Congratulations, you put finally put a ring on it! Now that you’ve found “the one,” and started planning the wedding, what do you wear? Should you find rental tuxedos or look into buying custom tuxedos or suits for you and your groomsmen? In prior times, renting a tux seemed like the only choice. But today, with men’s style having a resurgence, creating your own custom wedding tuxedo has become a more attractive option for many grooms.
Deciding between renting or buying a wedding suit or tux can be pretty difficult. This article will lay out the pros and cons and hopefully clarify things and make your decision much simpler (you’re welcome). In this feature, we take a look at Scott, who bought an off-the-rack tuxedo – that had also been used for rentals – from a men’s store which will remain nameless. After reading this article, you will have a clear understanding of what to expect when renting or buying and make the best decision for you and your groomsmen.
Short-term cost: Men’s Wearhouse, for example, offers tuxedos from as low as $200; which includes a three piece tuxedo, bowtie, shirt, shoes, cufflinks, socks and pocket square. But remember, as the old adage goes, “you get what you pay for.” While it may seem great if you don’t wear tuxes very often, the rest of our feature will show the pitfalls that outweigh the seemingly low price.
Let’s start with the most obvious: you spend money on something you don’t get to keep. The problem with a rental is the fact you have to give it back. This is maybe not a big deal if it’s the only time you’ll ever wear a tux in your life. But more likely, several of your friends will eventually decide to get married and ask you to be a groomsman through your 20’s and 30’s, and the value proposition of a rental will quickly disappear.
On average, a man will be a groomsman in about 3 weddings before he even turns 35 years old. And according to the Huffington Post, groomsmen spend, on average, about $245.50 per wedding for a tux. Multiply this number by three and you’re spending $736.50. If this seems like your reality, it would be foolish not to buy a custom wedding tuxedo you’ll look great in rather than repeatedly spending money on something you don’t own.
Secondly, hiring a rental can be risky because you don’t know how many other men have done the Electric Slide in those pants. There could be a number of people who have worn that suit of various shapes and sizes (and scents). And although the suit will almost certainly have been cleaned, it may have some wear and tear and definitely won’t feel the same as your own newly created suit.
Most importantly, a rental necessarily uses lowest common denominator off-the-rack sizing and design. Since the rental has to accommodate many body shapes and sizes, the fit will almost always be boxy, even sloppy. Minor alterations can help, but they only go so far when the fundamentals of the fit are off and the style is conservative and roomy.
And in Scott’s case below, his SIZE 38 (!) was a complete disaster. In his own words,“this tuxedo completely ruined my night,” proving that the inverse of “look good, feel good” also rings true.
As you can see in the picture above, Scott had bought an off-the-rack tuxedo and the outcome wasn’t pretty. Let’s break down the issues with his tux:
#1 Shoulders: In Scott’s case, the shoulders are too big. As we said before, rentals need to accommodate multiple shapes and are usually too large for thinner body types.
#2 Arms: The sleeves are too long. They should stop at the wrist bone and show roughly 1/4” of shirt sleeve.
# 3 Pants: For a shorter man (or any man) you don’t want a baggy pant as it makes the suit seem too big. For a shorter man, it makes legs look even shorter.
#4 Shirt Collar: If your shirt is too big there will be a gap between your neck and your shirt collar. We’re also not a fan of the wing collar. For a modern, but classic look, we recommend a semi-spread collar as you’ll see below.
#5 Jacket Length: The longer the jacket, the shorter you appear. For shorter men, the jacket should stop where the thumb meets the hand. Scott’s is entirely too long.
First thing is that you own it. Based on the stats we already outlined above, your should at minimum own a custom black tuxedo.
Secondly, by going custom you are able to design the tux however you want; whether be it double-breasted, or with peak lapels, welted pockets, half-lined, etc. Buying a tux this way enables you to add your own personality to it, with bold designs and meticulous details like a shawl collar or inner lining. Even if you prefer to go with the timeless class of a black tuxedo and black bowtie, there are numerous options you have to put your unique stamp on it, from choosing from hundreds of silk and satin linings or having your own custom design printed (see Scott’s lining with tiled photos of Iverson driving on Kobe) to including a monogram of your choice.
Here is Scott in two different custom tuxedos. A black traditional wide shawl, as well as a more unique royal blue. As you can see, custom makes a huge difference. Whether you go traditional or more creative with your look, superb quality and fit are hallmarks of the custom tux.
#1 Buttoning: Scott is wearing a one-button jacket; giving him a longer torso, which lengthens sight lines and makes him seem taller than his 5’6 frame.
#2 & 3 Shoulders & Sleeves: Shoulders are perfect. Very little padding, no puckering, and the lines flow perfectly down to the tapered sleeves. Observe that his sleeves also allow for a little bit of cuff to show. In this case, we went much shorter, with 1/2 inch of sleeve showing (which works perfectly with French cuff dress shirts that are usually worn with a black tie outfit).
#4 & 5 Pants: Notice that his pants are perfectly tapered; slim but with enough room so that he’s able to move comfortably. He also has a slight break in his pants—if he wears loafers this turns into no break—which is great for a man his size because it avoids the “I’m a high school kid wearing my older’s brother’s hand-me-downs” look of pants that pool around the ankle, and also makes him appear taller.
If the photo comparisons weren’t enough, the final and most important advantage of buying a custom wedding tuxedo is that your tux is your tux, in fit and design. You’ll know you look good and feel confident in the hundreds of pictures you’ll be forced to take at the beginning of the night, and out on the dance floor by the end. And afterwards, while you might want to take it to the dry cleaner, it’s yours to keep. You never know when the next black tie wedding, gala, or charity event will pop up, but you know you’ll be ready and looking good.
Probably the most deterring negative of opting for custom is that it can feel like it costs a pretty penny. However, it’s all relative. If you compare rental costs multiplied by the amount of occasions you’d end up needing to rent, it can be way more expensive versus today’s custom options in the $500-$700 range.
If you’re a groom planning for you wedding, you may also think that it could be difficult to get all the groomsmen on the same page to have custom wedding tuxedos or suits. However, while a groomsman or two may grumble about the cost, you’re doing them a favor in the long-term, and they’ll be happy with the decision by the next time they go to a black tie event. And if practicality is a big concern, there’s always the option of having the groom in a tux and the groomsmen all in matching grey or navy custom suits that can be worn to any future weddings, formal events, interviews, or work environments.
Unless you have a significant issue that would be caused by spending the additional $200 to 400, going with a custom wedding tuxedo or suit will be well worth the expense on the wedding day itself, let alone in the long term. The confidence you feel and the image that will be portrayed in the professional pictures you have taken (and later see displayed in your house and your families’ houses forever) will be a vital part in having a memorable and fun wedding day. That the tux will pay dividends through the years and be a solid long term sartorial investment is just the cherry on top.