What to Look for in a Formalwear Shop

Maybe the invitation came in the mail for that swanky black-tie work function for a big customer.  Or, maybe you and your fiancé are starting to plan your wedding.  Either way, tuxedos and formalwear usually play a role in those events and the next question becomes – where do I go?

Sometimes the easy answer is the chain store in the mall — after all, they advertise on television and send plenty of coupons every week for their products – buy one, get seven free and things like that.  How about that place where you got your prom tux?  What about the nice independent shop owned by the guy you know from the gym?  Here are a few things to keep in mind as you make that decision.

Does the store have the kind of selection to match my tastes and is it actually in the store or from a catalog?

Shops like Vittorio Menswear & Tuxedo carry a broad selection of tuxedos right in their store where you can try them on and see how they look on you.  Many chain stores rely on a few items on mannequins and a catalog to choose from.  No offense to the models in the catalogs, but sometimes you just need to see it on to decide whether it works for you or not.

Does the store have a broad range of color choices if I’m trying to match a particular color scheme or dress selection?

Make sure the store you select has a range of colors for accessories like vests and ties that will match the colors you need.  At our store, we have swatches from the major dress retailer collections to match up with our accessories – you can see whether the color you have in mind matches or coordinates with that great dress find.

Does the store have their inventory here in town or does it need to be shipped in from a distribution center somewhere?

Big centralized distribution centers make a lot of sense for chain stores but the downside for customers is that you generally can’t try on the merchandise to see how it looks. The other potential problem is if your tuxedo is coming in a few days before your event, there’s less margin for error if there’s a problem with sizing. Vittorio Menswear & Tuxedo stocks thousands of pieces right here in Rochester.  If you need something at the last minute or sizing needs to be adjusted chances are good we can do it.

If we have out of town guests, how to they get the measurements?

Many people assume that if they have out of town guests or groomsmen that need to be fitted that they automatically need to choose the chain store with locations in various cities.  The truth is, there may or may not be a chain store location near your guests.  You should ask how this works with any retailer you are considering.  Vittorio Menswear & Tuxedo has a Nationwide Fitting Network to help with those measurements – just let us know where your guests are located and we’ll get them hooked up with a member of our network.

Is the total cost of the package I want within my budget?

Always an important consideration, but make sure that you’re comparing the total cost – damage waivers, upcharges for accessories and things like rush or late return fees can greatly increase your costs. Vittorio Menswear & Tuxedo has updated our pricing to make it more transparent.  We offer package pricing and don’t charge rush fees or damage deposits which can make the final cost a lot higher than what you were initially considering.

What if there are last minute changes?

Again, shops with local inventory have a lot more flexibility for last minute requests, changes and fine tuning on sizing.  One large chain store has a $40 fee for changes within a week of the event date.  If you have a bridal party of ten (which isn’t that uncommon these days), that’s an extra $400 just in late fees. Ouch!


Matthew McDermott is the President of Vittorio Menswear & Tuxedo in Rochester, NY. He lives in the Highland Park Neighborhood with his wife and three boys.

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