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Tuxedo shopping is already a lot — from color to fit and accessories (like shoes, sock, and ties), there's so much to consider as a groom, groomsman, or wedding guest. Add a global pandemic into the mix, and the odds might feel against you, especially if you're re-planning a wedding. But rather than throwing your hands up in frustration or allow overwhelmed feelings to take over, there's a modern solution to purchasing a tuxedo or suit: a virtual experience!
Shopping effectively came to a halt when COVID-19 hit the US, and formalwear was all but an exception. Now, months in, retailers are embarking upon a new normal from rigorous sanitation standards to a shift toward digitally-focused shopping. With this, tuxedo shopping is evolving as brands and retailers implement virtual services from online consultations to at-home try-ons. In-person shopping has become a thing again with new safety measures in place. But, for those who'd prefer to opt-out of an in-person appointment — or shoppers without too many local options — a virtual tuxedo shopping experience is a great choice.
While several brands are working hard to streamline the new processes, others were founded on the virtual concept and quickly strived to innovate. Think more customized algorithms to improve self-guided shopping, expert interfacing for those wanting more direction, and increased flexibility with try-ons and returns.
Ahead, we've outlined the best places to virtually shop for a tuxedo online for grooms, groomsmen, and wedding guests, with expert insight from each brand or retailer.
The Black Tux
The Black Tux launched as an e-commerce brand with online shopping and virtual look-building at the business's crux. "Our core experience was designed to be completely virtual from day one," Matt Gierl, chief marketing officer, tells Brides. "Our proprietary Fit Algorithm is trained on more than a million data points to predict a person's optimal sizes in our garments."
The Black Tux offers a free Home Try-On program that allows customers to experience a trial run of the brand's service before their event. "We'll send the suit or tuxedo of their choice, plus their selection of accessories, to try on in the comfort of their home, preview the quality of the fabrics, and compare colors in person," Gierl explains. Customers are encouraged to share photos of the fit with The Black Tux team and ask any questions about services before moving forward with an official order. "Customers keep their Home Try-On for three days and then send it back using a prepaid shipping label we provide," Gierl explains.
Once a final decision has been made, The Black Tux ships orders to arrive 14 days prior to a customer's event date, leaving plenty of time for a free replacement if the sizing isn't perfect.
In addition to virtual services, The Black Tux has five showroom locations and 24 shop-in-shop locations within select Nordstrom stores across the US — all have reopened with new safety measures in place. "We've taken a phased approach to reopening our showrooms since the initial shutdowns in March and have made adjustments to our process based on guidelines from health officials in each state," Gierl says. This includes mandatory health screenings for all employees before each shift, adding hand sanitizer stations, arrows on the ground to direct traffic flow, and signage throughout reminding customers to maintain social distance and uphold mask mandates. All showrooms operate by appointment. Customers book a time and have a dedicated consultation with a stylist to help them navigate the look-building process and get the perfect fit.
Both options suit a modern shopper with flexibility as the defining factor, according to Gierl. "With limited capacity for in-person showroom appointments over the past six months, we moved quickly to make changes to our free Home Try-On program, and now it's even more accessible for our customers who prefer an at-home experience."
Suitsupply is a direct-to-consumer retailer that prides itself on its "experiential focus and radically personal service," Jeremy Crume, the GM for North America, tells Brides. With an assortment of impeccably polished tuxedos and suits, customers have options: they can choose from pre-styled looks or create a one-of-a-kind tux by using a custom-made online interface (which was available Pre-COVID!) to choose from suits, shirts, jackets, trousers, waistcoats, tuxedo shirts, tuxedo Jackets, tuxedo trousers, and tuxedo waistcoats to individualize their look.
"The layer we added during COVID-19 is the virtual shopping interface," Crume says, which is complimentary to all shoppers. "This is essentially a URL where the customer and the expert can both experience the website at the same time with the ability to both control browsing," Crume explains. "They also have the option to turn the video on and see each other in pop-up screens." Experts can guide customers through all of the brand's options and advise on size, fit, style, fabric, lining, trims, buttons, and other details. "If someone wants to see a fabric in more detail rather than the image online, we can have a fabric sample mailed to your home," Crume adds.
For shoppers that are already familiar with their size and have experience wearing suits, they can order their preferred tuxedo look on the brand's site and have it shipped to their home. There's a ready-to-wear tuxedo package including a tuxedo, Egyptian cotton tuxedo shirt, tuxedo shoes (choose from black patent leather lace-ups or black velvet slippers!), and a silk bow tie for $799—an excellent option for grooms, groomsman, and wedding guests. "We do recommend that the customer schedule a private fitting appointment at a store with their expert to make sure there aren't any additional alterations needed to ensure a perfect fit," Crume says. Alternations are an included service with custom orders, and once you're a Suitsupply customer, your measurements and alteration history is saved.
"Customers love the virtual environment because you can explore a full range of items quickly without walking through a store," Crume says. "On the other hand, you are limited in the physicality of using one of our experts to help guide any alterations needed to help you in finding that perfect fit."
For an in-person experience, Suitsupply has reopened stores and accepts walk-ins and appointments in private shopping lounges after designing and testing a safe shopping journey in Chinese and Korean stores. "We've had all our stores fully open once they were indicated for reopening by the state and city governments," Crume says. "Suitsupply has been celebrated for creating one of the safest shopping experiences at the outset."
Men's Wearhouse has long been a go-to for formalwear and quickly responded to COVID-19 to ensure their service remained intact for customers. "We know that style and fit are two important factors when choosing a rental tuxedo or suit. So, we launched a virtual try-on option earlier this year," Matt Repicky, the chief marketing officer of Jos A. Bank and Tailored Brands-Rental, tells Brides. "As we have one of the largest selection of styles available, this gives customers the opportunity to see how they look in the product without leaving home."
The virtual try-on service allows customers to upload a photo of themselves to see how the tuxedo or suit will look. "Once you know the style you want, the measurement tutorial helps you determine the size you'll need," Repicky says. All orders are easy to complete online and shipped directly to your home. "Providing convenience to the customer is so important to us," Repicky adds.
For those renting a tuxedo, Men's Wearhouse offers flexibility in their process. Customers can begin browsing looks online and then get measured in-store with contactless fit-technology. For a total in-person experience, stores have safely reopened with highly-trained associates to help with decision making, measurements, and fit. Customers can then have their rental shipped to their home. "The customer decides how they want to interact with us, and we offer end-to-end service via both the website and our stores nationwide," Repicky says. Pricing is the same for customers to rent in-store or online.
Bonobos is a one-stop-shop for reasonably priced but high-quality tuxedos with extended sizing available, as well. The brand is currently offering a Guides Chat service for tuxedo fitting and styling sessions with plans to provide more in-depth virtual appointments in the coming weeks.
"[The Guides service] was previously in development, but quickly accelerated to launch as a response to COVID-19," George McCracken, Bonobos's Fashion Director, tells Brides. "We noticed customers were still moving forward with dressing for special occasions, such as weddings, whether smaller scale and in-person or virtual, and wanted to purchase suits and tuxedos for the occasion without leaving their homes." Already, the brand has seen great results from the service. "Over 40 percent of customers who chat with our guides follow through with purchasing items, so we're very excited to see how this translates with video appointments."
Each guide, previously trained in a Bonobos store, is available via a chatbox on Bonobos's website for customers to ask any questions related to tuxedos as if they were physically in a store, McCracken explains. All fit and styling advice is free to customers, no matter how many chat sessions the customer and guide have with one another. "Some interesting questions we've received include, 'style advice for a once big, formal wedding, turned #microwedding,' 'black tie turned into a small intimate beach wedding - what should my groom wear?', and general style recommendations based on seasonality and dress code (i.e. 'can you go tieless to a hot summer wedding?')."
While the Guides Chat service misses the physical experience of a fitting and styling session in-person, McCracken says that 65 out of 67 Bonobos Guideshop locations have reopened for personalized appointments with one-on-one fitting sessions—they're easily bookable online. "An in-person appointment allows you to see how the tux or suit moves on a customer, but when it comes to styling, this can be done online just as easily as in-person, and we're equipped to assist," the fashion director says. "We're following strict safety and cleanliness protocols at the stores and operating at a reduced capacity, but look forward to grooms, groomsmen, and wedding guests coming in to check out our latest styles."
Nordstrom's tuxedo shop caters to every budget and style, with an expansive range of labels from Giorgio Armani, Canali, and BOSS to Ted Baker, Bonobos, and Topman. In response to COVID-19, the retailer launched virtual styling appointments after temporarily closing stores. "Previously, we offered digital styling through Looks and Chat. Our new virtual appointments enable us to connect with our customers using video chat," Jessica Cloutier, director of styling, tells Brides. "We make it easy for customers to shop on their own terms. The virtual appointment process is customized to meet their needs and expectations, and all virtual styling appointments are free."
To schedule an appointment, a customer can visit Nordstrom's styling page and book with a form detailing their specific style needs. "The customer and our expert stylist will meet on video chat for the appointment, and the stylist will show options to the customer and discuss style and fit preferences," Cloutier explains. Following the appointment, a stylist will send personalized looks to the customer via text, email, or the Nordstrom app so the customer can purchase the items they're looking for.
The items will be shipped to the customer's home for an at-home try-on. "Some customers and stylists will do a follow up virtual appointment to assess fit," Cloutier notes. "If any alterations are needed, they can bring the items into their nearest Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack, or Nordstrom Local." Nordstrom offers tuxedo rentals from The Black Tux at 23 Nordstrom stores in addition to the virtual tuxedo and suiting services.
Nordstrom currently offers in-person styling appointments since safely reopening stores. "The health and safety of our customers and employees is a priority and every decision we make is through that lens," Cloutier says. "As we continue to learn more about COVID-19, we're continually evolving our approach to ensure we're taking the right steps to keep our employees and customers healthy." Nordstrom requires all customers and employees to wear a face covering and offers them to anyone without, free of charge.
The Tie Bar
For grooms, groomsmen, and wedding guests, The Tie Bar offers shirts, pants, and all the accessories from socks and pocket squares to suspenders and, obviously, ties. The brand is currently offering virtual styling services from dress shirt selection to tie matching for the entire wedding party.
"Typically we start with talking through the wedding colors and what the couple envisions for their big day, also keeping in mind their personal style, favorite trend or patterns, location of the wedding, and even the wedding venue itself," Onyx Martinez, the lead stylist for Tie Bar, tells Brides. "We want to be a guide for the couple and make sure their overall vision aligns with our style expertise."
Martinez says that virtual sessions can take up to three consultations to decide upon every detail down to the pocket square. "The location, the time of the year, the size of the wedding party, and even the fabric make of the suit itself can dictate which direction we take," he says. "The possibilities are endless, and clients trust us to be their guide. Let us help you stand out for all the right reasons."
The Tie Bar's virtual styling services extend to outfits for any wedding-related events, too. "We're happy to work with our couples on styling for any wedding-related style scenario," Martinez says. "What are you wearing for your rehearsal dinner? A welcome reception or a day after brunch? Nothing makes us feel better than to be there for our clients during every step of such an important time in their lives."
Prices are the same online as they are in-store. All six of The Tie Bar store locations have reopened with social distancing measures in place for those who prefer an in-person experience.
The Groomsman Suit
The Groomsman Suit prides itself on offering wedding tuxedos and suits for less than it costs to rent, with prices starting at $194—a perfection option for budget-conscious grooms, groomsmen, and wedding guests. The digitally-native brand offers an accurate and easy-to-use online sizing tool that doesn't require any measurements. Once COVID-19 hit, the company added a Virtual Try-On feature to help customers visualize suits and tuxedos on themselves by applying products to an uploaded photo.
"We've always been committed to creating a great online shopping experience for couples planning a wedding," Diana Ganz, the co-founder of The Groomsman Suit, tells Brides. "As our showrooms were being forced to close in March, we quickly rolled out virtual appointments allowing our stylists to meet with engaged couples via video chat to help them plan their wedding style at home."
Customers start by scheduling an appointment with one of The Groomsman Suit stylists—typically for 30 minutes—and share information that will influence important elements of their wedding day style. "Our stylists are able to make style or size recommendations, talk through the ordering process, and set up a free home trial to send them some items to see first hand," Ganz explains. After the appointment, the same stylist is available to help with any additional needs, from wedding party attire to additional style guidance.
"Our virtual services are incredibly personalized, and the stylists covering them are the best of the best," Ganz says. "We know every wedding day and wedding party is unique, and we're committed to helping each couple create a wedding day look they will cherish for years to come."
Whether you use the online virtual services or to shop in-person—The Groomsman Suit showrooms have reopened in Philadelphia and Chicago by appointment—prices are the same for all products.