The Tuxedo Guide

What is a tuxedo?

The tuxedo consist of a jacket and pants and sometimes a vest. It is one of the most formal attires a man can wear and is expected at any event where the dresscode is ''Black Tie''. 

Origins of the tuxedo

The creation of the tuxedo can be attributed to Edward VII (Then Prince of Wales) and the Savile Row tailor Henry Poole & co., which is still in business today. The prince required a garment that was more formal than a lounge suit, but not as formal as the tailcoat. The idea was for the prince to have a garment suitable for both informal settings and the dining room, and so the ''dinner jacket'' was born.

The inspiration for the dinner jacket actually came from one of Edward VII's favorite garments which was the smoking jacket, a heavy velour jacket which one would wear when smoking to absorb the smell of the smoke, so that it wouldn't affect your evening wear.

Later on the then prince was introduced to the american millionaire James Brown Potter, who was visiting Britain. Edward VII arranged for James Potter to be fitted for the new popular dinner jacket.

Potter then went back to America where he attended the Autumn Ball, wearing his new dinner jacket, at a private country club located in Tuxedo Park, and so the Tuxedo was born.

The difference between a tuxedo and suit

The jacket           

The tuxedo jacket differs from the suit jacket in 4 main areas.

The lapel on a tuxedo jacket does always have a peak or shawl lapel, which will have a satin facing (meaning the exterior fabric will be satin). On a traditional suit jacket however you will most likely find a notch lapel and sometimes a peak lapel, though the lapel will never have the distinguishable satin facing.

The buttons on a tuxedo jacket will also have the satin facing on both sleeve and front buttons. It will always be single-breasted with one button for closing. On a standard suit you will again never see satin on the buttons and also you will have variety of ways to close it, the most common being single-breasted with two buttons.

The sleek aesthetic of the tuxedo is also a noticeable difference, and the way the tuxedo attains this is by removing the flaps on the pockets, as you would usually see on a suit. Also most suits would have double vented back, but again to maintain that sleekness, the tuxedo will often have no vents or at most a single vent.

You will also find that the sleeves of your tuxedo, will be shorter than those on your regular suits. The reason for this being, that one would typically wear cufflinks with their tuxedo, and the shorter sleeves will make sure the cufflinks are exposed.

Please note that a tuxedo should always be black, even though it is often seen in either midnight blue, burgundy or white. These other colors are better suited for less formal events such as new years eve or weddings.

The pants

The most notable difference when looking at a pair of tuxedo pants, will undoubtedly be the satin strip that runs the entirety of the length of the outer seam, to match the satin from the jacket. But you will also never find belt loops on a pair of tuxedo pants, simply because you should never wear a belt with your tuxedo. Instead opt for side adjusters or suspenders. The pants will also most often be black, no matter the color of the jacket (exceptions may occur).

The waistcoat

It is not incredibly common to wear a waistcoat with a tuxedo, but that is also why it can be a great choice if you want to stand out in the sea of standard tuxedos at a black tie event. You should note though, that you can't use any old black waistcoat, as the one you need for your tux will need a low round cut to be a proper tuxedo waistcoat, the reason for this being that a regular V-cut waistcoat would cover details on the front of the shirt.

Accessories

The Shirt: The classic tuxedo-shirt will have a pleated or marcella front, along with studs replacing the standard shirt buttons. If you want a more clean and modern look you can switch out the studs for a fly front, and if you're wearing a tuxedo to a very formal event you can opt for the classic wing collar, but as a general rule you should stick to the turndown collar. Lastly you will also want a french cuff instead of the usual barrel cuff.

Bow Tie: The most noticeable characteristics to suggest someone is wearing a tuxedo will be the bow tie. Which will often be made of silk and in black, but it can also be made of fabrics like velour and will come in colors like burgundy, midnight blue etc.

The Shoes: When wearing a tuxedo a nice pair of patent leather shoes is a must. Black leather is the most common and safest option, but if you're fx. wearing a burgundy tux-jacket it will be a nice touch to add burgundy patent leather shoes.

Cummerbund: The cummerbund is a wide belt-like piece of fabric, that a man will wear around the waist to cover the waistband of the trousers. It is mostly worn at weddings, and the color should match that of your bow-tie.

Suspenders: This is a great option to spice up the outfit, a pair of plain black or white suspenders will look nice when the jacket comes off. (And yes, suspenders can be paired with a cummerbund)

Pocket Square: When wearing a tuxedo you should opt for a plain white pocket square folded into a presidential square.

Cufflinks: As stated above your shirt should always have a french cuff, which requires cufflinks. Now usually when wearing cufflinks it's good a way to express a bit of yourself, if you think your suit too boring. This is not the case when wearing a tuxedo, because your cufflinks and studs should always match therefore the best option is always black onyx.

Lapel Pin/ Lapel Flowers: This is not something you would typically go for when wearing a tuxedo at a dinner for example. But the lapel flower can sometimes be nice touch for a wedding outfit.

Closing word

In today's day and age rules for clothing have become more like guidelines than actual rules, and this is also true for the tuxedo. At any given red carpet event, you will see dozens of celebrities and their designers breaking every single one of the rules laid out in this article. So you should feel free to do the same, though i will say that if you're invited to a black tie event with royal family, i suggest you stick to the script and don't try anything too fancy.

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