So many guys make the mistake of wearing their work-suit to a black-tie event.
Sorry to burst your bubble: but it doesn't matter how expensive or well-tailored your suit is; wearing it instead of a tuxedo isn't an option unless you want to look underdressed.
But it's an easy mistake to make – especially if you don't know the key differences between a tuxedo and a suit. Is it any wonder so many guys assume they're good to wear either, regardless of dress code?
I don't want you to make the same mistake. So today, I'm setting the record straight and breaking out the key differences between a tux and a suit.
#1 What Makes A Tuxedo More Formal Than A Suit?
Tuxedos suit black-tie events. They are evening wear and designed for formal occasions.
Fun Fact: It's actually considered inappropriate to wear a tuxedo before 5pm!
A man can wear a suit at any time of the day. They are less formal than tuxedos and pair well with business environments. Some suits are more casual than others and come in different materials like linen.
Put it this way, you can wear a suit to the grocery store, and nobody will consider it strange. If you wear a suit to a wedding or on a date, there's a strong chance you won't be the only man around wearing one.
A tuxedo, however, requires a special occasion. The point of wearing a tuxedo isn't just to dress up and look great. The message you are sending by wearing a tuxedo is that the moment is special.
Here are some differences that make a tuxedo a more formal choice of attire:
- Color – Suits often feature light and casual fabrics. Black is a bold indicator of class and culture; hence most classic tuxedos are black or midnight blue. Classic colors for suits are versatile colors like navy blue or grey.
- Pockets – Flapped pockets on suits add fabric to the jacket, making it less sleek and dressy. This is why tuxedo jackets feature jetted pockets – making the whole appearance of the jacket more formal.
- Pocket Square – You could wear them in a wide variety of colors with a suit. With a tuxedo – you need to stick to a classic plain white.
- Shoes – A man can wear most leather dress shoes with a suit. A tuxedo requires patent leather slippers.
- Jacket Lapel – Suits feature notch or peaked lapels made from the same fabric as the suit. Tuxedos feature either a shawl or peaked lapel. The lapel material is either satin or a rougher weave of grosgrain silk.
- Trousers – Tuxedo trousers feature a braid down the side of the leg that matches the jacket lapels.
- Shirt – Suits require a casual or button-up dress shirt. They could be in any solid colors or with a variety of patterns. Tuxedos need a solid white button-up shirt with studs.
- Neckwear – Suit shirts can be worn with ties, bowties, or no tie at all. Tuxedo shirts require bow ties and cummerbunds or waistcoats.
#2 Why Are Suits Easier To Wear Than Tuxedos?
A tuxedo has a rigid form. If you are planning on wearing one – stick to the basic formula.
You can change maybe one thing on a tuxedo – black or midnight blue, satin lapel, stripe down on the side of the leg, waist covering choice between a waistcoat or a cummerbund.
There's not much flexibility with tuxedos.
With suits, you have more options to dress up or down. The wearer can sport various colors and patterns through neckties and pocket squares.
Tuxedos should be worn with tuxedo shoes. The pants have a black or midnight blue braid along the leg, made from the same material as the jacket lapel.
A waist covering is essential for tuxedos. You don't even have to wear a tie with a suit – giving you more flexibility to dress casual or semi-formal.
You can also wear various styles, ranging from fashion suits to classically designed suits. With tuxedos, you'll find that you stick with classic styles. It is something that you don't have a lot of flexibility with.
#3 Tuxedo History
Rewind to October 10, 1886.
A young fashion rebel named Griswold Lorillard created a stir by wearing a tail-less jacket to a white-tie-and-tails ball at an exclusive country club event.
The location? Tuxedo Park, New York.
Lorillard's jacket kickstarted a new trend among New York's well-to-do elites despite its controversy. The tail-less adaptation of the jacket grew in popularity because society was tired of the fastidious tailcoat.
From this point, a tail-less dinner jacket becomes known as a Tuxedo.
Moving into the 20th Century, satin-piped trousers became the norm when wearing a tail-less dinner jacket. Eventually, the term ‘tuxedo' came to define the combination of a tail-less dinner jacket and satin-piped trousers.
Today – the tuxedo is accepted as the norm for evening wear.
#4 Which Style Costs More?
If you wear a tuxedo a few times a week – you're probably rubbing shoulders with people who can tell the difference between an average tuxedo and one of high quality.
If you are in such situations often – it would be worth your while to invest time and money in getting the best quality tuxedo you can afford.
With suits – you can compromise on fabric if the fit is perfect. A well-fitting suit in a poor-quality fabric will look far better than an ill-fitting one made with higher-quality material.
Of course, a tuxedo has to fit, but it also has to be made from high-quality material. The trousers are made without belt loops as the expectation is that you will be wearing suspenders if required.
If you need a tuxedo for a single evening, say for a prom night – it is best to rent one. At that level, quality is not a big issue. However, if you regularly attend black-tie events, buying the best tuxedo you can afford is a must.
The better the tuxedo, the longer it will last and the better you'll look.
In today's article, we covered:
- What Makes A Tuxedo More Formal Than A Suit?
- Why Are Suits Easier To Wear Than Tuxedos?
- Tuxedo History
- Which Style Costs More?
Now you know the difference between a tuxedo and suit, you need to learn how to invest in great tailoring. Click here to check out my guide on buying a quality suit.
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