Ultimate Guide to Wearing a Tuxedo

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So you’ve nar­rowed down your wed­ding suit options to a tuxedo—now what? 

First of all, let us con­grat­u­late you on this momen­tous deci­sion. Out of all the options and col­ors out there you’ve opt­ed for a tuxe­do and that is just amaz­ing. James Bond would be proud. And so are we. 

Sec­ond­ly, it’s time to get down to busi­ness. Tuxe­dos, while far supe­ri­or to any old suit, are also more com­plex. There’s a lot that goes into pulling off a tuxe­do and we’re here to make sure you do it right.

closeup of groom in black tuxedo

The Occasion

First, for those of you who may not have made your deci­sion yet, is defin­ing the prop­er occa­sion to wear a tuxe­do. Tux­es are more for­mal than suits, mean­ing that the event you wear a tuxe­do to is going to be for­mal and the dress the bride will wear will be for­mal. Over­all, it’s just a big prom. Just kid­ding.

But sin­cere­ly, yes, tuxedo’s are the go-to menswear for a black-tie event. You get the chance to wear an out­fit that you may only wear that one time in your life. This is a big deal.

Want to be ultra classy, but black­’s not your col­or (which is pret­ty much impos­si­ble)? Not to wor­ry. A tuxe­do does­n’t have to be black. In fact, am absolute­ly pos­i­tive you’ve seen a white tuxe­do jack­et before. It’s up there with black for one of the classi­est looks around. Oth­er than that, you can also eas­i­ly find tuxe­dos in blues and grays.

groom and groomsmen in black tuxedos

The Staples

Your tuxe­do jack­et will be slight­ly dif­fer­ent than your aver­age suit jack­et. The biggest dif­fer­ence is satin. The but­tons of your tuxe­do jack­et will be cov­ered with satin and you will also have a fan­cy satin lapel that comes in one of three styles—notch, peak, and shawl. Notch and peak lapels are found on suits as well as tuxe­dos, but those nice shawl lapels are par­tic­u­lar to tux­es.

Notch lapels are a great go-to when you’re not sure which lapel style to go with. It’s per­fect­ly clas­sic and sim­ple. Peak lapels are a lit­tle step up, for a slight­ly more for­mal look. They are ele­gant and elon­gat­ing. Shawl lapels are more round­ed and nos­tal­gic, but still a pol­ished choice.

generation tux lapel guide

Your tuxe­do pant will also be dif­fer­ent. A satin stripe will be down the sides of your tuxe­do pants. Tux pants do not have belt loops and you, there­fore, should not, under any cir­cum­stance, wear a belt with a tuxe­do. Occa­sion­al­ly, these pants will come with an adjustable waist, but if you need extra sup­port, grab a pair of sus­penders. Your tux pants may also include a rub­bery strip in the wait to ensure that your shirt does not slip from its crisp tuck. 

Your tuxe­do shirt will often have pleats down the front, mark­ing it above a stan­dard dress shirt. It may also have a wingtip col­lar for wear­ing bowties and places for cuf­flinks and shirt studs.

closeup of groom in white tuxedo

The Bells and Whistles

As we said, tux­es are more com­pli­cat­ed than your aver­age suit, being twice as for­mal, after all. Here’s a com­pre­hen­sive list of all the extra things you need to make sure you have when putting togeth­er your tuxe­do ensem­ble.

  • Patent leather shoes: Glossy shoes are only be worn with tuxe­dos and nev­er with suits. How­ev­er, mat­te shoes can be worn in place of glassy with a tux, if you pre­fer.
  • Cuf­flinks: Cuf­flinks, in either a sim­ple or per­son­al­ized design, go on the cuffs of your tuxe­do shirt. First through the hole in the out­er part of your cuff and then through the hole between the two but­tons on the oth­er side.
  • Shirt studs: Studs are the lit­tle black but­tons you see paired with a tuxe­do. Your tux shirt will have reg­u­lar but­tons and you will need to add these to your shirt for that extra bit of pol­ish. There will be five studs for your shirt and they will be insert­ed into the sec­ondary hole above each reg­u­lar but­ton, start­ing at the sec­ond but­ton of your shirt. You will use the studs, rather than the but­tons, to fas­ten your shirt.
  • Bow tie: A bow tie, rather than a long tie, should be worn with a tuxe­do and, more often than not, it will be black. Make sure your bow tie is adjust­ed prop­er­ly so that it is it sit­ting upright and not sag­ging.
  • Pock­et square: Pock­et squares are not a neces­si­ty, but they help add anoth­er lev­el of pol­ish to your ensem­ble. With a tuxe­do, your pock­et square will often be white.
  • Sus­penders: As we men­tioned in the sec­tion above, belts should nev­er be worn with tuxe­dos and sus­penders should be worn instead if you need some­thing else hold­ing up your pants.
  • Vest or cum­mer­bund: Either a vest or a cum­mer­bund can be worn with a tuxe­do, with the cum­mer­bund being the more tra­di­tion­al option. Cum­mer­bunds should  be worn with the pleats fac­ing up. Your tuxe­do vest will have an adjustable strap in the back to make sure it is snug, but not too tight. Your vest  should be smooth to cre­ate a clean sil­hou­ette under­neath your jack­et. The cum­mer­bund also has an adjustable strap used for fit­ting and any excess mate­r­i­al can be tucked into an inside pock­et.
groom and groomsmen in black tuxedos

Fit

With such a refined look as the tuxe­do, it is cru­cial to get the right fit.

The sleeves of your shirt should land at your wrist where your hand starts to widen, with your jack­et sleeves leav­ing about a half inch of your shirt cuff show­ing. This leaves room for show­ing off your cuf­flinks with­out swim­ming or shrink­ing in your jack­et. You shouldn’t see an “X” shape in the chest of your jack­et, or a gap at the back of your neck; these indi­cate your jack­et is too small and too big, respec­tive­ly.

Your tuxe­do pants should sit at your nat­ur­al waist, right below your bel­ly but­ton. Your pant legs should not pool around your ankles. This is called the break and it should only be about half an inch and land at the back of your shoe.

generation tux suit and tuxedo fit guide

Tuxedo Tips

  1. Jack­et but­toned when stand­ing and unbut­toned when sit­ting. When but­toned, your top but­ton should always be but­toned and your bot­tom but­ton should remain unbut­toned.
  2. If you’re not wear­ing cuf­flinks, you will clasp the but­tons on your cuff. Your shirt sleeve should hit your wrist right at the begin­ning of your hand. If your sleeve it too long, use the out­er­most but­ton to close your cuff.
  3. Oth­er com­pa­nies will pro­vide you with four shirt studs, instead of five. We include the extra for the but­ton direct­ly above your waist, in case you decide not to wear a cum­mer­bund or vest. 
  4. Cum­mer­bunds should  be worn with the pleats fac­ing up, as they were  orig­i­nal­ly used to catch crumbs that fell dur­ing a meal.
  5. Make sure you fas­ten your shirt cuffs, with either a but­ton or a cuf­flink, before putting on your jack­et.
  6. The bot­tom but­ton of your vest should be left unbut­toned.
closeup of groom in gray tuxedo

If you hadn’t ful­ly com­mit­ted to wear­ing a tuxe­do, this should have giv­en you plen­ty of cause. Tuxe­dos are the ulti­mate show of ele­gance and class, even if they’re a bit more dif­fi­cult to wear. But don’t let this suade you, if you’ve already gone with a suit. Suits are plen­ty great, in their own rite. Want more inspi­ra­tion? View our gallery.

If you’re ready to pick one out, browse our tuxe­dos to see what we have to offer to make your black-tie wed­ding extra­or­di­nary. Still not con­vinced? Test dri­ve one for  your­self with our Home Try-On pro­gram so you can see and feel the dif­fer­ence for your­self.

Order Home try-On

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