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Q: I find that I need to rent a tuxedo at least once or twice a year. I should probably go ahead and buy one, but when it comes to spending money on clothes, I'm no Pierce Brosnan.

A: Since tuxedo rentals typically start at $85 -- and that's for the bare basics -- it makes perfect sense to take a long view and acquire your own. The city has several tuxedo shops that will have you kitted out in style the next time you need to go to a formal function (or a Monte Carlo casino). Well-known for its affordable rentals, Zeller Tuxedos (495 Lexington Avenue, at 45th Street; 212-286-9786) also has an array of great tuxes for sale, including names like Dior and Lauren, for $350. Up your budget to $425, and you can don a Super 100's Fezza; retail prices for this micro-fine weave often start at $700.

Cross the Hudson, and you'll find even better deals at Barry's Formalwear (315 Monroe Street, Passaic, N.J.; 800-648-0116). Secondhand tuxedos, including brands like Ralph Lauren and Krizia, run anywhere from $70 to $160. Barry's also sells reasonably priced new tuxes, like a worsted-wool La Valiere for $199 or a new Super 100's Geoffrey Beene for $295.

Truly fearless bargain hunters will begin and end their search at Domsey's in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (431 Kent Avenue; 718-384-6000). This penguin's paradise has used tuxes anywhere from $20 to $40 in moderate to excellent condition. At these prices, you'll have enough left over to buy that Omega watch with the laser beam.


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