An unfortunate instinct grips many men when it comes to formal wear-tuxedos, dinner jackets, tail coats, etc. They downplay the importance of their fanciest clothes on the premise that they wear them only occasionally. To those of my gender who think that way-the owners of ill-fitting bargain evening wear, the renters of absurd monkey suits-I have one mind-bending suggestion: have your formalwear custom made.
The logic is obvious on many counts. The point of formalwear is first and foremost to look your best. (Very little about these clothes is utilitarian.) You don them on the most important occasions. (Don't you want to look great at your daughter's wedding?) It is a suit for eternity. (Your other clothes come and go, but this you will keep for years.) The architecture is so precise that it demands custom fitting. (You won't see many sack suits in the formal world.)
Frank Jedda, director of Kleinfeld Men, a subsidiary of New York City's preeminent wedding store, deals almost exclusively in formal wear and consuls, "It's more sartorial, more fitted. Comfort isn't essential-the look is." However, the niceties of his custom service-dozens of measurements, exacting fittings with his special attention to delicate matters like arm-hole placement and the ease and durability that hand stitching affords-deliver comfort without sacrificing the look.
The custom suit also allows you the luxury of choosing the specifications that you prefer: e.g., the choice of more formal characteristics like peaked lapels and the one-button silhouette as opposed to notch lapels and multiple front buttons, picking satin or grosgrain lapels, opting for a black or midnight blue shade. And Jedda is there to advise you on the meaning and propriety of every detail and accessory.
Of course, many high-end ready-to-wear formal suits-your Brionis, Ferragamos and Zegnas-can approach the quality of custom because of their exquisite tailoring and attention to detail. But what's the deal on the tailcoat, the pinnacle of dress up for men, that Jedda has rendered to be pictured here? He insists that with its lofty degree of engineering-a number of interconnecting seams create the flow of the subtle wasp shape-that it fairly cries out for a custom tailor to make sure that waist is placed exactly, the opening shows just the right amount of vest, the tails descend below the hips to the exact point. Anything less would throw off the delicate balance. And-heaven forbid-Jedda adds, "There is no room in the world for rental tails!"