Richard "Dick" McMillan manages the Tux Shop, a chain store occupying a Northgate mini-mall. The setup is straightforward, with plaster walls, foam-tile ceilings, and windows with parking-lot views. There are suits everywhere, of course, and jackets in all imaginable styles: single- or double-breasted; cropped or long; with vents or without; and finished by a vast choice of lapels and collars, including the peak, notch, mandarin, or shawl varieties. (It seems like these shapes wouldn't make such a big difference, but they do.) There's also a white jacket with tails, paired with a white bow tie ("That's the most formalist," says Dick); racks of tuxedo shirts (pinwale or piqué fronts, with lay-down or wing collars); cummerbunds; rental trousers with a clever buckle-adjustable waistband to accommodate many sizes ("They took the idea from maternity pants"); vests embellished with brocades or metallic threads or geometric patterns recalling hotel bedspreads; and all the razzmatazz to go with everything—cuff links, studs, button covers. "We do proms, weddings, funerals, Saturday night fights. Whatever you want to get involved with."

(A little more about Dick, around whom legends swirl. He manages to seem totally in command and nonchalant all at once. He's been selling suits since 1965, and he's directed squillions of fittings. But can he really tell someone's height, shoe size, and weight just by looking at them? In my case: yes, yes, and yes, within three pounds.)

Continue reading »