Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Menswear for Dummies

Adam has decided that our wedding is the perfect excuse to buy a tuxedo. I approved of this decision because I hate ill-fitting, low-quality rental tuxedos. If I get to wear a brand-new, fabulous gown that fits perfectly, why should he have to wear a crappy rental tux? Yesterday after work, we ventured to Marshall Field's Macy's to check out their selection.

As a woman, I don't have a great deal of knowledge about menswear. All I knew is that I want Adam to look like this on our wedding day.
Photo credit: Put This On
This would work, too.
Photo credit: GQ Magazine
 Lacking knowledge about how to get him to look like this, I did what anyone in my position would do: turn to the internet.

The first thing I found out is that Adam really shouldn't wear a tuxedo at all since we're getting married during the day. Proper formal attire for an afternoon wedding would be a morning suit (which neither of us care for) or a stroller suit (which is nearly impossible to find in 2011). Because we're having a relatively formal wedding and the reception is taking place in the evening, Adam has decided he ought to wear a tuxedo.

Even though I love rules, etiquette, and Miss Manners, I conceded.

I found a great menswear blog, Put This On, that listed the requirements for classic black tie.
  • black or midnight blue
  • single-breasted, single-button jacket
  • peak lapels
  • grosgrain facing
  • pleated pants with no cuff
  • bow tie
  • cumberbund
  • shirt with a detachable wing collar, French cuffs and a pique bib
  • opera pumps with black silk hose
  • suspenders
There are substitutions that can be made, of course, like satin facing instead of grosgrain, flat-front pants instead of pleated pants, a two-button or double-breasted jacket, and a vest instead of a cumberbund. There are some things on which the internet has mixed opinions, like wearing a long tie or notch lapels.

These are two things that Adam wanted.

He reasoned that he didn't know how to tie a bow tie and that he would look silly. I said he could learn how to tie a bow tie and should because it's a skill every grown man should have. Plus, the bow tie is what makes a tuxedo a tuxedo. With a long tie, it just looks like a black suit. Once he tried on a bow tie, he decided he liked it. Advantage: Molly.

He, however, decided he preferred the notch lapel to a peak lapel. What's that you say? How could someone who knew nothing about menswear 10 minutes ago suddenly have such a strong opinion about lapel shape? Is there really a difference between the two?
Photo credit: Sebastien Grey Clothiers
This is the difference. (The notch lapel is on the left and the peak is on the right.) Even though the peak lapel is considered the standard in men's black tie, the salesman kept telling us that a notch lapel was more classic. I think this might be because they only sold jackets with notch lapels. I think the notch lapel looks too much like a business suit. A peak lapel looks more formal.

We have yet to reach a final decision. Macy's only carried a few styles of tuxedos. We also checked out Joseph A. Banks, which only carried 2 styles, neither of which were to our liking. Who knew it would be so hard to find a variety of tuxedos to try on? In a dream world, our budget would allow for a trip to London for a bespoke tuxedo sewn on Savile Row, but unfortunately, off-the-rack will have to do.

1 comment:

  1. Molly,

    Don't rule out on line purchase. The selection is wider, the prices can be lower, and if you can use a tape measure the fit will be pretty good. Minor alterations are not expensive if you shop around for a tailor.

    Also, check out