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THE TUXEDO RENTAL STORE — This is a cautionary tale for those who will be renting tuxedos for this prom/wedding/fundraising season. It is not the same as buying a suit.

That distinction begins when they take your measurements. The clerk at this north Dallas tuxedo rental store was more interested in collecting the rental fee. For someone who is much more comfortable buying from Brooks Brothers, this was an odd experience. Actually, it was a mini-disaster in the making. If you know that there will be many occasions in your near future that may require you to wear such formal attire, you may decide to purchase custom tailored tuxedos rather than rent.

My son married a wonderful and beautiful woman. That was the good news. The better news is that they adore one another and they seem to get what so many in my generation failed to understand: that love, life and a lasting relationship is less about the atmospherics and more about the person you choose to spend your life with.

Now the bad news: my tux did not fit. By the time the wedding started Saturday afternoon in San Antonio’s beautiful San Fernando Cathedral, I was wearing parts of three different tuxedo rentals.

Here, albeit in brief summary, are the details of my tuxedo rental experience.

  • Mall stores typically open at 10 AM. Armed with that established fact, I arrived at this mall rental outlet five minutes early. In reality, I was 65 minutes early – remarkably this location did not open until 11 AM. Turns out the posted opening time can be flexible. They opened 10 minutes late.
  • The measurement process took less time than it took to collect my $172 rental fee – both were surprises. My experience strongly suggests that the cursory measurement process (read: guesstimation) is apparently hit or miss.
  • ALWAYS try on the tuxedo when you pick it up. Two of the three people picking up rentals when I was in the store had the wrong sizes.
  • My pants were too short, a crucial button was missing, and the coat they ordered for me was too small. Not a problem, I was told, I could use another pair of pants in the store after a quick alteration, and they would send another coat to their San Antonio branch.
  • The “formal” silky smooth shirt was a chemical-blend death trap. My wife warned me to stay away from candles because if I caught fire, the whole Cathedral might go up in smoke. Hey, at least it fit.
  • Once in San Antonio, I picked up my replacement coat as well as a replacement for one of the groomsmen. When I got to the hotel and tried on the replacement jacket, I discovered it was the wrong size.

On the most important day of my son’s life, I was faced with a terrible choice – wear a coat that was too small or one in which I could not see my hands.

Remember the tux rental shop that was late opening at 11 AM? They wanted to charge a late fee because my wife returned the garment(s) just after noon on the Monday following the Saturday afternoon wedding. When the clerk explained the late fee to my wife, he had a near death experience.

The wedding was terrific. Moreover, I learned an important lesson. Several of the groomsmen had similar experiences with their rentals but they didn’t care. They were there for their good friend, and everything else was just not that important.

I agree. In retrospect, it was funny.

2012 John Gregory Self

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