The Dictator On style, she rules
I'm going to the Cannes Film Festival this month and need a tuxedo with star quality. What are my options?
Film buff, Sheung Wan
The Dictator rules: Ooh la la! To answer that question, Film buff, will take a whole column ... and here it is. The rule d'or is to think Cary Grant classic rather than Russell Crowe frock-coat or - heaven forbid - Ben Stiller-style tan and taupe number as seen in There's Something About Mary. A classic, well-cut tuxedo - black with satin lapels, worn with matching trousers with a satin side-stripe - will do you proud for years. But if you must insist on a flashier showing on the red carpet, go for this season's super-skinny le smoking by Hedi Slimane for Dior Homme. It is available from Joyce (New World Tower, Central; tel: 2810-1120), priced at $14,500, but you have to be stick-thin. For larger builds, a standard, notched lapel is the safest bet. Tall men have the option of a three-button, single- or double-breasted jacket, but the less lofty are better off in a one- or two-button, single-breasted style. Shawl collars have a lower button that creates strange optical illusions when worn by the tall or short, so unless you're of medium height and medium build, steer clear. A white tuxedo is suitable for hot weather. Read about your options at the Tuxedos 101 section at www.etuxedo.com.
For the most elegant, off-the-rack tuxedos go to Giorgio Armani (Alexandra House, Central; tel: 2530-1998). But at $12,500 to $16,000, his tuxes don't come cheap. Boss (Pacific Place, Admiralty; tel: 2918-1833) makes a great tuxedo at a more affordable price: its standard three-button tux costs from $6,900 to $7,900. Cheaper still is the evening wear at Brooks Brothers (Prince's Building location only; tel: 2523-3366), which has three tuxedo styles available for $4,180, plus trousers at $1,800. Gucci, naturally, has tuxedos at rock-star prices. You can choose one off the peg, or have one made-to-measure for $13,420 to $16,870 at its Canton Road and Landmark stores (tel: 2524-4492).
The trimmings: Now you've got the suit, you need the trimmings: dress shirt, bow tie and cummerbund, handkerchief, cufflinks, and the right shoes. You may choose to spice up that lot with gold or black shirt studs and braces. Shirts can come with a wing collar (two little triangles) or turn-down collar and are usually pleated or have a dress front formed by a double layer of cloth. They may be fastened with studs or buttons, although the latter are usually covered by a fly front. Dress shirts should always be worn with cufflinks. Brooks Brothers has an extensive range in silver or gold from $450, or you could try Tiffany & Co (The Landmark, Central; tel: 2845-9853), Dunhill (Pacific Place, Admiralty; tel: 2530-0471) or Links of London (Pacific Place; tel: 2918-9727), which also sells silver collar stiffeners.
There is no room for novelty bow ties, cummerbunds, waist-coats or handkerchiefs at most formal events, so leave your Gar-field gear in the closet. And never wear a wildly patterned shirt with a dress front - Hong Kong Football Club members take note. 'Black tie' on an invitation should mean just that: a black bow tie in grosgrain, satin or slightly textured silk. Perfectionists insist the bow tie should be the same width as your wing collar. If you buy a pre-knotted tie, make sure none of the fastenings can be seen: better to buy a loose tie and knot it yourself. If your father never taught you how, learn at www.tieanecktie.com, then practise, practise, practise. The cummerbund - which is descended from a Persian waist-sash known in Hindi as a kamar-band - should be in the same fabric as the bow tie. Alternatively, wear a less formal waistcoat and tie combination. Just remember to keep it sober.
So where can you purchase all this finery? Well, any shop that sells tuxedos usually sells the accessories. Armani, for example, has shirts from $3,500 (not including studs), bow ties for $990 and cummerbunds for $1,950. Boss has shirts from $990, bow ties from $490 and sets including a cummerbund for $1,150. Brooks Brothers has shirts for $550, bow ties for $250 and cummerbunds for $1,100. Finally, pay attention to your shoes. Traditionalists say patent leather is essential, but we more contemporary types say black lace-ups with a plain toe, polished to a high shine, are perfectly acceptable. Try Gucci (The Landmark, Central; tel: 2971-0168), which stocks a range of styles from $2,600 to $3,200, or Bally (26 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; tel: 2736-8068), which stocks a range from $2,090 to $3,190. Avoid velvet and high heels.
Renting: If this really is a one-off event, film buff, you may be better off renting. To help you weigh up the buy-rent conundrum, get some advice at www.soyouwanna.com /site/syws/tuxedo/tuxedo.html. You should allow about two days for for fitting and alterations. Warwick Meyers (22/F Double Building, 22 Stanley Street, Central; tel: 2522-0896) rents a tuxedo and matching trousers for $450, a fly-front shirt with four studs for $105, a bow-tie set for $65, and cufflinks for $25. All these items can also be made to order in about two weeks from $5,500, or you can buy a ready-to-wear suit in two styles for $2,500.
Tuxe Top (1/F Wing Cheong Building, 18 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2529-2179) charges $450 for a tuxedo and trousers for 24 hours, or $1,050 for a week (the security deposit is $2,400). Shirts start at $350 and rise to $480 with studs. Cufflinks are on sale for $180. Renting a bow-tie set will cost from $300 to $600. Of course, you can always borrow the lot from a better-dressed friend.
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