Post # 1
My FI was invited to this black tie banquet/gala thing a few weeks ago for a whole bunch of lawyers (he’s in law school). Being the oblivious, non-planner he can sometimes be, he of course neglected to realize that he doesn’t own anything black-tie appropriate. And the event is TOMORROW!
Now, he has a suit, but only one. And it’s more casual. He is starting an internship in May where he will have to wear suits every day, so he was planning on buying some suits this winter/spring anyway.
Bees – any advice on where he can get a nice, reasonably priced suit this quickly? I suggested J Crew, Jos A Bank and Banana Republic to him. Price isn’t that big of an issue, but he doesn’t want to crazy, either. We might be able to go to a Brook’s Brothers outlet, but I don’t feel like making the drive today after work if it’s not going to be worth it.
Any help would be appreciated – he can be SO clueless sometimes!
Oh, and I know “black tie” traditionally means a tuxedo, but the person who invited him told him that a nice suit is more than fine.
Post # 3
@annb9: He is highly unlikely to find a suit that fits so well that it doesn’t need alterations, and if it does need alterations, he is ging to pay big time to get it done by tomorrow.
Post # 4
@julies1949: Yeah, he’ll probably have to wear something that doesn’t fit perfectly, which is fine. He just needs SOMETHING to wear.
He’s bought his exisiting and past suits off the rack, and they’ve fit fine, so I’m not too worried.
Post # 5
@annb9: Brooks Brothers is probably your best bet for a suit that could even be ok for a black tie event. If he sticks with a conservative black suit, white shirt, and maybe a bow tie (unless it makes it more obvious that he’s underdressed) he should be ok.
You could also check out K&G – they always have lots of mens suits (but never many womens suits, in my experience) – and are pretty reasonably priced.
You might also get lucky and find him a tuxedo to wear tomorrow, which I’d try for. He’s a law student at a black tie event with lawyers, which means he’s doing professional networking. Being underdressed might be ok with the host, but he’s really there to impress the other guests and make connections; he doesn’t want to be remembered for his suit, he wants them to remember him as a person.
Post # 6
You need to go somewhere that sells suit separates. (This means you purchase the jacket and trousers separately, and the trousers are already hemmed.) The BB “346” outlet line would work. It’s a more traditional cut (but it’s not boxy) that would work well for his internship. I think it runs around $350 full price. It’s not the greatest quality suit, but it is on par with what you’d get at a Macy’s. Speaking of, you could also try Macy’s. I believe they sell separates. Most mall brands and low/mid range dep’t stores will sell separates.
I would not touch Jos. A. Bank unless there’s a sale going. Their prices are so ridiculously inflated, it’s a huge ripoff to pay full price.
My strategy here would be to just get a cheap suit that works for this event since you have such a time crunch. If he wants to upgrade to higher quality suits later, this one can become a “beater” suit.
Post # 7
Rather than rush a suit purchase which he will be stuck with, I would rent a tuxedo.
The tuxedo experts may chime in and say you can’t get a rental properly altered, but they seem to work for vast numbers of men. Get a jacket that fits well and have the pants hemmed. If the rental shop can’t do it rush, then go to a tailor or a dry cleaner. It doesn’t take that long. I can hem pants in 10-15 minutes, especially when you aren’t cutting off any fabric, but just folding it up.
The people in attendance who know he’s a student will not be expecting him to be the best dressed guy there.
Post # 8
If it’s a black tie event he should probably be in a tuxedo. A normal blck suit wil not be appropriate attire. The only way I can imagine a black suit sort of working is with a plain black tie and a plain white shirt. A bow tie will look odd (one of my professors in grad school used ot wear a bow tie with a suit and it just doesn’t work). As zumbaista has said he is there to impress people and being underdressed might make him stick out for the wrong reasons.
Post # 9
@zumbaista: I think he would be fine in any solid, conservative suit, white shirt, black dress shoes, and dark, conservative tie. I would not wear a bow tie without wearing an actual tuxedo. A black bow tie would make it look like he doesn’t know what he’s doing, and any other bow tie would be too casual. It’s better to be well dressed in a suit than try to fake wearing a tuxedo. Charcoal or navy would be more versatile than black in the future.
The problem with finding a tuxedo for tomorrow is that not many places sell tuxedos as separates, meaning you’d at the very least need to get the pants hemmed, and possibly the waist and seat altered. The good news is basically any dry cleaner can do this; it’s not as complicated as altering the jacket.
Post # 10
Thanks, everyone! I’ve told him I think he should try and find a tux to rent, rather than rushing out and buying a suit that may not be appropriate. He’s calling places right now.
Post # 11
Express has nice pants and jackets off the rack. At most you’d have to get the pants hemmed.
Post # 12
@annb9: Vintage store, or Norstrom’s. You may even find a Tuxedo, and, if he’s in law school, worth owning one. Get a classic suit, not fashion, for an event full of lawyers.
Post # 13
I would just rent a tuxedo.
Post # 14
@annb9: http://www.blacktieguide.com – he’ll want to do black tie right, to make a good impression. But, in the interest of saving you time, I suggest:
Shawl collar or peak lapels, not notches. (Shawl is probably easier to find)
Turndown collar, not wing collar (still a tuxedo shirt though) Wing collars from rental places scream rented shirt.
Black Cummerbund, because the vests the rental place will have won’t be correct, and will stand out.
If he owns a pair of black plain toe, or cap toe, Oxfords with no broguing, give them a top notch shine, rather than renting shoes.