My questions for the group:
1. Is there a safe and effective method of cleaning grosgrain lapels?
2. Are plastic buttons on a DJ so contemptible that it's worth replacing them, and can they be replaced without risking damage to the underlying fabric?
3. Can someone with a 9-inch drop (43 to 34) do better than a RL Polo peaked-laped tux for $595?
(4. Out of simple curiosity, how does one decipher a Corneliani manufacturing label inside the right breast pocket--specifically to determine the date of manufacture?)
Some context for the interested or truly bored:
For the past two weeks, I have obsessed over my first tuxedo purchase, educating myself on the basics and some of the finer points and ultimately deciding on a SB peak lapel in grosgrain. I am giving two keynote addresses in black tie this year and receive one or two black tie invitations a year. Options for purchase in my area are limited (even JAB doesn't stock peak lapels), as is my budget (ideally $600-700 for the suit itself, absolutely no more than $1000).
Based on these criteria, I ordered and received a BOSS Cary Grant and a RL Polo, getting each of them for about $600 ($200 off the BOSS and $1000 off the RL). The BOSS is fused, has satin trimmings, and doesn't fit as well; it will go back. But it also adhered more closely to convention: no vents or pocket flaps and with satin-covered buttons. So why don't I content myself with the Polo and get on with my life?
1. Vents and flaps. Not a deal breaker. I knew ahead of time and I can easily have it altered.
2. Plastic buttons(!). This was an unexpected disappointment as the current version of this tux for sale on the RL website has grosgrain-covered buttons, as do the older models for sale on eBay, etc. The tux shipped straight from the Polo distro center in NC and bears the vestigial model name "Fairbanks" (now reserved for youth tuxedos), but it is otherwise identical to the current model except for these damnable buttons. I suppose I might have these replaced, as well, but I worry about the integrity of the fabric at the points of attachment given with weight of the thread, etc.
3. "Residue" on the lapel. There's no polite way of describing this, but it appeared as if someone needed and handkerchief but instead reached for the left lapel of the DJ. (Ironically, the salesman at the Polo store indicated that an advantage of getting the tux straight from the distro center would be that it would be "untouched by human hands." In fairness, he said nothing about noses). The spot was limited to the edge near the boutonniere and I have managed to remove it to the point that it's imperceptible to everyone but me--but I know it's there.
Thus, I'm at a crossroads. I can of course return the tux to RL, but I don't think they have another in my size (43R) at this price. The new model on the RL website is on sale for $850--in every size but mine. $255 would be a lot to pay for cloth buttons and a lapel without a history; $1000 is out of the question.
So my choices are to keep this tux (thus the questions about cleaning the lapels and replacing the buttons) or return to square one, from whence I'd investigate economical MTM options. Some have recommended Kent Wang in these forums, but he doesn't offer grosgrain and his "slim fit" seems a poor match for my physique, which calls for an athletic fit. (The RL Polo fits perfectly in the shoulders and chest but could loose 3 inches in the midsection, and I'm a bit concerned that alterations will affect the lay of the lapels).
Two weeks ago I was poised to buy an OTR 2B notch lapel for $350 at Macy's; I'm today looking askance at the $1600 Corneliani-made RL hanging in my closet and contemplating having something MTM. Any advice that will help me make a decision and get on with my life will be greatly appreciated (by my wife no less than myself).