The Ultimate Guide to Wearing a Tuxedo with Style and Confidence

Decoding the Dos and Don'ts of Tuxedo Dressing

By: Kim Keller, Clothier - Dallas, TX
April 15, 2024

 At Tom James, we understand the importance of sartorial elegance and how it impacts your life, in fact, it’s all we do. Whether you're attending a black-tie gala, preparing for a wedding, or simply dressing up for a special occasion, we're here to help you navigate the world of formalwear. In this detailed guide, we'll share our expertise on how to wear a tuxedo, how to style a tuxedo, and crucial aspects like how long a tuxedo jacket should be, or how long tuxedo pants should be. With our guidance, you'll look the part, feel confident, and make a lasting impression.

To help you understand tuxedos, let's break down a classic tux. A classic tuxedo usually comes with a black single-breasted jacket with one closing button, satin or silk peak lapels, and no rear vents, and a pair of matching trousers. However, many variations offer more styles, fits, and fabrics, that’s why it’s important to select a tuxedo that compliments your personal style, fits impeccably, and suits the occasion. 

Choosing the Right Tuxedo

The right tuxedo for you will enhance your appearance and boost your confidence, and wearing a tuxedo correctly involves more than just putting it on. When it comes to getting the right fit, it’s essential that you understand the etiquette of wearing a tuxedo. Some simple rules for finding the correct fit when it comes to tuxedos are, that your jacket should end around your palms, the lapels and suit collar should lie flat, and you should be able to see about ¼ to ¾ inches of your shirt cuff with your arms relaxed. Choosing the wrong fit or jacket length will cause the entire suit to look off. 

There are different styles of fit to consider when buying a tuxedo, the most common are a classic fit, modern fit, and slim fit. A classic fit is less constructive than others and features a liberal cut through the chest and waist, giving you enough room to feel comfortable. A slim fit provides the snuggest fit to the body, with fitted shoulders and closer cuts. A slim fit is similar to Italian or European cut suits. A modern fit is a cross between classic and slim. While it doesn’t offer the extra space of a classic fit, it’s also not as snug as a slim fit. Regardless of your body type, there's a tuxedo for you. A slim-fit tuxedo suits a lean physique, a tailored fit is ideal for muscular builds, and a classic fit provides a comfortable and flattering look for heavier builds.

The fabric of your tuxedo also plays a critical role in how you wear a tuxedo. Popular choices include wool, cotton, and silk. Wool provides durability and breathability, cotton is lightweight and ideal for warmer climates, while silk exudes luxury and sophistication.

Finally, the lapel style can make or break your tuxedo look. Notch lapels are versatile, peak lapels add sophistication, while shawl lapels offer a sleek look, perfect for black-tie events. 

The Ultimate Guide to Wearing a Tuxedo with Style and ConfidenceStyling Your Tuxedo

From your shirt and bow tie to the pocket square and shoes, every element plays a vital role in correctly styling your tuxedo. 

When it comes to tuxedo shirts, a white dress shirt with a wing collar and French cuffs is a classic choice. Other variations for tuxedo shirts include a spread collar or band collar, pleated or ruffled bibs, and barrel cuffs. Feel free to add details to your tuxedo shirt like button studs, cufflinks, and collar stays. One of the traditional principles of a formal dress code is that all the working parts of your ensemble must be covered or dressed, that’s why it’s common to wear either a waistcoat or cummerbund when wearing a tuxedo. 

Bow ties are another staple when it comes to wearing a tuxedo. Bowties are the traditional approach to formal neckwear, but modern style has given leeway to more room for personal expression. Depending on your style choices and event formality a necktie can be worn with tuxedos. Complete the look with dress shoes like traditional black patent leather oxfords or similar and a pocket square that complements your style. 

Tuxedo Etiquette

Proper etiquette while wearing a tuxedo goes a long way in helping you leave a positive impression. Tuxedos are typically reserved for evening events, such as weddings after 6 p.m., black-tie galas, the theater and opera, and formal dinners. Always check the invitation or specified dress code. 

To achieve a classic black tie look, stick to tradition. A traditional black tie dress code involves a black or midnight blue tuxedo jacket with matching trousers, a white dress shirt, a black bow tie, and black patent leather shoes. However, in some situations, it may be suitable to stray from the classic look and incorporate colors and patterns. Navy, midnight blue, and charcoal gray tuxedos offer a modern twist. Subtle patterns like pinstripes or herringbone add sophistication.

While wearing your tuxedo, it’s important to know how and when to button it correctly. A jacket with one button should always remain fastened to maintain balance and proportionality, but you can open the closure when seated to avoid wrinkles. You should never close the lower button on a two-button jacket and the top button should remain fastened unless seated. When wearing a three-button jacket the middle button should always be fastened while standing, the lowest should always be open, and the top is left to personal preference.

Ready to rock your tuxedo?

Tuxedos have long since been an iconic choice when it comes to men’s formalwear. Since their inception in the 19th century, tuxedos have become a symbol of timeless elegance and sophistication. Today, wearing a tuxedo correctly and confidently isn’t impossible, but it takes some preparation. By finding the right style and fit, styling it correctly, and following the etiquette, you’ll be sure to impress while wearing your tuxedo. 

Tom James clothiers are trained in the sartorial art of wearing a tuxedo and how to ensure the proper fit, style, and accessories. Contact a clothier today to craft the perfect custom tuxedo for your event. 

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