“Looking easy as a man is easy. All you have to do is wear a well-fitted tuxedo, and you’re almost done with the semi-formal attire.” Men around the world echo this notion, and it is true for the most part. However, wearing a tuxedo is not magic. It requires quite a bit of preparation, much more than regular men’s clothes, in fact. If you don’t know how to wear a tuxedo, you are in for an adventure.
Luckily, tuxedos are time-consuming but not very complex. This means that almost everyone can learn how to wear a tuxedo. All they have to do is understand how each part of the tuxedo even works in men’s fashion. Let’s get started.
When to Wear A Tuxedo
Before you learn how to wear a tuxedo, you should clearly know the right time to wear one. The large majority of events that require a tuxedo will be labeled as “black tie” events. These formal gatherings have a specific dress code for both men and women, and the one for men consists of a well-fitted black tuxedo.
You can wear a tuxedo outside of these events as well. However, pick your destination wisely, as wearing a tuxedo to a casual event is just as bad as rocking up to a formal party in a black leather jacket and ripped jeans.
So, to summarize, tuxedos are the top option for black tie events, but you can also rock them at most business casual and smart casual gatherings with some minor changes. These changes can be massive, like wearing a turtleneck under the tuxedo suit jacket. Or they can be as small as swapping out the bowtie for a regular necktie.
What to Wear with A Tuxedo?
The next step of learning how to wear a tuxedo is to understand the options that will surround it. There are three major elements that need to be accounted for individually as well as an ensemble.
Shirts to Wear with Tuxedo
The shirt is perhaps the most important part of tuxedo fashion trends, and you have a handful of fantastic options to choose from.
Pleated Tuxedo Shirt
The pleated shirt is one of, if not the most popular tuxedo shirts in the world. Its unique pleated design contrasts well with the sleek shape and fit of the tuxedo jacket. This is also the shirt that feels the most complete and impressive when you’re rocking a bow tie.
Plain Front Tuxedo Shirt
The plain front shirt is a button-up designed to be as basic yet sharp as possible. Even the buttons on this shirt are hidden to prevent it from standing out. These are generally the easiest to style and can also be worn with clothes other than a tuxedo, like under a leather jacket.
Pique Bib Tuxedo Shirt
The pique bib shirt is the middle ground between the pleated and plain shirt. It does not have the instantly recognizable front as the pleated shirt, but it’s also not as empty upfront as the plain tuxedo shirt. The benefit of wearing this over a plain shirt is its extra clean vibe and stiffer, more organized-looking front.
Tuxedo Vest Style
The next step in the tuxedo-wearing process is the layering of a tuxedo vest. The key difference between regular suit vests and a tuxedo vest is that the collar cut is much deeper on the tuxedo vest. Also, the fitting of tuxedo vests tends to be more expressive and not just flat. As a side note, there are plenty of options for how to wear a tuxedo vest with clothes other than a tuxedo, like black blazers.
Vest Vs. Cummerbund
There is a much less famous alternative to vest as well, and it is known as the cummerbund. You can think of a cummerbund as a wide band that goes on your waist, covering the line where the trouser meets the shirt. Cummerbunds found their popularity in military dinners in British India. So, the best place to wear a cummerbund is to a semi-formal dinner party. As for replacing regular tuxedo vests with cummerbunds, that’s tough and not recommended for the most part.
Tuxedos Without Vests
Vests are an integral part of men’s tuxedo style, and they cannot be separated from each other. The best you can do is swap out the vest with a cummerbund. But, a tux with no vest or cummerbund will look incomplete. If you thought about skipping the vest because the event is not that formal, then you’re better off wearing something casual that still looks sharp, like a peacoat.
What Shoes to Wear with Tuxedo
The last step of rocking a complete tuxedo is picking the right footwear. Among the many formal-level options, shiny leather oxfords are in a league of their own. Other popular choices include leather tuxedo shoes, shiny derby shoes, and leather loafers.
How to Choose A Tuxedo
Most tuxedos look a lot similar at a glance but dive a bit deeper, and you will find a whole bunch of options to choose from based on two key criteria.
There are many types of tuxedo collars out there, but three of them are on top. These are the notch collar, the shawl collar, and the peak collar.
The shawl collar is quite famous for its unique shine and cohesive vibe. This is also the easiest collar to pull off.
The peak tuxedo collar is quite a bit wider than all the other options while still maintaining the sleek silhouette of a tux. These are great for weddings and events where you would have to wear a pin on your tux.
Lastly, the notch collar is the middle ground between shawl and peak. It has the design of a suit collar but with the slim profile of a tuxedo.
For most formal and semi-formal events, black tuxedos are the best choice without any competition. However, events like wedding parties provide you the opportunity to express some style with suits like the navy blue tuxedo. It still maintains a similar level of sharpness as black tuxedos, but now you stand out a bit more from the crowd. Additionally, if you don’t want to wear any other color, rocking something along the lines of a black suit with brown shoes is an acceptable way of adding color to your attire as well.
How to Dress Down A Tuxedo
When most people think of casual layered clothing, the first thing that comes to their mind is an outfit with a leather jacket. What many people don’t know is that you can rock a tuxedo casually as well. Sure, it won’t be as flashy as, say, a suede aviator jacket, but it’s still stylish in its own right.
The key to successfully dressing down a tuxedo, however, is to surround it with casual items that can replace the traditional shirt, shoes, and trousers. So, by this logic, a hoodie under a tuxedo is a no-go, but a well-fitted white Henley t-shirt is fine. The same is the case with footwear, where basketball shoes are not the right combo, but plain high-top sneakers are.
How Is A Tuxedo Supposed to Fit?
The overall fitting of a tuxedo is tighter than most other suits. Its shape has more contours compared to the regular straight-cut suits as well.
As for the length of each part of a tuxedo, the jacket should sit right where your hips start to curve inward. The hem of the jacket should be up to the middle of your hands. The shoulder seems to sit right above your shoulder curve to prevent the tux from looking boxy. Remember that these guidelines need to stay true while also keeping in line with the suit buttoning rules. You can rock tuxedo suspenders with a vest to maintain the sleek vibe as well.
Now, you can try to find an off-the-rack tuxedo that fits your body perfectly. However, this method is not recommended, and you will struggle to find a tuxedo that does fit you perfectly. The better option is getting a custom-made tuxedo. It will cost more than the premade solution, but the end result would be worth it in the long run.
Hats to Wear with Tuxedos
Hats used to be an essential part of tuxedos, but they fell out of fashion in the last few decades alongside every other piece of men’s headwear. But you can bring them back by pairing your tuxedo with a matching humbug. Fedoras are also a neat option if you’re wearing the tux casually.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you have to wear a vest with a tuxedo. Vests are an essential part of tuxedos, and they bring the tuxedo outfits to look cohesive and controlled. If you don’t want to wear a vest, however, a cummerbund is the next best option.
Tuxedos are mostly reserved for black tie events. These events can be weddings, govt. ceremonies, and professional office parties.
Yes, you can wear a tie with a tuxedo instead of a bow tie. If you decide to go this route, pick a slim silk necktie in solid colors (black is your safest bet).
No, you do not wear a belt under a cummerbund. The cummerbund itself needs to be tight enough to act as a wide belt.
This depends entirely on your personal preference. These shoes are quite shiny. If you’re fine with that, then you can wear patent leather shoes under a tuxedo.
Wearing a tuxedo can look like a shortcut to looking like a polished gentleman. However, that is not the case. Tuxedos require a lot of sound decision-making and hard work to pull off, but it is all worth it in the end.