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How to Wear a Tux

When the dress code calls for black tie, that means you need to wear a tuxedo.

What’s the difference between a tuxedo and a suit?

A tuxedo is a particular type of suit, so you can still refer to it as a suit. It is the second-most formal type of suit, most appropriately worn as eveningwear. The word “tuxedo” can also refer just to the jacket, which is the most important aspect of your outfit. The tuxedo jacket is set apart from other jackets by having its lapels covered with black silk. This is the essential feature of a tuxedo suit, but there are other compulsory aspects. The trousers need to match the jacket, with a strip of silk along the outer leg seams. The trousers must be high waisted so that they can be worn with a vest or cummerbund.

Always in black

tux1Patterned or colored tuxedos are garish and take away the formality of the tuxedo which is the basis of its appeal. Your jacket and pants should always be black, with a rare exception made for dark blue. All of your accessories must also be black. Your shoes should be polished black leather. While introducing a bit of color adds personality to most outfits, it is inappropriate for a tuxedo. Note that if you do wear a cummerbund, it should also be black. The one part of your outfit which is not black is your shirt, which must be white, preferably with black buttons. Ruffled shirts are technically acceptable with a tuxedo, but you will look like you walked straight out of last century. For best results, keep your look as streamlined and modern as possible.

Tie or bow tie?

A far cry from the hipster appropriation of patterned bow ties with a casual short sleeved shirt, bow ties are the most formal option when it comes to your tuxedo. A skinny black tie is a more youthful choice, sacrificing formality for modernity. Whichever you choose, keep it classy by tying it yourself. A fake Windsor knot or pre-glued bow tie is never a good look. Your only choice of tie or bow tie color is black; colored or patterned ties and bow ties are far too informal for a tux. It’s not called a “black tie” dress code for nothing.

Adding your own style

There are customisable aspects of your tuxedo outfit. Most notably, you need to choose between wearing a vest (or waistcoat) or a cummerbund (pleated silk waist sash). A vest is your best option, which buttons low on the waist and has lapels of its own. The vest is quite different from those worn with less formal suits; you need a specific tuxedo vest. Cummerbunds are the less preferable option because they can look quite comical and dated.

Another choice you have is between the two types of lapels which a tuxedo jacket may have: peaked or shawl. A peaked lapel is the most traditional style, with points along the collarbones. A shawl lapel is a much softer look as it lacks points.

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About Natasha Abrahams Natasha Abrahams is a writer and journalism student from Melbourne, Australia. When she is not busy with being a principal writer on Weekendnotes or skipping lectures, she can be found emptying her wallet at the nearest shopping centre. You can read more from Natasha at: http://mensstyleandfashion.com/

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