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Tuxedo Emergency!

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    Tuxedo Emergency!

    I got a last minute invite to the Marine Corps Birthday Ball next Thursday. It's black-tie and I don't own a tux.

    But I'm going to take this opportunity to buy one. It's been months since Dappered gave us a tuxedo sale, so for now I'm just going to hit up Macy's and/or Nordstrom and see what they've got.

    I'd really need everything. Jacket, pants, pleated shirt, studs, bowtie, patent leather shoes. What I can't decide on at the moment is if I want to go classic (cummerbund) or more unique (vest). Also debating peak vs. notch lapel.

    I'd like to spend around $800 for the whole kit, plus maybe another $50 for alterations. What do you guys think - doable? Where would you go look? What style would you pick?


    I have not been to any formal black tie events and thus do not own a tie. I know a cummerbund is traditional, but I get the impression (maybe just at weddings) that vests are more common. I say rock the cummerbund.

    "You don't need money to dress better than you do" - Salvatore Romano



      Peter, I wore tuxedos for years as a musician. Here's my advice:

      The tuxedo:


      If this is your first tuxedo get a peaked collar. Get a two-button jacket without tails.

      For the tuxedo look at Jos A Bank. Their tuxedos are currently $197 before any promotional code or coupon. I'm sure that you can find at least a 10% off coupon, if not more, plus a cash-back website to get an additional 5-10% off. That should bring the tuxedo down to $177 or less. The quality isn't fantastic, but I'm assuming you don't want to drop $600 on a tuxedo (the typical base price).

      The next step up would be the John W Nordstrom tuxedo at $500. You can get it for $250 when it is on sale, but since you're in a rush...

      Tuxedo shirt


      Get a point collar traditional style shirt. You don't want to experiment with a wing collar for your first tux shirt. Get a traditionally pleated shirt, not a super-wide pleat shirt - those are for waiters.

      Jos A Bank has shirts for $50 before coupons. You can probably get this down to $30.

      Norstrom's has a shirt for $95. I have this exact same shirt and it's lasted me for ~6 years with regular use. Again, it can be found at $50 when on sale:

      Brooks Brothers has shirts in the $140 range. They're $70 when on sale. I like these shirts, but the Nordstrom one is actually around the same quality for less $.



      You can get these at any department store. I have two sets - one gold pair and one faux gold pair. The faux (fake) ones look identical to the gold ones and they cost ~$15. No one is going to know what metal your studs are made of.

      Keep in mind that you'll also have to get cufflinks. Those will cost another $15 for fake gold ones, or $200+ for plated gold or silver ones. I have gold, silver, and fake ones. They all look fine - the silver are my favorite due to their uniqueness.

      Cummerbund vs vest


      This is up to you. If you do go the vest route get a traditional silk full-front one. Do not get a pique vest unless you're a waiter at a fancy restaurant.



      Get a clip on. It'll look fine, and it'll cost you ~$20 at a department store. Try on a few. The bow tie should face straight outwards. It should not angle down or up.



      You're supposed to wear patent leather, but who really cares? If you absolutely must wear patent leather shoes then your best bet is the Allen Edmonds Kendall: or the Mayfair:

      Call Allen Edmonds directly at 262-284-7158 and ask if they have any factory seconds. You'll save $100 or so. You can also buy them at and use the coupon in Joe's latest Dappered post. Shoebuy has the Mayfairs and there are 15-20% coupons on the net for that you can use. They will wind up costing you $220-250.

      Alternatively, get a pair of Johnston and Murphy Bickel shoes. Shoebuy has them at $140 with their 15% off sale.



        @bruschetta Wow just wow! Thank you so much for all this info. I will definitely report back after I do some shopping.

        Much appreciated.



          My general feeling is that both cummerbunds and waistcoats look pretty high school prom-ish. Besides, the whole idea of formal evening wear is to be as sleek and elegant as possible - there are some schools of thought that even a simple watch is too "casual" to be worn with a tuxedo.

          The simpler the tux, the more formal and elegant it will look. I would advise skipping both cummerbunds and waistcoats for that reason.




            @bruschetta - Holy crap. You are the tuxedo guru. This deserves a sticky of some sort as I'm sure Peter isn't the only guy that has needed a tuxedo in a pinch. Really great info.



              I came very close to buying a Christian Dior Monsieur line shawl collar tux at Savers yesterday for $7 but it felt fused in the chest... that and I have no occasions to wear a tux



                Glen, thank you - I'm by no means an expert on tuxedos, I just had to wear one at least once a month from my high school days through my college days. I've lost my cuffs and studs more than once, and I can't tell you how many bow ties have gone missing. I've gotten pretty good at searching for cheap replacements. I've also had two tux shirts ruined by bad dry cleaners. Two.

                Here's a not-so-funny story: the last time I left my tux and shirt at the dry cleaners they added iron-on permanent patches to the inside of the waist of the pants, the side of the jacket, and the placket of the tux shirt advertising their business. I kid you not. It says something to the effect of "Joe's Dry Cleaning".



                  Isn't that a crime!?




                    Thanks for the help everyone. After starting this thread I also did some more reading at Put This On and The Black Tie Guide.

                    After a several-hour trip to the mall, I wanted to let you know what I ended up with.

                    Tux: Hugo Boss Classic Fit Peak Lapel

                    Shirt: Also Hugo Boss, but not listed online. Wing collar w/black studs

                    Bowtie: Brooks Brothers

                    Cummerbund: Brooks Brothers

                    Shoes: Johnston & Murphy Bickel

                    I don't have time for it now, but I plan on buying some white braces/suspenders and having my tailor add the buttons to inside of the pant seam.

                    I went over my budget but I'm really happy with what I got. It was partner's card weekend, though, so even though I over-spent I got everything at 20% off.

                    Thanks again for the input.