That dreaded black tie invitation has just arrived. It′s enough to
make some men start perspiring at the forehead.I have to wear a bow tie…
I don′t know how to tie it… Shoes: patent leather or no patent
leather?… Shirts: lay down collar or wing-tipped?... cufflinks?... First,
a little history. Griswold Lorillard of the tobacco family first wore the short
black waistcoat to the Autumn Ball in October of 1886 in Tuxedo, NY. Some guests
were outraged; others went to their tailors for imitations. The suit put Tuxedo
on the fashion map and in the dictionary. Two kinds of customers come into my
store looking for a tuxedo. Those who want to rent and those who want to buy.
For those who want to rent, I ask them what kind of a function are they attending.
Then I ask them why do they think the invitation specified black tie attire.
We both eventually agree that whoever requested the event be black tie did
so because they want everybody to look their absolute best. My next question
is point blank: "How can you do that (look your best) by renting a tuxedo?"
A rented tuxedo has
been worn countless times by different people. It is not made for you. It′s
made of a polyester or wool blend that will make your skin crawl. How can you
then look your best when someone has asked you to? But why should I spend all
that money if I only wear it once? That′s when I remind them that
you never know when you′ll get another invitation. You never know
who you are going to meet. And you never know who you are going to end up doing
You never know where these formal affairs can lead, especially business-related
events. Then I show the difference between an exquisite gross grain lapel and
trim and the cheap velvet of a rental. I point out the difference between an
elegant, peaked lapel and an everyday, notched lapel. How a tuxedo can be cut
or styled to fit his body. Once I get him to see the light of day I proceed
with the accoutrements. Of course, nothing highlights at night like a white
shirt, but we don′t like to limit our options. Certain men can look
dashing in a variety of blues, pinks and ecrus, with pleats or no pleats, five
pleats or 10 pleats. I have shoes that′ll last a lifetime to go with
fine, black silk and cashmere socks. And I insist on showing them how to do
the critical last loop on the butterfly bow tie that will never present a problem
again and if it does he can retrace the steps on our Web site.
Lastly, I tell them to imagine an event where only the top executives of his
company are invited. Or better yet, only the top executives of many other companies
are invited. Do you still want to go in a rented tuxedo?! My advice is don′t
be afraid of the black tie invitation. Instead, buy yourself the best tuxedo
you can afford. It′s a quality lifetime investment. You′ll
look and feel so good you might find yourself with an escort on each arm.