Thursday, 20 November 2008

How to Buy a Tux

That’s right, buy. Because unless you’re rolling in a white stretch limo to the prom, renting should no longer be an option. Brandon Flowers of The Killers wades his way through a sea of formalwear options so you’ll know exactly what to invest in.

Photographs by Paola Kudacki

Somewhere along the line, a tuxedo went from being the most majestic piece in a man’s wardrobe to something that he had to wear. As in, “Yeah, dude, I gotta wear a tux to this wedding next weekend.” You know what? Quit your carping. The fact is, you’ll never look better, more manly—more gentlemanly—than in a tuxedo.
Of course, first you’ve got to get the right tux—i.e., your own. (And why not? Think about it: Each time you rent one, you’re dropping a hundred bucks or so and schlepping back and forth from the rental joint for a suit that doesn’t even fit you well. It makes sense to buy.) But before you invest, you’ll need to ask yourself some questions. Like, “Am I a peak-lapel guy or a shawl-collar guy? Bow tie or long tie?” When all is said and done (and tailored and hemmed), the thing should fit like a goddamn suit of armor—the shoulders sharp as a Ginsu, the shirt blindingly white, the tie black as crude oil. It’s a simple equation that instills confidence. And it’s one that will never, ever go out of style.

1. Start with the Basics

Black tux, white shirt, black bow tie (yes, bow tie—they’re back in a big way). There’s nothing quirky or dangerous about this outfit, and that’s okay. Opting for a classic doesn’t make you a square; it makes you a gentleman.

Tuxedo, $2,890, by Burberry Prorsum. Shirt, $495, by Dior Homme. Bow tie, $170, by Burberry. Shoes, $590, by Salvatore Ferragamo. Pocket square by Brooks Brothers.

Keep It Slim

At some point in the evening, you’re going to toss the jacket. Make sure you’re wearing a slim-fit shirt that won’t blouse out pirate-style by the time you’re leading “Livin’ on a Prayer” choruses.
Tuxedo, $2,890, by Burberry Prorsum. Shirt, $495, by Dior Homme. Bow tie, $170, by Burberry.

2. Go Blue

Okay, but let’s say you want to look a little different from every other guy at the party. Fine. This does not mean pulling on the distressed jeans and cowboy boots with your dinner jacket. (Only Ralph Lauren gets to do that.) A midnight blue tux strikes an alternative—but still classic—note, without getting all Grammy Awards. Generally, wear one with a white shirt and black tie. Unless you want to look all…Grammy Awards, in which case you can do like Brandon and go for a black formalwear shirt, open at the collar. Look for other versions by Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Neil Barrett, and D&G.

Know Your Lapels: Notch

When in doubt, go with a notch lapel. Less of a statement than a shawl or a peak, it essentially mimics a conventional suit jacket and looks right on just about anyone.
Tuxedo, $4,150, by Gucci. Shirt, $790, by Gucci. Boots, $795, by Yves Saint Laurent. Cuff links by Brooks Brothers.

Your Wristwatch

You’re going to a black-tie event, not deep-sea diving. Leave the dual-compass waterproof rock at home. Instead, opt for a slim, unadorned timepiece with a black leather band. A formal watch should keep time, not flash it.
Coach, $358; Chopard, $10,690.

3. Rock the Velvet

Note: velvet jacket—not suit. Like a midnight blue tux, velvet adds flair to your formalwear. Black is your safest option, but if you’re not afraid to play it up, look for one in bottle green, burgundy, or navy. Just keep the rest of the outfit simple, from the pants to the shirt to the tie.

Know Your Lapels: Peak

The original tuxedo, which debuted in 1886 in Tuxedo Park, New York, featured a peak lapel. Wear with pride.
Blazer, $1,446, by Neil Barrett. Shirt, $241, by Neil Barrett. Bow tie, $60, by Paul Stuart. Jeans, $270, by Just Cavalli. Shoes, $760, by Church’s. Pocket square by Paul Stuart.

4. Master the White Dinner Jacket

The white dinner jacket—worn always with black tux pants—is part Old Hollywood (Bogart), part rocker (André 3000). Although not exclusively for summer, it’s best worn from March to October—or whenever they’re serving mint juleps.

Know Your Lapels: Shawl Collar

It had its heyday in the ’50s, worn most famously by James Dean, but it has surged back into fashion of late. Just be sure to keep the collar on the slim side.
Tuxedo jacket, $698, by Tommy Hilfiger. Shirt, $148; bow tie, $58; and pants, $250: all by Tommy Hilfiger. Shoes, $1,100, by Louis Vuitton.

One Tux, Two Ways

Maybe not the look to break out at your sister’s boathouse nuptials, but a tux with a T-shirt is the way to go for a backyard wedding where the DJ is the groom’s iPod.

Tuxedo, $1,250, by Dolce & Gabbana. T-shirt, $295, by Dolce & Gabbana. Sneakers, $500, by Dior Homme. Pocket square by Brooks Brothers. Necklace and watch by David Yurman.

One Tux, Two Ways

The Clark Gables and Cary Grants of the world would scoff, but the long tie has—for better or worse—become part of the formalwear canon. Just make sure it syncs up with the width and material of your lapels. So, satin lapel, satin tie.

Tuxedo, $1,250, by Dolce & Gabbana. Shirt, $350, and tie, $175, by Dolce & Gabbana. Shoes, $590, by Dior Homme. Pocket square by Robert Talbott.

Your Links and Studs

The suit is the main attraction, not the bling. So keep your cuff links and studs relatively understated. Especially the studs, which are always on display. Much as you might like them to be a conversation piece, that’s not their function.
Baade II, $725 (for set).

The Colored-Shirt Option

Try a pale pink or dusty blue shirt like this one, just a few shades from white. It’s a way to mix things up a bit without discarding tradition.
Shirt, $595, by Jay Kos. Bow tie, $90, by Phineas Cole at Paul Stuart. Cuff links by Paul Stuart.

Your Footwear

This should be obvious, but here goes: black tie, black shoes. The simpler the better. So no wingtips or monkstraps. Stick with basic leather-soled lace-ups or slip-ons. And if you’re feeling extra fancy, go for patent leather—just not the dainty kind that look like they belong in a Bob Fosse musical.

Top to bottom: John Varvatos, $498; Salvatore Ferragamo, $590; Yves Saint Laurent, $450.

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