There comes a man in every man’s life when he will probably be called on to don a tuxedo.
Tuxedos have fallen from vogue over the years, being identified as anachronistic, overly formal, and esoteric. On the other hand, they are an absolutely awesome piece of formal wear when executed properly, and in the five minutes it takes to read the EveryGuyed ‘How to wear a Tuxedo’ article below, we’ll teach you how to exude class from tip to tail.
When To Wear A Tuxedo
Some men have a difficult time figuring out when to wear a tuxedo. We here at EveryGuyed have always gone by the Sean Connery rule. That is, if Sean Connery as James Bond was going to be attending this event, would he be wearing a tuxedo? Or ‘What Would James Bond Do?’ if you prefer. For those unfamiliar with 007, here’s the breakdown:
- Perfectly Acceptable: Black tie events, formal galas or fundraisers, and invitation only event that stipulates formal attire.
- A Bit Much But Still Okay if you have the confidence: Prom, weddings, cocktail parties, the Opera
- Not Acceptable: Any other event. Just remember that rarely do you want to be the only guy in the room wearing a tux since it will come off as overly flashy, not formal.
The Tux Itself
Tuxedos themselves are pretty staid, with little variation in designs outside of a few key points. A tuxedo itself is typically a black suit with silk or sating lapel facings, and pants with piping along the sides that match the lapels. Creative linings and lapels allow some freedom to the designer, but tuxedo designs are not as varied as more common business suits.
A peaked lapel is considered standard, though a shawl collar is a very retro, very fashionable alternative. While notched lapels do exist on tuxedos, they’re considered unusual. Buttons on a tuxedo are cloth-covered shank buttons, and unlike on a suit, when you’re buttoning it, all the buttons that can be done up, should be done up. Double breasted, single breasted, vented or un-vented.
You could argue for hours with all sorts of clothing nerds online, but any so-called rules won’t beat the just going out there and trying something on for yourself.
A tuxedo itself is typically a black suit with silk or sating lapel facings, and pants with piping along the sides that match the lapels
Traditionally, the shirt accompanying a tuxedo has a wing-tip collar, with French cuffs and button studs.
Pretty much anything is acceptable as long as it’s white, and a placket conceals its buttons. Pleated or ruffed fronts are a bit more difficult to pull off, but the choice is yours if you feel up to carrying the look.
In Britain, turned-down spread-collars are considered standard, while a wing tip collar adds an undeniable sense of old-world class. If in doubt, a plain-fronted white dress shirt with placket and French cuffs is the modern standard, and won’t draw you any snide remarks or odd glances.
The Bow Tie & Cummerbund
The bow tie is the gold standard when it comes to neckwear that accompanies a tux. There’s generally little variation on this, and for the sake of custom, you should learn to tie your own, rather than buying one that comes pre-tied; after all, it’s a right of passage of sorts. Usually made of black silk, your bow tie should match your cummerbund and/or your vest.
As for the cummerbund, you’re always expected to wear it, or a waistcoat, but never both. The cummerbund isn’t meant to be a belt-replacement. It’s purely decorative, as is the waistcoat. Buckle it snugly so it fits around your stomach without risk of falling. Alongside the waistcoat, it’s part of what makes a tux unique, and crucial to the whole look.
The bow tie is the gold standard when it comes to neckwear that accompanies a tux
If you’ve got a really quality tux, it’ll have pant loops for suspenders, which are considered part of the black tie look. Some more modern pants might go with belt loops instead, so use your own discretion here. Pocket squares should be worn, and one that is classic white and folded squarely is the standard, although there’s no end to variation (at your own peril).
In the old days, you were expected to wear court shoes to a black tie affair. Court shoes were these crazy looking slip-ons in black patent leather with ribbons on them. They looked exactly as ridiculous as they sound, and since you’re probably not going to run into the Queen herself, it’s safe to say you don’t need them.
Go with subdued, plain lace-ups. Patent leather is expected, but nobody’s going to give you trouble if you settle for a nicely polished pair of Oxfords. The key element here is subdued. Think subtle, classic, and understated, so if you think the shoes are starting to border on boring, you’re doing just fine; its the rest of the outfit that does the talking here.
Go with subdued, plain lace-ups
Variants to these rules exist for all variety of traditions. Men who identify as Scottish might feel obliged to wear a kilt bearing their Clan tartan. Considered a type of national dress, this is acceptable for most black-tie events (and also looks awesome when done correctly). Men serving as officers in the armed forces usually also have a distinct uniform for black tie events.
Most of all, ask the host ahead of time so you know what’s appropriate. There’s no point wearing a tux to a wedding if the groom is only wearing a suit from H&M, most of these events are to celebrate other people, and you don’t want to be the one taking away from that experience.
Did we get something wrong? Got a tuxedo horror story? Or maybe a success story? Just want to vent on this tricky little outfit? Drop by the comment box below, and leave a little something for the EveryGuyed community…
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What's on your mind?
loved reading this article! tuxes are really underrated, and definitely add a lot of class to any guy who puts one on.
Thanks! Glad you liked the piece!
I’m sorry but you got everything wrong. Shawl collars, cumberbunds and wing tip collared shirts are all horribly outdated. Patent leather shoes are just tacky.
By in large you got most of this correct. A couple things however, to keep on the correct path. 1. You never wear a watch (wrist time piece actually) with formal evening wear, aka. Tuxedo. If you are at an event in which a Tuxedo (formal evening wear) is required or expected, you don’t need to worry about what time it is. 2. You can wear a waist coat and cummerbund, however, the waist coat is usually left buttoned. 3. Traditional Tuxedo’s have Braces (suspenders) not a belt. Modern variations, usually for the younger generation do this but that doesn’t make it right. 4. You never wear a suit shirt with a Tuxedo. As well as having cufflinks for the shirt cuffs, the shirt also has button holes for studs ( also called Do Dads). Yes, you can wear a suit shirt, but people (who know) will comment on it and they will do it behind your back. Besides these things, not to bad of an article.
I disagree with Th.e person who said that the cummerbund is outdated! The cummerbund is the most formal portion of the tuxedo when it is all put together! I have occasion to wear a tuxedo roughly five times a month between September and June and prefer to wear the cummerbund over the vest. It looks sharp and conceals the waist (Which is what it should do) very nicely. Also, as far as the shirt for the tuxedo, either collar is correct, but you should be wearing French Cuffs as well as shirt studs in all cases. These items mark the shirt as formal and that is a good thing. Skip the long tie and wear a bow tie too.