I’m sure that most of my regular readers already own half a dozen or more suits. However, for the ‘smart shy’ amongst you, I present this guide to renting suits and tuxedo.
But why, in an age of sweatshops and discount fashion, would you bother going through the hassle of renting when you can buy an inexpensive, fashionable suit for the same price or less at a high-street store?
This is a pretty common query, and there are actually several potential reasons why you’d want to do so:
Why should I rent rather than buy?
1. Buying cheap is a false economy – Rather than spending three digit sums on a cheap suit for a forthcoming job interview (far from a trivial expense for the unemployed), you can often invest two digit sums in a rental ensemble worth thousands; you’ll look the part without having to worry about the heavy creasing and shiny fabrics that are synonymous with cheaper suits.
2. One use only – If you’re planning on attending a wedding, but don’t want the hassle of buying a whole new outfit for the occasion, renting is the ideal ‘one time only’ option.
3. Trial and error – if you don’t have much confidence in your suit buying ability, you should definitely check out my free suit buying e-book. However, if you’re still in a quandary, rental can be a great way of sampling various suits before buying.
4. No maintenance hassles – while you’ll be charged extra for any damage caused to the suit(s) in your possession, you don’t have to think about those costly dry cleaning bills with a rental as it’s already factored into the cost.
5. The perfect fit – rental outlets have a whole range of sizes in a variety of styles. You’ll never have that ‘off the rack’ issue of being unable to find the perfect suit for your body shape.
6. Custom tailoring – Whilst you don’t normally get the ‘Saville Road’ treatment, you’ll at least get a basic level of service that you’d be missing from your typical high street store.
7. Assistance and guidance for future investments – Seeing that most rental stores also specialise in tailoring and alterations, you’ll probably find the free advice on offer is perfect for when you actually purchase a new suit of your own.
What should I be looking for?
Several things. Firstly, ensure that you’re getting quality service. Don’t go to discount, back-room fitters who care more about quick turnaround and charging for damage than getting you the perfect ensemble. Instead, pay a little more upfront for a superior fitting that’ll get you noticed. Good rental stores should be able to provide you with plenty of options.
Secondly, don’t be suckered in by various ‘special offers’ – you really don’t need to spend vast sums on extras and affectations like pocket squares; stick to the basics and add your own ‘flair’ at home.
Thirdly, observe how staff members interact with other customers. Are they taking their time with their current suitor, or rushing them through the process? You want somebody who’s attentive and perceptive, without dilly-dallying.
Finally, ask plenty of basic questions (“Which is better, navy or grey?”, “Do you think I should wear a red tie or a yellow tie with this?”, etc). If nobody’s forthcoming with any answers, it’s a safe bet that their sartorial spirit isn’t in the right place, and perhaps your rental needs aren’t going to be met in this instance.
Attending a traditional rental store
Always book an appointment if possible. While most will accommodate ‘walk-ins’ straight off the street, the best service always comes when you’ve called ahead in advance. This way they can reserve a whole hour or more to find the perfect outfit, rather than a scant ten minutes before the next scheduled appointment arrives.
Always come wearing the same (or similar) dress shirt and/or tie you plan on wearing with the suit. Don’t forget the dress socks too, and please wear clean underwear for … ahem… obvious reasons.
Good rental stores will happily offer you a tie during the fitting if you’ve not got one to hand, although never assume the accoutrements will be supplied for you, or are even included in the final rental price of the suit/tuxedo.
Finally, if you are stuck in a jam but have access to your measurements, you may want to try one of several online services that offer rental. A quick google search should be more than adequate to find dozens of rental retailers that will deliver and pickup in your area.