August 17, 2005

Black tie

I have to say that I really enjoy shopping for suits. It is a hugely tactile experience for me. I almost close my eyes and walk down the rack for my size and run my fingers along the suits, stopping only when I hit some fabric that feels especially fine. Then and only then do I look at the suit and the pattern. In the first instance, its all about the material, baby. Its gotta be wool and its gotta feel good. Don't let someone tell you that there isn't a difference between suit manufacturers or that all the suits are the same or that wool is wool. Wool is most certainly not just wool. Really.

Today, I went to my favorite store. Don't ask for the name, they're doing just fine without my plug and I don't want to have to fight to get in there, ok? It is not a street level men's store and they don't rely on walk in customers. In fact, I don't even think that there's a sign in the lobby. And when you get to the door, you have to be buzzed in. At least you don't have to knock three times first.

I went because I needed a new tuxedo. I have lost a bit of weight and my old one cannot be taken in as much as it needs to be taken in. I looked like a kid playing dress up in his father's clothes when I tried it on. Also, I realized, looking at my calendar, that I am going to be wearing black tie at least six times between September 1 and December 31. So, I bought one and, like with any suit, I chose between two models and picked the one with the better feeling wool.

What did I get, you may ask? Or maybe you don't care. Well, I'm gonna tell you anyway, so there.

I bought a beautiful Hickey Freeman tuxedo for about 60% off. See, the fabric has to feel good but the deal has to also feel good. Welcome to NY. The deal has to be there. Only suckers pay retail in NY. Or really rich people. I know I'm not rich and I like to think I am not a sucker, or at least rarely. Hickey Freeman makes beautiful, exceptionally constructed suits out of gorgeous materials. The only better off the rack suit is Oxxford and I cannot afford them, even on sale.

The tuxedo has a shawl collar. This is not something you see so often but I am enough of a clothes horse to want one. With a shawl collar you don't look like you are either wearing just a black suit or are part of the catering staff.

It looks like this:


Something about the shape and drape of the collar and the whole jacket just feels like a throw back to the 1920's and 1930's. Just something very elegant about the look and the statement it makes. Another nice thing about it is that you do not look like everybody else when wearing a shawl collar. Subtly, you stand out a bit. And that's not at all a bad thing, it seems to me.

Now, I just have to talk my wife into letting me go back and get some new suits. They're having a sale and the fabrics were to die for, as my grandmother used to say.

Posted by Random Penseur at August 17, 2005 02:56 PM | TrackBack

What I want to know about are the shoes. What shoes do you wear with a tux?

Posted by: lawmom at August 17, 2005 04:54 PM

I love shawl collars on a tuxedo. Excellent choice.

Posted by: Jordana at August 18, 2005 11:40 AM

Shawl collars look great on tuxedos. Always and forever---and because they rarely change, like lapels do, you'll get a lot more wear out of it.

My only question is did you get black or midnight blue? I read once that when purchasing a tuxedo you were always supposed to get the midnight blue, because it looked blacker than black. Whereas with a black, there might be a greenish tint to it.

Posted by: Kathy at August 18, 2005 12:48 PM

I tie my own bowties. I assume you do as well? Nothing worse than a clip-on. Not that I get to wear a tux so much anymore.

Posted by: Mark at August 20, 2005 01:42 AM
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