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The REAL guide to renting for prom.

Jovan

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Gainesville, Florida
I've seen so much misinformation on renting dinner jackets thrown around by certain rental companies (After Hours, most notably) and people who don't know what they're talking about that I was compelled to write my own, real guide on how to dress well for prom and still look classic, but cool. Here it is.

So you want to rent, eh? Most of you will have to, given your budget or lack of decent hand-me-down dinner jackets (what Americans call a "tuxedo"). And for God's sake, if there's one from the family or thrift shop that fits you fine, use it instead and scour around for any accessories you may need. But if you must rent, here's a few things you need to look for:

1. Price. And not just what they tell you at first, what it all comes down to even after you get a "good deal" with a coupon. Ask them what it's all going to be BEFORE saying you'll take it. Confirm all the details you want. Make sure there's no hidden fees or anything. After Hours is notorious for pulling these sorts of things.

2. Sizing. While it may seem obvious, it isn't always. Some places that rent will only give you the closest size. So if you're a lean 37" chest, some places will only have 40 and above to rent. Again, ask before.

3. Fit. This also may seem obvious, but not always to an untrained eye. Check to see if your sleeves end at your wristbone. You may have to compromise here, as most rental places won't take in the sleeves if they're too long. However, just make sure they don't come down to your thumb. Places will automatically give you a Tall jacket if you're 6' and above most times. But this isn't always accurate, as torsos and arms can be wildly different in length. To avoid this, tell them to take your arm length into account when choosing the right length of jacket. I'm 6' but most times get a Regular. You'll know you have a perfect fit if your shirt cuffs show about 1/4"-1/2" out of the jacket sleeve. Make sure your trousers only break (gather on top of the front of the shoe) a bit, and that there's no bagginess at the heel of your shoe. Otherwise, it will look sloppy. If you spot any, make sure your trousers are pulled up to your navel and then ask them to re-hem them higher if there's still a problem. And yes, I said your navel. You can't wear these like your low rise jeans or Phat Farms, guys. Don't be an Erkel, though. Your "boys" should still be comfortable. Shirts aren't rocket science. You won't get a very fitted one, but the collar size and sleeve length should be right, and that's hard to get wrong. If in doubt, the cuff shouldn't move any or very much when you bend your elbow 90 degrees. The collar should be snug, but neither constricting nor loose. You should be able to fit two fingers between your neck and it with ease.

Now we need to move on to styles, which can be very tricky.

Jackets: You'll get many choices here. I'm going to be quite firm here when I say stick to a regular jacket or tails (those jackets that are short in front, but have long "tails" in back, like you associate with penguins). Trust me, you'll look back on your pictures years from now and wonder what the hell you were thinking if you choose that full length Matrix coat with satin lapels. Stick to classic choices here -- one button single breasted or 4x1 (four buttons, one to close) double breasted, peak or shawl lapels. Notch lapels are a no-no, as they LOOK like a cheap rental. Do NOT get single breasted jackets with two or more buttons. If you want to wear a business suit, this isn't the time. :) Similarly, don't get a million buttons on a double breasted. Keep it simple. Make sure the jackets don't have a vent in back (this is traditional, and again keeps it from looking like another business suit) and that if there's any pocket flaps, you tuck them in. Traditional dinner jackets shouldn't have pocket flaps. Always remember -- the simpler the jacket, the more formal it looks. Tails will usually be in only one style, peaked lapel.

Trousers: You won't get many options here usually. At most, pleated or not. If you like flat fronts and they're available, go for it. It doesn't make a difference in how formal it looks, just a matter of preference. Pleats will give you a bit more movement room; that's what they're designed for!

Shirt: There will be a few styles here. Make sure it's a white one with French cuffs. Collar styles should be limited to wing or regular. There should also be a pleated or pique "bib" on the front. Pique (said "peek-ay") is a textured fabric. Here's where it gets complicated. A regular collar should be worn with a regular dinner jacket. Wing collars are fine with this, but better suited to be worn with tails. In fact, wing collar is the ONLY type to be worn with tails. Pleated or pique front is fine for a dinner jacket, but pique should always be worn with tails.

Bow tie: I only advise bow ties with evening wear, because it lends better formality and is, again, the classic choice. Unfortunately, no rental places seem to carry self-tie ones anymore. But keeping this in mind, make sure you get a solid coloured bow tie in black satin for a dinner jacket (regardless of waistcoat colour, it looks better contrasted), or white pique for tails. If you do somehow come across a self-tie one, look up how to tie it online. It will take a bit of practice, but it's well worth it.

Waistcoat: Or known as a vest. Get one with 5 or 6 buttons in black or white satin or the same fabric as the jacket/trousers (if they have that, make sure it's black). Don't give into the hype about matching your date, it's really not required and pretty tacky. Leave it to the boutonniere and corsage to match. :) If you somehow find a waistcoat with three or four buttons, it's something worth considering, as long as it isn't in white pique fabric. That's reserved, again, for tails.

Cummerbund: These are a good choice, too. Not everyone likes them, but they're cooler to wear (more on that later) than a waistcoat. Make sure it's in black satin and that the pleats face upwards when you put it on. It's also simpler to put on than buttoning up a waistcoat and adjusting the back strap. You should never wear one in place of a waistcoat with tails.

Shoes: "Oxford" style in patent leather with plain toes, black. Simple enough, eh?

Cufflinks/studs: Black or white for dinner jackets, white only for tails. Make sure they're silver and not gold, which will look really out of place.

So, going on to styles...

Black tie, or semi-formal: Black dinner jacket with matching trousers and bow tie with waistcoat or cummerbund. Pretty much the rules you just read here apply, obviously. The black dinner jacket can be substituted for a white one, usually without satin lapels, but keeping the black trousers. This stems from the old rule about it being an option in warmer climates or summer. This look is quite suave, like James Bond in Goldfinger. If it's warm out, you can also just ditch a waistcoat or cummerbund completely with either jacket. A lot of die hard traditionalists will curse me for saying it, but I think it looks fine without either. Your comfort is paramount. Additionally, if you went for a double breasted jacket, a waistcoat or cummerbund isn't needed or expected by pretty much anyone. Just make sure you keep the jacket buttoned -- nothing looks worse than an unfastened double breasted flopping around. You can leave a one button jacket undone and it'll look fine, however. It's not required to wear studs on the front of your shirt with black tie, and most rental shirts are convertible to use either buttons or studs.

White tie, or formal: Tail coat with pique wing collar shirt, white pique waistcoat and bow tie. You have much less freedom here, and should always wear the waistcoat. Studs should always be worn, too. Technically a prom is a formal dance, so this is the classic choice. I don't see anything wrong with either mode of dress though. White tie is something nice to treat yourself with if you're feeling bold, like I did. However, it is much warmer to wear than a white dinner jacket with no waistcoat/cummerbund as discussed before. Weigh your options.

Finishing touches: Finish with a classic boutonniere for yourself and corsage for her. Red or pink roses always look wonderful. The florist should be able to help a great deal. Be sure your outfit is pressed and clean, and that you're well groomed. Have fun!
 

The Wolf

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,153
Location
Santa Rosa, Calif
Thanks for the information.
Oddly, due to my dyslexia I thought your thread title was "The REAL guide to renting porn" :eek: and I thought this was the wrong site for such a thread. lol Luckily I read it again for benefit of a doubt.

Sincerely,
The Wolf
 

Slicksuit

One of the Regulars
Messages
239
Location
Suburban Detroit, Michigan
Good information, Jovan. I would also like to add that it is far preferable, as well as economical, to buy a tuxedo than rent. Ebay and local retailers often times offer good deals on tuxedos. For the cost of 2 rentals, the tux could be owned. Adequate time for alternations are a necessity, however.
 

thetankw/ahat

Familiar Face
Messages
63
Location
san diego
hey slick it's really only more economical to buy a tux if you plan on wearing it often. not sure thats a problem here on the lounge but if you buy a tux and never wear it things happen to it.
 

happyfilmluvguy

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2,541
A tuxedo can be bought with the intention of only wearing it when needed. No one wears a tuxedo on a regular basis. If you plan on buying a tuxedo rather than renting one, be sure to find one that you will always be satisfied with wearing when needed and it's quality is good enough to last until the day you die. During the golden era, those who did own a tuxedo did not wear them very often unless it was necessary or was enforced by an establishment's dress code. All you need is one tuxedo. It is economical but if you don't want to wear the same tuxedo to each event you attend, renting is the best option. :)
 

Nts

New in Town
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22
Location
Mcallen,TX
Great guide :)

I have a real close friends wedding coming up in August he asked me to be in the wedding/ceremony. Nether my friend nor myself own tuxedos so we will be renting them. I had to rent a tuxedo for my sisters wedding last December, and I hated the way the thing fit even after they made the adjustments. I would like to purchase my own in proper fit for the wedding but I'm afraid what I purchase might not match the style of the other groomsmen and he might take offense. I guess its like a brides maid having to wear a ugly dress.
 

happyfilmluvguy

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Nts said:
Great guide :)

I have a real close friends wedding coming up in August he asked me to be in the wedding/ceremony. Nether my friend nor myself own tuxedos so we will be renting them. I had to rent a tuxedo for my sisters wedding last December, and I hated the way the thing fit even after they made the adjustments. I would like to purchase my own in proper fit for the wedding but I'm afraid what I purchase might not match the style of the other groomsmen and he might take offense. I guess its like a brides maid having to wear a ugly dress.

Most tuxedoes are generally the same. Black, satin lapels, and buttons. Find out what they might be wearing. You never know whether it will be similar to something you can purchase.

I myself rented a tuxedo for my prom. It was a three piece, black, red bowtie and red vest. I looked like a magician. :D
 

Jovan

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Communication is key for those sorts of things, Nts. Usually it won't matter. I've never seen the point in every dude trying to match... I rarely see even the flower girls wearing the same thing anymore. lol
 

Marc Chevalier

Gone Home
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18,192
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Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California
happyfilmluvguy said:
AIf you plan on buying a tuxedo rather than renting one, be sure to find one that you will always be satisfied with wearing when needed and its quality is good enough to last until the day you die.

The problem is that our waistlines are not often good enough to stay the same until the day we die! lol


.
 

Tango Yankee

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2,433
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Lucasville, OH
I just put a deposit down on half a dozen tuxedos for my step-daughter's wedding. It's her wedding, so the vests and ties (Windsors, not bow) will match the ladies. I'll get myself a tux some day, I suppose... but then again, I never got around to getting myself the Air Force equivalent. Of course, that was in part due to the trend of having "Combat" Dining Outs instead of the formal ones. (You wear BDUs to a "Combat" Dining Out instead of formal or semi-formal uniforms.)

Cheers,
Tom
 

Jovan

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Gainesville, Florida
I'll lay some slack for weddings in regard to matching colours... but neckties with dinner jackets? :eek: Next thing you know, they'll be wearing notch lapels too! :eusa_doh:

I apologize. As has been stated by another member, I probably just have a strong sense of personal aesthetics.
 
Messages
11,579
Location
Covina, Califonia 91722
It was during the age of the 1970's, prom tuxes were pastel and the shirts had ruffles. I got a black Double breasted tux, black bow tie and the shirt had a wing collar. Classic, I thought. Everybody said I looked like the owner insrtead of a prom goer. I cringed at the pastels and ruffles, would not do it if you had put a gun to my head.

I did buy a tux and used it for New years Eve parties and the occasional Halloween. I am a little to big to fit in it these days, but if my budget will allow I'd still like to get another tux.
 

happyfilmluvguy

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I originally wanted to rent/buy a ruffled shirt baby blue tuxedo for my prom. No one carried it, though. Here's a situation where you want to purchase the tuxedo, but can't find anything you like or what you're looking for. You settle on a rental. It worked out fine for me.

Marc Chevalier said:
The problem is that our waistlines are not often good enough to stay the same until the day we die! lol


.

Pay attention to what you eat and then tell me that. ;)
 

Jovan

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John in Covina said:
It was during the age of the 1970's, prom tuxes were pastel and the shirts had ruffles. I got a black Double breasted tux, black bow tie and the shirt had a wing collar. Classic, I thought. Everybody said I looked like the owner insrtead of a prom goer. I cringed at the pastels and ruffles, would not do it if you had put a gun to my head.

I did buy a tux and used it for New years Eve parties and the occasional Halloween. I am a little to big to fit in it these days, but if my budget will allow I'd still like to get another tux.
You did well, my man. These days it's the 3/4 or full length coats with some satin details to class it as "formal," nehru collars, badly imitated "zoot suits" -- again with satin detailing, ridiculously tacky waistcoat/tie patterns and the "Windsor" neckties, not to mention the fact that NO ONE carries a self-tie bow tie anymore.

I stuck with the classics and got myself a wing collar with pleats, peaked lapel tail coat, white satin bow tie and waistcoat. Yeah, yeah, I messed up the finishing touches to a white tie ensemble. There were only backless white tie waistcoats is the thing, and I didn't know that a pique shirt and black studs is the correct choice. But I still think I looked pretty good. What size is that dinner suit? :D

whitetie.jpg


More pictures later if I can dig them up, including ones of me and my date.
 

Flying Scotsman

One of the Regulars
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229
Location
Pasadena, CA
Oh, how I WISH someone had given me this advice when I was a teenager. I look back at the photos now...pastel blue "tux" with all those ruffles and garbage on the shirt...and they went downhill from there. ACK! What were we *thinking*?

It's too bad someone, ANYONE, didn't pull us all aside and say, "Gentlemen...let me tell you what you should be wearing to a formal event..." and tell us exactly what you just did.

Somewhere around here is a photo of me in a white brocaded thing that we HAD to wear for some cotillion ball thing, as escorts. <CRINGE>
 

Jovan

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Gainesville, Florida
If it was a white brocade waistcoat, that can actually look a bit royal and dashing. Though I'm one of the few people that really advocate a white silk waistcoat with a black tie. For some reason white fabric waistcoats with black tie never quite look right to me. I am a big fan of low three button waistcoats in the same black fabric as the rest, like this.

Some more pictures of me before prom...

prom4.jpg


prom7.jpg


prom5.jpg
 

dhermann1

I'll Lock Up
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9,154
Location
Da Bronx, NY, USA
A NICE tux

If you do get a tux, take the time (and spend the bucks) to find a nice one. The difference in appearance between a cheap and a nicer tux can be striking. You don't want people to think you're with the band! I have an old, and sadly, rather worn out (not to mention TOO SMALL NOW) tux that I love. Double breasted, grosgrain lapels, and grosgrain on the buttons. All sorts of hand stitchery. And made of wool that's like a horse blanket. Terrific feeling to wear it. I always felt like George Raft. Get a nice tux and you'll feel like a millionaire. Oh, yeah. That's me in my tux in my avatar, maybe 15 years ago, when it fit me. I was MC-ing a dance at Roseland, in Manhattan.
 

Cobden

Practically Family
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788
Location
Oxford, UK
A good guide, although I disagree about white waistcoats and black tie. I wear a white , low slung) pique waistcoat (with a back), and I think it adds a little something too it. The one I have came with the DJ, which was made in 1926 and thus incorporates some other white tie features, such as double striped trousers. Hence I only wear it with a detachable wing collar and a pique shirt.
 

Jovan

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Gainesville, Florida
Interesting. The reason I don't advise a pique waistcoat with black tie is that it's a bit confusing as to whether it's supposed to be white tie or black tie. Obviously whoever made your dinner suit didn't care about such distinctions! That, or it was sold with the wrong accoutrements and trousers somehow. Some Ebay sellers tend to sell things with others that don't necessarily go with each other.

I like the look of a white satin waistcoat with black tie, personally, and my friend's family is English and have been doing it forever. They must be getting something right! I bend the rules a little regarding formal wear, but not too much. When you attend something elite (beyond prom, obviously) it's best to be "correct" so you don't offend anyone's sensibilities. Sad, but true.
 

Cobden

Practically Family
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788
Location
Oxford, UK
I got it from a second hand clothiers, and all the labels match - not an ebay mismatch. I think it's more a case of coming from an age when the DJ was a pretty new thing, and thus hadn't aquired all the distinctions from white tie that now exist. That's my theory, anyhoo :p

As for offending sensibilities, as long as you don't go in the wrong thing, and the rules you use match (1930's rules are different from 1950's, 1950's different to 1980's, 1980's differ from 2000's, etc) it's okay. But that's just my little rule
 

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