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The Art Of The Tuxedo
by Kathryn Lemmon, Wedding Zone Staff Writer
You've got to admit, James Bond looks dashing in his standard garb, the tuxedo. He can rescue the lady and save the world, while his bow tie remains firmly in place. There's no doubt about it, a tux says style, class and elegance. A tux tends to elevate any occasion, not only weddings. But most grooms have limited experience selecting or renting a tuxedo and that's understandable.
Where did the tux originate? One version says in the 1880s, all formal dinners required men to wear white tie and tails. The members of the Tuxedo club, in Tuxedo Park, NY, wanted to make male members a bit more comfortable, so they permitted the English dinner jacket for their formal affairs. This jacket became known as the tuxedo.
Every man looks sophisticated and chic in a tux, whether tall, short, skinny or heavy; this garment conceals a multitude of sins. However there are some general guidelines for body shape. Tall and thin guys can wear just about anything and look great. The only worry will be length--make sure the trouser legs are long enough. Muscular and tall men should go for a clean, smooth look. Skip pleated shirts or double-breasted jackets which add unwanted bulk.
Short and slim body types should avoid styles that look too large on their frame. Steer clear of double-breasted jackets, otherwise you may look like a nine-year old trying on his father's clothes. If you want to appear broader, ask your tailor for extra shoulder padding.
If you're short and board, stick with a single-breasted jacket. If you have a heavy waist, choose a vest rather than a cummerbund, to draw attention away from your waistline and up toward your face. Any black garment tends to have a slimming effect, which always helps.
Various types of weddings call for different versions of formal wear. The clothing you wear will depend largely on the time and location of your wedding, the size of the guest list and of course your bride's attire. All these things help determine whether your wedding is informal, formal or ultraformal.
What can you expect to pay? Prices vary significantly based on the designer - you could pay from $50 to $200 for a rental. Make sure to ask if there are any additional charges for miscellaneous items such as insurance or dry cleaning. You will often need to pay extra if you chose a full back vest or need to rent shoes.
Here's a few additional thoughts. All the groomsmen should wear identical tuxedos. You may get a discount if they are all rented from the same store. Don't worry too much about sizing, the store personnel will know how to measure you in all the places that count. But, as a general size guideline, when you button the jacket, the fabric near the buttons should not pull. Plan to pick up your tux and accessories a few days prior to the wedding, to make certain everything fits properly and nothing is missing.
Here are the basic components:
The Collar: A wing or spread works for black tie; spread only for white tie.
The Tie: This one is simple: a bow tie in white or black. White tie means tails too and is as formal as it gets.
The Shirt: The color should be white, only plain white, did I mention it should be white? Avoid even light pastels, otherwise you'll look like a 17-year old heading off to the prom. Remember your cuff links, most tuxedo shirts have french cuffs.
The Vest: If you want to take your coat off during the evening, go for the full vest. It's also a chance to show off your personal taste, as long as it matches the colors of the bridal party. Cummerbunds are still fine if you don't lose the coat. If you ever wondered why the cummerbund is always worn with its folds pointing upward, it's because high quality models were traditionally designed with a small pocket in a pleat on the right-hand side, a convenient place to stash theater tickets, money, etc.
The Coat: Any color, as long as it's black. Remember those now famous words of Henry Ford--he said his customers could have any color automobile they wanted, as long as it was black. Cars may come in many acceptable colors these days, but not formal wear. Black tie means traditional length and white tie means tails. Prior to 6:00 p.m., you can go with the mid-thigh morning coat, but NOT in black. Pearl grey is the appropriate choice.
The Shoes: Patent leather is the preferred choice, not dad's wingtips.
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