The MANual: Formal Wear

To Buy Or Not To Buy? That Is The Wedding Suit Question

To buy or not to buy a suit? That is the question that Hamlet would have asked if he’d married Ophelia.

Renting can save you money, but also stick you with the type of ill-fitting suit that hasn’t been in fashion since the Civil War. Buying can be a smart investment, but not if you have to take out a subprime mortgage for a tuxedo that you’re only going to wear once.

To borrow another phrase from the Dane, there’s nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.

Renting and buying a wedding suit both have their benefits: which works best depends on your particular circumstances. Below are the respective pros for you to consider:

Renting

You Can Save Money

The average cost of renting a wedding suit is around $185 (although it can be less than $100, and as much as $500).

If you’re only going to wear the rig once (which is more likely to be the case with something specialised like a tailcoat) then it doesn’t make sense to spend more, or have it taking up space in your wardrobe.

You Can Save Time

Getting a suit made takes time – typically at least a month.

If you forgot that you’ve got a wedding tomorrow (hopefully not yours) and don’t have time to trawl the mall, then you can hightail it to a tuxedo rental service and walk out with your ass literally and metaphorically covered.

Tuxedos & Formal Wear

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You Can Get Something Pretty Decent

Renting a suit doesn’t mean you’re stuck with Jim’s prom ensemble from American Pie.

It’s possible to hire contemporary and (crucially) slim-fitting designs by the likes of Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, although designer names will come at a premium.

Some rental places will even make minor, easily undoable alterations like taking up the sleeves or trousers.

You Can Change Your Outfit

Whether you need to match a bride, groom or date, or you just want to dress differently at each formal event that you attend, buying every time is going to get pretty expensive pretty quickly.

You Can Change Your Body Shape

If you’re still growing, shedding for the wedding, or bulking up, then renting is going to be more cost-effective than having to buy a new suit to go with your rad new bod.

Buying

You Can Save More Money

Are you really never, ever going to wear that suit or tuxedo again? Maybe not. But chances are at least one of your friends will get married, or you’ll get invited to a black tie event.

On a cost-per-wear basis, buying can pay for itself by the second outing. And that’s before you factor in hidden rental charges like late fees or, erm, stain removal.

You Can Get A Better Fit

You’re never going to be able to rent a suit that looks as good as a custom one, no matter how well it is altered.

If money is an issue, you’re probably better off buying a relatively inexpensive off-the-rack rig and having it substantially altered rather than renting, both aesthetically and economically.

Tuxedos & Formal Wear

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You Can Still Change Your Look

Yes, you’re stuck wearing the same old suit or tux (although that’s kind of the point with black tie: it’s classic). But you can mix up your look by buying new shirts, ties and pocket squares, for less than the cost of renting a whole outfit.

You’ll Save Time In The Long Run

OK, so you have to put in the initial legwork. But once you’ve got that suit in your closet, you’re ready to go to a wedding (or other fancy shindig) at the drop of a hat.

You’ll Feel Like A Man’s Man

Whether weddings or award ceremonies, the few occasions in life when you need to suit or tux up tend to be times when you want to look your confident best. Knowing that your rig has been tailored for you – even if it wasn’t made for you – will go a long way.

Bottom Line

We recommend buying your suit. Even if you have to stretch a bit to pay for it, this is one time when it will be worth it. But don’t worry if you can’t swing that. There are plenty of advantages to renting a suit.

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