Black Tie Today
Formal occasions are far in between, and even less formal than they used to be. That is why most people aren't sure what it means to dress "formal." Lets explore!
The classic tuxedo is the black, one button, peak lapel, satin lapel and additional bow tie and cummerbund (if you have no clue what I just said don't worry, we will address that). Today that classic look is still the trump for black tie events, but you are seeing tuxedos branch into various colors these days.
Remember that time for prom you wore a vest? Well lets man up and wear a cummerbund now. Why wear cummerbunds? One reason is to the right, the man on the left has a "V" shaped torso leading your eyes up to his face (if it were there), while not wearing the cummerbund leaves your eyes focusing more on the small white triangle above the belt line- rather then accentuating "V."
Grosgrain lapels and satin lapels. Satin lapels are more classic and also more popular. If you have a grosgrain lapel, it makes your tuxedo look like a suit (sometimes).
Notice how Brad has a nice "V" leading up to his face. Most everything is correct with his outfit, his sleeves are slightly too long though (gotta show that shirt cuff guys!!).
Here though, Brad and Co. aren't wearing cummerbunds. Notice how their midsections look boxier and heavier. Having a cummerbund on will lengthen your legs and shorten your torso. If done correctly this will help give the illusion that you are slim and trim and built with wide shoulders and a smaller stomach.
How to put on a cummerbund? Pleats up. Picture yourself putting a ticket into the fold of the cummerbund, if you can, then that is correct (and if you actually can, get a new cummerbund because yours shot).
Three different lapel styles.
- Peak- this is your classic tuxedo lapel style.
- Notch- this is more prevalent among suits, which makes this lapel style less formal. On a tuxedo I would urge you to stay away from this.
- Shawl- typically worn with a dinner jacket (that white formal jacket that you put with black tuxedo pants), however this is growing in popularity- seen usually with the midnight blue tuxedo.
The "classic" collar is wingtip. Now days, the laydown collar is the most popular (same as your dress shirts). The mandarin is sparsely used, unless you know exactly how to use this -stay away from it.
If you choose a wing tip collar, you better make sure you have a nice one. The wrong flimsy purchase could kill your whole look, making it look like a rental or just plain cheap.
Make sure your collar is a robust one, standing tall on your neck and has interfacing making it stiff. Notice the below pictures, the collars in the left picture are more prevalent above the band of the bowtie. Now look to the right, do you notice the flat, flimsy collars? They look terrible.
To bib or not to bib?
A classic tuxedo shirt has some sort of bib front on it. The point of this bib is solely to make the shirt look whiter and more substantial for when you have your jacket on. If the whole shirt was that heavy and starched, you would sweat quite a lot. This bib is sometimes pleated as well, giving the shirt a dimensional effect.
The shirt in the upper left (pictures below) has no bib at all, which is popular today. If you choose to do this, make sure you buy a quality white shirt.
Now notice the studs that are being worn- black and silver. A stud set consists of 4 studs, which leads down your chest. Tuxedo shirts are made with removable buttons down the placket, but only 4 buttons are removable, the rest being normal like a dress shirt. If you choose to not wear a cummerbund, you also now not only fail on all the topics above, but you now also fail on covering the last 2 buttons of the shirt that aren't studded. Are you starting to see the importance of it?
Patent leather. The style of the shoe is abundant, but one thing is consistent with all tuxedo shoes, they have patent leather (that is the shiny leather you see). Your tuxedo shoes must have this, it doesn't have to be the whole shoe, but make sure its somewhere, otherwise it isn't a tuxedo shoe!