Grooms ideally do not wear rented garb. It’s done, but it’s not a good idea — no one can really look his best in a rental. If at all possible, pick wedding attire you either own already or are willing to invest in buying custom-made.
Wedding parties are probably the most common victims of rentals. When the bride and groom want a uniform look for their wedding parties, it’s often easiest to pick it out from a particular rental outlet’s catalog and then send everyone there for the same item.
Guests are unlikely to be directed somewhere specific, but may still need to rent wedding attire if the dress code calls for something they don’t own (usually formal or semi-formal attire).
If any of these are you then you're probably wondering how to rent a tuxedo and still look like the stylish gent you know yourself to be. Keep the following points in mind:
Should You Hire Your Wedding Suit?
At the risk of sounding harsh, it’s better not to rent a tuxedo for your wedding.
There are very few rental outlets that will get you a truly flattering fit. Most simply don’t have the training, time, or materials, especially larger rental stores that cater to dozens of clients each day.
It’s not impossible to rent a tuxedo and look good in it. We’re about to go over some steps to make it as likely as possible if you do go the rental route.
But broadly speaking, a rental tux is never going to look as good as one that was made for you — or as good as a dark suit that was made for you, even though the suit is less formal.
Remember, you don’t have to wear a tuxedo unless you’ve set that wedding guest dress code yourself. If the only way you can afford to wear one is by renting, consider changing the dress code instead. A custom-tailored business suit looks much more flattering than a badly adjusted tuxedo!
Know Your Options
Figure out just what it is you need to rent. Is it a specific tuxedo ensemble with a pre-selected (usually colored, much to well-dressed men’s dismay) waistcoat or cummerbund? Or do you just need “black tie attire,” of whatever kind you please?
The more flexibility you have the better, obviously. You should follow whatever instructions you’re given, and beyond that look for the most classic and well-made product available.
If you’re directed to a specific rental store you’ll have to make do with what they have. If you’re just renting a tux or morning coat, take the time to shop around.
Menswear retail stores
Often the best places are not large outlets in the strip mall. The sales guys at these stores aren’t necessarily black tie experts. Many of them haven’t ever looked at options beyond those in their catalogues. Don’t be afraid to disagree with them, and don’t take their understanding of “proper” black tie as gospel.
Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Banks are probably the most recognizable national chains, but you’ll probably have several local versions wherever you live.
The advantage of these is that they’re big, easy to look up and locate, and generally fairly cheap. Their catalogue are also at least vaguely grounded in black tie basics. The majority of the options are things that haven’t slipped into the category of “novelty” rather than “formal.”
The downside is that the materials tend to be cheap, and the fitting process is extremely limited. You’ll get your pick of basic sizes (generally the same as suit sizings — a chest measurement and a length). There’s also generally a quick in-house fitting session to get the cuffs right.
If you want to look presentable, the “big box” menswear stores can get you that. But without a custom fit, and with the quality of material you’re usually renting, you’re unlikely to get something that makes you look amazing.
Independent tuxedo tailors
There are some very small storefronts out there specializing entirely in formal wear, especially in large cities. These are harder to find. Smaller cities may not have any, and online searches are less likely to turn them up.
They’re also idiosyncratic. Some will be large stores with a healthy rental selection, while others will be very small boutiques that only rent one traditional black-tie style of tux.
If you can navigate those hurdles, however, these kinds of specialists are often your best bet. A small selection and a small client list is actually a good thing — it means you’re going to get that much more hands-on time with what really matters, the fit.
A tailor who’s willing to do multiple measurements and adjustment sessions, using an actual needle and thread, is going to provide a much better fit than something done with hooks and catches.
You’re likely to end up paying more for this sort of service. But you have a lot more control over the product you end up renting. There’s also less chance of a last-minute fitting mishap.
Online rental companies
Finally, there is the internet. This has made specialized rentals and quality menswear retailers available anywhere in the country.
Recently, online rentals have become easier and more popular. To some extent, they’re also becoming more accurate than old-fashioned rental outlets, but there are limits to what can be done without an in-person fitting.
How to rent a tuxedo online is going to be different than shopping in-store. The fit is obviously going to be limited by the information you send in via the internet. So, look for businesses that take a lot of measurements. You’re not going to get a tux that fits if all they ask for is your suit size!
Look for somewhere that takes detailed measurements of your neck, chest, waist, arm, shoulder, leg, and crotch measurements — it’s as close to guaranteeing a good fit as you’re going to get ordering online.
It’s worth your while to make these arrangements early enough that you can send the tux back for adjustments (or a different tux) if you need to. The better online rental businesses will assume at least one back-and-forth mailing for fitting, and won’t hit you with extra days of rental fees for it.
Selection can vary widely. You don’t have a good way to judge the quality of the garment until you have it in hand, unfortunately, which is another reason to look for places that will mail you your tux for inspection before the rental period starts.
Wherever you go, good signs include:
- A comprehensive “black tie guide” or similar resources for customers
- A focus on classic styles rather than colored prom outfits (which are more costumes than formal dress)
- In-person fittings (or a very thorough catalog of self-measurements to send in, if ordering online).
Understand The Style Pyramid: Fit, Fabric & Function
Well-fitted clothing is always the best choice for both your comfort and appearance.
As with all clothing, a badly fitted tuxedo is going to look bad no matter what it’s made from or how stylish it looks on the rack. You can’t look your best in a badly fitted garment.
Therefore, when wondering how to rent a tuxedo that makes you look incredible it's all about the fit. This should be your first and most important triage point. If they don’t have the style you want in a good fit for your body, pick a different style. Or, a different rental place.
Some rental places actually do sewn adjustments. Most use hooks, Velcro and even safety pins to adjust their template sizes for your body. Needless to say, it’s hard to get a good fit that way. Work with the sales associates to get as much customization as you can. If you have any choice in stores, avoid ones that do a single quick fitting with hidden hooks or Velcro.
If you're wondering how to rent a tuxedo that is going to make you look like a million bucks there is one material you need to look for. Wool is the gold standard for the main body of a tuxedo, with grosgrain or satin for the lapels, braiding, and other detailing.
Anything made from a synthetic blend is going to look slick and plastic-like, especially under bright lights. It’s also going to hold sweat in — and if you think you’re going to be completely sweat-free at your wedding, you’re overestimating your nerves.
The better the wool fabric in men's clothes, the smoother the drape, which makes you look more natural and at-ease in it.
Shirts should be good white cotton, with stiff pique shirtfronts. If the shirting feels clingy and slick, or is so thin you can see the details of your skin through it, you need something higher-quality. If you opt for a wing collar, it should be starched stiff and very crisp along the edges.
The style of your wedding party is up to you.
That said, if you’re putting them in tuxedoes, try to keep it tasteful. Stick to the basic traditions of black tie, which we explain at length in the main body of the Groom’s Guide, and be ready to ignore nine-tenths of most rental catalogs.
You can automatically pass over anything with bright colors, just for starters — if the groom’s party is to have a color theme, it should be in the pocket squares, or the cummerbunds at the very most (and even then it should be a muted color, like a deep blue or burgundy).
Brightly colored vests are right out, unless you’re trying to look like a high school prom.
Beyond that, it may be worth considering tuxedoes that people already own — if you have a custom-tailored tuxedo of your own, for example, look for a rental place that can match it with similar (if less high-quality) versions for your groomsmen. If you don’t own a tux, but a couple of your groomsmen do, try to rent something similar to theirs to save them the rental fees, and so on.
Start researching and planning how to rent a tuxedo as soon as you know what you’re going to need.
This has several advantages. First, it gives you the widest selection available. Plus, the longest time for new things to come in if the store doesn’t have what you need. Second, it gives you ample time for adjustments, even if you need several measuring sessions and they’re doing actual sewn adjustments.
Finally, it lets you call about a week before you need to pick the rental up and remind them. If you’ve only set the rental up a few days earlier, that can seem very pushy. It’s a vital step though, especially when dealing with large stores that see many customers each day.
Don't Get Caught Out By Rental Outlet Services & Policies
A final thing to consider before signing any rental agreement is the policies of the rental place.
Not all contracts are created equally. Beware of anything with pages and pages of legal language. It may indicate serious care for high-quality merchandise. But, it’s just as likely to mean hidden fees designed to nickel-and-dime you after the fact. So how to rent a tuxedo with peace of mind?
Be sure you like the terms and conditions for all the following:
What you’re paying for the rental, and how it’s determined. A flat fee plus a smaller per-day rate is fairly typical.
Know what you get in terms of fitting, and whether you’re paying extra for it. A cheaper rental can quickly become more expensive than one with a higher list price if you’re getting dinged for multiple fitting sessions before it’s right.
You’re likely to be liable for these. So, see if you can find a place that offers an insurance policy to prevent you from paying the full price of the tuxedo in the event that it gets damaged. It may not be necessary if you’re only wearing it for an hour or two of standing in church, but if you’re dancing and dining in your tux it’s worth assuming the worse and paying a little extra for damage protection.
Emergencies and back-ups
If someone spills their hip flask all over your tuxedo hours before the wedding, is your rental place going to be able to get you a replacement in that time? You may not be able to find a place that can. If you can though, it’s a point in their favor. You can expect to pay more of course for any last-minute replacements or fixes.
When planning how to rent a tuxedo, if you’re renting in one place and wearing it in another, see if you can get a rate for only the days you’re wearing it, and not the travel time. There’s no reason to pay more to have a tuxedo in your luggage. If you can’t find somewhere that charges by the day of wear rather than the entire time you have the tuxedo, see if you can find a rental outlet in the city where you’re getting married instead.
As with all contracts, you’re going to have to do a little give and take with all of these points. No business is going to be perfect in all regards. Some may not even have
policies for all these issues.
But, if you’re not taking a close look at the language before you sign anything, you’re not taking enough care with your rental.
Gents, whatever wedding suit you choose, wherever you get it from, wear it with confidence and seize the day!
There's more to a wedding than just the tux though. Click here to discover my ultimate guide on how to plan a wedding and look stylish all day long.