Wedding attire: Why settle for the same old penguin suit?

When it comes to weddings, tuxedos are one of the few traditional benefits of being a man. Prospective brides have to try on dozens of white gowns and spend hours searching for perfect bridesmaid dresses. Men, on the other hand, are a little more constrained in their choices: there's the black tuxedo and the black cutaway tuxedo. There are little choices, like vests or cummerbunds, white shirts or colored shirts, and once in a blue moon, somebody will muster some bravery and get a gray tux. However, by and large, the standard black and white boxy penguin suit is the catch-all solution.

But why settle for normal?

As a groom-to-be, the first thing to keep in mind is that this is your day, too. If you want to go for the Maitre d' look, then go right ahead, but there are other choices out there. Within the bounds of the traditional tux, you can choose from a wide variety of colors and cuts, and playing with fabrics and designs can be a lot of fun. Experiment with spats. Make everyone wear a fedora. Purple suits aren't just for Prince and the Joker. Have a little fun.

If you want to, you can even skip the tuxedo completely. At my wedding, we went for gray three-quarter length gray pinstripe zoot suits, paired with satin shirts with matching ties and pocket squares. Strutting like 1930's gangsters, my best friends and I strode down the aisle, oozing style with every step. Frankly, we were the absolute definition of coolness.

Best of all, our zoot suits were actually less expensive than comparable tuxedos. We bought them from the local zoot-suit store, which cut us a great deal. We also bought the shirts and ties at the same place. All tolled, my wedding clothing came to $80 per person, which was a little less than rental tuxes were going for in my area. Also, my groomsmen got to keep their outfits, which made good souvenirs and, in at least one case, a great Halloween costume.

If gray pinstripe zoot suits aren't your thing, never fear. A quick search through your local yellow pages will give you an idea of your options, but eBay will probably be your best bet. A quick search reveals that everything from gold-fabric Elvis style tuxedos to Dick Tracy-style jewel-toned zoot suits are available right now. Most of these auctions are sponsored by companies and a quick phone call will let you know if the guy on the other end of the line is willing to make you a deal. If he isn't...well, on to the next seller.

Finally, if you want to go for the traditional tux, you should still look into buying. The guy who sold me my zoots also had specials on tuxedos for as low as $40 apiece, less than half the cost of a rental.

Bruce Watson is a former English instructor, sometime writer, and all-around cheapskate. A co-author of Military Lessons of the Gulf War and A Chronology of the Cold War at Sea, his work has appeared in The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, The Roanoker, The Brush Mountain Review, The Eccentric Monthly, The Best of Times, and College Daze. He currently blogs on Crankster.

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