Most men feel inadequate when it comes to tuxedo events. Black tie? Very formal? You’re already starting to sweat. But learning how to wear a tuxedo should be celebrated, not shunned. How often do we actually get the chance to dress like the rich and famous – a sleek black tux and patent leather shoes with equally slicked hair – and revel in a 007 reality?
Shaken, not stirred, here’s our official guide on how to wear a tuxedo. We’ve broken down the main pieces and accessories you’ll need, as well as key styling tips for the tuxedo gent: classic, contemporary and creative.
Click through the slideshow for the best tuxedos – low and high prices – this season.
View the tuxedo as a chance to invest in something nice. So, if you have the money, go for bespoke: luxurious fabrics, exquisite detailing and a glove-like cut. Buying off the rack? Look for simple elegance. The tux should fit comfortably and flatter your shape but shouldn’t appear too slim or skinny. Refrain from trends when it comes to the cut, striking upon a tux that can be whipped out for any formal event. And for many years to come.
JacketGetting the most out of your tux starts with fabric: pure wool is your go-to. Meanwhile, silk (with a slub finish), cashmere and velvet are off-kilter tux materials that add texture and a less-classic style dimension to your tux.
Now colour. Opt for classic black or midnight blue to stand out from other guests. Burgundy is a more fashion-y take on navy, while while, cream and beige are proving popular jacket tones.
The most common dinner jacket style in use today is the single-breasted and single button variety, finished with satin lapels. However, double-breasted has returned majorly. So adopt, if you want a statement piece for today, steeped in tradition.
Finally, lapels. Peak lapels are the most traditional style of collar for tux jackets, oozing high-brow formality over a the business-y notch. Shawl collars are a polished alternative, however, which will feel more contemporary and unique among all those typical peaks.
TrouserThe trouser – on the outset – looks a little less interesting. But it’s packed full of options. There’s the traditional: a regular-cut leg for movement with high-rise waist. The high-rise sits nicely if you’re inclined to wear a waist coat, the under-piece obscuring an untidy waistband.
Contemporaries should opt for a the slim-leg dinner trouser, with a mid-rise cut. For a touch of luxe, why not try a satin waistband, a modern alternative to the cumbersome cummerbund, which isn’t used much nowadays.
To fabric. Go only for a cloth woven from wool – and with a mohair-blend so a luxe-sheen. But, never velvet as it tends to sit badly and look cheap. There’s sartorial fun to be had with patterns, however, going traditional with satin tuxedo stripes down the trouser, or a statement plaid such as blackwatch – a touch of reigned in punk/royalism to your bottoms.
Bow TieThe bow tie is your tuxedo crown. Do away with anything clip-on or pre-tied, that’s just laziness. Self-tie bows make for a far superior finish, open to a personalisation of size, shape and style, compared to the faux-perfect clip-on.
Barathea silk is the traditional tie fabric – matte and grainy in texture. Nowadays, used shiny silk and satin are more popular, but there’s something dapper about barathea. For a plush alternative, go velvet, but only if you wearing a wool jacket. Don’t match velvet for velvet. Traditionalists or first-timers, keep it black. It’s your safest bet.
How To Style The Tux
Traditional black tie ensembles consist of a dinner suit, white shirt and bow tie. The shirt should be a white evening shirt with a wing or turndown collar, as well as a bib, French cuffs and studs. The bow tie should come in the same material as your lapel, while the shoes need to be black Oxford shoes and in patent leather for extra class.
Your biggest point of difference? Grooming. Focus on a well-kept beard or go clean-shaven. For your hair, you have even more choice: side-part slick, low man bun or a modern bowl cut? Let loose.
The rules for tuxedo styling are being rewritten each and every season, leading to ever-changing updates. The tuxedo’s been split into a dinner jacket and trouser separates too, to be played around with in colour and material.
Look to burgundy, deep purple and olive green for a modern tuxedo colour, dark navy or midnight blue being the most classic of hues (aside from black). Replace oxfords for less formal derby or a monk strap shoe for modern kick.
But accessories are your chance to peacock: mother of pearl cufflinks, a plump velvet bow tie and a pastel silk boutonniere and paisley pocket square style identifiers that traditional black tie won’t allow.
The dinner jacket part of the tuxedo is man’s smart casual friend these days. A perfect night-time look, opt for a dark coloured velvet dinner jacket with a floral jacquard detail if you like pattern and texture. A peak lapel is a statement design, modernised with black button-up shirt – no tie – with slim fit pants and Jodhpur boots – the leather-buckled Chelsea’s giving a glam-rock finish to the tux jacket.
Feeling Euro-chic, switch in a fine-gauge roll neck sweater under the jacket. And the bohemian should look to an open-neck granddad shirt, slipping on velvet pumps or loafers with tassels or an embroidered detail. Scrap the bow tie for a neckerchief. Très chic.