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How to wear a tuxedo

Updated on July 29, 2011

Why do I need a tuxedo?

You don't NEED a tuxedo, but you might have to wear one on occasion. Tuxedo's are the classiest thing a man can wear, and it's important to wear it right. There are specific rules in the world of fashion, and the one time you don't want to break them is when you're wearing a tux. Although normally seen at weddings, a tuxedo also might be a good choice for a very formal event.

When wearing a tux to a wedding, you should generally be sure that a tuxedo is appropriate. If you aren't the groom or one of the groomsmen, there's a chance a tuxedo might be too classy for you. Although it is a general rule that it's better to overdress than underdress, you don't want to show up the groom if he isn't wearing a tuxedo.

White or black tuxedo?

This is a very good question. Black tuxedos are the standard, but a white tux will stand out and look quite classy. A white dinner jacket with a black bow tie will have you looking very James Bond-ish, which isn't a bad thing. Stick to the rules that women follow: never wear white after Labor Day. The white dinner jacket is something you should bring out in the spring or for a great look at a summer wedding.

How should my tuxedo fit?

When you get sized for a tuxedo, they'll take your measurements and pass them on to the tailor. You should get sized for a tux at least a couple months ahead of time, because you'll want to try it on after it comes back from the tailor to make sure it fits right. You need to make time for this second fitting, because you might have to send it back to be tailored again.

Anyone who sells or rents tuxedos should know how they're supposed to fit, so I'm not going to go into too much detail here. Obviously it should not look loose and sloppy and the pants shouldn't hug to hips.

Do I wear a dress shirt or a pleated shirt?

Always wear a pleated shirt with a tuxedo. It just makes the tuxedo look so much better. If you're buying a tuxedo you'll want to invest in studs and matching cufflinks. They aren't that expensive, usually under $40.

What kind of shoes should I wear with a tuxedo?

If you are renting a tuxedo, they'll probably size you for a pair of those shiny plastic shoes. I'm pretty sure these are the same shoes they put on corpses before putting them in the ground. If you're going to own a tuxedo, you'll want a nice pair of shoes to go with it. These dress shoes should be polished to a mirror shine. Nothing looks worse than a tuxedo with shoes that have a matte finish. Never ever ever wear sneakers or anything other than dress shoes with a tuxedo. If you don't know how to shine your dress shoes, find someone who does. I can stress enough how you need to have shined dress shoes.

Do I need a cummerbund?

A tuxedo should be worn with either a cummerbund or a vest that sits low on the torso. If you have a very slim body it's ok to have a cummerbund in a color other than black. If you're fat or even a little overweight, you'll look like a clown if you've got a colored cummerbund. Also, big people should go with the cummerbund over the vest.

Should my tuxedo jacket have tails?

A tuxedo jacket can have tails, but you need to be aware of the special fashion rules that come with that. Tails are considered very classy, but the God of Fashion has declared that they shall only be worn with a white bow tie. That's the rule, don't ask me to explain why. DO NOT wear a black tie with a tuxedo jacket that has tails.

Should I buy or rent a tuxedo?

If you are going to wear a tuxedo twice in the same year, I suggest you buy rather than rent. It's nice to have one in your closet just in case, and the cost of buying is usually only about 2-3 times the amount of renting.


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