It’s exciting to get the invitation, whether it’s to a friend’s wedding or a formal event. And then you realize that it’s "black tie" and you’re going to need a tux…and that can feel a little intimidating. But fear not, the choices are pretty straightforward, and we’re here to help you through the process.
The essential elements
The first rule of tuxedos is that a black suit is not a tuxedo, no matter how it is accessorized. If you’re not sure what makes a tux, here are some guidelines:
They’ll always have some kind of satin stripe running down the outside of each leg, and they never have belt loops or cuffs.
While they all should have satin lapels and satin-covered buttons, the collars can vary. You can choose from a single-breasted peak lapel (traditional), a shawl lapel (modified traditional), and a notch lapel (more conventional).
At present, the two- or three-button notch lapel tuxedo jackets are popular. It’s hard to go wrong with this style. And while it may not look as formal or traditional as a shawl collar or a single-breasted peak lapel model, it is always elegant and universally flattering.
Try to avoid anything too trendy when purchasing a tuxyou want this to be something you can wear in the years to come.
Vest or cummerbund? Bow tie or Euro tie? Colours and patterns? In truth, there are no right answers. It’s all a matter of taste. But there are some things a man should know before making any decisions.
These days, vests are more popular than cummerbunds. Cummerbunds are wonderfully traditional and, to many, will always be an essential component of a tuxedo. And if you decide to go with a cummerbund, FYI, the pleats on cummerbunds face up "to catch the crumbs" or "to hold the opera tickets."
What about ties? When in doubt, a bow tie is the way to go. Nothing says "tuxedo" like a bow tie, and it can be argued that it is the true formalwear neckwear. Euro ties or four-in-hand ties, on the other hand, are extremely popular right now. They have an understated elegance and tend to make a tux look a little more like a suit, which some men prefer. These ties also look particularly good with vests, which may account for their growing popularity.
Look for pleats or a textured "bib" on the front. Vertical ribbing is most common, but any distinctive texture is usually acceptable, with the exception of ruffles. Tuxedo shirts most often feature either a design that accommodates studs in place of buttons or a covered placket, and French cuffs are preferred. Stick with classic colours like white or ivory; if you want to add colour, try doing it with your accessories.
This one is simple: tuxedo shoes are patent leather shoes. Always have been, always will be. But take heart. There are many styles of patent leather shoes to choose from. Make sure that they’re comfortable, especially if you’re going to be dancing or on your feet for hours.
The finishing touches: looking your best
Sometimes it’s the little details that can make the look. You’re getting dressed up, so act like it. Get a haircut and make sure you’ve just had a nice close shave. Your tuxedo will look sharpmake sure that the rest of you does as well. And when you know you look good, it’s time to focus on other things, like enjoying yourself at the big event.