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Formalwear shopping

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I have a few (college) formals coming up in the next few months and figured now would be a good time to start looking for a tuxedo and all the rest. The formals are black-tie and based on past observation most of the kids at my school are, though not necessarily knowledgable about fashion, prepared enough to have a tuxedo, so my conclusion is that while I'll probably be able to look good comparatively without blowing my budget, I will at least need to buy the basics. I know what I would ideally like to wear, but since my funds are limited I've had to fix my plans accordingly. I've made a list of what I intend to do for each, and would like some comments about whether my planned outfit will work or not. Tuxedo: I'd like to get a classic black, slim-cut, one-button, peak lapel tuxedo (hopefully non-fused front), but naturally it's quite hard (if not impossible) to find one in my $500-600 max budget, and that Cerruti one I posted about a little while ago was charcoal, so I decided that wasn't an option. Alternatively I found this double breasted Dunhill tuxedo on ebay and it seems like a decent option, though I was curious if a double-breasted jacket would work on a young guy with a silghtly slim build (5'8", 135). I think I might purchase the Dunhill if I can dispel my concerns about the quality of the suit and going double breasted, but I'd still love any other suggestions. Shirt: I'd prefer a spread collar to a wing collar, but is a wing collar a requirement or does it depend on the tie worn? I also noticed the December GQ showed some models wearing black shirts with tuxedos, and I have such a black shirt, but I think that looked a little cheesy and I doubt I'd go with that. Tie: Will probably go with a standard black bowtie and learn to tie it, although I'm thinking about picking up a skinny black Dior tie and using that instead. Shoes: Patent leather formal shoes aren't in my budget; would a pair of black oxfords work with a tuxedo? Vest/Cummerbund: I'm not too fond of either right now, which makes the above double-breasted suit even more appealing, but should I go single-breasted will I look weird without one of the two? Braces: Again, I'm not fond of braces and was wondering if I could get away without wearing any... if worse comes to worse I suppose I could find a cheap pair on ebay or borrow some from my roommate. Thanks in advance.
post #2 of 15
go with the dunhill.. i saw that one on ebay when it came up. it is far better than what you can find retail for $500, as it really is a 1500 dollar tux. as you mention, it also eliminates the need for a vest, etc. however, you really should wear braces with it....you can find an inexpensive pair on ebay, or check out brooksbrothers.com for some black or white ones (as well as pick up some formal socks). i think you can easily get away with wearing your black oxford shoes with the tux...altho they should be HIGHLY shined for the events, and are hopefully of the plain toe, closed-throat style (such as the allen edmonds park avenue shoes). there are a lot of inexpensive tuxedo items on ebay...keep in mind you'll need some shirt studs/ cufflinks, and the mandatory hankerchief for the pocket. http://cgi.ebay.com/ws....1920380 http://cgi.ebay.com/ws....2854682 http://cgi.ebay.com/ws....2191181
post #3 of 15
That is a very sharp looking Dunhill, I would definitely go for it. As to your concerns about double-breasted, I have always found that double-breasted jackets look very good on us slim guys. Bigger guys can wear them too, but imho they are really designed for slimmer builds. As to the shirt, I would definitely go for a spread collar as opposed to a wing collar. The wing has become sort of costumey (sp?) looking lately and pretty much appears like you're a groomsman or a waiter. A spread collar tux shirt is extremely classy and would go extremely well with a double-breasted jacket. Notice that the embodiment of tuxedo style himself, James Bond, always wears the spread collar shirt. (As an aside, I saw recently where Pierce Brosnan is not allowed to wear a tuxedo in any other role while under contract to play Bond, it's considered such an integral part of the look.) Despite the fact that you don't really care for them, I agree that you should get some nice black braces and you can certainly wear your black oxfords if they are polished and look sharp. Good luck.
post #4 of 15
A pair of plain black loafers would look better, according to Bernhard Roetzel in Gentleman's Guide to Grooming and Style. Also Trafalgar probably makes a pair of black or black pattern braces, and can usually be found at Nordstrom. If you get stuck and are looking for unique formal items not necessarily on a budget, Harolds in the Heights, A. Taghi, Norton Ditto, and possibly M. Penner all have formal depts down there in Houston.
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice, guys. I think I will put in a bid on that dunhill after hearing your endorsements, I'll let you know how that one goes if I win it. I just had a few more questions while I'm at it: Should I get the pants cuffed? I believe the traditional method is to leave tuxedo pants uncuffed, but if the pants are pleated does that make a difference? Is a standard black necktie (not a knit) ok to wear? I still plan on getting a bow tie but was curious in case I ever decided to mix things up. I have a few white linen pocket squares already; will those work with a tuxedo or do I need silk? Also, I saw a bunch of different ways to fold them; is there a preferred way to do it? Braces: I guess I will have to get some but I know absolutely nothing about them. Any recommendations on good brands, style, how to wear them, etc? Lastly, I just wanted to get some opinions about an interesting white/black silk tuxedo I saw on ebay. I'm a little tempted to buy it and use it as a fun evening suit (not an alternative to whatever standard black tuxedo I get), or do you think it would just look silly on someone like me? Sorry for another long list of questions, I'm just trying to learn as much as possible so I can be prepared when those formals do roll around.
post #6 of 15
Quote:
I just wanted to get some opinions about an interesting white/black silk tuxedo I saw on ebay.  I'm a little tempted to buy it and use it as a fun evening suit (not an alternative to whatever standard black tuxedo I get), or do you think it would just look silly on someone like me?
  I don't think that would look "silly" at all.  Just look at Bogart in "Casablanca"- he sported the white jacket/black pants and it looked terrific.  Good thing its a 38, because if it were a 46 you might have some competition for it.
post #7 of 15
If you search around ebay you'll definitely find some good tuxedos. I got an aramani black label 1 button for $60. I wear it with a dior skinny tie and have even dressed the jacket down with jeans it is by far my best ebay find. I also saw some great Fendi 1 buttons with great lining and Navy buttons that were in the price range you are lokking at. As for the white jacket / black pants- I did it at my prom when I was in high school and lots of people said they liked it cause nobody was expecting it. It is an interesting look and for the price you can't go wrong.
post #8 of 15
I agree. The white jacket and black pants is a great look. It reminds me of the Sean Connery version of James Bond.
post #9 of 15
I just wanted to say that if you have a Nordstrom's Rack, or any other outlet of the major stores like Sak's Off 5th, near you to check them out. From my experience they usually get their fair share of formal wear in and it can get discounted pretty cheap since it seems that most men don't care to shop through that stock UNTIL they finally need to for an upcoming formal event. Also the Rack by me has tons of shoes so you should be able to find a patent leather pair there for a resonable price. In the end chances are you could find all you need and still have enough left over for the Boss suit. Speaking about Boss also try to check the Hugo Red Label line if you have access since they have some interesting versions of formal wear. I've seen some weird, yet in a good way, cummerbunds by them already.
post #10 of 15
Check out bluefly right now for Dolce & Gabana tuxes in your size and price range, I saw some good deals there. Good luck and have fun. Pete
post #11 of 15
A single breasted peak lapel tuxedo would be ideal but that Dunhill is a great deal. Most of the Dunhill tuxedos I've seen recently (Marshalls has been getting quite a bit of Dunhill) have been made by Zegna. Also kellyb33 is a very reputable ebay seller. According to Alan Flusser both wing and spread collars are appropriate with either shawl or peak lapel tuxedo's. He feels that wing collar shirts look better than spread collar with peak lapel tuxedo's. (He says the spread collar is best with a shawl lapel.) He's probably right but I stubbornly stick with the spread collar anyway. Probably because most wing-collar shirts are lousy imitations - the collar is too low and too soft to be any good. As far as choice of tie goes I personally stick with the bow-tie (the ones you tie yourself, pre-tied looks ridiculous.) With a little practice it's not to hard to tie, it's just like tying a shoe-lace. No need to worry about looking like everybody else. There are so few men that can do black-tie correctly that you won't be mistaken for any of them if you do it right. I concur with everybody else - highly polished black Oxfords would look fine. Do you know how to spit-polish the toe? As far as the braces go you should indeed wear them but don't worry about anybody seeing them. You won't be taking off your jacket. Tuxedo pants are never cuffed because cuffs would be too informal. It would be difficult if not impossible to cuff them anyway because of the satin stripe. That's a pet peeve of my tailor, guys are always trying to force him to cuff tuxedo trousers.   White linen pocket squares are correct (and look the best.) Plus the texture of linen squares allows them to stay arranged long after a silk square disappears into the pocket. Fold it the way you like it - this is a highly individualistic detail. In general it looks better if you only see a little of the square. It will draw too much attention if 3/4 of it is sticking out of your pocket. A white dinner jacket worn with black pants is perfectly appropriate during the summer months. I think they look great. That Baldessarini is a good deal so if you have the extra cash... I've been quite happy with Trafalgar braces. Nordstrom's Rack is a good place to pick them up. As for wearing them correctly - as long as the buttons in the waistband of the trousers are correctly positioned it's a snap. Please keep in mind that the above suggestions are for formal events. Some events give  you a little more leeway. Of course it's always better to be overdressed than underdressed. Have fun.
post #12 of 15
To cuff or not to cuff -  The proper answer is that Tuxedo pants are [/i]never[i] cuffed.  I pulled this quote from my old (1985) version of Man at His Best - The Esquire Guide to Style - "Cuffs were originally designed as a kind of mudguard for country and curb-side use, and tuxedos are obviously the stuff of carriages and ballrooms."  Bradford
post #13 of 15
Alfred Dunhill dinner jackets are fine quality. I own one. Also, I prefer DB dinner jackets to singles, because there's less material on you than an SB jacket with a vest and it's less fussy than a cummerbund. (The whole point of a dinner jacket is, of course, to look elegant whilst dancing.) Indeed, my DB dinner jacket (Valentino Boutique) gets much more wear than my SB... Peace, JG
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
FYI, I did end up getting both the Dunhill tuxedo and the Baldessarini tuxedo w/ white dinner jacket. Both arrived recently, fit fairly well (I'm planning on getting them altered soon but I'm back at school and can't find a quality tailor in the area ) and turned out to be pretty good buys- ~$350 for two nice non-fused tuxedos, not bad. The Dunhill even had working sleeve buttons, which I thought was pretty neat (will this be affected if I get the sleeves shortened at the tailor?). I'm still on the look out for a nice bowtie, braces, and tuxedo shirt in my price range (any thoughts on the possibility of using this as a tuxedo shirt?), but I have more than enough time to figure that out. In the meantime, thanks for all the advice. I'll let you guys know what I do end up putting together when the next formal comes around.
post #15 of 15
Quote:
The Dunhill even had working sleeve buttons, which I thought was pretty neat (will this be affected if I get the sleeves shortened at the tailor?).
You'll have to get them shortened at the shoulder rather than the sleeve, which is a rather more involved (ergo costiler -- basically they have to rip out the sleeve, shorten it, and re-attach it) process than simply snipping a bit at the end. Peace, JG
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