one button black peak lapel tux, black lapelHey Gents,

Let me ask you a question. How often does a man get a chance to wear a tuxedo?

Unless you’re Jack Donaghy, probably not very often.

I’m within that age range where many of my friends are getting engaged and married. In fact, I’m getting married myself (next week!), and when K and I started hardcore planning a few months ago, there was no doubt in my mind I wanted to wear a tuxedo.

Since you’re an EG reader, I’m going to assume you enjoy dressing well and welcome the opportunity that formal events provide to do so 🙂

Keep it classic, minimize embarrassment

If you’re the one getting married, resist all temptation for a cutesy, clever wedding theme and just have one that’s simple and classic, with injections of you and your bride’s personality.

Sound familiar? That’s how I suggest you build your wardrobe as well… simple and classic, with small personal touches of color, pattern, and texture. Just keep it tasteful and minimal… same with your wedding theme.

Think about it: your wedding is the one day where it’s all about you (and your wife-to-be, of course). This is your moment, so why not keep it classy and formal?

You want to minimize embarrassment (notice I say minimize, not “avoid completely”, because that’s most likely impossible) as much as possible, because ten, twenty, thirty years from now, you want your photos to look classic, not trendy or corny.


I mean, take a good look at the photo above. Sure, in the 70s, guys had long, feathered hair… and yeah, the tuxedos are brown (which I actually think is pretty damn awesome), but imagine if they were black… it would be a straight-forward, classic look, wouldn’t you agree?

Don’t mistake formal for stuffy and boring. You can still get down on the dance floor while being impeccably dressed, and on your special day, you don’t want to look like anything but your very best.

Get on the same level as your wife-to-be

Here’s another reason to go the formal route for your wedding: Your lovely wife is going to look absolutely stunning in her dress. And you’re going to show up in, what… a tucked-in dress shirt and some khakis?

Why not look equally as dashing in a tuxedo?

Tropical isn’t an excuse for casual

I’m getting married in Hawaii, and so naturally when K and I started to plan, we Googled a bunch of stuff.

I came across numerous destination wedding photos similar to this one, where the groom and his groomsmen are in some form of casual island wear… for the wedding!


Tropical weather is indeed relaxing, but isn’t an excuse to relax your appearance, especially at your own wedding.

Keep it formal. Even if you’re exchanging vows in the sand, it doesn’t give you an excuse to wear baggy chinos and a billowy white untucked dress shirt with flip flops.

If you still want to keep it casual, make it the put-together sort of casual, not the sloppy, baggy casual.

Find clothes that fit, tuck in your shirt, and put on a tie and jacket, please… Even if it’s an unlined, unstructured linen version.

Pulling off the tuxedo, the right way

Okay, you’re convinced. Your wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event and you want to go all out. Or perhaps you’re attending a friend’s Black Tie formal wedding. How exactly do you wear a tuxedo? Are there a different set of rules?

Well, yes, there are. I’ll let Black Lapel explain it to you in picture form, and Real Men Real Style has a great explanation of the finer details of Black Tie (both in video form and article form).

Here’s my short and sweet advice: Approach your tuxedo acquisition the same way you would a suit… go as classic as possible for maximum utility.

Since tuxedo options are relatively limited, the devil is in the details, namely fit and proportion. Same rules for fit apply to your tux as they would to a regular suit you purchase.

Tuxedo characteristics

A traditional tuxedo jacket has a single button closure, a shawl or peak lapel, a similarly-colored satin on the lapels, cloth-covered buttons, no vent (or a double vent), and jetted pockets (no flaps covering the opening).

Traditional tuxedo trousers should have no belt loops (either tab waistband or suspenders / braces), no cuffs, and sometimes, a similarly-colored satin stripe running down the outseam.

Traditionally, you want to wear a white shirt with a turndown collar, studs (instead of plastic buttons), and french cuffs with links that match the studs. Alternatively, you can wear a dress shirt with a covered placket (an extra strip of fabric that covers the buttons of your shirt).

You’ll also (again, traditionally) want to cover your waist, either with a cummerbund or a waistcoat (sort of like a vest, but meant for formal occasions / to be worn with tuxedos).

Finally, stick with a black bow tie and polished black oxford dress shoes to finish off the look.

Since you’re doing Black Tie formal, you want to stick to tradition as closely as possible. Do the best you can.

First, make sure it’s okay to wear one

You can’t just go around wearing a tuxedo all willy nilly. Make sure it’s appropriate to wear one at the event you’re attending!

Let’s assume we’re still talking about weddings. If you’re the groom, and it’s your wedding, and your wedding is Black Tie formal, you should wear a tux. If you’re simply an attendee at a wedding, and you’re certain the dress code is Black Tie formal (or Black Tie optional), you can wear a tux.

If you’re attending a wedding and you’re unsure of the dress code, if the dress code is anything but formal, or if you’re the groom and you’re having a non-formal wedding theme… then don’t wear a tux.

Makes sense, right?

Here’s a bit more general info about how to dress for formal events via Real Men Real Style.

How to buy a tuxedo, where to go, what to look for

Buying a tuxedo can be expensive. But, ironically enough, it can also be relatively affordable (Behold! The power of the Internet).

As far as pricing, you can go super high end, middle of the road, or budget.

Just like with regular suiting, you want to make sure you try the tuxedo on in person first. Nailing fit on off-the-rack suits purchased online is really, really difficult, unless you already know the brand’s sizing well.

Take it from me. I’ve ordered many blazers from unfamiliar brands online, and I’ve always had to return them, because the fit just isn’t right.

Another option is to do made-to-measure. There are several services out there for this. My particular favorite is Black Lapel; at the time, they had the exact tuxedo I wanted, which was a midnight navy color instead of traditional black.

Plus, I’ve known Warren (co-founder of Black Lapel) for a few years, and I was happy to try out his service since I haven’t yet had the chance to do so.

I’ll be sure to cover my experiences and final results with Black Lapel in a future article.

tux_rentalvsbuy“Can’t I just rent my tux from (insert local tux rental shop here)?”

Put it this way: if renting is your only option, you’re better off having a black tie optional wedding and wearing a nicely tailored dark suit.

I would not recommend renting your tuxedo, unless the tux rental game has changed drastically since 2001 when I rented one for prom.

They typically come in a very traditional cut, and most likely, it will be of subpar quality and fit.

As you know, fit is everything, and this is the primary reason why I don’t recommend renting a tuxedo.

Most tux rental shops can only do minor (temporary) alterations such as pant length and sleeve length, but can’t touch pant width, lapel width, jacket boxiness, etc.

This article is about purchasing your first tuxedo. You’ll own it for life, and will pay for itself after a handful of uses. On top of that, it’s perfect for fancy formal nights out on the town, which you now have a reason to attend, since you own a perfectly fitting tux in your closet 😉

When purchasing a tux (whether off-the-rack, made-to-measure, or full bespoke) you can control everything, and by reading EG regularly, you can do so capably and confidently.

Final thoughts

Internalize the traditions, rules, and alternatives of formalwear.

Rule of thumb: Keep it understated and classic. I know I often encourage you to make an outfit your own, but when it comes to formalwear, classic, understated, and as close to traditional as possible is always best.

Unlike regular suiting, I’m not encouraging you to go all out bending the rules. Throw in a small bit of irreverence if you like, but keep it minimal.

Are you ready to walk down that aisle?

Or maybe attend that formal wedding or event? Let’s hear about your upcoming plans below.


[tux photo and infographic via Black Lapel]

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20 Responses

  1. RRM on

    While a dinner suit (tuxedo) does look fantastic when worn correctly, all the guidelines for which you have outlined very well, I do not understand why people would wear a dinner suit during the day.

    You go to great length to advise your readers to keep it traditional, and to be aware of the traditions and rules of formal attire. Why then do you fail to point out that a dinner suit (tuxedo) is evening wear, to be worn after 6:00pm? If you are at a wedding where the ceremony is happening during the day, why not wear a morning suit? Or even better, when not wear a really good suit?

    Black Tie is wonderful for galas, and balls, and charity dinners, and art openings, and award ceremonies — all things that happen after 6:00pm — but I feel can look out of place when worn during the day.

    The one exception to this rule I would grant is the American Wedding (I’m Irish), simply because the Black Tie in the Morning aesthetic has become so pervasive as to remove the dissonance of the daytime tuxedo in that setting; but I would still advocate for its phasing out to be replaced by morning suits or regular suits.

    One last thought: midnight blue dress suits are bad ass — excellent choice.

    • Barron on

      Yep, replied to the comment above, and you’re absolutely correct. I wrote the post under certain understood assumptions and I forgot to mention the appropriate time to wear the tuxedo, which would be in the evening.

      Then again, I figured not many people have morning weddings (do they?), so hopefully my lack of mentioning appropriate timing for the outfit isn’t hurting too many people.

      Thanks for the reminder!

    • John Tripp on

      First time commenter and I know this article is a bit old…

      As an American, I have been to more than my share of formal day weddings where people wore tuxedos. And while it’s called “Morning Dress,” I believe it’s technically the only appropriate formal wear for events that take place anytime before “evening” (say, 5-ish).

      Personally, I’d love to see the return of Americans wearing morning dress to day weddings, and I plan to advocate for it if/when I get married again. But I despair of it becoming a thing, and it’s hard to justify buying a morning suit for one event. And renting one just seems like a terrible idea…

  2. Oliver Phillips on

    I agree with RRM. This is a great article on black tie formalwear,
    but you should at least point out to your readers (as many Americans do
    not seem to know this) that black tie is *eveningwear*. One would look
    especially ridiculous wearing a tux on the beach in bright sunlight.

    If you’re super traditional (and wealthy) wear a morning suit to your
    daytime wedding. If not, a classic lounge suit with a wedding tie is
    always fantastic (and will be re-worn much more often).

    • Barron on

      Yeah, good point re: eveningwear. I sorta overlooked that point and neglected to mention it.

      I mentioned tuxing it up at your wedding, under the assumption that your wedding is an evening one (like mine is), and not on the sand. It would be kinda weird to wear a tux to a daytime beach wedding.

      So listen up kids: tux it up in the evenings.

  3. Andrew Kocsis on

    One thought for lower budget line is … don’t laugh… Jos A Banks. I didn’t think much of it myself but saw the recommendation from another well regarded site from the sites founder. It’s not heirloom quality but it’s on par with the Amazon, plus you can go to the store for help and the sizes aren’t too wonky. Plus their peaked lapels for a complete suit for under $300 and if you look for sales like their big 50-75% off (which includes tuxes) then it’s a steal. Plus they have shawl collars and the white dinner jackets.

    • Barron on

      Definitely an option. I don’t have any direct experience w/ Jos. A Bank but from what I’ve seen, it’s worth checking out.

      Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Kaptain Mirza on

    Would have been better if you supported your article with more pictures to give a distinct idea but it was good..!!

  5. LAStyleGuy on

    As long as you’re recommending classic (and I agree wholeheartedly), why did you feature the first photo in your post? They guy should be wearing a black tie, not a white tie–he did the same thing Obama did at his inauguration, and it’s an abomination.

    • Barron on


      It was the product photo from Black Lapel of the same tuxedo I have, so I just used it.

      I don’t mind it much. I know I’m recommending to be as classic as possible, and to not deviate from tradition if you can help it, but sometimes you just gotta say “F it” and do what you want.

      He (product photo guy) still looks good to me. I’ll post a follow-up in a few weeks, where I’m wearing my tux and breaking a handful of “rules”.

      • Kate on

        As a lady, I must agree with LAStyleGuy. Mr Product Man does not look good. There is so much wrong with his outfit: white pre-tied bow tie, no waist covering (that white triangle of fabric between the closed jacket and the trousers looks awful), not enough sleeve showing, trousers too short, and is he really wearing a belt!? It’s hard to tell, but if he does, I really think I need my smelling salts! It’s called black tie for a reason. White tie is a different, more formal dress code. I would not let my husband out of the house dressed like this.

  6. DXLi on

    What do you think about velvet tux jackets (with standard smooth wool tuxedo slacks)? I’ve heard that velvet is one acceptable twist on the traditional tuxedo.

    • Barron on

      I really like them. Definitely a bit more fashion-forward, in the sense that it takes a bit more courage to pull off, but a great alternative for sure.

  7. Drew on

    Secondary argument…What if you REALLY don’t want to do the tux? Barron – do you find that a very nice, tailored suit is equally as impressive? I’d rather do a suit for my upcoming nuptials because i KNOW I will wear it OFTEN, and not just at weddings!

    • Barron on

      Yeah, definitely still impressive. I mean, a tuxedo will take it to the next level, but it all depends on everyone’s personal situation. If you know you will make use of that suit you buy for your wedding, go for the suit instead.

      Congrats on the upcoming wedding!