A Formal Lesson From Frants

My Grandpa used to say that every man needs to own a tuxedo at some point in his life. Not rent. Own. A custom piece perfectly fit to his shape and size. My most fond picture of him is from his eightieth birthday party and he’s sporting his tuxedo.

Grandpa’s theory was that if you owned a tux, you’d go find events and reasons to wear it because you took yourself more seriously as a person. It was a signal, in his mind, that you were living a life worth dressing up for.

Along my journey into a more conscious wardrobe, I’ve been contemplating where formal wear might come into play in my particular style and lifestyle at the moment. There aren’t really opportunities to go black tie where I live, but the desire to have something serious, formal, and “grown up” was leading me to explore the idea.

His name is Frants. He’s a tall slender man in his 70’s who comes into town once a week to enjoy a bran muffin and short coffee and meander the downtown. His normal uniform is a red roll neck atop a slender pair of tailored charcoal slacks, and a mac trench, either beige or black.

A retired Commander of the Royal Navy of Denmark, Frants has a great deal of stories from living a most interesting and eventful life. We run into each other in the coffee shop and he graciously lends tales of his experiences in creating a conscious image, true style, and taking oneself seriously as a man.

I’ll never forget the day he rolled up in a 1972 Jaguar E-Type Series III V12 Coupe – pearl white. It was fun listening to him talk about finding this rare gem and teaching himself to work on it. This man takes his style and persona very seriously indeed.

The topic of tuxedos came up a while back over bran muffins, and he echoed the thoughts of my late Grandfather in saying that every man needs to own one – more importantly, needs to own one tailored specifically to him. He told me about his recent purchase of a new custom tuxedo to replace the one he’d had for over forty years.

I mentioned how I had been contemplating what type of tuxedo I’d prefer to own and so forth. He looked me over and instantly sized me up almost to the inch. I laughed and said he was nearly spot on.

Some time had passed since I last saw Frants, and I was wondering what he was up to. Then, on a Friday afternoon I received a text message from the owner of the coffee shop saying I had a package waiting for me. When I arrived, I was handed a humble looking brown paper package with a single word written across the front – “tuxedo.”

Inside was a bespoke shawl collar tuxedo hand-made in Denmark in 1968 – midnight with black lapel and a simple black stripe down the pant legs. A clean slim cut that eerily fits as if it was indeed tailored to me. There’s only a tiny bit of adjustment that needs to be done to the pants. It’s a look that’s constantly being resurrected and replicated in today’s style. I now own one of the originals.

With the gifting of such a serious and beautiful piece of art comes a responsibility. It’s not just an article of clothing. It’s the passing of a torch. A gift that signals a definitive moment in time to start living up to its image and past stories by creating memories of one’s own.

It’s really the journey of a man taking himself a little more seriously.