Sunday, January 3, 2010

Reader Question: iTux


I am helping a friend pick out a tux for his wedding, and was wondering what suggestions you would have for a tall, portly man looking for something classy but conservative.  Would a vest be better than a cumberbun to give a slimmer appearance?  What about straight tie vs. bow tie?  Shawl lapel vs. peak?  Thanks for the help!


Great question! If there is ever a time when a man wants to look his best, it's when he is wearing a tuxedo. For a "portly" man, dressing for your body type is all about drawing attention to your "assets" rather than your "liabilities". With that said, I would suggest a two-piece peak lapel tuxedo with a straight tie. 

The peak lapels will draw attention to the shoulders (thus taking attention away from the mid-section). Stay away from the vest, it will make your friend look too "stuffed" and it distorts the perfect black/white ratio that makes a classic tuxedo so sharp. Same goes for cumberbuns; they are outdated and will only draw eyes to the stomach. Also, consider a white cotton or linen pocket square folded straight and just peaking from the breast pocket, again,  to accentuate the chest.

Your friend should wear a long tie rather than a bow tie on his big day because the north-south line will offer a slimming effect. Along that same line (no pun intended) your friend should leave the belt at home and wear black suspenders. This will allow him to "float" his waist, rather than choosing to strap his pants above or below his belly. Also, a belt (like any accessories, lines, or stripes that run east-west) would only draw attention to his width.

Also, keep in mind that fit is even more important if you are a heavy guy. Some big guys think that a "roomy" suit will hide the fact that they are overweight. This is not true. A bad fit makes you look sloppy, not slimmer. Lastly, a clean shave and a fresh haircut can go a looong way to looking more put-together. 

photo by GQ 
(not a tuxedo, but a great example of a heavy-set guy cleaning up nicely)

Some other general tuxedo guidelines:
- 1 button is best
- The lapels should be 100% satin, and ideally your tie should be made from the same bolt of fabric
- Like a suit, double vented looks best (in my opinion)
- No collar pins, tie bars, brooches, lapel pins, stripes socks, chunky bracelets, oversized watches...or other "statement" accessories. Its a tuxedo, keep in simple, keep it classic
- No button-down collar shirts. Semi-spread is best
- French cuffs with small, simple cuff links
- Keep your jacket buttoned when standing
- Black socks, simple elegant black leather lace-up shoes, freshly shined (skip the cheap-looking patent leather shoes) 
- White shirt. Black tie. Period.

Thanks for reading, and congrats!

Yours in style,


Tooninator said...

good in depth advice. And I thought you couldn't go wrong when wearing a tux

Memphis88 said...

Black velvet slippers

SB said...

Not necessarily for a "portly" man, but for a slim, style-forward, no-sock-wearing, doubt.


Anonymous said...

A tux is something I have occassion to wear maybe once a decade. Good post and relevant tips. I'll bear them in mind, especially if I develop a portly stature.

Raoul_Duke said...

As a larger man, I disagree with the long tie. I think a self-tie bow tie is the way to go. Like the peak lapel, it draws the eye upward. IMO, a self tied bow provides the only panache necessary with a tux.

SB said...

To: Raoul_Duke

Great point! The bow tie would definitely draw attention upward. In my opinion though, with the jacket open (or off), it leaves a large blank white canvas throughout the midsection that will make a man seem big. The long tie breaks it up nicely. And of course, clip-ons are always discouraged.



Jake said...

I might ask why he is wearing a tux at all, though? Is it a daytime wedding? If so, morning dress or even a smart 3 piece suit would be more appropriate and much much smarter. Some good advice on dress codes here:

If you do go for a tux, though, remember:
The lapels should be 100% silk, not cheap-looking satin.
Nice patent shoes look fab, never cheap.

The other advice is all good, though. Especially the suspenders instead of a belt - these are a must.

Good luck!

Paul_Kemp said...


If the jacket comes off, all bets are off! A heavier gentleman (especially) should leave the jacket on. It hides all of the "pit" and "back" sweat as well as the shirt coming untucked from too much dancing.

SB said...

To: Paul_Kemp

Haha, you're right! I think no matter his size, a guy looks better with his jacket on. But sometimes you do have to loosen up on the dance floor...


Generation X said...

Couldnt have said it any better!!!

Peter B said...

Interesting post. I really agree with most of it, and it's relevant to me, because I am trying to figure out what to wear to my own wedding in August. I'm getting married at 4PM and we go directly from the church to a dinner that starts early but will hopefully evolve into a party that will last all night.

I am thinking of a single button tux, white shirt, and a vest of some sort, possibly in a dark green, with a straight tie. I might even go for broke at choose a notched lapel instead of peaked. I am 6'2'', 190lbs, athletic. So I don't need to draw any attention to shoulder widt v waistline, etc...

I'd be really interested to hear thoughts from the master.

Also: patent leather shoes can be a pretty cool addition to a tux, I think, as long as you've got the right break on the trousers, and they are high quality. Just IMHO.

Jason said...

The real problem is the vast majority of people rent their tux when needed and you will never get a good fit from an off the rack rental.

SB said...

To: Peter B

Congrats as well!

We seem to be around the same size. I just ordered a new tux from my guys at Michael Andrews Bespoke. It's a midnight navy (yes, technically blue, not black...but many traditionalist say that midnight blue actually looks darker than black in evening light...not to mention it's slightly more stylish than just another black tux). Anyway, I designed it with a 2.5"black satin lapel, one button, double vented. Typically I will wear a white semi spread collar shirt with french cuffs and a hidden button placket, and a black bowtie that I had cut from the same fabric as the lapels. Also, with a slim shawl collar tux jacket, if you got the cojones, you can pull it off at night with crispy dark jeans for a night out.

Also, keep in mind that since your wedding is in August, you don't necessarily have to wear a tux. You could opt for one of my favorite things in my closet: a cotton suit. Or, maybe go ultra sleek and find a cotton summer tux! ...tough to find though...

Just some ideas.

Thanks for reading!


SB said...

To: Jason

You're right, many men do not own a tux of their own. However, I strongly suggest every man own at least one well tailored tuxedo. Although you may not wear it often, when you do, you want to look your best...which, as you pointed out, is hard to do in someone's borrowed jacket.


SB said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jason said...

SB, I agree and hope to buy a tux one day myself. I was just thinking about the majority of times I had to wear a tux, I was someone's groomsman or in their wedding. Generally they pick out a tux for everyone so you really don't have a choice, but to rent one. I guess during those occasions it's not really about you anyways.