Perfect Fit

Five common tux-shopping mistakes to avoid

After spending three years behind the counter at a tuxedo shop, I can tell you that there are exactly no good reasons for you to call your tuxedo shop on the morning of your wedding. None. Saturday-morning calls from grooms always fall into the "My (fill in the blank) doesn't fit, help me, help me, please help me" variety. Sadly, the morning of one's wedding is neither the time to find out what doesn't fit, nor to alter the train wreck that's about to happen.

Waiting too long to pick up—or try on—their tuxedos is just one of a handful of common tuxedo mistakes grooms make. Here are five others. Follow these tips to avoid them—or remember to keep the phone handy come Saturday morning.

Mistake #1: Using a Shop That Doesn't Measure Up

Buying or renting, Charles Burkhalter says to make sure the shop you choose has a good reputation. "Clothes have to fit properly in order to look their best," Burkhalter, VP of creative services for Lord West, makers of Perry Ellis formalwear, says. "And it's important to go to a reputable place to be fitted properly." Experienced shops, Burkhalter points out, know how to keep you from swimming in a jacket, or wearing pants that are too short, too tight, or both. Don't know a good store in your area? Burkhalter suggests asking friends and family for recommendations.

Mistake #2: You Forget That It Takes Two to Tango

Marc Atkin, president of Mr. Tux, a 44-store tuxedo company in New England, says grooms don't always remember that the tuxedo they're selecting must be built for two. "The most common mistake the groom makes is picking a tuxedo style without the bride's input or blessing," Atkin, who runs the 52-year-old family business, says. Failure to do so in a timely manner will lead to the sort of premarital meltdown that everyone wants to avoid. "Suddenly we're changing the whole wedding party's style of tuxedos the day before the wedding, and dealing with a very emotional bride," he says. And nobody wants that.

Mistake #3: You Buy on the Fly

"If you're going to buy a tuxedo," Dan McCampbell, VP, men's fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue, says, "plan ahead. Most men only own one tux, so you need to think about the quality and style of the suit." McCampbell suggests choosing a classic style from name brands like Zegna, Hickey Freeman, and others, and using a top-notch tailor to ensure a perfect fit.

After that, take a good, long look in the mirror. "You need to decide what's best for your body type," McCampbell says. "If you've got a shorter, rounder face or heavier body type, you should probably choose a peak-lapel jacket. The lines bring the body up, and accentuate height." Taller, thinner men will want to choose a shawl lapel in a three-button or one-button silhouette. And remember, comfort counts. "Make sure you look at the fabric," McCampbell says. "A year-round weight, like worsted wool, is a good choice. Fine wool breathes better and doesn't wrinkle as easily." Prices for a good tuxedo, McCampbell says, start around $600 and head north.

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