Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Custom Clothing Doesn't Guarantee Well Made


An old friend of mine stopped to see me the other day, to proudly show-off his new custom made suit.  It was a disaster.  The shoulders were wavy, it was far too big and baggy in the chest and the balance was way off.  I smiled and told him how lovely the fabric was.

I have seen magnificent custom made clothing as well as the calamity noted above.  And that’s my point – just because something is custom does not guarantee it is well made, high quality, or a favorable outcome.  It just means it is made for you.  Put another way, would you rather have a custom made Ferrari or Yugo? 

The next time a smooth salesman mentions a special deal on a custom suit ask to see samples of a finished garment.  Inspect the suit carefully – if it is truly custom made then you will see the telltale uneven stitches in the armhole and under the collar showing it is handmade.  Feel the fabric to see if the cloth has spring and life to it.   Crunch up the chest and make sure it is supple rather than feeling like cardboard

I have seen too many custom suits at all price levels that are no value to the end customer and hope with this advice you can avoid a custom clothing misadventure.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Fashion Rant

My wife and I enjoyed an evening out at a local nightclub last week. We went to see Jackie Mason, who is a very famous comedian, perform. The tickets were quite expensive, the club was posh, but not exclusive. As we waited for the evening to begin we noticed the fashions of our fellow audience members.

I was shocked at how poorly so many people dressed. About 2/3 of the men in the audience wore a suit or sportcoat. The other 1/3? You could almost hear the conversations they had at home:

“This is a fancy event tonight, where did I leave my good white T-Shirt, you know, the one without words?”


“I’ll be stylin’ tonight, I have my clean gym shoes on . . .”

or, sadly,

“Dear, have you seen my new baseball cap?”

There is something fundamentally disrespectful and wrong about attending fancy events in lousy clothing. Disrespectful for your guest (wife, girlfriend, associate) as well as for yourself. It says, “You’re not worth dressing up for” or even worse, “I’m not worth getting dressed for”. Who would ever choose to send that message knowingly? How do these folks signifiy a special event in their lives if not by dressing up?

There were plenty of people who were not dressed well, that is, outfits didn’t fit, didn’t match, or simply looked lousy (don’t get me started on the tiered cake dress one lady wore), nonetheless, these people at least TRIED to dress properly. And they do get points for trying.

But the putz who shows up wearing T-Shirt, ball cap and tennis shoes? There’s no excuse. The fact that there were so many people similarly attired is just depressing.

Friday, August 25, 2006

eTuxedo Goes Interactive!

We've got two new interactive features for our customers to try out. All you need is a browser that supports Flash, which virtually every browser does. The first is a Tuxedo builder tool that lets you see how your tuxedo will look with the different vests and shirt styles we offer.

The second is a Formal Quiz. It's a multiple choice on line quiz that contains some of the questions we get most often. All the answers are at the end, so no matter what your score is, you can go through it a second time and get them all right!

Tuxedo Builder

eTuxedo's Formal Quiz

Monday, April 17, 2006

Tuxedos – Fashion or Tradition? A Fashion Manifesto

We think of tuxedos today as being steeped in tradition. Black tie, white tie, it all means something very specific. After all, the Proper Attire for formalwear is a 1-button, peak lapel style tuxedo, white pleated front formal shirt (your choice of wing or laydown collar), black silk self-tie bowtie and matching black silk cummerbund.

Of course, you may deviate from this formula. If you are going to a morning event you are allowed to wear a morning coat i.e. a cutaway or a stroller. Likewise, if you are going to an evening event you would wear a tailcoat, white pique shirt, vest, and tie.

So it may come as quite a surprise to learn tuxedos were originally a rebellion against these rules. Back in 1896 Griswold Lorilland was tired of the stiff dictates around formalwear. He had his tailor create a tailcoat without tails. Worn to a society event in Tuxedo, New York, his radical outfit became TODAY’S traditional tuxedo (the 1-button peak lapel style noted above).

Let’s be clear- the outcast rebel of fashion over 100 years ago snubbed tradition by wearing a 1-button peak lapel jacket – which today is considered the traditional tux ensemble. Get the point – yesterday’s rebellious outfit is today’s stiff classic.

Sure there are other examples. Denim blue jeans were first adopted by teens in the 60’s as a rebellious stand against the ideals of their parents. Blue jeans were worn by laborers who needed utility over fashion. Now, of course, blue jeans are a staple fashion item long since removed from their earlier uses.

But I digress, my point is this – why is innovation in formalwear considered heresy? The “classic tuxedo” was a statement against the rigid dress code of the time. Yet today if someone chooses to wear anything but 1-button peak lapel style they have broken the fashion rules. I say, let the wearer decide! Naturally someone who chooses to wear a powder blue tuxedo SHOULD be tarred and feathered (because nobody can look good in this type of a costume). But why should we call the fashion police if someone chooses a 3-button notch lapel tux? Would Lorilland bless the fashion of a silver vest and 4-in-hand tie? Why not – it’s simply another step towards distinctive yet handsome fashion.

Ultimately, that’s what we should all strive for. Distinctive yet handsome fashion. Sure we’ll be tweaking the nose of the fashion police, but at the end of the day we don’t dress to please others, we dress to express ourselves and our vision.

Friday, January 20, 2006

We're in the news!

eTuxedo was mentioned recently in a style article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Here's what they had to say:

March of this penguin calls for a $99 tuxedo
Posted on Thursday, January 19, 2006
URL: http://www.nwanews.com/adg/Style/143102/

The invitation said black tie preferred.

The name of the event — the Black and White Ball — said “duh.”

An online formalwear retailer, eTuxedo, said, “Charity dinners require a tuxedo — but which one ? We suggest one made from finer cloth than a rental, so it’s clear you are wearing a nicer tuxedo than the guy making small talk with your date.”

The Wall Street Journal said J. C. Penney was selling a tux for $ 99.

My sensibilities said, “J. C. Penney ?” (They can be so snotty. But then so can the Wall Street Journal. The headline said “The Disposable Tux.” )

The label said, “100 % worsted wool ; superior tailoring.”

My sensibilities cleared their throat and tried again : “J. C. Penney ?!”

My checking account said, “Yeah, but $ 99 !”

In the end, my fashion sense was the most persuasive.

It said clothes may make the man, but accessories make the clothes.

So I bought it.

On Saturday night, the Arkansas Young Professionals Network hosted its annual Black and White Ball. I figured this was the perfect opportunity for a testdrive of the $ 99 tux. If you found me in a corner of the Woman’s City Club, I might have pretended I was the subject of one of those fashion features you see in magazines, where someone with stunning personal style gives a recitation of who and what they’re wearing. Here is what I would have said :

“The tuxedo is Stafford, from J. C. Penney. The shirt came from Target. The necktie is from Karl Lagerfeld’s collection for H&M. The shoes were $ 8 at a thrift store.” I would hope people would fixate on the “Karl Lagerfeld” part, as opposed to the “J. C. Penney” part, and I would have pointed out that I had purposefully left the French cuffs of my shirt open and dangling, sans cuff links. I thought it made me look rakish.

Only nobody asked, which is not to say that nobody said anything. A friend of mine arrived in a tuxedo he had tailor-made in New York several years earlier. The suit was so pedigreed it even had a season. (It was a “winter” tux, he explained. ) Fanning his coat like a man selling fake Rolexes strung from the lining, he gave me a peek at the labels sewn behind his breast pockets. One read “Adolfo,” the designer ; the other, “Bloomingdale’s Men’s Shop.” The pants were flatfront, years before their time. (Mine were pleated, and the fabric had pulled a little around the hem. )

I paid him a compliment. He reciprocated with an... observation.

“Oh,” he said. “I see you went with Hollywood black tie.” He was referring to my long, skinny necktie, a sartorial preference over the bow tie. (Penney’s also sells a wing-collar shirt, pre-tied bow tie and cummerbund in a boxed set for $ 29. 99. ) He didn’t sniff as he said it, but its spirit was neutral, at best.

But I was already feeling somewhat inadequate.

The suit had seemed to fit well while I was in the dressing room at McCain Mall. The jacket and pants are sold as separates — $ 69. 99 for the coat, $ 29. 99 for the pants — in the traditional off-the-rack sizes. (Waist sizes in a tuxedo run about 2 inches roomier, so don’t immediately panic if you don’t find the size you wear in a pair of jeans. )

And I appreciated the package’s simplicity, in price point and in design. I’d rented tuxedoes for considerably less than $ 99 and others for considerably more. For the last wedding I was in, the groom selected a coat that resembled a cross between a Nehru jacket and the androgynous black leather duster Keanu Reeves wore in The Matrix. This was worn over a vest that, had it buttoned any closer to my throat, would have been a turtleneck. When I arrived at Men’s Wearhouse for my fitting, I commented to the salesman that I’d never seen a jacket quite like this one. He told me the only person he’d ever seen wearing one was Deion Sanders.

By contrast, the J. C. Penney tuxedo features a classic singlebutton closure and a notch lapel. The cut adheres to traditional suit-sizing, complete with the lack of nuance that suggests. The sleeves of the jacket were exactly the right length, but at the top I felt decidedly, disproportionately overpadded. Mostly I chalked this up to operator error, meaning I had erred by never developing broader shoulders.

It has been suggested that women who obsess over their outfits are dressing not to impress men, but other women. There is no mystery whatsoever about who men dress to impress. But self-esteem cannot develop, let alone overdevelop, in a vacuum ; the sense of competition merely becomes one of territorymarking. The question “do you rent or own ?” took on a whole new meaning. Most of the men I talked to at the Black and White Ball owned their suits. One of the sharpest-looking men I encountered was a young lawyer. His tuxedo featured a handsome vest with a scoop design and a nice fat bow tie he’d spent all afternoon scouring the Internet to teach himself to knot.

He had rescued the whole ensemble from life as a rental in the annual sale held by Paul Morrell Formalwear (one location each in Little Rock and North Little Rock ). The price was $ 40 — less than half mine. More than anything, the Black and White Ball proved that formality isn’t dead, but it is on deep discount.

I thought perhaps the guest of honor could settle things once and for all. The ball doubled as a fundraiser for a new penguin habitat planned for the Little Rock Zoo. At precisely 9 p. m., Jackie, a penguin visiting from the zoo in Fort Worth, waddled into the ballroom for a pep rally / photo op. The breed bound for Little Rock are African penguins. In place of the curvy, formalized boundaries between the black and white of their coats that distinguish some breeds — earning the tuxedo its “penguin-suit” status — Jackie and her ilk have a more mottled chest, capped by a blurry neckband resembling a Rorschach test. You know, Hollywood black tie.

I thought Jackie could be the ultimate arbiter of my tuxedo’s worthiness measured against everybody else’s. Jackie’s handler had scooped her up and extended her for inspection the way you might display a baby you’d like a politician to kiss. I moved in to get a closer look at Jackie, and for her to get a closer look at me.

But suddenly, Jackie was gone. I heard later that she had gotten anxious and was spirited away to a back room, where she threw up the fish she’d eaten for dinner. Her handler blamed it on too much excitement. Personally, I think it was the indignity of being confronted with so many people dressed pretty much like you, only better. I knew how she felt.

Copyright © 2001-2006 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

We Love Customer Feedback!

We get comments every day on our websites - thankfully 99.99% positive
comments. This one, however, really made my day.

realname: camille cox

Comment: awesome site... loved all that you've done here. comparison chart w/the cars is so cool - sending all my kids here to shop

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Rental vs. Purchase - Style Trends

I was recently interviewed for a newspaper article asking about formalwear trends and the differences in rentals versus purchases. That is, were people renting the same type of tuxedos as they were purchasing?

Interesting question. Rentals are a short-term committment. People who rent are often younger and looking to make a sharper fashion statement (or perhaps not yet sure of their fashion level and more willing to experiment). We have noticed that "hot" rental tuxedos tend to be high fashion garments - Jean Yves Mirage - a prime example. Very sharp. But are these fashion tuxedos (mandarin collars, knee length coats) tomorrows powder blue puppies? Will you look back at photos in ten years time and wonder why on earth you wore that?

Far and away our best selling tuxedos are one and two button notch lapel tuxedos. These are classics that will stand the test of time and vagaries of fashion. We assume purchasers are thinking long-term and don't want to have to think if their formalwear is acceptable for the next invitation they receive.

But it got me to think about the differences between how men and women shop.

Women think nothing of buying an expensive formal gown and wearing it once, maybe twice. Average cost/wearing $xxx.xx. Men routinely ask us if their purchase will be in fashion in 5 to 10 years time and will wear it 3 or 4 times a year. Average cost/wearing - peanuts. (which, of course, proves the point it's cheaper to buy than rent - but I digress. . .).

What's the point? Why don't guys say to themselves, "Hey, I want to look different tonight. I'll buy an outstanding fashion tuxedo and know it will be retired within a year but look FANTASTIC while I'm wearing it"? Perhaps we should instead be asking why is it acceptable for a woman to spend hundreds (thousands) for one night?

I summarized the trends for the reporter as follows: customers who rent tend to be younger and tend to be looking for sharper fashions. Customers who buy tend to purchase for the long run and are willing to spice up their outfit with different vests/ties/cummerbunds over the course of time. Nonetheless, I couldn't help but envy 'eballroomgown.com' selling formalwear to women who will come back event after event to purchase another new outfit . . .