Why Can't We Just Wear Jeans?
March 4, 2011 9:59 AM   Subscribe

We've been invited to an evening wedding in Seattle area at a swanky hotel which is black tie. Not our usual venue at all. Neither of us wants to spend lots to dress for a single social occasion. And my husband is a big guy with a long torso and short legs, so he is not easy to fit anyway. Thoughts on where to go and what to do to get dressed affordably?
posted by bearwife to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total)
I've never used a service like this, but you can rent dresses. Likewise your husband could rent a tux or suit, they should be able to fit him without any problems.
posted by pwb503 at 10:05 AM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Rent. Men's Wearhouse should be able to provide a big n tall tuxedo rental. Here's a link to a woman who rents evening gowns in Seattle; ymmv but it's a start.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:05 AM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, rent. Most malls have places specifically marketed towards renting high-end outfits for fancy events like weddings.
posted by valkyryn at 10:24 AM on March 4, 2011

In my experience, many men wear a dark suit to a black tie wedding because they don't own a tux and don't want the hassle/expense of renting one. If he's got a dark suit, I think he'd be just fine.
posted by cecic at 10:33 AM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yeah, either wear a black or dark suit, or go to the nearest Men's Wearhouse to where you are now, and they will fit him and order a tux for pickup at the location closest/most convenient for the wedding.
posted by Grither at 10:54 AM on March 4, 2011

He's a jeans only guy, so we have a shortage of dark/black suits for him to choose from. Men's Wearhouse, then?
posted by bearwife at 10:58 AM on March 4, 2011

I suspect "black tie" in Seattle allows more latitude that black tie in Manhattan or Paris.

Call the concierge at the swanky hotel and explain your problem. They should be able to give you some guidelines on the minimum expectations.
posted by valannc at 10:59 AM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

My husband and I are clueless about wardrobe. We've had very good guidance from Men's Wearhouse.
I suggest you call your nearest Men's Wearhouse and ask which salesman has the most experience and best customer satisfaction rating. They keep track of those things.
posted by valannc at 11:03 AM on March 4, 2011

The meaning of "black tie" means tuxes for gentlemen and long dresses for ladies. If you're not sure, ask the wedding planner if they meant "black tie optional"--otherwise, you should assume that a tux (aka "dinner jacket") is required.

Men's Wearhouse tuxes aren't that great as rentals, and seldom are fitted properly, but will be serviceable. If your husband already owns a pair of black Oxford shoes (closed lacing), then it will be much better to either polish them to a shine or have a shoe-shine guy do it than it will be to rent patent leather shoes. Rental shoes are not comfortable and a pair of quality shoes that can be shined properly are acceptable. The shoe style is not really optional - any other style (e.g., loafers) will not look right.

As for colors, the tux must of course be black (for the U.S., at least), the shirt white, and the cummerbund should be either black or a muted color. He should go for a monochromatic look. A white handkerchief or pocket square or possibly a boutonniere would be a good touch. In general, when selecting colors, he should endeavor to look classy without flashy colors; no doubt your husband is a gentleman of exquisite taste and you and your outfit will provide all the color he needs.
posted by Hylas at 11:38 AM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

In Hylas's post above, he sounds really knowledgeable. But I still think any event in Seattle will be more relaxed about black tie dress. This is a city where people wear hiking pants and fleece to the symphony.

It is indeed a good suggestion to call the wedding planner.

I feel for you. This "black tie" expectation may all be about the bride wanting dressy people in her wedding reception photos. So you have to spend money on wardrobe, and bring a gift.
posted by valannc at 11:47 AM on March 4, 2011

On a related note, have fun with it. There aren't that many formal events being thrown anymore and we all can easily dress in casual clothes 99% of the time, but think of this as a unique experience and you will enjoy it more. Hylas has excellent advice, particularly on going for black/white contrast. Colored bow ties and cummerbunds are a bit overdone, but a classic black tie outfit really does make a man look sharp.
posted by dgran at 12:22 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Can you ask friends and/or family members what they plan to wear? In my (admittedly limited) experience, weddings that are so formal as to require all guests to wear tuxes and long evening gowns are very, very rare.

Even if you guys don't dress up often, it's a good idea to have a suit or cocktail dress sitting in your closet for occasions like this.
posted by Sara C. at 12:51 PM on March 4, 2011

While I doubt you'll find anything suitable (no pun intended) for your husband this way, you may want to look at the local thrift stores to see if there are any formal gowns that would be appropriate. You'll see a lot of horrors, but you could get lucky and find something simple and formal. Or look up consignment shops and call them, to see if they have any formal gowns in stock in your size.
posted by lemniskate at 1:15 PM on March 4, 2011

Sometimes I get away with something more costumey than a tuxedo at a black tie event -- this would be something festive like the opera or a gala fundraiser. I think a wedding would qualify. I have this awesome embroidered suit I got in India that cost like $40 that always makes a splash, but I've also worn a kilt. I have also seen people where a dhoti or cool vintage stuff. Anyway, you may be able to borrow some of this stuff from friends, or order on line, or search some of the vintage stores in Capitol Hill (here in Seattle). Of course all of this may require more work than you want to put into it, in which case I'd do the boring thing and rent.

But I would echo the advice to try and have fun with this. I think dressing up is one of the most fun things an adult can do when done with the right enthusiasm.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:24 PM on March 4, 2011

For your dress, I've had unbelievable luck at Ross - found an off-season floor-length black Calvin Klein gown there for $50 last October, the day before a black-tie event.

Also, if you've got friends who are similar in size, it never hurts to ask if they have a dress you can borrow. It doesn't always occur to us to do that as grown-ups, but I'd rather loan out my dress than see a friend waste money on a new one she'll wear once.
posted by nadise at 1:25 PM on March 4, 2011

Check second-hand stores for vintage evening wear. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you find, especially for ladies' gowns. And the accessories that add that special sparkle are easily affordable at second-hand stores, as well.
posted by Lynsey at 2:23 PM on March 4, 2011

Yes, the bride really means black tie. I checked! Also, don't get me wrong, I love dressing up, but I also love my husband, who believes people not allowed to go nude should not be required to wear anything dressier than jeans. His tastefulness tends not to be expressed in sophisticated clothing choices though he does look sharp when persuaded to wear a sweater or blazer.

Please keep the suggestions coming, they are great. Hylas, fantastic answer, thank you. I know very little about men's black tie.
posted by bearwife at 2:45 PM on March 4, 2011

Shop around to buy a tuxedo. Renting a tux more than two times generally pays for a decent one found at a Nordstrom's Rack store or on sale at a department store. When you own one you're more likely to live a little and attend events suitable for wearing it. Stick to a classic style (one or two button, single breasted, subtle labels) and it'll last you a decade or more. They're generally cut a little generous so it'll 'grow with you' over time (thank God).

As for the shoes, skip the patent leather ones altogether. Get a decent pair of dressy loafers and keep them polished. It's a lot more comfortable to dance in normal shoes. In four decades of wearing tuxedos I don't think I've ever worn patent leather shoes, nor have I noticed what others were wearing. Besides, if you're going to be drinking you want to be in shoes you're comfortable wearing.

Oh, and if you want to add some style you can't go wrong with a matched bow tie and cummerbund set. Beats looking like everyone else, or a waiter. I've got a couple of plaid ones that never fail to garner compliments. Skip the handkerchief, nobody cares that much anymore.

Cufflinks are a nice accessory but only necessary if you go with french cuff shirts. They make tux shirts with plain button cuffs and they look fine.
posted by wkearney99 at 5:13 PM on March 4, 2011

The last time I rented a tux I went to the Tux Shop up near Northgate. They did a good job.
posted by kprincehouse at 6:44 PM on March 4, 2011

I've heard this shop on Mercer Island is a good place to rent a tux.

If you try on dresses and find one you like, check on Google Shopping, regular google searches, and ebay to see if it's on sale somewhere else.
posted by barnone at 11:44 PM on March 4, 2011

Black Tie Guide is required reading. Seriously consider buying if you foresee black tie events in the future.
posted by jayne at 10:50 AM on March 9, 2011

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