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OT shopping for a tux


Dave Horne

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I bought a tux over ten year's ago at Nordstrom's (a well known department store in the US) and it is getting just a bit too uncomfortable to wear; it's getting a little snug if you know what I mean.

 

I went today to a large well known Dutch department store (Bijenkorf) and and found tuxes for less than 200 Euros. They actually looked pretty good and I have no idea why they are so affordable. If they were cheap quality, they still looked pretty good. The problem there was, if the jacket fits well the pants were too tight and you couldn't mix and match like I could at Nordstrom's.

 

Cut to the chase - I went to a store (in Den Bosch) that specializes in tuxes and bought a 600 Euro tux (an Eduard Dressler). It has to be ordered because the jacket and pants are two different sizes. I opted for a light weight 100% wool and it fits very nice. The most expensive model in this store was about 1200 Euros and the material was beautiful, but that was a bit over the top for me. A lot of my jobs are high profile jobs and it never hurts to look good.

 

There's an interesting difference in the design of tuxes in Europe compared to the US. The lapels on my US tux are cut very much like the lapels on a regular suit. The satin part stops near the top of the lapel and doesn't go completely around. Over here the satin lapel goes completely around the neck in one piece in one smooth line.

 

What do you guys pay for new tuxes? What do most musicians wear on jobs these days?

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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This is a tough one. I hate cheap suits/tuxes. Those that know the difference can tell the difference.

 

A "working" tux is a difficult thing. Regular playing means cleaning it for most every gig. At least two of them would be smart, but expensive. The better ones can stand up to more cleaning, though.

 

Lapels always seem to vary. We in the States also hear of a "European" cut. It's somewhat true, but tailoring always makes any suit "my" cut.

 

But, always look for new suits/tuxes in July (in the States, anyway). Everything is marked down to 50% off to make way for the fall clothing. I've picked up $1700 Armanis for $850.

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Originally posted by Dave Horne:

There's an interesting difference in the design of tuxes in Europe compared to the US. The lapels on my US tux are cut very much like the lapels on a regular suit. The satin part stops near the top of the lapel and doesn't go completely around. Over here the satin lapel goes completely around the neck in one piece in one smooth line.

Here's probably more info than you need, Dave.

 

Your US tux might have a notch lapel and the European tux might have a shawl collar. Both are traditional cuts for a tuxedo. A notch lapel is what you typically find on single breasted suit jackets. The smooth satin or grosgrain detailing should only be on the lower part of a notch lapel tuxedo jacket (the same fabric should be on the pant leg stripe). A shawl collar has a curved outside edge that goes from the buttons all tthe way around the neck. It is completely covered in satin or grosgrain. BTW, grosgrain is a fabric with a rippled texture like an extremely fine corduroy, which I like more than satin. It's a little more elegant, IMO.

 

I bought a new shawl collar Ralph Lauren tux less than 2 years ago (the Armani tux in which I was married no longer fits...and it has '80s shoulders). I found it at Syms, a clothing discounter, for around $400. At full price, it was probably around $900. With a shawl collar, I always wear a bow tie and cummerbund. I prefer a point collar shirt with a fly front (buttons hidden under a placket, no need for shirt studs).

 

For playing gigs or attending a formal event, I'd suggest getting a 2 button notch lapel tux. It's understated, will never go out of style and it's versatile. You can wear it with or without a vest or a cummerbund, and a formal four-in-hand or Windsor knotted tie instead of a bow tie for a more contemporary look.

 

Also, get a fresh pair of simple (no wing-tip) lace-up black shoes and save them for use with your tux. You don't need formal shoes. Polished black shoes say a lot about your professionalism. It drives me crazy when I see orchestra musicians on stage in formal wear and bad shoes.

 

Don't dry clean a tuxedo too often. Most suit jacket construction uses adhesives on tthe inner linings, and those can breakdown faster with frequent dry cleaning. Have it pressed without cleaning between gigs as needed.

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Originally posted by tritone_sub:

Mark certainly seems to know his tuxes.

 

Do you know anything about wetsuits?

I try to avoid wet suits, but I had one in NYC last week. It was raining like crazy that day.

 

If you mean the type of wetsuit worn for water sports, I don't know anything about those. The only person who can pull off wearing one with formal wear is Sean Connery, circa 1967.

 

:D

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Lots of good info. Thanks Mark. I was told by the guy at Nordstroms that the shawl collar is recognized as traditional, but not by everyone. I thought it more elegant but opted for the more common notch. I think I better get a piano gig, cause I'm not wearing the tux much. :rolleyes:

 

Jerry

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When I lived in the US I would have my tux cleaned just about after every job and it held up just fine. I have since learned that dry cleaning is really not good for the fabric and that a bad pressing can damage the material as well. I would assume it would be the aggressive steam pressing that could give the rippling effect - where one material slightly shrinks next to another that didn't shrink.

 

My wife would always tell me to buy a more expensive suit or tux because they don't use _glue_ to hold things together (as well as stitching, of course). (The outer layer and the lining are glued.) Well I learned yesterday that glue is an accepted part of clothing construction today _even_ with expensive suits and tuxes. I was shown a Corneliani tux (the most expensive at about 1,100 Euros a pop) and that did not use glue however. The slight disadvantage is the outer layer and the lining are not as one and even with the this expensive tux you can have a very slight rippling of the material. The owner of the store demonstrated this by pulling the out layer (breast part) away from the lining. It was a very beautiful tux and the material was fantastic. (My father died over 20 years ago but he spent his life in textiles and he could have told me the thread count and all that good stuff.)

 

It was recommended to me in several stores yesterday to simply hang the tux in a steamy bathroom after a job and let it hang outside to air out than to have it dry cleaned. I was spoiled by the cheap dry cleaning prices on military installations in the US. I used to have my shirts washed, ironed and starched as well. It cost almost nothing.

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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Mark, thanks for all that info! I always enjoy learning new things. The shawl collar has a more quiet look to me than the notched look.

 

Sym's still in business? I went to one many years ago. If I'm ever back in the US I'll probably buy another tux from Nordstroms. The service from them is fantastic. I bought two expensive suits from them and after a year or so the lapels would lose their shape and they had to be pressed before every wearing. I didn't think a quality suit should be like that, they agreed and refunded my price. I have never encountered better service anywhere.

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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The Bijenkorf tuxes were cheap, because they just had sales. Normally Bijenkorf is freakin' expensive. Damn, I gotta buy a new one too. I've grown out of my first one, because I'm over 30 now. This subject reminds me of this lyrics spoof I once heard after a famous Nat "King" Cole song:

 

Unprofessional, that's what you are.

Unprofessional, no tux, no car!

http://www.bobwijnen.nl

 

Hipness is not a state of mind, it's a fact of life.

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Originally posted by Dave Horne:

It was recommended to me in several stores yesterday to simply hang the tux in a steamy bathroom after a job and let it hang outside to air out than to have it dry cleaned.

good advice. Definitely think twice before having your expensive tux dry cleaned. During construction, everything is very carefully pressed on various seam rolls and tailor's hams etc to lend shape and clean lines. It's an art, and it's time consuming. It pains me to see good work hopelessly ruined. - seam allowances showing through the fabric, etc.

 

I've never seen grosgrain lapels. Nice! I thought grosgrain was only available as a ribbon.

 

Good point about the shoes.

 

I've often considered a genuine tux myself. Maybe this year. :cool:

"........! Try to make It..REAL! compared to what? ! ! ! " - BOPBEEPER
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Originally posted by Dave Horne:

[QB]Syms' still in business? /QB]

Yes, they're still around. They have a store near my office. One of the Manhattan locations, on 54th St & Park Ave., has better inventory than my Rochester store. I usually find Hugo Boss suits at Syms for 60% less than full retail.

 

Funny story. A few years ago, I was paying for shoes at the Manhattan store. I heard a familiar voice behind me. I turned around, and there was Sy Syms (the company founder and CEO) straightening inventory on the store shelves! He's the on-camera and voice talent for their advertising, so his voice is unmistakable.

 

Still, you can't beat Nordstrom for customer service.

 

I'm a little spoiled for good clothes. The Hickey-Freeman factory is located in Rochester. Their suits retail for $1000-1500, but at their local warehouse sale and factory store, suits sell for $450. Their Bobby Jones golf shirts retail for $160, but are $40 here. I don't spend much each year on clothes, but I wear suits and ties everyday for work and I enjoy wearing nice ones.

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