Image courtesy Vera Wang Black

Image courtesy Vera Wang Black (August 6, 2012)

To rent or to buy? That is the question. For both groom and groomsmen, rented formalwear tends to be characterized as “style-challenged” at best, while purchasing a suit or tuxedo can be pricey and impractical (when will you wear a tux again?).

According to TheKnot.com & WeddingChannel.com 2011 Real Weddings Study, grooms spend an average of $197 on their wedding day attire, and groomsmen spend an average of $139. (Both stats represent an average of those who purchase or rent either a suit or a tuxedo.) Although the Real Weddings Study found that the number of men who wear a purchased suit is on the rise, the majority still don a tux (64 percent of grooms and 63percent of groomsmen), and most opt to rent – two-thirds of grooms and nearly three-quarters of groomsmen.

If you attend three or four formal events per year, buying a tuxedo may be a worthwhile, always-in-style investment, says Jennie Ma, fashion editor for TheKnot.com. “But if you’d rather slather your body in hot tar than hit a black-tie benefit, go for the tux rental. It’s definitely the easiest, cheapest option.”

Tuxedo rentals also are beneficial in terms of coordinating a consistent silhouette and hue (i.e. avoiding five shades of gray, black or blue) among the wedding party, note both Steve Davis, president and COO of Jim’s Formal Wear, and Craig Williams, vice president of formalwear merchandising at Men’s Wearhouse. And thanks to new fashion-forward styles that have recently hit the market, these days your matching men can look more chic 2012 red carpet than bad ’80s prom.

Many couples are choosing some of our slimmer-fit tuxedo and accessory options, like the Genesis tuxedo by Tony Bowls (one button, single breasted, side vented), flat-front trousers, and our new fitted microfiber shirt,” Davis says. “In addition, grey tuxedo styles are incredibly popular this wedding season.” (New to menswear, Tony Bowls is a popular women’s eveningwear, pageant and prom designer.)

Earlier this year, bridal designer extraordinaire Vera Wang also launched her two-style (black and gray) Black by Vera Wang rental tuxedo collection, available exclusively at Men’s Wearhouse. Starting at $189.99, both styles offer a slightly shorter coat length, narrow two-button notch lapel, flat-front pant and ultra-lightweight fabrication. With its updated style and fit, available in standard, slim and “big and tall” sizing, the new line is already “extremely popular,” says Williams.

For other tux designers that break the cheesy mold, Ma recommends Calvin Klein, Wilke Rodriguez, Joseph & Feiss, JoS. A. Bank, Jones New York and Kleinfeld MEN, who is now working with Hugo Boss.

Planning an unconventional and/or casual affair with no suits or tuxedos? You’re definitely in the minority. According to the Real Weddings Study, only 4 percent of grooms and 7 percent of groomsmen wear casual shirts and pants (think destination beach wedding), and 2 percent of grooms and 4 percent of groomsmen wear just a jacket and tie with pants.

But just because these options are less common doesn’t mean they are not the right fit for your fête. “Our advice is that anything you want the men to wear works, as long as it matches to a certain extent,” Ma says. “Having mismatched groomsmen will not only throw off the look of the event, but also won’t look very organized.” If you’re forgoing the formalwear, Ma recommends matching shirts and a plain color pant; for a more dapper and uniform aesthetic, add matching bow ties, ties, socks or other accessories.

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