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Tuxedo quandary

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

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?

 

Issues:

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). 

post #2 of 18
Tl; dr.

However: quandary.
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 

Proof read the message several times; the title not once.

 

As for the length: I composed the message so that you only needed to read the four enumerated questions; everything that follows is for context (the endnotes, if you like).

post #4 of 18
Not sure about the cleaning of grosgrain, probably all depends on the nature of the stain. I wouldn't worry about the buttons; RL makes plenty of very expensive tuxes with plastic buttons.

JAB does offer a PL option; the signature tuxedo has all the proper details though you shouldn't pay anywhere close to retail for it since they will many sales where it drops below $500:

http://www.josbank.com/menswear/shop/Product_11001_10050_101786

However I think you probably have a better suit in the PRL, but all depends on the stain and whether it will truly come out.
post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by TimelesStyle View Post

Not sure about the cleaning of grosgrain, probably all depends on the nature of the stain. I wouldn't worry about the buttons; RL makes plenty of very expensive tuxes with plastic buttons.

JAB does offer a PL option; the signature tuxedo has all the proper details though you shouldn't pay anywhere close to retail for it since they will many sales where it drops below $500:

http://www.josbank.com/menswear/shop/Product_11001_10050_101786

However I think you probably have a better suit in the PRL, but all depends on the stain and whether it will truly come out.

They've got a buy 1 get 4 free right now...if you know 3 other guys who are in the market for ill-fitting tuxedos.

post #6 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by TimelesStyle View Post

Not sure about the cleaning of grosgrain, probably all depends on the nature of the stain. I wouldn't worry about the buttons; RL makes plenty of very expensive tuxes with plastic buttons.

JAB does offer a PL option; the signature tuxedo has all the proper details though you shouldn't pay anywhere close to retail for it since they will many sales where it drops below $500:

http://www.josbank.com/menswear/shop/Product_11001_10050_101786

However I think you probably have a better suit in the PRL, but all depends on the stain and whether it will truly come out.

The lapel no longer should be called "grosgrain". Considering the "residue" it shoould be more properly labeled Gross- Grain.
But seriously, if you are in New York or Chicago and are willing to go higher in price, Paul Stuart is worth looking into. Stay
away from their Phineas Cole line.
post #7 of 18
Why not take it to a cleaners and asking for their opinion? The PRL sounds okay otherwise. I have a PRL DB tux that has uncovered buttons and side vents too, and I still think it looks okay. 99.99% of people who see you in your PRL will not grumble about the details. Having said that if there's still time, look around.
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 

Gentlemen:

     Thanks for your responses.  I have removed any sign of the "residue" to my satisfaction with club soda and a clean, firm-bristled toothbrush; the DJ once again has grosgrain (vice gross grain) lapels!  I've tried on the JAB signature tux and didn't care for the fit.  I have a little bit of time and will continue to look and collect recommendations from this forum, but I suspect that I won't do better for the price than what I have.

 

Cheers.

post #9 of 18
Change the buttons for sure. Plastic is ugly.
post #10 of 18
If you are unhappy with the buttons, change them by all means; however plain buttons are not incorrect on evening dress. From a vintage perspective I have owned a number of vintage dinner jackets and tailcoats and seen many more, from Savile Row down to Burton's the Fifty-Shilling Tailors, and I would say, conservatively, that plain buttons outnumbered covered by five to one across the quality range. That relates to a time period spanning the Twenties to Sixties; I suspect that if we limited ourselves, say, to the 1930s the dominance of plain buttons would be greater.
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Jordan View Post

If you are unhappy with the buttons, change them by all means; however plain buttons are not incorrect on evening dress. From a vintage perspective I have owned a number of vintage dinner jackets and tailcoats and seen many more, from Savile Row down to Burton's the Fifty-Shilling Tailors, and I would say, conservatively, that plain buttons outnumbered covered by five to one across the quality range. That relates to a time period spanning the Twenties to Sixties; I suspect that if we limited ourselves, say, to the 1930s the dominance of plain buttons would be greater.

That's very helpful, as I plan on incorporating vintage elements such as a traditional waistcoat and these vintage (circa '30s) cufflinks, studs, and waistcoat buttons:

 

Processed By eBay with ImageMagick, R1.1.1.M2b

post #12 of 18
Very handsome! Have you decided on the format of the waistcoat yet?
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Jordan View Post

Very handsome! Have you decided on the format of the waistcoat yet?

I have ordered CharlesTyrwhitt's offering (pictured), as it is of my preferred style and within budget.  I will of course have to alter it to accommodate the removable buttons.

 

post #14 of 18
Have you had the opportunity to verify the black-on black match? Is it particularly the scoop neckline or the style of shawl collar which drew you to it?
post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Jordan View Post

Very handsome! Have you decided on the format of the waistcoat yet?

But today I found this:

 

 

 

The pictures don't do it justice.  It's a vintage Marshall Field's silk waistcoat with removable buttons, and it's in pristine condition.  I have replaced the original buttons with my black MOP, but it's almost a shame, as the vest came with beautiful, etched black buttons that I suppose to be made of horn.  My only concern is the waistcoat's length (or lack thereof).  It would be fine with high waisted trousers, but my RLP tuxedo pants have a more modern cut, and I'm not sure that this waistcoat will cover the waistline comfortably.  Tomorrow, I will stop by my tailor (who has my tux at the moment) to confirm.

 

I read elsewhere that, at the waistline of trousers migrated downward over the 20th century, waistcoats had to be cut longer to do their job.  I'm guessing that this model is not a "short" but rather just old.  The store at which I purchased it placed it "circa 1900," but I suspect it's not quite that old.

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