Dress To Impress

A Guide to Formalwear Essentials

By: Kim Keller, Clothier - Dallas, Tx
October 6, 2023

There's something undeniably special about dressing up in formalwear. Whether it's for a black-tie gala, a wedding, or a philanthropic event, there's just something about the way a tuxedo can make you feel. But if you're someone who doesn't go to a lot of formal events, the world of formalwear can be overwhelming. There are so many styles, colors, and accessories to choose from, and it can be tough to know where to start. Fear not! In this guide, we'll walk you through the essentials of formalwear, from tuxedo colors and lapels to shirt styles, bow ties, cummerbunds, and dinner jackets.

Tuxedo Colors

Let's start with tuxedo colors. While black is the classic and most popular choice for a tuxedo, it's not the only option. Navy blue, medium gray, and even royal blue or mocha brown can all be great choices, depending on the occasion and your personal style. If you do go for a black tuxedo, keep in mind that there are different variations of black, from a classic plain, solid fabric to a texture like a diamond weave or a black self stripe or plaid which will have surface interest and a higher luster. Ask your TJ clothier about our Holland and Sherry Black Tie collection of fabrics that are ideal for tuxedos.

Tuxedo Lapel Styles

Moving on to lapels, there are three main types: peak lapels, notch lapels, and shawl lapels. Peak lapels have a pointed, upward-facing edge at the collar, while notch lapels have a v-shaped indentation where the collar meets the lapel. The shawl lapel has a continuous round edge that is joined at the back of the neck in a seam. The material is a continuous piece that tapers off as it goes from the collar to the buttonhole.  The shawl lapel is perfect for high-end events and evening occasions. Peak lapels are generally considered more formal and traditional, while notch lapels can be a bit more versatile.

Formal Shirts

When choosing a tuxedo shirt, there are a few options to consider. A classic wingtip collar shirt is a timeless option, but a spread collar or point collar can also look sharp & has been more popular in recent years. Whatever style you choose, make sure it fits well and is made from high-quality cotton.

Formal Bowties & Cummerbunds

Next up: the bow tie. A classic black satin bow tie is always a sophisticated choice, but there are plenty of other options out there. Whether you go for a colorful silk bow tie or a patterned one, the bow tie is a chance to show off a bit of your personal style.

When it comes to a cummerbund, you can choose to match it to your bow tie or go for a contrasting color or pattern. Just make sure it fits well and is positioned appropriately (usually worn at the waistband of your trousers & pleats facing up).

The Dinner Jacket

Finally, let's talk about dinner jackets. These are similar to tuxedos, but they're typically less formal and can have a wider range of colors and styles. A velvet dinner jacket can be a great way to add some texture and interest to your formalwear look, while a patterned dinner jacket can be a fun way to inject some personality. Ask your TJ clothier about our Holland and Sherry Masquerade collection of fabrics that are ideal for dinner jackets. 

With these essentials in mind, you should feel confident and comfortable in any formalwear situation. Remember, the key to pulling off formalwear is in the details. Make sure everything fits well, is made with a beautiful fabric, and is appropriate for the occasion. And most importantly, have fun with it! Formalwear is an opportunity to express yourself and show off your personal style.


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