Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Renting or Buying: A web designer's point of view

If you had asked me what field I’d be working in when I was in high school, menswear retail wouldn’t even have been considered as an option. I had no interest in the field whatsoever. I wore a t-shirt and jeans to school every day. When I wanted something dressier, I’d wear black jeans instead of blue jeans.

Flash forward seven years and here I am, the web designer for one of the largest on-line menswear retailers in the world. Funny how things work out, isn’t it?

I still remember my senior prom and the terrible time I had at President Tuxedo. The lady they had taking my measurements was barely older than I was and acted like a complete flake. It was obvious to me that she didn’t care about her job or her clients at all. She showed up, PT paid her, that was the extent of her concern.

I wound up having to make four separate trips to President Tuxedo. Of course, gas didn’t cost nearly as much back then, but as a senior, I had a lot of demands on my time. The first trip was to get measurements taken. The second trip was to pick up the tuxedo, which wasn’t there even though the clerk I’d spoken to on the phone said it was. The third trip (hours before I was supposed to pick up my prom date) was to pick up the tuxedo again, which had just shown up. Then I had to make a fourth trip the morning after to return it.

Being young and inexperienced, I’d never worn a tuxedo before. I didn’t understand why it was considered a big formality to wear something made of scratchy black material and break a sweat before I’d even started dancing because this sandpaper I was wearing didn’t breathe at all either. I had come to the natural conclusion that being uncomfortable was just a part of dressing up.

I’d been working for eTuxedo for about four years when one of my close friends became the first in our group to get engaged. By that time, I’d photographed hundreds of tuxedos and suits for our site and I’d had the opportunity to feel many different fabrics and materials. I knew that “comfortable tuxedo” didn’t have to be an oxymoron. I took the groom aside and told him about what I do here at eTuxedo and gave him a first-hand comparison of what he’d get at a rental store and what he’d get from an establishment like ours.

Rental stores want you too look good in your wedding photos. The quality of the fabric, the difference between real cufflinks and plastic ones with gold or silver paint, these are the kinds of things that wedding photos won’t show. But what’s even more important than the wedding photos in the memories they represent.

The groom decided to go with rental tuxedos despite my best attempts to dissuade him. The wedding came and went and we all survived. It was a beautiful ceremony and the couple was very happy with how it turned out, but one of the things I’ll remember standing up there as a groomsmen was how hard it was to stand still with that itchy, unlined fabric against my legs. (Rental tuxedo pants are not lined so that they’re easier to adjust; retail tuxedo trousers are lined so that they are less irritating to wear.) Even at the reception in the air-conditioned hall, I felt hot and uncomfortable. When I looked up at the groom at his table, his face which seemed to be getting redder and wetter. Not only that, but his hand went under the table every minute or so to scratch his legs. I could tell he felt the same way I did.

When all is said and done, buying a tuxedo costs more than renting. We all know it. But what a lot of people don’t know is that it doesn’t have to cost that much more. We offer entire tuxedo packages for $169. These are tuxedos that feel like real clothing, not sandpaper. They come with cufflinks and studs that are real metal, not cheap-looking plastic. The pants are lined so that the groom and groomsmen don’t have to scratch their legs every three seconds. And best of all, you can get these tuxedo packages without making four trips to the local rental store.

I may not wear a suit and tie to work every day, but I know this much. When the time comes for me to get married, I’ll be buying my tuxedo and having the groomsmen buy them as well. They may complain about the extra cost beforehand, but when they’ve just gone through an entire ceremony without breaking a sweat just by standing still or struggling to keep their hands from scratching themselves, I’m confident they’ll thank me for insisting they be dressed in something better.


At 3:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know when you graduated, but I too wore a rental that was (not so much scratchy as it was) stiff. But recently I rented for one of my friend's wedding, one of the most comfortable tuxedos I've ever worn. It was a Calvin Klein made of something like a super 120's wool from President Tuxedo. It was incredibly soft and comfortable. I'm looking to buy one of these great tuxedos.


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