I'm thrilled to bits with my new cream tuxedo.
For some time now, I've been looking for a proper tuxedo suit for evening.
In my life, there are evening events that are sit-down, or stand-up, or dance affairs (I don't dance), dinner out and the restaurant might be freezing, or it's at somebody's house and will we be in, or will we be out? And gallery first nights when artist friends exhibit.
The thing is, what to wear?
I've had my fill of shivering in something backless or skimpy when you just don't know what you're going to get, and then you spend all evening cocooned up in your wrap, trying to keep your nips from looking like someone's stuffed grapes down your frock.
So once again I went on the hunt for a tux.
I had a great tux when I was at college (and boy, do I regret getting rid of that to the charity shop when I fled my psycho boyfriend with my wardrobe in bin-liners before he carried out his threat to burn everything I owned...). It was a boy's Savile Row-made black cashmere suit with satin lapels, which I altered to fit. Never again will I encounter so thick and wondrous a fabric.
My second tux was a mid-90s wool crepe with linebacker shoulders, a Nehru neckline and leather appliqué and beading all over it. I got it from some posh Italian sample shop in Soho but although it was beautiful at the time, time was not kind to it, nor would I again wear leather and bead appliques without several drinks inside me.
But I digress...
Back in the real world of 2011, my first attempt at a new tux was a Dorothy Perkins black poly trousersuit. I got this on Ebay, but I was disappointed when it arrived - it was very flimsy and nowhere near the quality I remember for this label, which was always better than it needed to be, if you know what I mean.This suit was no better than it had to be, in contrast.
It will do OK for daytime, though, and the jacket is a good cut and fit - just doesn't have the lustre I was after. A shame, as I have some DP black trousers in satin-backed crepe that are perfect - I just don't have the jacket and it's a perennial problem getting blacks to match.
But I hit paydirt with the second one - a cream poly version from Planet.
Planet was one of my go-to work labels when I lived in London, along with Alexon, Bickler and Windsmoor. Nearly all my work suits came from these labels (though Jaeger was also useful for belts and separates) and even when that time passed, I was able to cut up and keep some of their quality wool skirts for other purposes.
I bought my new tux like everything else, of course, off Ebay. Living miles from anywhere, and without any kind of access to a department store, Ebay is my baby. I also prefer to buy secondhand if I can, for ecological reasons. This tux was worn by someone once, for a wedding. It cost me £20 and shipping - reduced from over £200 new - and came in a high-end garment bag with the dry cleaning labels still on it.
My new tux may be poly, but there is poly and poly, as we all known. It is beautifully made in satin-backed crepe, with double lapels (the under lapel is satin), and satin-trimmed pockets. As a true tux should, the jacket has just one button (a big mother of pearl one), and comes below my bottom to hide a multitude of sins. The trousers are fully lined and have a side zip - the most flattering cut for most women - and the waistline is bound in satin.
This is a fabulous piece, which I hope will go on for years, teamed with a silk teeshirt or a cashmere sweater, or a camisole or a silk blouse.
The beauty of a tux suit (or 'le smoking' as it's known in France) is that it means you always have SOMETHING to wear in the evening. You can team the jacket with black trousers or a longish skirt, and if, when you get there, it's too hot, just make sure you have something pretty under the jacket - we can leave it to our 20-something sisters to go naked.
Eco-credentials: polyester is a polluting fibre in its manufacture, but then requires no further processing and uses less power to produce and maintain than cotton. Overall, many consider it a better eco-fibre than cotton.
Planet is a subsidiary of the Jacques Vert label. Jacques Vert tells me it is currently formulating its corporate social responsibility policy, which it will post on its website once it is settled.