You don't need an invite to the Oscars to rock a tux -- this timeless look lends itself to proms, weddings, black-tie affairs and all sorts of formal galas. Because you rarely have need to break out a tux in day-to-day life, questions about the ins and outs of proper tux wear can naturally arise. Fear not -- just keep it classic and simple and follow time-tested tips to make your tuxedo a surefire hit no matter the occasion.
If possible, visit your local tailor and have your tux custom fitted -- nothing age-proofs your tuxedo more than a tailored fit. Your jacket should feature a high armhole and gently hug your shoulders; it should not drape off of the shoulders or squeeze the shoulders inward. Choose a tapered, French-cuffed shirt to show just the right amount of cuff, which is about 1/2 of an inch. Stick with white for a safe look, and ensure you can fit a finger or two between the shirt collar and your neck. As far as the bottoms go, never cuff your tux pants -- the trouser's bottom hem should lie right at the top of your shoe. To trend-proof your tux, steer clear of fad fits, such as overly slim cuts or flared bottoms.
The tie truly completes your tux, and you can't go wrong with a black bow tie -- just avoid clip-on models. Never wear a belt with your tuxedo. If your pants need a lift, go with black suspenders -- again, no clip-ons here. For a classically refined look, you can also opt for a cummerbund instead of suspenders, though it's not a necessity, except for at a black-tie formal event. Choose thin, black dress socks -- ideally silk or wool, but any fine fabric will do -- rather than thick, bulky socks or any other color. Keep your cuff links simple and subtle, and stick with silver or black hues. Likewise, accent your jacket with a black or white pocket square. For a simple, flat pocket square, fold the hanky once horizontally and once vertically, and leave just a bit of the square peeking out of the pocket. To complete your tux, wear a pair of black patent-leather shoes or Oxfords. If you like sporting a watch, keep it slim and made of a white metal, such as steel or silver.
For tuxedos, the devil truly lies in the details. Before taking your tux out for a big night, have it pressed at the dry cleaner. Mind the details of your footwear, as well, by giving your shoes a good polish before stepping out. On a two-button tux jacket -- the most common modern style -- always leave the second button undone. For a three-button coat, leave the bottom button undone -- buttoning the top button is optional, but keep the center button closed. These old buttoning traditions allow for greater freedom of movement and give your jacket a slight flare at the hips, which gives you a more natural silhouette than a constricting coat would.
Tweak Your Tux
Fashion thrives on individual expression. Although the tux certainly dwells in uniform territory and adheres to historical fashion rules, you do have a little room to add your own personal twists. For more modern, less formal affairs, you can sub a straight, black necktie for a bow tie, as long as it is satin or silk and doesn't feature prints. You also won't be booed out of the room if you choose to wear a dark midnight-blue tux rather than a black suit. To add interest to your look when you open your jacket, opt for a waistcoat. In cool weather, add a sleek, edgy element to your tux with a black chesterfield coat or a trim-cut wool topcoat. When rocking a tux at the prom, feel free to add a pop of color by matching your tie, cummerbund and buttonaire to your date's dress.
Black or White
The basic rules of wear change a bit when going from a black-tie event to a "black tie optional" event. In the latter situation, you're free to sport a dark suit -- it doesn't have to be a tuxedo -- and, despite the confusing name, a conservative tie. To be perfect at a black-tie event, you should always have a black cummerbund, but you can wear a white tux jacket in the summer. On the most formal end of the spectrum, white-tie events call for even more formal attire, including a tailcoat, satin-striped trousers and all-white accessories, such as your bow tie, cuff links, vest and, in this case, gloves.
- GQ: How to Wear a Tux
- Jos A. Bank: Looking Your Best: How to Wear a Tuxedo
- The New York Times: Fashion and Style: How to Wear a Tux
- The New York Times: 10 Tips for Wearing a Tuxedo
- Esquire: Please Stop Buttoning Your Jacket Like That
- Sam Hober Custom Made Neckties: How to Fold a Flat Pocket Square
- Emily Post: Attire Guide: Dress Codes from Casual to White Tie
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