Tuxedo Buying Basics

Tuxedo Black Tie Guide Background

Single Breasted Tuxedo / Dinner Jacket with Satin Faced Peak Lapels


Self Tie Black Bow Tie in Satin Silk in fixed neck size by Fort Belvedere


Marcella Bib White Tie Shirt from Brooks Brothers


2.25″ High Detachable High Starched Wing Collar


Mother of Pearl shirt stud with mini center pearl


Red Life Size Carnation Boutonniere by Fort Belvedere


White Linen pocket square with handrolled edges.

Renting A Tux vs. Buying A Tuxedo

It is often recommended that consumers calculate how many times a purchased tuxedo will have to be worn in order for its price to equal the cost of an equivalent amount of rentals. The theory is that if a man expects to meet or exceed that break-even point in his lifetime then he should buy instead of rent. This pragmatic approach makes sense for most types of purchases but when it comes to the sublime pleasures of black tie it’s a bit like assessing the merits of haute cuisine by comparing it the cost of fast food.

A Rented Tux is Uncomfortable And Makes You Sweat

For starters, the potential of meeting the financial break-even point must take into account the fact that a man will likely attend more formal events if he has a tuxedo already hanging in his closet than he will if he has to go through the rental rigmarole every time an opportunity arises. Secondly, how does one determine the dollar value of the intangible benefits of tuxedo ownership? How much more enjoyable is a man’s special evening when he is not constrained by a rental shop’s often poor selection (gimmicky styles, heavily-worn garments, poly-blend shirts and vinyl footwear), hand-me-down fit and time-consuming order, pick-up and return process? What price does one put on wearing clothing that exudes permanent sophistication instead of borrowed gentility?

That aside a rented tuxedo will have a fused interlining, which makes you sweat. On top of that, the armholes are often cut too full, which means raising your arms becomes uncomfortable. To learn more about this check out this guide on how a suit, including a tux should fit.

Once all of these benefits are factored into the equation it becomes clear that if a man can afford to buy a tuxedo then he can’t afford to rent. As an Esquire etiquette manual once summed it up, “Tuxedo rental is all right for the junior prom, but the sooner you stop wearing somebody else’s clothes, the better.”

Classic Black Tie Tuxedo - Sven Raphael Schneider

Classic Black Tie Tuxedo with evening vest in silk satin and opera pumps with bow worn by Sven Raphael Schneider

Primary Black Tie Purchases

The Basic Tuxedo Outfit

First-timers will make the most of their money by purchasing an outfit that is as timeless as possible. Unfortunately, retailers love to use this term – along with “classic” and “traditional” – to describe just about any tuxedo offered in black, regardless of how trendy its styling and thus how limited its shelf life.

This Tuxedo and Black Tie Guide, conversely, uses the term to refer to traits that have stood the test of time for decades and will continue to do so for years to come. These traits are analyzed in depth in Classic Black Tie and Contemporary Black Tie but for those who prefer the abridged version here is what you need to create the most versatile ensemble possible:

  • black or midnight-blue single-breasted one-button jacket in your choice of lapel shape (shawl or peak) and facing (grosgrain or satin) with jetted pockets
  • turndown collar shirt in your choice of front (piqué, pleat, fly-front)
  • black waist covering of your choice to match lapel facing (be aware that cummerbunds are a lot easier to find than proper evening waistcoats)
  • self-tied black bow tie in shape of your choice and material to match lapel facing
  • Opera pumps with bow or plain-toe oxfords with evening shoelaces and leather (patent or calfskin) of your choice
  • mandatory formal accessories (black silk socks, suspenders, cufflinks) in acceptable variations of your choice
  • Please get our complimentary Tuxedo & Black Tie Pocket Guide here, which provide clear photos so you can easily put together a Black Tie outfit that rivals James Bond’s Tux

Once this core wardrobe has been assembled you can easily inject contemporary flair simply by adding a new accessory from time to time. Otherwise, for the vast majority of men, this outfit will last them as long as their figure does.

The Expanded Formal Evening Wardrobe

For the privileged minority that has a need for frequent formal dressing and an income for haute couture, their tuxedos will likely have to be updated every few years. That aside, showing up in the same tuxedo day in day out gets old quickly. Investing in an off-white dinner jacket, a velvet dinner jacket and a double breasted tuxedo.

“The assumption that a tux is just a tux is a fallacy that fells even the smartest and purportedly worldly member of the governing class,” suggests William Thorsell, former Director and CEO of the Royal Ontario Museum. “Nothing bespeaks the fading of a gentleman from relevance and currency in society than the wearing of an obviously dated tux.” (Oh, to be faced with such high standards.)

Proper Style and Fit Are Essential For A Tuxedo

Finally, whether prince or pauper, every man should study Tuxedo Style & Fit Basics 101 and how a suit should fit before purchasing to ensure his style choices will suit his general physique and after purchasing to ensure his product choices get fitted to his specific anatomy.

Article Name
Tuxedo Buying Basics
Renting vs Owning a tux, that is the question many men ask if they are part of a wedding or need a tuxedo otherwise. At the end of the day, rented tuxedos always look bad, they make you sweat and uncomfortable and you are better off just wearing a suit or buying a proper tux.
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