Monday, June 30, 2008

A Formal Dilemma: Should You Rent Or Buy A Tuxedo?

Author: Nick
Category: Money

comic 40 - wedding

If you’re a man like me, and undoubtedly you are unless you have boobies, you’ve probably had the occasion to wear a tuxedo at least once in your life so far. Maybe it was your high school prom or your wedding or that time you played James Bond’s stunt double. Buying a tuxedo when you’re still young and growing just doesn’t make financial sense, especially if you’re only going to need to wear one every few years or so.

But now that I’ve reached adulthood and have hopefully finished growing, it’s time for me to consider if I should buy a tuxedo. The reason this is coming up now is that, by some weird misalignment of the stars, I’ve been asked to host a very large formal ball next year. “Formal ball” means men wear tuxedos. Thus, I’ll need to either rent or buy one.

The decision to buy a tuxedo should not be made lightly. After all, a tuxedo is likely to be one of the most expensive items a man will ever add to his wardrobe. When deciding if the time is right for you to buy a tuxedo, consider the following:

  1. Will I need to use it at least three times in the next decade? Plan to make your tux last for a good 10-12 years, maybe more. If you know you’ll need one at least three times in that period, you might be able to save money buying instead of renting.
  2. Is it likely that I’ll grow significantly in the next 10 years? I would say that the mid-20s is a great time to buy a tuxedo. You’ve had your major growth spurts, you’re probably at a weight you can maintain easily, and the risk that you’ll outgrow the tuxedo is at a minimum.
  3. Do I take good care of my clothes? If you’re the type of guy who doesn’t like to wash his clothes, iron, or even put them on a freaking hanger, you might still be better off renting a tux instead of buying one that will just be abused before you wear it for a second time.

And if you know you’ll be using a tuxedo on a yearly basis or even more frequently, buying is definitely in your wallet’s best interest. But before you head down to the nearest penguin shop, here are some tips that’ll help you score a better deal on a tux you’ll actually enjoy wearing.

  1. It should be dark. Yes, you could get the neon purple one and be the pimp of every party, but black is a much more widely accepted tuxedo color. Or if not black, go with midnight blue. The Washington Post recommends that color because it’ll actually look blacker than black at night.
  2. Keep it light. Dancing and tuxedos go hand in hand. Don’t burden yourself with a heavy tux that’ll have you sweating by the second song.
  3. Don’t just walk into the first tuxedo shop you see and buy one. As with any major purchase, you’re going to want to shop around. Even if you fall in love with a tux at the first store, force yourself to try others. You might find an even nicer one at a better price.
  4. Consider buying a former rental tux. Rental shops usually take good care of their tuxes and sell them after a year or two of use at deep discounts. Just be sure to try it on first and closely examine it for wear and tear.
  5. Go for something simple. Tails and vests and other accessories just overcomplicate a tux. Go for the simple but stylish bow tie plus cummerbund combination and you’ll never look out of place.
  6. Buy the whole set together. The coat and trousers should come from the same designer and match each other perfectly. You’ll probably want to buy the shirt in the same place so you can make sure it goes well with the rest of the outfit.
  7. Don’t spend too much. You may be shown more expensive tuxes by high-pressure salesmen when all you really want is one priced between $200 and $500. Be ready to stand your pricing ground, and don’t let the fancy labels sway you into parting with more of your savings than necessary.

Oh, and men, I don’t want to hear any complaining about buying a tuxedo. After all, women need to buy their big fluffy dresses too, and they can’t get away with wearing the same one to every event as easily as you can with the same tux. So if you have lots of formal events in your future, take a day to do a bit of shopping and you’ll be ready for any fancy shindig on a moment’s notice and for a lot less money than your rental-only friends.

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