Ask the AG: Tux or no tux?

George Clooney gives a nod to tradition with a shawl collar and, as always, no studs.

“So, I’m considering a tuxedo purchase. I have a black tie event next Wednesday, followed by the Austin Under 40 Awards two weeks later. Do you think it’s too much to wear tux to the Austin Under 40 ceremony? If I decide to buy, what exactly am I looking for? And what is the AG’s opinion on a flat front shirt without the black buttons all the way down, as exemplified by George Clooney?”—Eric P.

Eric, if you’re a fan of this site, you’ve probably figured out that tradition and simplicity are running themes here. There is no piece of clothing that the AG will preach those themes quite as diligently for as the tuxedo.

Why? How can this be put kindly? You are a man. Men comprise one of the lower rungs on the beauty “ladder”, and do best at formal occasions wearing simple items of clothing, each barely discernible from the next. Women, on the other hand, are God’s greatest creation, and beauty like that needs to stand out.  The job is yours and that of all men to acquire a cocktail and blend together at formal events, never taking away from those gorgeous, well-dressed ladies you’ll be staring at all evening.

Nevertheless, just because the guys at your black-tie event will all be wearing tuxedos doesn’t mean that they will all be wearing the right tuxedos. Classic style always has flexibility, but when it comes to the tux, there is little room to bend the rules. The AG is a strong supporter of buying your tuxedo for that very reason. Why pay all that money for an ill-fitting rental that some teenager probably soiled on prom night? The AG says buy, and buy correctly. Here’s how:

Color: Black. Black. Black. No, GQ, midnight blue [in America] is not an acceptable surrogate.

Collar: Shawl collar or peak lapels. Period. If the salesperson suggests a notched lapel, tell him you’re buying a tuxedo, not a suit.

Buttons: One button is the classic staple, though two buttons are acceptable on the very tall.

Trousers: Though it sounds crazy, ensure that they match your jacket in fabric and color exactly, and that they have the satin stripe down the outside of each leg. Your trousers should have adjustable clips on each side, as a tuxedo is worn without a belt. The AG is a fan of suspenders/braces, but that is simply a personal preference.

Stud sets: Like Clooney, the AG prefers the cleaner look of a tuxedo sans studs. This is one area of flexibility, though the color of your studs is not: silver, gold or black, and always matching your cuff links.

Ties: Perhaps the AG will die before admitting that the necktie has become an acceptable piece of the black-tie ensemble. Until then, a gentleman wears a bow tie.

Formal shirts: Always go with the wing collar. Pleated or unpleated are both fine.

Shoes: Patent leather is the only way to go. Regular dress shoes won’t fly—and it that’s all you’ve got, you’d better make them shine like a PFC straight out of boot camp.

Vests/cummberbunds/other-crap-you-shouldn’t-wear: For all other accessories, stick with the old maxim of “less is more” and you’ll do fine. The exception? As a groomsman. If you’re called to stand with your friend at his wedding, remember two things… 1) his wife picked the tuxedos, and you’re a dead man walking if you try to question her choice. 2) remember number one.

Oh, and as for these “Austin Under 40 Awards”, the AG had to do a little research. Apparently there is not a category for “best blog about everything that is awesome”—this explains why the AG has yet to receive an award. Anyway… after perusing some photos from past events and reading about the event itself, the AG thinks you can go one of two directions. On the one hand, you can stick with a suit and tie—clearly the gentleman’s standard, according to the photos—and just do your damnedest to look like AAG. On the other hand, you can go out on a limb and look slightly overdressed. The AG thinks for an event of this caliber, tuxedos should be the norm. Perhaps, Eric, you should don the tuxedo and set the bar for next year. Remember this: Whenever the AG is slightly overdressed, it’s because he’s got somewhere better to be next.

Time to tuck your Walther PPK under your jacket, tell your date how good she looks and start living life better.

Austin-only tip: Looking for the best place to rent a tuxedo in Austin? Stop looking. It’s time to buy.


~ by An Austin Gentleman on February 15, 2010.

5 Responses to “Ask the AG: Tux or no tux?”

  1. As a native Austinite and strong advocate of wearing boots with a suit, how acceptable is it to wear boots with a tux outside of a specifically-noted black tie and boots event?

    • Touché, Mark. The AG owns five different pairs of boots and wears them regularly. Western- or cowboy-boots create a grey area in the black-tie realm.

      Personally, the AG approves them… but with some caveats. First, they must be black and they must be exotics. Second, they have to shine damn near as well as patent leather. Finally, don’t wear a Texas-flag bowtie or any of that other “Texas tuxedo” garbage; you’re a gentleman, not Big Tex.

      Boots are very much a judgment call, but provided you follow those few points, the AG thinks you’ll be fine.

  2. I love your post here, clean and simple is the only way to go. But lets talk realistic scenarios here:

    I am 26 and have been to about 6 weddings in the past 6 years. Of those, I’ve been in the wedding party for 3 of them and all have required a rented tuxedo in order to match the groomsmen.

    As I see it, I will be wearing a rented tux for the majority of my life. Even my own wedding will require a rented version, since I can’t count on all of groomsmen to wear the exact same tuxedo that I purchase. This leaves only rare occasions like galas and red carpet events, so rare that I would be willing to bet I will never need a personal tuxedo.

    Now this brings me to my main point, I want a tuxedo for myself, but the events in my life don’t require such taste, and when they do, it’s required that I rent. So whats the point of a tux?

    How many black tie events do you go to a year in Austin? This isn’t New York, and we don’t have museum openings, charity balls, and galas coming out of our asses like they do. So where do you sport a tux?

    One last point, was the cast of “How I Met Your Mother” on to something with ‘Tuxedo Night?’ I have talked about it with my friends but they have the same reservations about buying tuxes that won’t be a worthy investment. However, the notion of cruising the town in tuxes and making up false characters to play each time is a lucrative adventure in itself.


  3. […] “Ask the AG: Tux or no Tux?” Several months ago, the topic of tuxedos came up via “Ask the AG”. Naturally, it was handled with the swiftness and repute that […]

  4. Where is the best place to buy in Austin. In Dallas, I like Lombardo’s but which is the clothier of your choice here?

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