SIDNEY — When high school boys in western Ohio start dropping references about notched lapels and patent leather shoes into discussions about math exams and March Madness, it can mean but one thing.
Prom season is in full swing.
Getting measured and fitted for a tuxedo for prom is a minor rite of passage for most teenaged boys. These young men are of course being prodded along by high school girls, who demand that for at least one Saturday per year threadbare hoodies, ratty sneakers and a trip to the local burger joint isn’t going to cut it. These young ladies want formal. And formal — even here in the wilds of western Ohio — means a nice ride, an eye-popping dress, a meal that’s not served in a wrapper or with plastic flatware, and a tuxedo on her boyfriend. As Donnie Baker might say, it’s State Law.
As these young men are rarely in pressing need of a tux for 51 weekends out of year, most rent the required formal wear for a prom, as opposed to patronizing Saks and dropping north of two grand on a new Armani. This is where two local businesses, Ron and Nita’s (134-136 N. Main St., Sidney), and Barclay’s (314-318 N. Main St., Piqua) step up to the plate. At both these clothiers, a young man may stop in, be fitted for, and rent a tuxedo in the style and color of his choice and/or his date’s permission.
Most of the time, this marks the first time these high schoolers have gotten measured any place other than on the door frame in the family kitchen. But as stepping stones on the way to adulthood go, getting measured for a tux is very tame indeed. Nita McCrum (she of “Ron and Nita’s”) took all of five minutes getting the measurements of strapping Sidney High School student Logan Shaw, a task she’s done a thousand times, to a thousand kids.
“We love seeing the boys come in and try on their tuxedo for the first time,” McCrum said as she jotted down Logan’s sleeve length. “You can see they are excited about it and so we get excited about it, too.”
Bert Harrison, owner of Barclay’s, echoed McCrum’s sentiments exactly.
“You can see the look of satisfaction they get when they see themselves wearing a tuxedo,” Harrison said. “They’re not used to dressing up. A tuxedo just feels right and looks good. They realize that once they put one on.”
Tuxedo rentals at both Ron and Nita’s and Barclay’s run roughly from $60 to $140 and each uses several different companies as suppliers, so selection in styles and colors is not a problem. While camouflage threads were popular for a while, their cool factor is on the wane. Slim trousers, thinner lapels, and basic black tuxedos are the current rage, but if one (or one’s date) insists on a Manhattan Mango or a Capri Buttercup-colored vest to go with the dress, they remain readily and happily available.
High school boys, being high school boys, are prone to procrastination, and Harrison reckoned that 25 to 30 percent of his tuxedo rentals for proms are, while not exactly last minute, pushing the deadline.
“They’ll call me the week of the prom and say ‘I need a tux by Saturday! What am I gonna do?’ ” Harrison laughed. “Happens all the time. But it’s really no problem. We’ll get them in a tux.”
As with pretty much everything else, tuxedos may be rented (or purchased) online, but as Harrison pointed out, it’s unlikely that an online supplier offers minor alterations or cummerbund replacements 12 hours prior to the first slow dance. When it comes to tuxedo rentals, shop locally. Both Ron and Nita’s and Barclay’s have suppliers that work on very short notice, and as both are in the business of selling clothing, a last-minute request isn’t going to put them off their game. McCrum once pieced together a tux for a young man who had all of three hours to spare.
“We had to use stuff from three different suits that we had lying around here,” McCrum said, “but we got him in a tux.”
Ron and Nita’s can be found online at http://ronandnitasoh.com, while Barclay’s can be found at http://barclaysdowntownpiqua.com.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.