A ‘black tie’ dress code has the ability to strike fear in even the most sartorially accomplished. Thanks to the increasingly rare nature of formal events and the James Bond mystique that surrounds it, the humble tux has become something of a fashion anomaly, appearing once a year at most. Daunting as it may be though, it’s also an opportunity for the average man to raise the bar when it comes to the style stakes. And with a few easy pointers, a tuxedo can be the ultimate tool in your fashion arsenal.
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What Shirt To Wear With A Tuxedo
Don’t be tempted. A plain white business shirt with a tuxedo isn’t ok, no matter how you try to swing it. Instead, you need to invest in a dinner shirt. The key difference between these and your stock standard shirt is the concealed placard (the buttons are hidden) and the bib on the front. Bibs come in lots of different shapes and sizes – my preference is a simple plissé front which has very fine pleats.
If you really want to go formal (and spend a little more), the most traditional dinner shirts have studs instead of buttons. These are traditionally made from Onyx and are similar to a cufflink, threaded through button holes to hold the fabric together. Both shirt styles can come in either a standard or a peaked collar. And whereas once the fashion very much leaned to the more traditional peaked style, a classic collar makes for a cleaner and more contemporary look.
Outfitters like Suit Supply, M.J. Bale or Thomas Pink are a great place to find multiple styles and to get fitted properly. Fit is everything with a tux so make sure it’s done properly and tailored if needed.
What Shoes To Wear With A Tuxedo
There are some who argue you can wear standard black Derbys or brogues with a tux – that’s not me. Instead, I’m of the firm belief that shoes are an area where one cannot skimp and this is even more the case when heading to a formal event. Stockists like Aquila have reasonably priced dinner shoes in traditional patent leather that are guaranteed to elevate your black-tie look.
Pair them with fine quality black socks in silk or cashmere. There’s nothing worse than seeing chunky ribbed socks under tuxedo trousers and it pays to invest in a classic pair that you can set aside for formal occasions.
If you’re looking for shoes that are a little bolder, smoking slippers are a chic alternative that also allows for personal flare. Stubbs and Wootton is one of my favourite brands, doing black velvet slippers with flamboyant mismatched embroidery. Some of their classics include tuxedo slippers that have a skull and cross bone design emblazoned across the toes.
Rented Tuxedo Vs Buying Tuxedo
This is a tricky one and it depends entirely on your lifestyle. If you’re attending a one off event, there are some rental services that are totally adequate. However, even if you only attend one black-tie event a year, it’s worth investing in a classic tux. Look for a timeless style – single-breasted with either a satin shawl or peak lapel. Even if your tailoring requirements change over time, it’s easy to alter and unlikely to go out of style.
What Tie To Wear With A Tuxedo
While there are some who opt for a plain black satin necktie, I interpret black-tie as being a strictly bow tie affair. This ensures you look formal and also breaks the outfit up from more day-to-day suiting.
If you have the skills, choose a self-tie bow tie in a stiff satin. While black is always a go-to, this is also a chance to play with something more flamboyant. Look at jacquard fabrics and bold monochrome prints like paisley and spots to add flare while still looking polished.
A self-tie isn’t for everyone though. If you struggle with knotting your own, there are some perfectly acceptable pre-tied styles on the market that can be neatly hidden under a classic collar. My first choice is always Tom Ford who does a sumptuously knotted bow-tie in both black and ivory.
Wearing A Tuxedo Without A Cummerbund
Cummerbunds or sashes, whilst popular in the late 20th century, have fallen from grace alongside the rise of more finished waist bands that include much of the detailing that a cummerbund previously showed. My advice is to look for trousers that have a tabs, a higher rise and a satin waist band. This looks polished and feels infinitely more comfortable than a cummerbund.
How To Wear A White Jacket Tuxedo
Can you wear a white jacket as part of a tuxedo? Yes. Particularly if you’re heading to a black tie event in the warmer months. Traditionally ivory rather than white, this style of dinner jacket is a great way to change up a tuxedo. Look to the likes of Ryan Gosling and Becks for inspiration, pairing it with a classic black tie and impeccably tailored shirts and trousers.