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The tuX files: Main Street goes to the movies

Since the days of silent movies, the public has admired film stars for their frequently exquisite sense of fashion (or at least for the fashion predilections of their stylists). In this post, we look back at some of some famous (and infamous) formalwear moments on the silver screen.

Casino Royale
One moment he’s juggling martinis and poker chips, the next he’s kicking some bad-guy butt. Whatever the mission, Daniel Craig personifies the spirit of élan as Agent 007. To anyone who believes that Connery was a better Bond, you’re what we like to call, “utterly and completely mistaken.” Craig is more ruggedly handsome, more physically fit, and a better actor. His subsequent appearances in the Bond franchise are all solid, but Casino Royale was still the best. Many of our customers reveal their man-crushes when they’re shopping for suits, pulling out a cell-phone photo and hoping we can style them like Ryan Gosling or Brad Pitt or whomever. For customers over the age of 40, it’s almost always Daniel Craig. You had us at “hello.”

Wedding Crashers
In our book, Wedding Crashers (top) is right up there with Citizen Kane. “You and I both know I’m a phenomenal dancer!” For much of the movie, a hilarious Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson don penguin suits and woo unsuspecting women like modern-day libertines–until that magical moment when Cupid’s arrow strikes and they realize the true meaning of love. With early career appearances from Bradley Cooper and the lovely Isla Fisher–plus an outrageous cameo by Will Ferrell, Wedding Crashers definitely earned the sequel that is in talks now.

Dumb & Dumber
Seriously, it might have been funny the first 984 times (actually, it wasn’t), but please stop calling to ask if you can rent an orange tux for your prom. Prom is an opportunity to step into the sometimes glamorous and elegant (less so every day, it seems) world of adulthood, and when you show up in what is ostensibly a clown costume, you’re setting the table for what we can expect from you later in life. Don’t be that guy, you’re better than that. Put on your big boy pants…or, as we call them, “trousers.”

The Godfather
Our selection for the greatest film of all time, Coppola’s epic opens with wedding wear. With the exception of Michael (who is smartly attired in his Marine Corps Class A’s), all of the Corleones look Hollywood chic—even Fredo. Damn you, Fredo, damn you. You broke our heart. Let’s go fishing.

The Sound of Music
Actor Christopher Plummer has paid the bills by playing all sorts of characters, but in our minds, he will always be Captain Von Trapp. Dressed in white tie and tails as he clasped a firm hand around Julie Andrews, this dashing Canadian defined fashion for a generation of moviegoers. You will never be as cool as Captain Von Trapp, but you can try.

We used to be aficionados of the Titanic story until this sentimental claptrap spoiled it for us. The writing? Meh. The acting? Please. The effects? Okay, those were good. But if it weren’t for a handful of 11-year-old girls who saw this film 900 times, that smarmy James Cameron never would have won the big one. Oh, and the tuxes? Yeah, Leo looked pretty as always, but that’s why he makes the big bucks. Don’t even get us started on Celine Dion. But because we’re trying to see the glass half-full today, in the interest of finding something positive in this leviathan cinematic torture device, we give you two words: Billy. Zane.

It’s true, Humphrey Bogart was probably not a very nice guy, but dressed in his white dinner jacket, black trousers and bowtie he played a remarkably convincing hero in this wartime classic. Rife with existential angst, Bogart takes the high road and (spoiler alert) gives up the girl to save the world. Great film, worth watching over and over. If you’ve never seen the scene where the patrons of Rick’s American Cafe sing La Marseillaise, you’re missing out on one of the best moments in cinema. Here’s looking at you, Kid.


The tuX files: Washboard blabs

Violating probably every labor law (and if you listen to him, maybe the Geneva Convention), Robert’s son Baylen builds character by scrubbing rental shirts, circa 2011.

Monday is “return day,” at Main Street Formals, so much of the day is spent laundering shirts from the weekend’s rentals. How do we keep our shirts so clean? It’s not as simple as you might think. First, we spot-treat rental shirts for obvious stains and blemishes. Then, we soak them for hours in a piping hot solution of water, detergent, and a whitening agent. Then, we wash the shirts with standard detergent in hot water again. And then, we send the shirts out to be spot-treated and washed again by a professional laundry service. Finally, they starch and press the shirts, which we then inspect for stubborn stains before they are returned to our rental inventory. Yes, we do this to EVERY shirt. During last prom season, our (former) laundry service dropped the ball and couldn’t turn our shirts around for us, so we were at the shop through the wee hours of the night, hand-pressing shirts for our prom rentals. However, making lemonade from lemons, we are grateful we had to grunt it out, for the experience ultimately led us to our great new laundry company, Bush Cleaners, who has been fantastic!

You might ask: Why do we go to such great effort and expense to keep our rental shirts pristine? Well, to us, it’s not “just a rental shirt.” It’s the foundation of your formalwear ensemble, the canvas upon which your sartorial work of art is painted. And so if the shirt doesn’t “pop,” neither will your tuxedo. You’re paying for the “pop,” and we’re committed to delivering it. Even if it is, as we say in Southern Massachusetts, a wicked lot of work.



The tuX files: How to rent a tuxedo

If you have a large wedding party to be outfitted, it’s smart to start the planning process as early as possible. Photo: ImageMakers

How soon should you come by to look at tuxes? The single easiest answer is, “As soon as possible.” Most couples visit about three to six months in advance, but we routinely service weddings on much shorter notice. Our half-price invitation special represents the biggest incentive to book early. All too often brides visit us after they have purchased their invitations and are dismayed to learn they could have saved hundreds of dollars.

When you visit the shop to look at styles, it’s best to leave the wedding party at home. If you want their fashion advice, then, by all means, invite them, but do not expect to find an easy consensus among the members of the group. Frequently in such cases, couples will capitulate to please the tastes of their party, rather than picking what they had in mind. Remember, it’s your day. When it’s their turn to get married, they can pick what they like.

Each member of your party is required to make three visits to the shop. The first visit should occur approximately four to six weeks before the wedding (ideally). At that point, we take a quick (10 minutes, tops) fitting. One or two days before the wedding, each person returns for a longer visit (about an hour), during which they will try on the entire tuxedo, and we will make any required alterations on site, e.g., lengthen the pants, shorten the sleeves, etc. The last visit is the following Monday when the party returns their tuxedos. If you wish, you can designate a single person to return them. We don’t care who brings them back, so long as we get them back…!

If it sounds easy, that’s because it is. If you’re worried about short lead time, out of town ushers, or anything else, we do it all. Just give us a call!


The tuX files: David and Goliath

Mike and Tabitha. Photo by Nelly Saraiva.

Planning a wedding is (hopefully!) a once-in-a-lifetime event that can be both thrilling and stressful. During this emotional time, it’s easy to be victimized by false or misleading advertising, so in an effort to help you sort through some of the misleading claims out there, we’re going to break down the most important details about selecting your wedding’s formal wear.

Formalwear Selection
Brides like to have choices, no doubt, so often they explore chain stores first, under the erroneous impression that bigger companies will offer a wider array of products. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The logistical challenges of supplying chain stores from coast to coast force them to homogenize their inventory and offer fewer choices. Independent stores like Main Street Formals have the flexibility to offer all the standard styles the bigs guys offer—plus an exciting array of styles to which franchises don’t have access. What if the style or color you want doesn’t exist? Main Street Formals can custom-make it.

Uncle Charlie’s nephew from Roswell.

Convenience of Experience
Chain stores often boast of having hundreds of locations across the country to make fitting your groomsmen more convenient. In truth, all tuxedo shops easily and routinely accommodate out-of-town groomsmen. These men simply request a courtesy fitting at any shop in their home state and then send the measurements to us. In fact, in all of these cases, independent stores like Main Street Formals have the advantage. Why? Because courtesy fittings are notoriously inaccurate, and so when/if the tuxes don’t fit, we have a team of talented seamstresses who can correct them on the spot. Even more important, we carry inventory on site, so when things can’t be tailored (for instance, if shoes don’t fit), we can simply grab another pair. National chain stores cannot do this because individual locations keep almost no inventory on site.

Old-World Service
When it’s all said and done, most tuxedo shops can all get all the same (or similar) styles. So, why do two men wearing the exact same suit look so different? It’s the fit. This is the most important component of a tuxedo rental, and yet it’s often the most overlooked. In short, the fit is EVERYTHING. Main Street Formals is the only formalwear shop in the region that offers full-time professional on-site tailoring. We alter suits, street clothes, uniforms, even bridal wear. Do you think a bride would trust a national men’s store with her bridal gown?

You can often buy outfits like this for close to the cost of what you pay to rent at the Big Box.

Affordable Prices
Many people think that chain stores will be cheaper. If you’re shopping for paper towels, maybe. Tuxedos, no. Indeed, chain stores will advertise low prices. But after they sink their hooks into you, you’ll find those low introductory prices are accompanied by countless hidden fees that transform your vision of a $69 bargain tux into $269. Beware the shell games.

Value-Added Specials
We all offer free rentals for qualifying grooms. But what makes Main Street Formals’ free rental different? Well, its…free. Yes, it sounds nuts, but with many competitors, “free rentals” are often not free. By the time you’ve added things like shoes, vests, insurance, you can pay up to $30-$70 for a FREE rental. We work to build a relationship with our customers, and most of our business comes from referrals. We’d lose that if we broke trust by tricking them. We can tell you for certain that we offer, bar none, the best specials in the region. Don’t miss out on any; call us today at (508) 995-0200 to learn which specials apply to you.


The tuX files: Sneak peek at what’s new at Main Street Formals

The talented crew of Lague Construction is working hard to keep us on schedule.

The sun is shining, and spring is in the air at Main Street Formals, as we wait with bated breath to witness each stage of progress in our building addition. There has been lots of activity here at the shop recently, as we wrapped up our participation in a number of successful local bridal expos and ratchet up our expectations for a busy 2018.

At present, much of our attention is dedicated to the expansion of our building, which after some 300 years of solid service (did you know we are the oldest standing structure in Acushnet?) needed to be expanded to make room for more inventory. Why do we carry so much product during a time when retailers everywhere labor to carry less? No friggin clue. We’re just nuts that way. These no-good salesmen keep knocking on our door, showing us racks and racks of amazing suits and formalwear, and we are simply powerless to say no. Toss in a new catalog, or an envelope full of the latest season’s swatches, and we’re instantly reaching for our wallet.

So, speaking of the “latest swatches,” what are we seeing for the hot looks for 2018? On the wedding end of the business, we expect strong demand for navy and charcoal, as brides continue to shift away from the lighter, more casual tones that have been so popular. We are also seeing a return to a more formal aesthetic, with the resurgence of bowties (yah!) as brides embrace the cosmopolitan elegance of black tuxedos in the opulent historic mansion settings of Newport and its peripheries.

Charcoal suitFor suits, charcoal and banker’s gray remain strong, for even the suit novice can put together a sharp ensemble with minimal effort. Navy and indigo continue to gain steam–all in tailored two-button models. The fashion blogs continue to promote bold colors, but we’re not hearing many requests for them (because you’re all a bunch of chickens). We are working hard to get you fellas to step out of your comfort zones, and if you’re toeing the waters, we recommend the addition of a patterned suit or two (windowpanes are hot right now). If you are the boss (or want to be), then perhaps it’s time to add a double-breasted suit to the mix. If you don’t know what that is (which makes us want to cry), just pop in, and we’ll walk you through what’s out there.

More news coming, we’ll post as time permits. Over and out. 😉



The tuX files: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….

The holiday season is upon us, and with this week’s dusting of snow, it really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas! While everyone knows that most retailers list December as their busiest month each year, people are often surprised to learn that in the formalwear industry, business crawls to (nearly) a standstill over these weeks, and we take advantage of the season to attend to the many tasks that get neglected during our busy prom and wedding seasons. Inventory, garment repairs, and CLEANING take priority this time of year, but perhaps the best thing that happens is that we decorate the shop and it looks, well, awesome! (Nice job, Molly).

That’s not to say we have NO business this time of year. Certainly we have weddings almost every week, but they are few and they tend to be smaller parties. Too, we still visited by our loyal suit customers, shopping for Christmas gifts and dandy duds for holiday parties. Of course, there is a steady stream of ladies needing alterations on cocktail dresses for New Year’s Eve, and a steady but significant trickle of customers looking for gift certificates and unique stocking stuffers for the men in their lives.

So, we understand if tuxedos aren’t the first thing on your mind as you awaken to a driveway of snow this morning, but do know that if you find yourself tossing and turning in a full holiday panic because you forgot someone on your shopping list, we have you covered! Bowties, neckties, suits, blazers, dress shoes, scarves, fun socks, cufflinks and tiebars, and of course, TUXEDOS…whatever your sartorial predilection, you will be able to find something you like at a price you love at the SouthCoast’s (official) #1 men’s store, Main Street Formals.