

Three tips for buying your first tux

1. INVEST IN CLASSICS

Wedding Guest 1: Wouldn’t it be cool if I wore cowboy boots with my tux? Like, clean ones.

Me: ….

Wedding Guest 1: Sooo, what kind of dress shoes?

__

Me: But do you think you really need custom turquoise and black buttons on your tux?

Groomsmen 1: Trust me, I saw it on online somewhere

Groomsmen 1: Ok can’t find the pic…maybe next time

There’s a reason we don’t suggest, say, a patterned burgundy suit as your initial foray into suiting. At Style Girlfriend HQ, we herald the long game in long-term investments: outfitting your closet with essentials you can wear for years, spending on quality pieces that will stand the test of time, and cutting cost corners on trends. While an unexpected color or texture turns heads, that attention can come at the expense of versatility, and money in your pocket down the line.

Let’s consider our favorite tux’d-up action hero: James Bond. Despite the number of actors we’ve seen take over the role through the years, we still relate any dapper gentleman in a well-fitting tuxedo to 007. That’s because Sean Connery wasn’t wearing the ‘70s’ popular pastel and extra wide lapels, and Daniel Craig isn’t sporting a forest green plaid number in the latest installment (forest green is the new navy, did you hear??). Instead, from movie to movie, we see Bond dressed to kill in expertly tailored, simple black tuxedos.

The experts at SuitSupply agree. “A classic black tuxedo is always elegant. Investing in a tuxedo that has timeless details like peak lapels, silk lining, as well as a single button and vent will never go out of style.” says Kirsten Zwijnenburg.

Not sure where to start? Here’s a classic look we love:

2. FOCUS ON FIT

Brother 2: Oh I’ll just tailor the tux I bought for Cannes!

Me: Can we take a minute for “the tux I bought for Cannes”

Brother 2: I’ll tell him I want slim? tapered? What’s more flattering? I want to use it for a while longer

Whether you’re updating an old favorite, buying off the rack, or going the made-to-measure route, a proper fit will save your wallet and your time. While fielding texts from my wedding party comrades, I was elated to find all the guys had a keen focus on avoiding a boxy or ill-fitting tuxedo.

Getting a perfectly measured suit is all about staying relaxed according to Patrick Coyne and Andrew Blackmon, founders of online tuxedo rental company The Black Tux.

Below, top tips for getting the best fit:

  • Be natural. When you’re squared up to the mirror as a tailor wraps a tape measure around your waist, it’s almost a reflex to stand a little taller (and rethink the burrito from lunch), but don’t over do it. “This isn’t the time to suck in your gut or stand in a way you wouldn’t normally stand,” says Coyne and Blackmon. An accurate measurement is the difference between feeling comfortable in your tux all night* and bursting a jacket button** upon letting out a deep breath after posing for photos.
  • Think snug, not skin tight. Your tuxedo – freshly tailored or recently rented – shouldn’t feel overly generous or too constricting. Though if you’re going to err in one direction, err on the side of a bit loose. To demonstrate why, let’s think of a practical joke toy: the Chinese finger trap. Stay with me: Getting stuck inside the trap is easy because you’re making the toy smaller (removing excess fabric from your suit) to fit you, but as you try to stretch out the paper finger handcuff (letting out – adding – fabric where it isn’t) to escape, the lack of space limits your options – thus a very tricky situation.
  • Update the break. Have a penguin suit hanging in your closet already? You likely be able to work with you have…after visiting your tailor, of course. If the pants fit but look outdated, tapering the leg or creating just a small break will help them feel current (but not “trendy”).

*A good and handsome thing to happen.

**A less good and handsome thing to happen.

3. PLAY THE NUMBERS GAME

Me: How many times did you rent a tux this year?

Groomsman: Twice.

Me: …And you have another one coming up in winter after this?

Groomsman: …Yes.

Me: RENTING IS MORE EXPENSIVE, MAAAAN!

Let me give you the tl;dr on the economics of investing in formalwear:

  • Time is money. Money is money. If you’re going back and forth to a rental store to drop a couple hundo on a tux once or twice each year, time spent commuting and cash spent on fees or tailoring alone will outweigh any low priced rental. (This is under the assumption your body won’t drastically change each year).
  • “If you build it, they will come.” When you have a slick tuxedo hanging in your closet, you’ll be surprised at the reasons you come up with to wear it. Checking ‘yes’ on that RSVP for any upcoming formal event won’t feel like a hassle if your outfit is already in the bag. The garment bag hanging in your closet, that is.

Where to rent a tuxedo

Of course, if you REALLY don’t dress up that often, or if a tuxedo simply isn’t in the clothing budget right now, don’t fret. With next-gen formalwear companies like The Black Tux and Generation Tux, you don’t have to settle on a baggy tuxedo that looks more prom than Mr Porter. You can choose from pre-styled collections, a detailed at-home measurement guide, and stylists to review each order to ensure a good fit (within budget).

How to feel confident and comfortable wearing a tuxedo

While tuxes are formal, the best ones should also feel accessible. Some guys are scared off by tuxes, thinking they look like a) they’re wearing a “James Bond” halloween costume or b) they’re headed to senior prom all over again.

An aside: it’s an unequivocal fact that all guys looked terrible in their tuxes at prom – you haven’t grown into your body yet, you’re definitely renting, and you know nothing about style…yet. It’s cool. We cringe when looking back on our sherbet-colored sparkly dress / ringlet curl updo atrocities, too.

Thankfully, they don’t have to – and picking your own goes a long way towards a guy feeling comfortable in formal wear.

But make no mistake, a tux IS formal, and is best reserved for an occasion that takes place after 6pm (it is called evening wear for a reason) where guests are asked to dress up accordingly.

So how do you find the tux that feels right for you? For a modern classic look, I’d recommend going single-breasted (the only guy I’ve seen who can get away with a double-breasted tux is Prince William and even then..I mean, he is a prince), single button, a shawl lapel with a bow tie or a slim peak lapel with a bow tie or long tie.

Now, before anyone gets all scoffy about long ties with tuxedos, let me say one thing. Sure, it’s not super-traditional, but I don’t think it ruins a tux. You know what I think ruins a tux? Tugging at your bow tie because you feel uncomfortable or not like yourself in it. Try both, and go with what works for you.

If you can stand it, I’d push for midnight blue over black, as it can look better in pictures than black. Remember the tux Paul Rudd wore for his wedding in I Love You, Man? He looked super sharp, right?!

// Shop #SGApproved Formalwear //

 

{Images by Madison Hope Photography}

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