Can some groomsmen buy their tuxedos while others rent?
April 14, 2012 2:19 PM   Subscribe

I'm the best man. Some groomsmen want to buy tuxedos, others want to rent. Is this workable? Looking for NYC-specific recommendations.

As the best man in an upcoming wedding, I am responsible for coordinating tuxedo matters. My preference, along with some other groomsmen, is to buy my own, but some of the other groomsmen are strapped for cash and would like to rent.

2 questions:

1. Can anyone recommend an NYC tuxedo shop that both sells and rents tuxedos?

2. I've noticed at a lot of weddings that all of the groomsmen are wearing the same outfit. Does anyone ever just have their groomsmen wear basic, classic tuxedos that pretty much look the same, without requiring that they all wear the exact tuxedo?

Obviously as best man my job is to make everything easier for the groom, and so if he wants us to wear Harry and Lloyd's outfits, that's what we'll do. As of now, I've been given a pretty long leash in this area, so I'd like to avoid wearing someone else's clothes if possible.

posted by charleskinbote to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The easy solution for renting tuxedos in NYC is Men's Wearhouse. Of course, as with everything in NYC, if you're looking to go high end, you could do that, too, but given that you say some of the groomsmen are strapped for cash, that's likely the easiest rental route. I don't know if they also sell tuxedos at Men's Warehouse. I'd call them and ask.
posted by dfriedman at 2:25 PM on April 14, 2012

Men's Wearhouse does sell tuxedos. At least they did a few years ago.
posted by madcaptenor at 2:43 PM on April 14, 2012

I'll address number 2. This is only my personal opinion, and it differs substantially from American cultural norms. But it's a somewhat informed opinion; I read etiquette books for fun, and I did go to real live charm school, even though it didn't really take.

When the groomsmen in a wedding wear tuxedos, they are aping an upper-class historical tradition. Within that tradition, an upper-class gentlemen would frequently attend both black tie and white tie events, and would of course have his own clothes to wear to these events, just like he had his own day suits and other correct but less formal attire. The groomsmen in a wedding would only wear black tie or white tie if it was a black or white tie affair, and if it was, they would wear their own clothes for it, just as all the guests would. There is no way the groomsmen would all match at such a wedding. Even if they were all dandies whose clothes were perfectly au courant, there would be variations in individual fit and style that would render the clothes non-identical.

So, I say if we're going to ape this tradition, let's ape it all the way! Groomsmen should wear black or white tie, depending, in whichever cut and style best suits their own personal sartorial milieu, rather than having them all match like a set of wingback chairs. (And let me just say, if I ruled the world, the practice of wearing dinner jackets to daytime weddings would END. People! This is why they make morning suits! But I digress.)
posted by KathrynT at 2:45 PM on April 14, 2012 [20 favorites]

The question of whether it's okay for the groomsmen to look basically similar but not matching is one that's probably best addressed to the bride, since in most weddings, she's the one who is most likely to have an opinion on the subject. Sexist, I know, but also, if the groom had an opinion on the subject, I'm sure he'd have expressed it by now. =

From the standpoint of etiquette and tradition, it is absolutely fine, and completely expected. As KathrynT suggests, matchy-matchy is a modern affectation of the lower and middle class playing at appearing wealthy and classy.

But in a wedding where there are enough groomsmen to actually have multiple people on each side of the buy/rent conundrum, there's a good chance you have a bride who is expecting to do the matchy-matchy thing.

One possible compromise would be to have everyone purchase/rent tuxes that suit their own purposes and then purchase matching ties and possibly vests (which might or might not match the wedding colors, again, usually based on the preferences of the bride).
posted by jacquilynne at 3:05 PM on April 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Echoing KathrynT, matching tuxedos = wait staff. Presumably the various groomsmen come in different shapes and sizes and so would benefit from different cuts, etc. in tuxedos whether rented or their own. Common neckwear, lapelwear, etc. should keep you from looking like a motley crew in the wedding photos.
posted by dismitree at 3:07 PM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was glad to see that Baldwin Formals is still going strong. There was a time when it was not uncommon for me to need formalwear on very short notice, and nothing scares them. They have actually suited me up in thirty minutes. They have both sales and rentals, and they do "design your own" rentals, so you're not stuck with waiter uniforms.

Some of the guys on staff there were 70 in 1983, I doubt if that has changed much. They know their stuff.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 3:27 PM on April 14, 2012

As long as everyone is in a black tuxedo, it 100% does not matter if they are all identical. No one will notice either way, and even if someone did notice, they'd probably think that 100% matching is more weird than not matching.) (If one you already owned a tux, would it seriously be a consideration that he not be allowed to wear it?)
posted by Kololo at 3:32 PM on April 14, 2012

I don't know what's right and proper but I think if you pick a direction, go all the way. Either you all match or you don't match in a fashionable manner. Like, you could pick different colors maybe -- grey, black, navy, pinstripe but similar cuts. Or, styles to suit each person but in a matching color. I would assume that a rental shop could help you out with this idea and you'll probably have matching flowers so either that or some other decoration could pull you all together. What you don't want is one dude in starch white shirt, black jacket and bow tie and another guy in a morning suit with a cravat. In my opinion.

And, yeah, I think this is a discussion for both the bride and groom -- but come up with a few ideas to hand over to help guide the discussion (and to keep the bride from reflexively saying: "matchy-match only!").
posted by amanda at 4:35 PM on April 14, 2012

It's the bride's decision, but imo, it's weird when everyone's wearing identical tuxedos. What, are they waiters?

Of course, I think identical bridesmaids is weird, too, though color coordinated I can sort of see.
posted by small_ruminant at 5:26 PM on April 14, 2012

More than half of my friends own their own formal wear, (or something that will pass as such), and I'd feel weird asking people to rent different outfits just so they match. For some reason that seems like asking a lot, hygenically speaking.

Are rented tuxedos even comfortable? Or are they made out of some weird, sweaty synthetic material?
posted by small_ruminant at 5:30 PM on April 14, 2012

Yeah, our groomsmen wore either their own tux (three of them) or rented one Mr. D. selected at a formalwear shop (the other three). All of them rented the same vest/tie combo. There is nothing wrong or strange about doing this, provided no one plans to wear a particularly *unique* tux (super-peaked lapels, for instance).
posted by devinemissk at 5:48 PM on April 14, 2012

Buy, buy, buy. Look on Ebay for "with tags", and then get them tailored. It's likely to only be $50 more than a rental, and having something that fits you more than three measurements will make *everyone* look better. The bride and groom will look better for being surrounded by groomsmen whose outfits fit them.

As mentioned above, perfectly matching tuxedos = nouveaux riche.
posted by notsnot at 7:24 PM on April 14, 2012

2. I've noticed at a lot of weddings that all of the groomsmen are wearing the same outfit. Does anyone ever just have their groomsmen wear basic, classic tuxedos that pretty much look the same, without requiring that they all wear the exact tuxedo?

Yes, but don't mix black and white tie. That is not correct.
posted by bq at 9:43 PM on April 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Seconding Baldwin Formals. I used them for my wedding. And yes, we went "matchy-matchy," though I had no idea this practice was so sneered at. Frankly, I didn't trust some of my groomsmen to show up not looking schlubby (and one fashionista not to be too outlandish), and most had to rent anyway. If I were doing it over again, I'd probably say fuck it and save my friends the hassle & expense, but Baldwin did a nice job and everyone looked very sharp. (Though if you believe some of the folks in here, I guess I must be wrong and people actually were expecting us to serve them dinner.)

Anyhow, one nice thing about Baldwin is that you can fill out your measurements on their website, which is a big convenience, especially for out-of-town folks.

(And no, rented tuxedos are not made out "some weird, sweaty synthetic material." They vary in quality, of course, but they're made of normal materials. The only difference is that sometimes rental pants come with adjustable waistbands, which are actually quite cleverly done and completely unnoticeable. But I agree with all of those who say that buying a tux is a much better investment.)
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 12:01 AM on April 15, 2012

Jos A Banks recently started renting tuxedos, and they also sell them. My husband bought a few suits there in the past couple of years, and they were pretty nice. They also have sales like buy one suit, get $1000 in store credit, which is ridiculous and awesome.

There are 2 stores in Manhattan.
posted by elvissa at 2:51 AM on April 15, 2012

I"ve been to weddings where the groomsmen all just wear a suit they already own. Others where they try vaguely for consistency, and all agree on say a "grey" suit, white shirt and a "red or burgundy" tie.. with some variation. Others where the groomsmen are in perfectly matching tuxedos rented from the one rental place in town. If it is a black tie occasion, then everyone wearing a black tux and the same type / colour bow tie will look pretty much the same.

I would also recommend asking the bride as she is the one most likely to have some pre-determined idea and most easily upset if it doesn't look right.
posted by mary8nne at 4:30 AM on April 15, 2012

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