Nothing makes a man feel better than donning a perfectly fitted tuxedo to a special event. Whether that event is a wedding, graduation, gala, charity event, or any other special occasion, requiring guests to wear a tuxedo signifies it is time you need to step up and look you’re absolute best.
Occasions requiring you to wear a tuxedo could mean that you will be escorting a gorgeous woman down the aisle, having your picture taken (most likely multiple times), or even being given the opportunity to deliver a few words in front of a crowd to celebrate a special moment. So when it is your moment to shine, you want to ensure you look your absolute best.
At Jaxson Maximus, our team of professional clothiers has put together this fantastic guide about everything you need to know about how to wear a tuxedo.
Many have attributed the creation of the modern-day tuxedo to wealthy American aristocrats in New York. But, unknown to most, the tuxedo dates back to 1865, when Prince Edward VII wore a tuxedo as an alternative to a more formal tailcoat. In 1865, Prince Edward commissioned the first “tuxedo” by a Savile Row tailor, Henry Pool & Co., which is still on the Row today. Instead of calling this garment a tuxedo, the tailors coined this garment the“took off.”
The popularity of the tuxedo took over America thanks to a man named James Brown Potter. Potter, an American businessman, and multi-millionaire was an avid world traveler who was introduced to the Prince of Wales during a trip to Britain with his wife, Cora.
Having fallen in love with the Prince’s bold fashion statement, Potter asked the Prince for a recommendation for his tailor to replicate the same style. With the Prince’s recommendation, Potter commissioned a custom “took off” to be made for him. Later that year, Potter debuted his new jacket at the Autumn Ball in New York, where he was the talk of the ball for his bold fashion statement. From there on, the rest was history.
Renting vs Purchasing A Tuxedo
If you are participating in a wedding where you are required to wear the same style of tuxedo that the rest of the groomsmen wear, then you must rent a tuxedo even if you own your own unless it is the same style, i.e., lapel, color, etc.
If you are deciding between renting vs. purchasing based on economics, the bottom line is if you wear a tuxedo more than two times a year, then it makes sense to purchase. Renting a tuxedo typically averages about $250 all in. Purchasing a tuxedo depends on the level of luxury you prefer, but you can expect to spend at least $500 for an entry-level tuxedo and all the required formal gear that goes with it.
If economics is not the main variable in your decision and you can plan at least seven weeks ahead of the event, then we recommend having your tuxedo custom-made. This will allow you to get the style, look, and detail best suited for you. We will warn you, though, as getting a custom-made tuxedo becomes the gateway drug to having all of your clothing custom-made. It’s highly addicting!
Here are 9 secrets that our custom stylists give our clients on how to wear a tuxedo:
1) Studs Are Required With A Formal Shirt That Has A Placket Front
When deciding on a tuxedo, one rule to follow is that if your tuxedo shirt has a placket front, then studs are required. When selecting your studs, select either silver or gold with a formal stone in black onyx or white mother of pearl for that classic look. You can also choose studs in your favorite jewel tone for an unexpected element such as emerald or ruby.
If your formal shirt has a fly front that covers the placket, you can wear formal cufflinks. Cufflinks are a great way to honor your father or grandfather by wearing one of their older cufflink sets. These family heirlooms can bring an unexpected personal touch to your outfit, and when all the guests compliment how great you look, you have an incredible story to tell behind your outfit.
If possible, plan ahead and have your tuxedo custom-made. The standard average lead time for a custom tuxedo is six weeks. We advise our clients that once it arrives, you also want to budget a week for any fine-tuning adjustments that need to be made. It’s best to plan eight weeks ahead of the event if having a custom-made is an option for you.
3) Pair Your Lapels With The Proper Neckwear
The most traditional neckwear worn with a tuxedo is a solid black silk bowtie. However, over the years, we have seen much evolution in what neckwear men select to wear with their tuxedos. From bowties made out of feathers, velvet, or patterns, the options have become endless.
Even though the options for neckwear have expanded, there are three golden rules to follow when selecting your neckwear:
1) If your tuxedo has a Peak lapel, select a bowtie or formal necktie.
2) If your tuxedo has a Shawl lapel, select a bowtie only.
3) Select a bowtie or formal necktie if your tuxedo has a Notch lapel.
4) Finish Your Look With Proper Formal Shoes
You have three options when selecting what footwear to go with your tuxedo. Typically the only formal shoes that can be worn with a tuxedo are made out of patent leather, traditional calf leather, or velvet.
Typical formal shoes have a plain toe. No perforations or cap toe. Nothing on the toe – just plain.
5) Forget The Belt
Belts are traditionally paired with a suit, never a tuxedo. Tuxedo pants are made to be worn with formal braces held up by formal brace buttons underneath your jacket. These formal braces are needed to keep your pants in place instead of a traditional belt. These braces add a sense of formality to your outfit versus a belt usually worn in a more casual setting.
6) Pay Close Attention To Your Shirt Collar
It is just as crucial to pay attention to your outfit’s fine details as the whole ensemble. That is why choosing a formal shirt collar that looks best with your tuxedo is extremely important to complete your overall look.
A classic white French cuff is the shirt you should always wear with your tuxedo. A French cuff is the only appropriate style of shirt to fit the formality of a tuxedo. Other traditional styles of shirts, such as the barrel cuff, are too casual to be worn to a formal occasion. In addition, a French cuff comes in two different collar styles: a traditional wing collar and a soft turndown collar, also known as the spread collar.
A Turndown Collar
A turndown collar must have a pleated bib to make the shirt formal enough to wear correctly with a tuxedo. Otherwise, this shirt is just a simple white French cuff.
A wing collar is traditionally reserved for the most formal events or white-tie occasions versus a black-tie. With a wing collar, your bow tie’s band will be visible instead of covered. In addition, when wearing a wing collar, your bow tie will sit in front of the wings of the collar instead of the collar’s wings resting on top of the bowtie itself.
7) Your Lapel Depends On Your Shirt
The three traditional types of lapels you will find on a shirt worn with a tuxedo are a Peak, Shaw, and Notch lapel. Each lapel looks best when paired with a specific type of collar on your shirt.
When selecting what lapel looks best with your outfit, our stylists recommend these three guidelines:
- A peak lapel looks best with a traditional spread collar formal shirt.
- A shaw lapel looks great with a wingtip or traditional spread collar formal shirt.
- A notch lapel looks best with a traditional spread collar formal shirt.
Elevate your look by adding some color to your look by finishing your lapel with a lapel blossom that highlights your date’s dress, the color theme in the wedding, or your favorite color.
8) Add Your Personal Touches With Your Sock Choice
As scary as it seems to pair a sock other than plain black, your unconventional sock choice can be a bold statement. Wearing socks that match the color of your tuxedo or for a fashion touch, selecting a colored sock that matches your colored bowtie and lapel blossom could be a great addition to your overall outfit.
Wearing a bold sock shows others you are confident, approachable, and know what you’re doing. Remember, it is all about the details regarding formal wear, and adding an unconventional pair of socks can be the cherry on top.
9) Seek Advice From A Professional
Whether you are renting, buying off the rack, or having your tuxedo custom-made, spend the time to work with a professional stylist that can steer you properly through the best tuxedo models, silhouettes, and styling details that fit your body type and personal style. Having a professional stylist work with you to select your tuxedo can ensure you look your absolute best.
Wearing a tuxedo is a way for any man to portray his best self to the world. Deciding what to wear to a formal occasion does not need to be as painful as others make it out to be. As a recap here are the seven steps our professional custom stylists urge others to follow when deciding on how to wear a tuxedo:
- Studs Are Required With A Placket Shirt
- Plan Ahead
- Pair Your Lapels With The Proper Neckwear
- Finish Your Look With Proper Formal Shoes
- Forget The Belt
- Pay Close Attention To Your Shirt Collar
- Your Lapel Depends On Your Shirt
- Add Your Personal Touches With Your Sock Choice
- Seek Advice From A Professional