The economy might be tattered, but men, however threadbare their budgets, need not refrain from dressing to the nines on special occasions. Mr. Formal, the Portland-based formalwear chain, has a deep discount clearance outlet at 1103 S.E. Seventh Ave. The store has been known to unload new and used tuxes in good shape for $200. A sale can yield a new white dinner jacket for $25.

Most items are former rentals, but Regional Manager Pam Van Winkle says some are new samples from manufacturers. Traditional styles are the mainstay, but teenagers last spring were drawn to a shipment of 1970s-style colored and ruffled tuxes, Van Winkle says.

'There's definitely a lot of kids that really want to put something neat together, something a little bit different, something their dad would've worn,' she says.

Other than the occasional women's tuxedo jacket and skirt set, the store sticks to men's formalwear.

'We've done that very, very well,' Van Winkle says, and adds with a why-ruin-a-good-thing smile: 'No women's clothes.'

ÑÊNevill Eschen

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