007 Your Life: A Gentleman's Guide to Tuxedos - Part 1
Ladies and gentlemen, the In the Midfield family is growing. Meet Jon Rich, our newly minted Men's Lifestyle Editor. By day Jon is a practicing attorney, and by night he is our partner-in-crime for all things In the Midfield. We've known Jon for years and have long marveled at his dapper style at friends' weddings. His well-cut threads made us realize we needed a tux 101 lesson. And so, we pass the digital mic to Jon to school us in a series on how to be a grown-up and buy a tuxedo.
Jon Rich: If there’s one phrase I hate hearing from my friends more than “Jon, it’s your round, bro!” it’s “Nah, I think I’ll just rent one.” I am still in awe when I hear a guy in his late twenties utter those words. "WHY?!" I ask. The typical responses I hear are, “Well, you know, it’s easier; it’s cheaper; I can just return it when I’m done, blah blah…" Listen, I get it. Investing in a tux can be intimidating. But fear not, my friend. I’m here to make you look like a million bucks at every wedding and other formal occasion you attend, where I guarantee that you will never ever again be confused with the guy pouring your water and placing stale dinner rolls on your bread plate.
First, let me tell you why it’s economically better to buy and not rent. It’s simple math. A one-time tux rental will typically cost you around $100 on the lower-end and $250-$300 on the higher end. If you attend more than two black tie weddings in one year, it is absolutely nonsensical to rent. Second, renting a tux is generally also a waste because they look like you rented it. Do not let a tight timeline, fear of buying or panic take over for logic, reason and style.
Now, hopefully you’re still reading and are genuinely curious about purchasing your very own tuxedo like a mature-adult-sexy-male. Here are some of my quick, but important tips on how to go about this.
Fit: Although I’ve come across some traditionalists who swear up and down that a tux should generally be cut looser than a business suit; I don't follow that style gospel. While I strongly discourage modern gentlemen from wearing suit jackets that are cut too short and tight, and pants that might as well be jeggings (jean leggings, Google it!), having excess fabric where there doesn’t need to be any is just crazy. So, try to get your suit nice and tapered to your body. Even if you’re broadly built, you can and should get a tux that fits you like a glove, of course, without being so tight that you start to hear popping and ripping noises when you hit the dance floor. My best and easiest advice is to buy one IN YOUR SIZE – which you can determine at the store – and go to a tailor.
Areas to focus on are: (1) hemming the pants (standard); (2) lengthening or shortening the sleeves – you definitely want to be able to show off your nice French cuffs and cuff-links; (3) jacket fit at the chest – i.e., letting out or taking in the chest – the jacket should show some faint pulling lines when you button it; (4) width of pants – also called tapering the leg opening – again, have your tailor help you reduce overall bagginess for a slimmer leg. Then you can get into secondary adjustments like increasing or decreasing the jacket length and taking in or letting out the crotch, also known as the “drop".
Style: With tuxes, there are generally three common types separated by the jacket’s lapel: peak (first picture), shawl (second picture) and notch. I am as baffled by those who dare to spend money to sport a notch lapel tuxedo, as I am with my friends who still think it’s a good idea to rent a tux. Notch lapels are the exact same standard business suit lapels, and when you buy a notch lapel tux, you often look like you’re wearing a plain black business suit. Yes, even in satin and with a bow-tie, you look more like you are working the event rather than attending it. Listen, just buy a proper tux. Between peak, where the jacket lapels jut up and out, which looks like a big “V,” and the shawl, which are round and seem to loop around the jacket seamlessly, it’s always a fun competition.
I prefer the peak, but I also like the shawl. With the peak, any body type works. In fact, a peak lapel is great because it has the effect of drawing the observer’s eye upward, towards your shoulders and face, which makes any man look broader. Whether you’re skinny, fat, short, tall or the Hulk, a peak lapel will make you look debonair. The shawl, however, only really works with more muscular or bigger guys. That’s because the shawl lapel accentuates the chest, and on someone without man-pecs, the shawl could look unbalanced. Some also say the shawl is a trend, but if you feel good in it, then rock it.
Next week, Jon will be dropping some sweet knowledge on how to choose a tux color, what trimmings to get and how much you should spend.
Jon Rich is In the Midfield's Men's Lifestyle Editor. He is also a practicing attorney in NYC.