September 3, 2018

The Tuxedo: 101

Published by Brent Kraus

Thank goodness the days of wearing a suit in replacement of a tuxedo are over, We are looking at you 2000s. Even better we have FINALLY stopped wearing neckties in place of the bow tie. A tuxedo is a timeless piece and it should be worn with the even more timeless bow tie. PERIOD. Lets take a look at the basics of the tuxedo. And what makes a tuxedo a tuxedo and not a suit.


1. The Shirt

The start, the shirt should ALWAYS be white, no exceptions here. The vertical razor pleats are the calling card of a proper tuxedo shirt. Without them you are just wearing a dress shirt. French cuffs should be a given, as they are a classic look. Lightweight cotton is nice, as it is far more comfortable. As is a turn down collar, although a wing collar is far more dressy.

tuxedo shirt

In a tuxedo I'm a star, in regular clothes I am a nobody.

— Dean Martin

2. The Tuxedo

We could go on forever here. But lets hit the essentials. We will save the advance stuff for The Tuxedo:102. Always go the for the peaked lapel vs notch lapels, the peaked is far more timeless and will last you over the years. A notch lapel makes you sort of look like a waiter. The shawl lapel is the other option here. Less timeless than the peak, far more trendy in its appearance. Black wool fabric is desireable for the body, although wool can run hot. If you are in the south, or summer months a plain weave might be the better options here. Back to the lapel, always opt for grosgrain as it will last far longer, when compaired with a satin lapel, which will more than likely snag over time, showing its age. Color is a matter of choice. More about that later.

tuxedo lapels

Shawl -Collar | Peak Lapel | Notch Lapel

peaked lapel

Standard Peaked Lapel

lapel shaw tuxedo

Shawl-collar lapel examples

ELLA BING Black Silk Bow Tie No. 863

3. The Bow Tie

The bow tie holds a special place in our hearts. If you do not know how to tie one, you should learn. We have two rules for neckwear when it comes to the tuxedo. 1. Never-ever wear a necktie. 2. For cripe sake, do not wear a clip-on bow tie. Typically speaking you want to wear either a silk satin or silk grosgrain, black bow tie. Velvet is also appropriate, although ensure your bow tie is solid, with no print.

crisp white pocket square

The classic white linen pocket square with a straight fold.

4. The Pocket Square

Keep it simple. A white linen or cotton pocket square is perfect here. Stay away from silk in general as they will slip down into your pocket. If you can get your hands on a white linen pocket square with a nice black rolled hem you will add excellent contrast to your tuxedo. Keep the fold simple as well. The straight fold is just fine here. No need for anything more flashy than that.

The Cummerbund

Truth be told, this is where we could go either way. If you are the traditionalist then obviously the cummerbund is a must. If you lean a bit more trend oriented, then the cummerbund might not be high on your list. With that said, the cummerbund has a purpose, it is to hide your waist. Specifically, to hide your belt, if you are wearing one, giving you a cleaner more elegant silhouette. A few tips, do not match your date, that is reserved for prom. Keep it black, or the same fabric/print as your bow tie. And, always have the pleats facing upwards. Lastly it should be worn with 50% covering your belly, and 50% covering below your waist line.

how to wear a cummerbund

The proper way to wear a cummerbund.

The Shoes

This is where we like to escape the norm. The tuxedo is a timeless piece that should not be messed with. The shoes are your chance to show a bit of self expression. Certainly, you could go with patent-leather shoes, they always look sharp. Or even a good pair of well polished cap toe oxfords. But, that is what everyone will be doing. For the shoes, we suggest a dress slipper. They are modern, elegant and fancy all at the same time. Plus they allow you express yourself in a certain way that the traditional shoe just does not allow.

Duke and Dexter Slipper

Duke & Dexter Star Dress Slipper

Dress Slipper

The Color

Lastly, lets talk about color. In our honest opinion a tuxedo should be worn in three - four different colors only, with mix and match posibilities. Obviously number one is the traditional but timeless, black tux you litterally you cannot go wrong here (as long as you follow our suggestions above). The second option, and perhaps our favorite is the Midnight Blue Tuxedo. Its a modern twist on the traditional tuxedo and looks killer when fitted correctly. Pro tip: The darker the blue the better, if you opt for a lighter blue, the tuxedo will start looking cheap. Lastly we have the White Dinner Jacket, which could also be substituted with an Ivory Dinner Jacket. Always wear these jackets with Black tuxedo pants and follow the same rules as the traditional black tuxedo.

Midnight Blue Tuxedo

The Midnight Blue Tuxedo

White Dinner Jacket

The White Dinner Jacket

Ivory Dinner Jacket

The Ivory Dinner Jacket

Read Next

Let's Talk: The Tweed Sport Coat

You have successfully subscribed!
This email has been registered