....but in regular clothes, I'm a nobody." Dean Martin
Perhaps it wasn't the smartest move to leave home for a fancy Charlotte wedding without first trying on my tuxedo. Once I arrived at the hotel, I whipped it out of the hanging bag and did what I should have done weeks before. I hadn't worn it in a year or two and the slacks were a little snug. Next I slipped on the tuxedo jacket. Slipped on may give the wrong impression - I tugged and strained until it was on my body - black material pulling in all the wrong places and satin stripes askew.
The damn dry-cleaner shrank my tuxedo.
I can make it work. The cummerbund will cover the over-stretched waistband but a quick glimpse in the full-length mirror reveals a more serious issue - the Grand Canyon-like divide between the fancy, silk button and the utilitarian button across a stomach where a 6 pack could have been - but never was. With some sucking-in, tugging and pulling, a few grunts here and multiple groans there, the jacket is closed but the tightly pulled button quivers like a tiny, frightened mouse under the stress of an impossible task. If it pops off while under this much pressure, it would be a small but dangerous, silk-covered missile, causing bodily injury to anyone within a few feet. And here's a headline no one wants to read: Pudgey Insurance Agent Puts Out Friend's Eye With Tuxedo Button at Fancy Wedding.
Spanxs might be helpful (if they're made for men) but anything tight around my waist causes unfortunate gassiness so that's not ideal (with Susan shaking her head in the affirmative so fast and hard it may fall off from bobbing up and down so many times). There might be other quick fixes but in the end I want to look nice in the big city and what's even more important is that I want to be (have to be) comfortable. There is only one solution: buy a new tuxedo. There's not much time before the big event and I need to find a store in Charlotte with a large selection of sizes as well as a staff tailor for quick turn-around, so I call Nordstroms to check on what sizes are in-stock.
Shortly thereafter, I'm in the store and Luke, tuxedo-salesperson-extraordinaire (?), already has the two sizes I asked for in the dressing room. Optimistic me was completely delusional on the smaller size which didn't fit at all (no drycleaning excuse here). The next size up needs some letting out here and a little taking in there.
OK - mostly it needs letting out so I quietly ask for one more size up - just for comparison's sake - and Luke blurts out, "I could see when you walked in the store that you might need a bigger size than what you requested." One Bojangles lunch (a kid's meal, no less) on the drive to Charlotte and suddenly I'm up 2 tuxedo sizes and being fat-shamed in Nordstroms?! Number three fits like a charm and suddenly I'm the Goldilocks of tuxedo purchases - one's too big, one's too small but this one is just right.
In reality none of the three are too big but you get the point....
With the new tuxedo purchase, I'm ready to shock and awe at the wedding. The next day, walking in upscale, downtown Charlotte to the church, I feel like a super-star - more James Corden than James Bond - but all dressed up with somewhere to go. Once seated in the pew, this accidental superstar reverts back to regular ol' me with the quickest fall from black tie grace possible. Bippity-boppity-WTF? The inside hem on the left tuxedo leg is missing and six to eight inches of my (incredibly strong and handsome) leg is exposed. Not my best look. Later, while waiting in the reception receiving line, I worry my exposed leg may repulse the sophisticated Charlotte set, although the cool breeze from the accidental vent feels very nice. I easily button my jacket, wanting to look my best as I talk to the bride and groom and their parents. And then it happened. The button on my brand new, perfectly fitting tuxedo jacket comes off - not flying off like the silky bullet I worried might happen with my old tuxedo, but instead, first slowly sagging and then dropping off without any fanfair, unceremoniously falling into the palm of my hand.
A double fail in my brand new tuxedo in less than an hour. Nice.
Now I understand the pain of bathing suit season for women. Men have it so much easier.....until it comes to tuxedos. It's a daunting task for something that should be simple. And wearing it isn't fun either - at least not for me. Some men may feel like Studley Hungwell all dressed up in a monkey suit but I don't - never have and never will. I feel like a piece of fried, link sausage - all tight and constrained in the middle with unfortunate things popping out of each end. Or my leg showing. Or a missing jacket button. Or worse! Who knows what else might happen with this lemon of a tuxedo.
I'm never going to be a star so I'll be a comfortable nobody in my khakis and polo shirt and leave the split seam, buttonless tuxedo in the closet until the next time I need it - which I hope is a long time from now. And if you work at the Nordstrom Customer Satisfaction Department - call me.
And for anyone considering a tuxedo purchase, below are a few helpful hints I learned from this experience (other than eat less and exercise more):
1. Buy - don't rent - for the best style and fit. You don't want a tight tuxedo that's like a cheap hotel - no ballroom.
2. Work with your body shape. Ummm...duh....but I didn't listen to my own advise and wasted time. Although it's possible for someone to think they have one body shape when in reality have another. (Not me. Other people.)
3. If you carry a little extra weight (again, not me. Other people.) choose the notched or peaked lapel that will elongate the body. Platform shoes might also do the trick for anyone under-tall but what 60 year old looks good in platform shoes (if they can be found) and more importantly, who wants to risk falling off of those things and breaking a hip?
4. No flamboyant details on the shirt unless it's 1973, you're 16, and a Carolina blue ruffled shirt is the epitamy of high school studliness besides being the only match to the Carolina blue tuxedo already chosen. (Not me. Other people.) Of course it was me. What in the hell was I thinking? However, I admire the ballsiness of any teen who would make such a bold - if misguided - choice.
5. White dinner jackets are perfect for coastal weddings, fancy waiters and James Bond (and sometimes even he can't pull it off) but if you're a man of a certain age, it's probably best to pass on this option.
6. There's one correct color: classic black . (This is just my opinion - if midnight blue speaks to you go for it - although if an orange or purple tux speaks to you.....you might want to....nope....never mind....if that's the case, you're truly hopeless.)
7. Buy dark boxer shorts to be worn underneath a tuxedo in case you rip the seam in the seat of your slacks doing your fanciest dance moves. Tighty whities glowing under black lights through a split seam isn't a look David Beckam can pull off much less 1977-era-me at the Delta Delta Delta spring fling. Allegedly.
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