People give you a lot of idiotic advice when you’re in your early twenties. You’re constantly being told to “seize the moment,” and “live your dreams,” and “do something everyday that scares you!” Give me a break. Are we Roman gladiators or actual human beings? Seize the moment is the kind of thing you tell a guy who’s gotta fight a lion tomorrow; I’m not really sure how it applies to a 23-year-old sitting in a coffee shop reading his iPad. You know what advice I wish someone gave me when I was 20? “Take a lot of naps. Naps are great. You never regret a nap!” And it’s true. I’ve never regretted a single second of napping in all my life. But if there’s one recommendation I’m delighted I did receive when entering my grown-up hood it is this: Buy A Tuxedo.
When you graduate college, the first thing friends start doing is getting married. It’s exciting, mostly because weddings usually have open bars, and are a great opportunity to dance terribly in front of people you never have to see again. But with formal occasions come formal attire, and inevitably, when you’re asked to be in your first wedding party, an old person will saddle up to you and whisper this seductive advice. “You know, what you should do is a buy a tux. In the long run, it’s a lot cheaper than renting.” Then you think about it, do the math, and realize they’re right. For most guys, that’s where the story ends: knowing you should buy a tuxedo, but wanting nothing to do with the actual activity of doing it, so letting the whole thing pass. But for me, it did not. In a move of uncharacteristic initiative and, well, energy, I bought a lovely little Ralph Lauren number, put it in my closet, and waited for the savings to come rolling in.
A few years passed, and I wore the tuxedo enough times for it to pay for itself, just like the creepy old guy said it would. But still, I was unsatisfied. It’s a strange feeling, opening your closet every morning and seeing a bunch of crappy clothes, and then one super-nice suit that isn’t really an option unless you kinda wanna look like an idiot. But that’s never been such a big concern for me, so after a while, I just said “Screw it. I’m putting on this damn tux anyway.” And it was the best decision I ever made.
What I quickly learned is that life in a tuxedo is totally awesome. Everywhere you go, people act like you’ve brought a little party along with you, and they’re never totally sure that you’re not a prince from some foreign land. You get high fives, free flowers for your lapel, and in more than one instance, phone numbers from women that you totally don’t deserve. (Sure the numbers turned out to be fake, but hey, you can’t have it all!) I don’t really know why, but people treat you differently in a tux, like a little bit of a celebrity. A very, very crappy celebrity, like, say, Billy Bush — but a celebrity just the same. It was such a kick that I found myself wearing the suit a couple of times a month: to pick up a prescription, or hit the DMV, or to try to seem too classy for jury duty. Really, whenever I wanted to spice up an otherwise droll event. The results were sometimes weird and sometimes hilarious, but always worth noting. Here now is a list of some of my favorite places to wear a tuxedo.
Subway (the restaurant): I’ve experienced every fast food chain in a tuxedo, and Subway is by far the best. The burger places are too used to seeing crazy shit, you really can’t expect a penguin suit to make much of an impression. Actual penguins on the other hand, that would be worth a shot. But if all you have is a tuxedo, I recommend you focus on Subway. There’s just something about being offered triangular cheese slices in a $600 suit that always makes someone laugh. You walk down the toppings line, asking for olives and no hot peppers, dressed like a weird old-fashioned butler — the “sandwich artist” will almost always start to giggle. The last time I ordered a 6” meatball sub in a formal wear, I asked if I could use the bathroom. The clerk said “You don’t want to go in there dressed like that. It would be a bad idea.” Not totally sure what that meant, but I took his advice.
Subway (the train): Nothing makes a homeless guy more angry than when a dude in a tuxedo appears in his bedroom — otherwise known as the last car of a Brooklyn-bound R train. Apparently a guy in a fancy suit epitomizes everything they hate, as demonstrated by the “Oh, excuse me, Mr. President” remarks I’ve gotten, along with the “Give me a damn dollar, Daddy Warbucks” requests. And yes, I always gave them a dollar. It seemed like the least Daddy Warbucks could do.
Central Park: You will never get more frisbees thrown to you by strangers than when you’re wearing a tuxedo in Central Park. Sure, the suit makes it almost impossible to throw it back without looking a moron, but that’s the price you pay for greatness. One time a hot dog vendor was so happy to see me that he gave me a free gatorade! I’m pretty sure the bottle had been already opened, but hey, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
The doctor’s office: Actually, don’t do this one. It gets weird. Doctors don’t treat random acts of whimsy with the lightheartedness of other professions. Simply put, if you visit a doctor dressed in a costume they’re going to think you’re insane. And that can be a difficult bell to unring. Unless you want your medication reevaluated, I’d leave the tuxedo at home for this one.
On an airplane: People don’t know want to do with a guy wearing formal wear on a large commercial airline. You’re getting the full search from TSA, that much is certain. Both times I wore my tuxedo on a plane, I got aggressively patted about my chest and crotch — which didn’t make a ton of sense to me. If I was gonna blow up a plane, would I really bother to get dressed up for the occasion? I think I’d want to wear most comfortable thing possible. “If I’m going down today, I’m doing it in sweatpants. This is far too stressful to have to deal with zippers.” I mean, come on, what terrorist is gonna bother with a cumberbund? The nice thing about flying in a tux though is when you get on board, you always get an extra smile from the stewardess, and other travelers won’t stop asking if you’re going on your honeymoon. Even though there’s not a woman in sight.
Prison: I’ve never been to prison, but if I do, I hope it’s on one of my Tuxedo Days. A recent Ralph Lauren model has got to be worth a pack of smokes or two, right?
So have you got a tuxedo in the back of your closet too? Perhaps you should go ahead and put it on. Come on, you can do it. Just… Seize the Moment!