for 29 May 2001. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Nip and Tux
Congratulations. You are completely wrong. It is no small thing to be completely wrong since, by definition, it is exactly as hard as being completely right. Anyway...
1. Tuxedos are immensely practical. They match whatever your lady is wearing or not wearing and require absolutely no thought to choose in the closet. While she is agonizing, or shopping yet again, you wear the same thing year in and year out.
2. Tuxedos make men look good. That cummerbund (or vest, if you prefer) covers up a range of midsection problems. You get to pick a collar that makes your face look good as well.
3. Tuxedos provide just enough freedom of choice to let a man think he's doing something show-offy without being any trouble. You can choose the color of your vest/cummerbund. You can choose your studs and cufflinks, or not use them at all. You can wear patent leather or be wild and crazy and wear cowboy boots...the sillier and more expensive the better.
4. Tuxedos are egalitarian. Mostly they look alike. Looking good is usually a matter of less is more. What's more, you don't ever wear a watch with one, and you avoid tacky-looking giant diamond studs, so you're actually walking around with less money visible than the typical Rolex-wearing yuppie.
5. The bowtie provides both a romantic and a usefully touching moment in a relationship. Since no real man can actually tie a bowtie himself (and a clip-on bowtie is an abomination), you let your lady tie it and twitch it around and generally adjust it. Not only does she enjoy this, it keeps her from trying to organize the rest of your evening and your life.
6. A tuxedo is comfortable. It fits loosely, and the interfaces are covered with cummerbunds or vests. The belief that a tuxedo is uncomfortable is caused by wearing rented clothing. All rented clothing is uncomfortable---it is made to be sturdy, not relaxing, and doesn't fit right. If you rented chinos and a polo shirt, they would be uncomfortable. Break down and buy one. A vintage tux can be bought very cheaply...just spend a few bucks having it altered to fit.
Which brings me to my tuxedo story. Austrian friends have invited us to stay with them in their vacation home near Vienna, and we've decided to meet at Salzberg to go to the opera. The opera festival in Salzberg is a very big deal indeed and people dress up. What the hell. I buy a used white dinner jacket down in the Village for 20 bucks and throw it into the suitcase along with my black pants and a shirt. My friend is wearing HIS white dinner jacket, which he's inherited from his father. We go to the opera. Everyone else is wearing THEIR dinner jackets (half white, half black); their fraus are dressed to the nines; everyone has come in their Mercedes and BMWs; after the opera there is a stampede for the little places nearby for a bit of supper and champagne. You would not BELIEVE what tickets cost.
Punch line: the opera is Brecht/Weill: Mahogonny.---The City of Nets. Their extremely nasty send up of the evils of capitalism. The audience loved it.
Go ahead. You're not 20 any more. Dressing up can be fun, if it's your idea and not something your mommy made you do. Buy a tux. Wear it everywhere. You'll like it.
As always, Alan, you make many fine points. And as for your "Wear it everywhere" suggestion, I'll agree that it would be better if the tux were society's mainstay apparel rather than, say, a gray necktie with a white shortsleeved shirt. But when you bring in the Viennese you give away the game. Because my real beef with the tux is that it always makes me stop feeling like a svelte and dashing new media wiseacre and start feeling like a 300-pound German industrialist seeing Die Fledermaus in Hitler's personal box, sipping tawny port and listening to the Fuhrer rant about Von Runstedt's incompetence during the Entr'acte.
Are you crazy? What the fuck are you talking about, dude? I don't understand what yer saying with all this shit about ties, man.
I'm saying bowties are justly feared and reviled for making men look like incredible dorks.
Hmm, not much going on the world right now, Tim? For some reason, I find it hard to get all het up about men's clothes and the social commentary behind them. I was always under the impression that straight men don't care about clothes (note: you'll be hard pressed to find a gay man wearing a boring old standard tux), so the basic penguin suit was a kind of favor for those attending formal events. Oh, and cummerbunds are passť; it's all about vests now, so the portly needn't feel so oppressed.
There must have been some recent tuxedo sighting that triggered your own traumatic formal-wear memories, so I don't want to mock too much. Besides, if Terry's illustrations are any indication, you don't seem to feel the need to dress up very often, anyway. Of course, you could always pair the ball cap and tux for something -really avant garde!
No way, the baseball cap and tux is truly an abomination. At this very moment, frat boys, yahoos and rockers of all stripes are wearing this very getup at depressing keggers all over the land. Rock on!
If only you had followed the link in your text to the article about "woody," you would have noticed that the wooden penis is wearing a standard tie, not a bow tie.
If there's an attentive reader out there who reads plenty of comics, I'd appreciate the name of that woman who used to draw the "Peter Makes the Scene" comics, which featured the adventures of a single woman and her pet penis, in which the detached cock always wore a bowtie, male-stripper-style. The comic was pretty funny, and even funnier was that I heard the cartoonist later found Jesus, and now spends her time repudiating the immorality of her earlier work.
Magua, thank you for debunking the horrible piece of "formalwear" we call the tux and its equally old fart bow tie. The only time in recent memory that I've worn a tux is for my prom, and I wore a long tie instead of that dog-eared POS. The tux leaves so little room for personal choice in fashion aside from the shirt, tie, and cummerbund/vest choice, especially in this fashion-conscious society. I mean, women's formal wear changes every fucking year (just look at the Oscars for proof) and we males are stuck with the same old stodgy crap.
However, I do wonder why you wrote on this subject. Is it because you happen to look bad in a tux too? If so, welcome to the club.
Choking from the tie's stranglehold,
I got married in a tux, Colin, and I can tell you I looked smashing! Still, when I saw how lovely my bride looked, I was heap big jealous! This was back when Dennis Rodman was only famous for his tattoos. Oh sure, they told me I couldn't wear white because I wasn't a virgin, but I know all about these outmoded gender roles!
Nobody looks cool in rented clothes. So don't blame the tuxedo. Blame the misguided attempt to make a high school prom into a "formal" event. When you vomit Jagermeister all over the roof of your limo, you really don't need a tux. They should give each senior a Tyvek jumpsuit that repels stains and liquids, and imprint it with the school's logo for easy recovery of the unconscious drunken carcass from the Denny's parking lot.
Mullets go best with a powder-blue tux and a frilly shirt with navy blue piping.
A real tux, tailored to fit, costs maybe 4-5 rentals worth. It looks good even on portly guys (I'm not portly, I'm just husky. Yeah, that's it) and lasts for decades. Which means I'm glad it doesn't go out of style! Best of all, it doesn't smell of someone else's vomit, unless you wear it to a hockey game.
If you want a really snazzy formal outfit, join the Navy as an officer. The dress whites, with the high collar and gold trim, look like Captain America meets Michael (the Archangel, not the singer or the basketball player). I'm not talking the "dinner dress whites" which are just tails with epaulets. I mean the class-1 Dress Whites. Ah, those were the days. Not only did I have snazzy formalwear, but every day someone told me exactly how to dress.
Among the many sins of Bay and Bruckheimer's Pearl Harbor is the costume change they've done to the real-life pilot on whom Affleck's character was, according to the production notes, "very loosely based." That pilot spoke at my school one time, and made it clear that he was wearing a tux during his dogfight, having just staggered in from some Saturday night black tie bender. The movie had him wearing a Hawaiian shirt yet another specimen of Bruckheimer's determination to drain our culture of any possible hint of style or elan.
I don't want to be that lone dork who just doesn't get the irony, but you know that the whole Cambridge thing about the castration was just a joke, right?
If it's on the World Wide Web, it must be true. Don't they teach you anything at Cambridge, Matthew?
You mention the Prince of Wales twice in your piece on tuxes. However, one is lead to believe by your text that the Prince of Wales who supposedly invented the tux is the same Prince of Wales mentioned by Esquire Magazine. Not so. The Prince of Wales mentioned by Esquire later was crowned Edward VIII. His grandfather was Edward VII.
As I took pains to mention the current Prince of Wales in the article, I think it was clear that I was referring to the POW as a position which various twits have held, not to an individual person. In any event, I'd doubt many readers had the interest or inclination to believe that Esquire was referring to feckless mama's boy Edward VII, who at the time would have been a stylish 95 years old, had he still been alive. Thanks for the clarification.
The story I recall is that the Tux was invented in Tuxedo, NY when a drunken reveler stood up on a table and declared, "Why do we always have to wear these dreadful tails on our jackets?" He then cut them off, leaving the modern tuxedo jacket. It seems that this is a romanticized version of the true story, as the man in question would have had to shell out for the $8 damage insurance.
I'll bring the straw
The story I heard was that the drunken reveler stood on a table and declared, "Damn the Mugwumps, and let the Halfbreed-Stalwart quarrel go hang!" And then he dumped a Brandy Alexander on the head of his servingman Hodge. The rest is history.
admittedly i only write to you when i'm high and stayed up all night and with the same first word in the first sentence as the novel "the tin drum" but uhhh you should put the movie "freddie got fingered" on the shitlist because it's such a funny movie. i dunno, because i often read suck.com in lynx what is on the shit.list but i know you often recommend some pretty good movies (e.g. blade, bamboozled) and i even take it seriously so but i think it would be quite an oversight to not take a stand and point out to me, yourselves, and all the viewers in suckland that this is a fucking funny movie. it's kind of GROSS but so was blade and it's kind of like, low-brow, but so is "suck.com" so unless you're really really heavily little lord fauntleroy to the maxx you should at LEAST go see a movie which is THAT KICK ASS and probably put it on the shitlist without fear of repurcussions. snirrap? snessooo.
in other news of the weird, you know that show uhh "newsradio" the red headed receptionist got like her own pilot for a really bad sitcom about three loving new-age sisters or something and it's like REALLY fucked up but at the same time somehow i felt like the character on that show was biting polly esther. i'm not going to offer my opinion on whether that is stupid or not.
but yeah weird i just got like those lightening flashes in my head and now i'm paranoid. and now my heads all like zzzzzzzuh. truth truth truth.
i don't like you people one little bit. but ummm so i was walking out of the theatre of freddie got fingered and i was like in the movie before that and i was afraid i would get KICKED OUT because i was laughing and making such weird noises during the movie (which admittedly i went to on drugs but i don't think that is at all relevant but isn't saying i don't think something is relevant impossible without making what you said impossible) and then when i got out of the movie these teenage girls MADE FUN OF MY HAIR CUT because they thought i looked like one of the beegies, like, holy shit, that was pretty clever, that they'd make fun of someone insightfuly like that, but then i realized that it wasn't so mucht hat they were making fun of me as it was that maybe i was sort of READING THEIR MINDS so the way a situation like that plays out is.... entirely new territory.... anyhow.... i saw these two guys who looked like (potential) suck.com readers (!) (with dispensible income) (and thoughtfullness) coming out of the movie with me and one of them just said "yeah... what can you say about a movie like that." and they like laughed about it. kind of like when you were a kid and you'd come out of a funny movie and say to the other kid what the funny part was and laugh about it. DO YOU SEE WHAT I MEAN. it's like they made a movie which is just purely and benignly funny for your EXACT DEMOGRAPHIC, MAN, and you're not even big upping it on the shitlist.
I knew Demmy Rooster. Demmy Rooster was a friend of mine. Sir, you're no Demmy Rooster.
Whoever you are, you're welcome to join the conversation in any capacity you choose. But doing a grandiloquent parody of one of our longest-writing and most admired correspondents is not the way to make the "scene".
Looking For Mr. Goodrooster,
This article is right on the money. Especially that last paragraph. Most of us out here have not been ordering catering and fine furniture with other people's money.
As an independent software consultant, I have been highly successful at bringing the database transaction content of small to medium size businesses to the web. There is plenty of under the radar, oilwell-in-the-back-yard kinda development going on out here that does not involve slinging porno or stocks around to capture credit card numbers.
But just to be fair, I am in the business of creating (for cash) really cool, functional drilling rigs where my customers drill is up to them.
What a small world! As independent no-ware consultants, we have been highly unsuccessful at bringing the transaction content of small to medium size minds to the web.
Actually, we haven't even been highly unsuccessful.
So long, and thanks for all the drilling!