How to buy a dinner suit (tuxedo)

I just received my dinner suit back from the tailor today — just in time for New Year’s Eve — and I’m plenty happy with it. In a lot of ways, I got lucky, but I also think I found a few tricks to nabbing one and avoiding all the lousy crap out there.

Basically, search “worldwide” rather than just domestically. Also, try searching for “evening suit,” “dinner suit” and “dinner jacket” instead of “tuxedo.” I found that United Kingdom sellers don’t use the term “tuxedo” very often and they tend to have the better vintage stuff. A lot of the big, domestic powersellers on eBay tend to have what looks like a bunch of former rental tuxedos, which often are polyester and look gawdy (to say the least). 

I found this from a nice gentleman in the U.K., who was kind enough to take it off of bidding and put a “buy it now” price on it for me to get it ASAP so it could ship across the Atlantic and be here in time for me to take it to my tailor for alterations.

It’s a shawl-collar jacket and the suit’s made in Italy from mohair in midnight blue. The pants are flat-fronted with side adjusters, so no belt or braces are necessary. I had the seat taken in and the legs tapered to an 8” opening. The jacket needed to be taken in on the sides of the waist and the sleeves lengthened.

Overall, the suit, plus shipping, plus alterations cost me $225, which isn’t bad. I also had to buy some other items, however, bringing the cost up a bit:

Shirt: Hugo Boss “BOSS” black label trim-fit tuxedo shirt. Had to get this new at Nordstrom, since I couldn’t find hardly any slim-fit tuxedo shirts elsewhere. I do dig this design though, because the placket covers the buttons, which means you don’t need to wear/buy studs. ($125)

Bowtie: The Tie Bar. Not the nicest out there, but dirt cheap. ($15)

Cufflinks: A random set off a dealer on Etsy. You can find tons of Mother-of-pearl links there for a steal. ($5)

Pocket square, shoes and socks: Already owned those.

Truth be told, you could probably get a cheaper shirt MTM (or at about the same cost, depending on who you use) or just get one off the rack cheaper if you aren’t as picky about fit. I just figured that if I end up at a summer wedding and want to remove my jacket, I’d like to avoid “windsail” arms.

As for a cumberbund or waistcoat, I opted to forgo both of them. Traditionalists will argue it’s completely necessary, but the youthful, more progressive side in me says “meh” and I place that in the category of owning opera pumps (ie: someday, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here).

I’m happy with the outcome of all this, but I will say that it took me nearly six months of looking constantly on eBay before I found something I liked and pounced on. If you’re thinking you might need one in the future, start looking now and odds are good you’ll find something. But if you find yourself scrambling, then you’ll probably find yourself overpaying and “forced” to buy something less satisfactory.

26 Notes

  1. guystyleguide reblogged this from thisfits
  2. thisfits reblogged this from thesilentist and added:
    This is a great read.
  3. acuteobtuse said: well done.
  4. theodinspire said: You are looking frella sharp.
  5. pwhl reblogged this from thesilentist and added:
    Hopefully I can make a post like this sometime next year!
  6. thesilentist posted this

About The Silentist

A menswear blog on finding your personal style, written by Kiyoshi Martinez.

I work at Khaki's of Carmel and live in the Monterey Bay area. Formerly from Chicago.

E-mail me, I'm fairly nice: thesilentist@gmail.com

Popular topics: