There’s an argument to be made that there is nothing more stylish and essentially male than a tuxedo. After all, a man should never look better than he does when he’s wearing one. They’re also extremely flattering to any male figure and are so ingrained in our menswear history that they will never ever go out of style. Surely, it’s worth an investment?
From a purist standpoint I’m sure that I’m expected to tell you that you should invest in a black tuxedo with all the usual trimmings – grosgrain notch lapels, matching bow tie, single stripe trousers and no cummerbund. But seriously, how boring is that? I mean, if you want to do that then why don’t you just read the guide I did on them a couple of years ago? I only want imaginative guys taking this week’s style journey with me, son!
Black is not your only option when it comes to a tuxedo. There are plenty more choices to be made in regards to colour and ways to wear it. But first, and as always, let’s make sure you get the basics down first.
Of course, I’m taking about fit. And this reigns true over all price ranges. It’s right that you should probably look to spend a little more than you usually do on this piece of formal wear, because it’s the one moment in your life you’re supposed to look invincible. Quality will play a big role in that. However, quality is additional whereas fit is a must. Every time. So I have no problem when you spend within your means on a tuxedo, my only issue is when you decide not to factor any of your budget on tailoring it to fit you perfectly.
It’s important to decide what sort of details you want before you go for a change of colour. There’s nothing worse than buying an alternative tuxedo and hating wearing it because you’re not a fan of satin shawl collars. If in doubt always go for a grosgrain notch lapel as it flatters every man’s frame.
So where do we go from here? Just about anywhere:
Traditionally, a midnight blue tuxedo was a far more popular option amongst gentlemen. It looks better and has more depth under most lighting, giving your overall look a sense of richness. They work in exactly the same way as a black tux, so go for whatever details you like and it won’t fail.
The bonus of this style is that blue is much more versatile in terms of separates – try wearing just the jacket with some (dress) chinos or wool trousers on a formal night out.
Just as long as it isn’t a black peak lapel tuxedo, just wear it like you would a suit. Pair it with slightly more laid back pieces like an indigo chambray dress shirt or a black button down shirt for the perfect evening outfit.
Also think about the colours your suits come in and apply them to your tux. Who’s to say that it can’t be in grey? Or our current autumn/winter favourite; Burgundy? As long as you keep the fit slim and the details minimal and classic you can’t go wrong.
GQ USA did a great shoot with new Bond villain Javier Bardem called ‘Dress For The Night You Want’ where they swapped the tuxedo jacket for a perfectly fitted black leather jacket. It’s a great twist on the black tie dress code and works well because you nearly always end up taking off your jacket once the event gets going anyway.
Other options could be a black shawl neck cardigan or raw selvedge indigo denim jacket. Black tie is more of a guideline these days anyway.
Reconsider your tuxedo trousers too! All too often we neglect our lower half in favour of the upper.
The great thing tuxedo trousers is that even the ones made from wool can still be light and breathable enough to wear all year round. I took to wearing my midnight blue pair during the summer with a neutral striped polo shirt that took my days from boring and predictable to unique and chic with one easy swap.
The details make the gentleman, so pay attention to how you can change them to lift your tux game. Try a grey dress shirt with your black tux, or a light blue one with your midnight blue.
As I said, aside from the most formal of tux’s, try and have a little fun and play with colours that could compliment or contrast with the rest of the look.
Just don’t mess with the material of the suit, lapels and bow tie because these are the elements that make a tuxedo what it is today. You need to know the rules before you can break them, after all.
The lookbook below showcases a variety of ways you could wear a tuxedo, as well as alternate colour and detailing options. Although some of the pieces may not be strict tuxedo ‘formal wear’ they have been inspired by the style and will hopefully provide you with inspiration and a different mind set when it comes to utilising your tux as a whole and as separates:
So there you have it guys, just a few ideas I have on how to break up your tuxedo monotony. With every from ASOS and H&M to Gucci and Prada making them, there really is no excuse not to own this piece of menswear armour. There is even less of an excuse to not try and make it as versatile and stylish as you can when you do.
So how many of you currently own a tux – straw poll in the comments section please! Also, for those that do, how do you like to wear yours, what colour or detailing did you opt for and have you had any luck wearing it as separates?