Not sure if you should wear that Tommy Bahama shirt out tonight? The magnificent bastard is here to help. Go ahead. Ask away.
Q: Dear MB: My brother is getting married soon, and I've been helping him pick out a tuxedo. I won't be in a tux at the wedding, but it's gotten me thinking about what I'd like to wear when it's my turn. I'm decided on most of the details (two button, double vent) but I'm still undecided on the lapel style. I'm leaning towards a shawl collar, but my brother, who opted for a notched lapel, thinks it'll look ridiculous. Is any one of the options MB-preferred?
A: Raj, we strongly suspect your brother is older (and hence wiser). Shawl-collared tuxedos are definitely having a moment in 2011, but so is Rebecca Black. In 18 months the only place you'll be able to find a shawl-collared tuxedo is at James Bond re-enactor parties. Or possibly on the back of Rebecca Black's prom date.
Meanwhile, while the average marriage that ends in divorce only lasts 7.8 years these days, your wedding photographs will likely prove to be as indestructible as the honey badger. Thus we strongly advocate sticking to the timeless and classic. In other words, listen to your big bro.
Earlier: Ask the MB: Wedding Suit
UPDATE: Just to clarify, since some readers have expressed concern: We are encouraging Raj to listen to his brother's advice only in regard to avoiding shawl-collared tuxedos. We didn't mean to suggest that he should eschew peak lapels, which we've previously endorsed. Either peak or notch, sticking to the timeless and classic is the best choice for wedding attire.
Q: First off, I'm a junior at Cornell University and have been using MB since my first year, and I love it. Second, I recently purchased a tailored dinner jacket from Indochino, and a tux shirt. I was wondering if you have any suggestions on studs for the shirt as I was hoping to get a look more similar to Daniel Craig as he wears only buttons, and I made the unfortunate mistake of ordering the studded tux shirt. Thanks so much for your time, I really appreciate it.
A: Seth, we're honored that an Ivy League lad like yourself would read state-school products like us (UW-Madison). Thanks. Anyhow, about your shirt dilemma, you could probably mitigate the error by buying a set of mother-of-pearl studs, but this is throwing good money after bad. We treat clothing purchasing mistakes much like former Packers GM Ron Wolf treated his draft choice mistakes: don't hope it will work out. Recognize your mistakes early, cut 'em, and move on.
So go ahead and put that Indochino shirt on the waiver wire. If you want a tuxedo shirt like Daniel Craig's Bond, we say get the tuxedo shirt worn by Daniel Craig's Bond. Contact Turnbull and Asser (email link) and have them make you one, either with the concealed front placket of Casino Royale or the full-button placket of Quantum of Solace (top). Yes, it will cost more than the Indochino equivalent, but it's surprisingly affordable and, far more importantly, you'll end up getting exactly what you want.
Speaking of mistakes and James Bond, on the heels of his 1964 Aston Martin DB5 selling for £2.6M ($4.13M), Christie's is auctioning James Bond's infamous Walther LP-53 air pistol, used to promote From Russia With Love (bottom), expected to go for the relative bargain of between $23K-$30K (in 2001 it sold for $20,437.41). When Bond's standard Walther PPK didn't show up for the From Russia With Love photo shoot, photographer David Hurn's air pistol was substituted. He said he'd airbrush out the long barrel to make it look like a PPK, but lied, and this ersatz weapon was used to promote several more Bond flicks.
In other words, Seth, don't feel so bad.
Tom, what happened?
Q: Hello! I'm sending my mother and father to the San Francisco Opera for Wagner's Ring Cycle and it has been formally requested that all men wear tuxedos to opening night. This has sent us on a search for the perfect tuxedo. Now, we already know that you recommend a double-vented jacket for maximum bastardliness, but on the matter of the pants: pleated or plain? Thanks so much for your magnificence!
A: In Apocalypse Now Lt. Col. Bill Kilgore had his boys play Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries because "it scares the hell out of the slopes!," but it shouldn't scare your father from flat front trousers. Middle age is no excuse for pleats. Like smoking grass leads to heroin addiction, they're gateway attire to sweatpants, followed closely by full-on tracksuits.
Guys, if you want to project that "Yes, I'll cheat on an adorable millionaire who loves my children as if they were her own" vibe, then by all means adopt this look -- which takes the Showbiz Toolbag look that we've previously documented to its natural end-point.
Sandra, we love you, always have, always will, no matter how many awful romantic comedies you make, but frankly, what did you expect from a guy who thinks the Oscars represent a great opportunity to dress like an undertaker at his junior prom? That suit alone should have been enough to initiate divorce proceedings.
Q: A few years ago I bought a tuxedo shirt for my wedding, with the plan of wearing it as a casual "going out" shirt after our nuptials . After 4 years, I've yet to put it in play. I seemed to remember a time when wearing said shirt was alright to do with a pair of jeans. Was I dreaming? Is this something Ii should only wear if I renew my vows.....or get remarried?
A: This is not the easiest thing to execute, but definitely doable. However, Brian, in your case, the fact that the shirt has hung in your closet for four years is definitely telling you something: Listen! Either: a.) Do as you suggest and wait until your next marriage. The seven year itch is only three short years away. Or b.) Donate it to either your wife or mistress. Women can look great in them.
Q: What's your take on "creative black tie"? I am a traditionalist, but I f#$@ing hate wearing a tuxedo. Is there an acceptable MB-worthy solution that eliminates the need to wear a tie?
A: Johnny, what you call "creative black tie," we call "a slippery slope to looking like Brett Michaels."
Opting out of a tie for black tie is a high-risk proposition. Even the sartorially gifted and adventurous Adrien Brody flopped spectacularly with the open shirt/medallion look at the Oscars a couple of years ago (inset). About the only successful untied look we've seen is David Beckham in an ascot. And he's David Beckham. With Posh Spice at his side.
A tuxedo is designed to be formal and somewhat generic. So trying to get creative with it is like trying to turn a pizza into a doughnut. You can do it, but you're probably going to end up with a funny-looking doughnut. Know when to pick your spots, or in other words, follow this MB Rule: Going against the flow doesn't mean pissing against the wind.
Q: Some formalwear questions: One or two vents for the jacket? French cuffs on the shirt? What kind of collar? Spread, pointed? Button down or not?
A: We'll, since Quantum of Solace is opening on Friday, it's appropriate to look to James Bond for the answers. Because he's got 'em all: The jacket should have a double vent (we've covered this before). The shirt should have French cuffs, and a point collar. And anyone who wears a button-down should be put out of his misery with Connery's old Walther PP. Or at the very least an aggressive pistol-whipping.
This probably won't do.
Q: I have a black tie wedding to attend. I don't have the financial clout to buy myself a good tux so my question is, if I'm renting what style would be the best?
A: Your limited financial clout has put you between a rock and a hard place, Warren. A couple of options to consider:
Option A: Find a formalwear rental place in your area that carries something designer and wool and with two buttons.
Option B: For a little more money, log onto ebay and rent to own.
Either way, avoid the $75 polyester special. When you factor in the post-wedding trip to the dermatologist, it's actually going to be the more expensive (not to mention least stylish) option.
via Ralph Lauren. $1350.00.
Q: My fiancé and I are getting married Labor Day weekend, and want to ensure that our wedding meets MB standards. It is black tie and called for 5:00 Sunday evening. Only problem: what's the most bastardly tuxedo my fiancé should wear? How can he distinguish himself from the black-tie wearing guests with a formal and elegant tuxedo?
A: Hon, the most Magnificent Bastardly thing to do is elope. We understand that might not be possible with mother issues and perhaps a few issues of your own, but that's the truth.
Anyhow, about the tuxedo for your wedding that's going to happen on Labor Day Sunday at 5:00 ... this is where the MB's affection for "classic-with-a-twist" takes a backseat to just plain classic. In 100 years, when you're dead and your great-grandkids nail pictures of your wedding on the wall, you're going to want them to stand the test of time. So, instead of something classic with a twist from Dolce & Gabbana or Paul Smith, we'd suggest Ralph Lauren's Classic Tuxedo. Clean, simple, double vent, flap pockets, flat fronts ... you -- or more specifically your fiancé -- can wear this one for life.
In case you're wondering about what kind of ring to wear, we've also recently covered that, too.