The Mail Bag.

Have questions on sartorial topics? I can try to answer them. Have questions on non-sartorial topics? I can try to answer those too, might not answer those well though.

In honor of wedding season, this will be an all wedding mail bag.

Q: I’ve been invited to a wedding, invitation says black tie preferred, what does that mean?

TCR: Wedding invitation dress codes are the king of passive aggressive dress codes. Your friends spent countless hours planning the event from the theme, color scheme of the décor and flowers, setting etc. they almost always want the guest to fall in line with that aesthetic but feel awkward asking for it directly so you get words like preferred and optional. Here is the quick rundown of the most common phrases.

  • White Tie = Wear a black tux. Wear a white bow tie. Period.
  • Black Tie = Wear a tux. No Suits. Bow tie or straight tie OK.
  • Black Tie Preferred = Wear a tux, Bow tie or straight tie OK. Black suit, white shirt and black tie in a pinch. Always wear a tie.
  • Formal attire = Wear a tux, Bow tie or straight tie OK. Dark suit, white shirt and black tie in a pinch. Always wear a tie.
  • Semi-Formal = Wear a suit, or sport coat. Tie optional. No jeans.
  • Cocktail attire = Wear a suit, or Sport coat. Tie is optional. No Jeans.
  • Business casual = Wear pants. Shirt should have buttons and a collar. Tuck in your shirt. Have shoes on.

Q: I Want to do something super stylish and creative but my fiancé wants something a little more classic. What should I do?

TCR: Listen to your Future wife. Go classic. In my opinion you can’t go wrong wearing something that has and will stand the test of time but that’s not even the main reason to do it. Men don’t realize that while the wedding is something you been planning for a few months or even years, She’s been planning her wedding since she was 6 yo. Let her have her way.

Q: Is it better to buy a tux for my wedding or rent a tux? I’m only going to use it once…

TCR: There is no way for me to answer this question without sounding biased because of the fact that I make custom tuxedos but please if it can be helped, do buy your tux. Do not rent.

For the most part rental tux fleets fit poorly, are poorly made and are made of cheap fabric. The tuxes have been worn hundreds of times by countless grooms, groomsmen, kids going to Proms, debuts and sweet sixteens. Theres a stat that says 85% of all hundred dollar bills have traces of cocaine, I’d be willing to bet that stat holds true of all rental tuxes, though instead of cocaine its bodily fluid. Lets face it a large percentage of the guys that have worn that rental have gotten drunk and partied in that rental. Yes its been cleaned, but is a poorly made, Ill fitting, been puked on tuxedo Ok with you?

I’m not suggesting that everyone should run out and have a custom tux made, though if budget permits it’s the best option. There are a plethora of low priced, off brand tuxedos at discount suit stores (brick and mortar and online) that are in the same price point to purchase as it is to rent. And Yes they wont be well made, they wont be cut all that flattering but neither is the rental. What makes this a better option? It can be tailored to fit better. It hasn’t been puked on. You get to keep it when you’re done.

Q: Should I wear a Tuxedo or a Suit to my wedding?

TCR: Short answer. Ask your Fiancé. Ive been doing this long enough to know that chances are she knows what she wants but just needs some coaxing. Long answer. It depends on the details. Take an overall mental inventory of the event. For example,

Setting: 1920’s Catholic church, Five star hotel ball room? Wear a Tux.

Garden Ceremony, grassy field outdoor reception? Suit.

Wedding party: 8 grooms men and 8 brides maids? Hundreds of guests? for bigger weddings. Tuxedos would be more appropriate. Intimate family and friends only invite list? Suit is the better way to go.

The one detail that almost always dictates the grooms attire is also the trickiest one to take inventory of because you cant see it.

Her Wedding Dress.

You’re gonna need to know some details. Mostly how formal is it. Does it have a long train, lace, layers? Will it have to be bustled for the reception? Is the word princess thrown about ?   

Yes to any of those and you should go tux shopping.

If she uses the word simple at any time. A suit is the way to go.

 Q: Am I supposed to wear a cummerbund and patent leather shoes with my tux?

TCR: Pretty much if you want to wear a tuxedo properly, the answer is yes.

No one ever likes that answer though. For some reason people have cartoon hate for cummerbunds and patent leather shoes.

To be fair, cummerbunds make you look like you’ve hiked your pants up to your nipples and in this day and age serve no real purpose. Back in the day they held your pants up as wearing a belt with your tux was and still is improper. The pleats were meant to hold your opera or show ticket (like a classy fanny pack) Hence the proper way to wear a cummerbund is pleats up.  Patent leather shoes look like plastic and I think men today just have an aversion to over shiny shoes.

When Im commissioned to make a custom tuxedoI always make these suggestions to help create the illusion of a proper gentleman.  

1.  Get adjuster buckles for the trousers. They help keep your pants up without wearing a belt or cummerbund. Another option is to have suspender buttons put in and wear proper silk and leather suspenders ( please never wear clip ons)

2. Make the waist band out of satin. It gives the illusion of the cummerbund sans the high waist effect.

3. Find a great pair of beetle boots. The plain toe allows for a high shine and works well with the silhouette of a well made tuxedo.  The boot part allows it to pare down with suits, slacks and even jeans and gives your shoe investment more life beyond black tie. All you need to do is take the high shine off, easily done by taking leather lotion and cleaning some of the polish and gloss away to give the boots a more matte finish.

Q: Do I wear a bow tie or straight tie with my tux?

TCR: It depends on the details and cut of your tuxedo. Until recently the bow tie was another piece (cummerbunds and Patent leather shoes being the others) of formal wear that had an “Oldman” vibe that many grooms just steered away from, but now seems to be making a comeback. Below is a general guide line

  • Wider details = bow tie.
  • Slim details = tie.
  • Classically cut i.e. boxy = bow tie
  • Slim cut = tie
  • One button wide peak lapel = bow tie
  • Two button slim notch = tie
  • Anything with tails = bow tie

TCR is a bespoke design house based in Orange County Ca.  contact us

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