A Groom's Guide to Tuxedo Rentals
Help him look his best on the big day with these expert-approved tips.
Aside from walking a red carpet or accepting your Nobel Prize, no other event in your life will give you a better reason to wear a carefully-chosen tuxedo than your wedding. "Brides spend thousands of dollars on a gown that is tailored to fit them impeccably—I tend to suggest that the groom does the same," says Donnell Baldwin, New York City-based stylist and image consultant at Mr. Baldwin Style. But if you're not what Baldwin refers to as "a suited and booted type of guy" and you prefer renting to buying custom, you can find a tux that's flattering, timeless, and ideal for your big day by considering these essential factors.
The Shopping Experience
Traditional tuxedo rentals required a trip to a brick-and-mortar store, but online companies have streamlined the process by letting grooms try on multiple options in their own home and allowing far-flung groomsmen to order the same tuxedo (even if they can't all get to the same shop). Still, ordering online—without an expert tailor by your side—takes a little planning, says Baldwin. "Suits are tricky and there are a lot of nuances. There are some guys who are tall but have short arms, as well as the reverse, short with long arms. Other challenges could be if you have a shorter torso but longer legs," he says. "You'll need to know those details before making an online rental." By visiting a store, a professional can help you find solutions to fit issues you might never have noticed before. "With in-person attention, you'll have an extra set of eyes—hopefully expert eyes—that can help make sure you look amazing," Baldwin says.
Whether you choose an online or in-person rental, Baldwin suggests looking for one crucial style: Slim fit tuxedos, which are almost universally more flattering than their alternatives. "If the rental company does not offer slim fit tuxedos, run for the hills," says Baldwin. "The only way a baggy suit looks good is on a runway in Milan or a fashion editorial shoot. Baggy tuxedos or suits do not translate well for weddings, and they probably never will." You'll also need to specify short, regular, or long sizing, which relates to your arm and torso length, to get a jacket that fits correctly. "Mostly when you're renting, your ability to alter the jacket or trousers is limited," says Baldwin. "Don't guess. Visit a local tailor or physically go into a rental shop to get properly measured."
A classic wool tuxedo is appropriate for most venues and seasons, though it can get hot. "If you're able to select a lighter weight wool or wool-cotton blend, or perhaps even a linen-cotton blend for the summer months, I would just be mindful of the expected temperature during the time of your wedding," says Baldwin. And if your vision includes a tuxedo in a fabric color other than black, be prepared to buy: The chances of a tuxedo rental shop having the exact shade of emerald green you used on your invitations, the specific maroon of the flowers, or the same blue shade as the berries on your cake are extremely small. "If you're having a cool, eclectic wedding with bold colors and you want your look to reflect that, not all rental companies are created equal," says Baldwin. "For the groom who wants to find an option that is not just solid black, I'd say, let's get a custom tux—that way you pick exactly what you want."
After choosing the fit and fabric, you'll need to answer a few other questions about how you want your tux to look. First, you'll choose the type of break—where the pants fall on the top of your shoes. "For safe measure, a minimal or slight break generally works well for most guys, but if you're concerned about the trousers rising up, ask for a full break," says Baldwin. Then expect to decide between flat front or pleated pants. "Most often, pleats will look dated and add a bulky effect to your waistline," says Baldwin. "You should look trim and sleek for such a joyous moment where you'll be photographed the entire day." The final finishing touch is the bow tie: Most companies offer pre-tied or self-tie, says Baldwin, and this is not a detail you want to ignore. "Call me a bowtie snob but wearing a pre-tied bowtie is like wearing a clip-on necktie!" he says. "It's unflattering and makes you look unkempt, especially if it is not placed correctly around the neck to support the collar of the tuxedo shirt." With a little practice, using a bow-tie will feel completely natural, and will add an elegant, polished element to your wedding day look. "Don't be afraid or intimidated," says Baldwin. "Tying a bow tie is like tying your shoe laces."