A Guide to the Classic Tuxedo Style: Elements That Contribute to a Proper Tuxedo

The classic tuxedo is among the most elegant and formal outfits that a gentleman will wear. For decades the tuxedo has been the preferred attire at red carpet events, high-society weddings, and benefit galas. However, it can be tricky to know the different elements that contribute to a proper tuxedo. In this blog post, I will explain the classic tuxedo style and the different elements that contribute to a balanced formal outfit, so you can make an informed decision when purchasing one.

The Classic Tuxedo Style:

The traditional tuxedo consists of the following elements:

  1. The Jacket: The tuxedo jacket is typically black, navy, or midnight blue, with a satin lapel, satin-covered buttons, and jetted pockets. It is usually a single-breasted jacket with one or two buttons, and may have either a peaked lapel or a shawl collar. The fit of the jacket is essential, and it should be tailored to fit snugly without being too tight. For the daring gentleman, a double-breasted tuxedo will be sure to draw positive attention if worn correctly.

  2. The Shirt: The tuxedo shirt is typically white or ivory, with a wing or spread collar. The front of the shirt usually features a pleated or pique bib, and features two sets of buttonholes to accommodate studs. In some cases, the buttons may be covered by a separate flap of fabric, called a “fly front.” The cuffs may be either French or convertible, with cufflinks as the preferred closure.

  3. The Pants: The tuxedo pants are typically black or navy, with a satin stripe down the side of the leg. They should fit well, without being too tight or too loose, and should be hemmed to the proper length. A slight break on the top of the shoe is customary, and despite recent trends the pants should not be too short as to show the sock or ankle when standing.

  4. The Bow Tie: The bow tie is an essential component of the classic tuxedo style. A black or midnight blue silk bow tie that is either self tied or pre-tied is appropriate for the general formal or black-tie dress code. Pre-tied bows should be well-made and elegantly tied, and clip-on bow ties should be avoided. For white-tie dress code events, a white cotton pique bow tie is the appropriate choice.

  5. The Cummerbund or Vest: The cummerbund or vest is optional, but can add an extra layer of formality to the tuxedo. The cummerbund should be black, and the vest should match the color of the jacket. These are a good choice for gentlemen who like to remove their jacket over the course of the evening, as they help keep the shirt tails tucked neatly while still allowing you to move freely.

  6. The shoe: Tuxedos typically feature black patent-leather pumps or oxfords. If patent-leather is not your top choice, a high polish full-grain leather black dress shoe can be worn as well. For an unconventional choice, velvet pumps or loafers can be worn; however, these may not be appropriate for events with stricter dress codes. Brown leather or suede dress shoes or sneakers should be avoided.

The classic tuxedo is a timeless and elegant style that is essential for men who want to project a polished image at formal events. By understanding the different elements that contribute to a proper tuxedo, you should no longer be intimidated by that “black-tie optional” line on your best friend’s wedding invitation.