It’s definitely not rocket science, but there are some unwritten rules that men have to contend when it comes to tuxedo styles. Let's dig in.
Our approach to content is the same as our approach to building a great wardrobe: it's about quality, not quantity. We only recommend products we believe in and would buy for ourselves or a friend.
Your trust is our #1 priority, always. Please reach out with any questions, concerns or suggestions ([email protected]).
What we’ll cover
Learning about tuxedo styles isn’t one of those heart-warming rites of passage like a father teaching his son to shave. Dad didn’t say “alright, now we’re going to talk about lapels” after you toweled off your adolescent chin.
It’s definitely not rocket science, but there are some unwritten rules that men have to contend when it comes to tuxedo styles. It can be hard to know if you’re getting it all right. In this guide, we talk you through everything you need to know and think about when choosing your next tuxedo. So, whether you’re a groom looking for inspiration for your wedding day or simply trying to keep up with trends for your next formal occasion, we have your back.
Not everyone has the same body type, but everyone should strive for a similar fit with their tuxedo.
There are a few simple rules to follow that make this painless to wrap your head around:
There will be some variability on tightness or looseness based on the style of fit you choose – classic, modern or slim.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move onto the individual pieces that make up tuxedo styles.
Without a doubt, the most essential part of a tuxedo is the jacket. There are a lot of subtle details going on with a tuxedo jacket, so choosing one isn’t always a straightforward affair.
There are important details to consider, the most important being the design of the lapel.
Lapels are the folded flaps across the front of a tuxedo jacket. They go from around the collar and slim to an end at the top button. If you’ve ever watched the Oscars, you’ve seen a lot of different colors and shapes of lapels.
But for us average people there are just three main types of lapels:
A notch lapel is seen as something of the standard when it comes to men’s suits and is generally considered a more casual look. They adorn many jackets, not just modern tuxedos, and are seen on everything from business suits to sports coats.
A notch lapel is distinguishable by its ‘notch’ where the lapel fabric meets with the collar’s material. These lapel forms look great on tuxedos, but they probably aren’t advised for the most formal events, given their slightly more casual appearance.
Don’t let the name put you off – shawl collars aren’t something your great-aunt used to wear to the county fair. Shawl collars are a more rounded lapel shape usually spotted on high-end dinner jackets and tuxedos.
Seen as slightly less formal than peak lapels (which we will discuss below), shawl collars are still a statement lapel that shouldn’t be worn to occasions less than ‘events,’ such as charity fundraisers, proms, and potentially even weddings – depending on the dress code.
Finally, a peak lapel consists of edges that ‘peak’ slightly towards the wearer’s face and are slightly wider than the more informal notch lapels. These are only seen in the highest of formal gatherings and are viewed as a statement.
If you have the confidence to don a peak lapel, due to them pointing upwards, they can give the appearance of making the wearer slightly slimmer and taller.
The tuxedo shirt is often overlooked as a necessity for modern tuxedo styles. Therefore, many people don’t pay much attention to the type of shirt they wear. After all, it’s not the focal point when you are wearing a tuxedo jacket.
However, a carefully planned tuxedo shirt can make all the difference in the complete look, and this is where you can let your taste shine through to compliment the entire suit.
The first thing to consider is the all-important collar. Generally speaking, there are 2 to choose from:
Wingtips are the most formal option of the two designs and are named due to the collar points that resemble wings. This type of collar is only suitable for a black bow tie (or another color, within reason), so if your tux is laid-back, you should avoid the wing tip. A tie should never be worn with a collar of this type.
The spread collar is undoubtedly much more versatile and open to interpretation than the wing tip. They can also be worn with dinner jackets, so they don’t always have to accompany a tuxedo.
You’ll be forgiven if you don’t know what a shirt placket is or where it is located. But it’s one of those things that you know, even if you don’t know the name.
A placket is the material that runs down the center of the shirt where the buttonholes are located.
There are four main types:
The front placket is the most worn type and, thankfully, it’s suitable for just about any occasion. It’s distinguishable by the fabric being folded and interlocked with underlining, giving a subtle, yet classic look.
A French front is simply a shirt without a placket. It’s a more modern look, and it’s also perfect for more casual affairs. It might not be the best choice for a tux, unless you’re looking to go bold.
A fly front, in complete contrast to a French front, is much more formal-looking and beautifully rounds off just about any tuxedo style. An extra layer of fabric covers the buttons so they stay hidden.
While having a similar aesthetic appeal to the French front, the tuxedo front has removable buttons (usually the top 4) to make way for tuxedo studs. This type of front should be only worn with a tuxedo – so it won’t work for less formal occasions.
There are two forms of cuffs that you should look out for on a tux shirt – barrel cuffs and French cuffs.
Barrel cuffs are generally easy to manage. No cuff links are required, for one thing. They are fastened with buttons and are commonly seen on many types of regular shirts, too. However, you can purchase dress shirts with buttonholes that can be used for cufflinks if you wish.
French cuffs are considered a more formal shirt style and, you guessed it, are used to accommodate cufflinks. This can be a great look, particularly if you have a set of high-end cufflinks to add. This shirt will only suit a black tie dress code, anything less formal could make them look out of place. But honestly, just do you.
Now for the funnest tuxedo-related word to say: the cummerbund.
A cummerbund is a sash worn around the waist outside of your shirt and under your tux jacket.
There are three options here:
The cummerbund was initially invented as an ingenious way to hide the unsightly bulge that can often occur when your shirt rides up and scrunches around your middle.
These look incredibly dapper, but many men are moving away from this look as it is becoming an archaic and unnecessary accessory to add to tuxedo styles. If you do decide that you want to wear one, it is an unwritten but fundamental rule that the material and color must match that of your lapels.
And, when wearing a cummerbund, remember something else: only consider a bow tie; a regular tie just won’t work.
A vest, sometimes known as a waistcoat, is only to be worn at formal events. These are low cut, lower than a regular suit vest, to bring your tux shirt to the forefront. Just make sure you fasten all the buttons, as per etiquette.
If you are into more crisp, modern tuxedo styles, you might want to consider going without anything other than your shirt. It’s an increasingly popular choice and one you might want to consider.
Tux pants should accentuate the entirety of the formal attire while blending in seamlessly. Below we discuss two factors to consider.
Tux pants have a vertical stripe made from satin running from the top to the bottom of each leg. These have the distinct advantage of making the wearer look taller.
Thanks to the versatility of tuxedo styles and pants, you can match these pants with just about anything.
While many men prefer the black tuxedo styles that will never go out of fashion, you can opt for a pop of color or pattern. Tuxedo pants can be paired with a dinner jacket for a more modern look. You may even want to consider a white dinner jacket matched with white pants -the choice is yours.
Traditionally, pleated pants were considered the dressier option, but in modern tux and suit style, most men prefer flat front pants. If you’re choosing between the two, we’d recommend going with the flat front look.
Also, your tuxedo pants should never have a cuff – it would interrupt the satin stripe and potentially make your pants look a little messy.
Tuxedo pants almost never have belt loops. Basically, you’re just not supposed to wear a belt with a tuxedo, with very few exceptions.
You don’t necessarily have to wear suspenders if you have well-fitted pants. But adding suspenders to your tux gives it a classic look – plus its functional style (they keep your pants up).
While you want to look bright and well-turned out at any black tie events or formal receptions, less can be so much more when it comes to shoes.
Remember, the tux is the star of the show, and it’s already quite the impressive statement without the need for in-your-face footwear.
Even when keeping it simple, there are some things to consider.
2 of the primary considerations you should be thinking about are:
Cap toe shoes have those subtle extra details that you might want to think about. After all, you’ve already gone all out on your suit; what’s to stop a little extra bit of class?
Patent leather is one of those choices you don’t need to fuss about as you can’t go wrong. Simple, yet oh-so-refined.
Tux accessories, while fun, shouldn’t be overdone. Other than a watch, these accessories should be kept to a minimum. A few other considerations that could be made are:
This may seem silly to some, but wearing a premium undershirt can actually add a lot to your look by what it takes away. Most men are used to cheap, basic cotton undershirts. That’s not the way.
A proper undershirt should have a streamlined fit that gently hugs your body and avoids the dreaded “undershirt gut” that comes from poor-fitting undershirts. UnderFit makes the best undershirts to wear with a suit or tuxedo because that’s exactly what they’re made for.
They stay tucked in. They’re breathable. They’ll keep you dry. And it’s just the perfect fit.
Cufflinks give an insight into the personality of a man. This is where you can be more flexible regarding tuxedo styles and play around with different colors and styles. If you are privy to more formal events and want to keep that side of you to a minimum, subtle yet classy plain metallic ones will go a long way.
Button studs should only be considered on a tux shirt. Try to match your studs with the button studs on the shirt for an elegant look.
If you want your tuxedo pants to stay up, you’re not going to be able to wear a belt. Therefore, suspenders are your only option. These look smart and sophisticated, adding a certain charm to various tuxedo styles.
A bow tie is a ‘should I, shouldn’t I?’ question many men face. Bow ties certainly have their place and can finish a tux look beautifully, but generally, they should be kept for formal events only.
Hopefully, our guide has given you some solid advice regarding tuxedo styles, including what to look for and when to wear what. It’s not every day you have to wear one of these bad boys, so it’s important that you show up looking your best.
I know we said it before, but I’d be remiss not to reiterate the value a high-quality undershirt can offer for our tuxedo-clad friends. You won’t have to worry about sweating or staying cool or body odor. You can experience true comfort, look better and most importantly, feel your best. Check out what UnderFit undershirts can do for you – and if you don’t want to take our word for it, check out reviews from hundreds of our customers.
Try UnderFit for 100 days. Experience mind-blowing softness or get your money back.