Mom, formalwear guru have prom tips for guys

By Carolyn Grace Matteo


Most days, most guys toss on a T-shirt, some low-riding jeans and their favorite sneakers. That’s their idea of a fashion statement — the kind that says, “I could care less about making one.”

Comfort trumps fashion for most teens and so it should ... with the exception of those days that involve ASB dances, proms, weddings and other formal events.

With the La Jolla High School prom looming — June 4 at The Prado in Balboa Park — it’s time to think about a suit or tuxedo, and since we’re talking about the prom, a tuxedo is the way to go.

If you don’t own one or have a friend from whom you can borrow one, you have two choices — buy one or rent one. If you think you’re done growing and plan to attend future formal events, purchasing a tuxedo could be a good investment. Otherwise, renting one is more economical.

You can expect the cost of a tuxedo rental to be about $125, with additional fees for shoes and accessories. The cost of buying a quality tuxedo can range upward from $500.

If you’re tossing around the idea of buying a tuxedo over the Internet, Cathedral Catholic graduate Salvatore De Maria, 19, of A Better Deal Tuxedo, advises against it.

“When you get a tux off the Internet, you may be faced with a lot of problems. People end up with the wrong-sized jacket, the wrong pants, and worst of all ... no refunds,” he said.

“Most guys don’t know how to dress up. They really do need someone to help them — especially the first time. The most important thing to remember is to wear whatever you feel good in. The prom is a special night. Guys want to walk in there feeling like a million bucks.”

La Jolla High senior Forest Harrison recently attended the ASB Ball with his girlfriend, Kelly.

“I’d never worn a tux before,” Harrison said. “So I went to this place in Bird Rock. They took my measurements and picked everything out for me. First, they asked my color and style preferences, showed me a lot of options, then just put it all together. They explained about the cummerbund, cufflinks, bow tie, suspenders, studs and stuff. It took a lot of the anxiety out of it for me.”

De Maria said he’s seen it all when it comes to preferences for prom formalwear. “We had a guy go all green. Everything was green from top to bottom. It was great.”

De Maria and I conceptualized the ideal Prom First Aid Kit and agreed it would include: a safety pin (in the event your zipper breaks), a needle with one piece of thread (to reattach a button), breath mints or gum, an extra $20 for a cab, band-aids (in the event your date gets a blister), a couple of toothpicks, a condom, and a spare hanky to dab sweat.

“Your pocket square is just for looks ... don’t actually use it,” said De Salvia.

De Maria shared these tips:

  • Try to color coordinate with your date. If she’s wearing a beige dress, wear a beige shirt or tie.
  • A hand corsage goes on the girl’s left wrist ... the corsage she gets you goes on the left lapel of your tux.
  • Wear a vest. People don’t know that a vest serves the purpose of keeping you looking formal when you take your jacket off. It also hides the sweat marks on your shirt that you’ll have from dancing.
  • Formalwear stores can suit your needs the day before the prom.