The Tuxedo

Ah, the tuxedo, the trickiest item of menswear for any guy to get right. Once it was something to be cherished and relished when it was worn but these days seems to be more like a chore and an obligation for those bound for nuptial-based events. I’ve always thought of any suit that a guy owns as their own suit of armour; once hemmed and tailored to your own personal tastes it should fill you with confidence and valour for the times ahead. Never was it more true for this most masculine of tailoring.

Of course there are a few things to get right when considering a Tux. Firstly, I strongly recommend that you actually purchase one. Seriously, think about the process of hiring one for just a moment. You spend a couple of hundred on a tuxedo that doesn’t really fit you, kind of smells and you have to travel there and back for the pleasure. Yes, buying one will set you back a pretty penny but the amount of use you’ll get out of it (it’ll surprise you as time passes) and how good you’ll feel and look in it will be worth it.

So, first things first, the basics. When buying your first Tuxedo always go for the black suit, white shirt and black tie combination. You’re bound to take off the jacket at some point so keep the shirt on the slim side to avoid any ballooning at the waist. As for which collar to pick, it’s best to stick with a notch for the moment. It’s the simplest version to pull off and lends itself to most men and tie combinations. If you do fancy a Shawl collar (quite popular at the moment) try to keep it on the narrow side. And for all you Tom Ford wannabies out there, when wearing a Peak lapel make sure the tie is just as wide and always wear it with some pride. Other than that, keep your accessories understated, subtle and simple, by which I mean a black leather watch, muted cuff links and black lace up shoes with minimum detailing and you won’t go wrong.

The Tie

Now here’s where a lot of us fall down. A simple rule to follow is that when wearing a Peak lapel Tuxedo be sure to wear nothing other than a bow tie. With a notch or shawl a standard straight tie will do the job and if you really want the bow tie then keep it on the slim side. On top of that, the fabric of the tie should always match the fabric of your suits collar. Velvet for Velvet, Silk for Silk, etc. Finally guys, hopefully none of us are going back to a Prom or school dance anytime soon so always make sure the tie is black. If you do feel the need to express a bit of creativity then try a patterned black and white tie in stripes or dots but leave the bright red bow tie at the back of your wardrobe please. Or, you know, the bottom of your bin.

How To Wear

And as always here are some fool-proof ways of wearing a Tuxedo: –

  • Classic – As mentioned above, black Peak lapelled suit with a white tuxedo shirt and black bow tie. Add a white pocket square to strike a more modern tone and don’t forget to pop your cuffs, if you don’t then what’s the point of a French-cuffed shirt?
  • Alternative – I appreciate that there are some of you out there who don’t want to be dressing up like everyone else at the party. In that case, why not try a Tuxedo in a midnight blue? Again pair it with a white shirt and black tie combination for the best results or if it’s not strictly ‘black tie’ then why not lose the tie and wear a black dress shirt instead?
  • A Velvet Option – Now the important thing to bear in mind with a velvet tux is that it should only be on the suit jacket, never the trouser as well. Keep it understated with a notch lapel and let the fabric do all the talking. Why not try it with a slightly coloured shirt in a pale pink or blue as well, just to show people that you are paying attention.
  • All-White – same rule applies here as well. If you do want to go all out old-Hollywood then make sure it’s with black suit trousers. Try it with a tuxedo shirt that has black linings to separate it from the jacket and I’m pretty sure with this tux a strong gin-based drink is the perfect compliment.

Other than that guys have fun wearing a Tuxedo. It’s one of the few times that you can be 100% sure you are looking your best. Sure it may not have much room for error and creativity but that’s the reason it works so well. Just make sure to never opt for that matching cummerbund, waistcoat and bow tie that so many people seem to think is a GREAT idea. Remember that when wearing a tuxedo you’re heading to either a black tie event or a wedding, you are not heading to a Casino Owners meeting!

Next week we’ll have a look at the ways in which you can dress down your tux.

Matt Allinson