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How Celebrities Do Tuxedo Colors Right, And You Can Too

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Celebrities are given a pass on a lot of things, from drunken outbursts to trashing hotel rooms to making horrible sequels. So it’s no surprise that they take a few liberties with society’s rules when it comes to dress codes.

Case in point, on the red carpet, black tie is getting decidedly less black. Until recently, tuxedo styles have changed at a glacial pace. But in the past few years, alternative tuxedo colors have been all the rage at award shows and premieres. And these celebrities are paving the way for the rest of us to wear tuxedo styles and tuxedo colors that would have been considered shocking just a decade ago. Just take a look at this collection of black tie pioneers who’ve brought some color to the red carpet.

If you’re going to a black tie wedding or planning on going all out for holiday parties this year, consider yourself lucky. The spectrum of acceptable tuxedo styles hasn’t been this wide since the 70s.

Contrasting Dinner Jackets and Pants

Looking to combine dinner jackets and pants in unexpected ways? The base should be a pair of black formal trousers, but up top you can let your freak flag fly with a bold design, like Orlando Jones does below.

Looking to less aggressive, but still impressive? Try mixing up the color palette from top to bottom.


The Smart Choice: Take a tip page out of Orlando Jones’ playbook and choose a shawl lapel for an uninterrupted black lapel and collar that keeps your look streamlined.

Alternative Tuxedo Colors

Most guys think tuxedos only come in black. But not many people know that almost as soon as the tuxedo became a thing, men started experimenting with colors. The midnight blue tuxedo, for example, first gained popularity nearly 100 years ago. So it’s not too much of a leap from dark blue to other tuxedo colors like the in-your-face red that LeBron James rocked for the ESPYs a little while back.

We can hear some of you out there now saying but LeBron is a professional athlete at an awards show. I’m just a regular dude going to a black tie event. Don’t worry, you can back it down a touch and still wear a statement tux.


The Smart Choice: Darken that red down to a deep burgundy tone and you’ll be right in the sweet spot between predictably conservative and boldly standing out.

Are You Red Carpet Ready?

Okay, so maybe you’re not winning any nationally televised awards, but you can still look as suave as the guys who do at your next black tie affair. Will you be the guy who breaks the color barrier with a burgundy or blue tux? Will you switch things up with contrasting jacket and pants? Tell us how you put your own spin on black tie in the comments below.

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4 thoughts on “How Celebrities Do Tuxedo Colors Right, And You Can Too”

  1. Blake Sharpe says:

    Hi there! I’m heading to Prom in about 3 weeks, and I’m on a budget. I found a magnificent textured Navy Tuxedo Jacket with black trim on the lapel and pockets.

    My problem is this: the matching pants are no longer available. While that is most likely for the best, due to the fact that i have rather thick legs and the material appears to be quite thick, I am left with the decision of pants.

    I’m wearing a plain white point-collar shirt and a black bow tie to tie in the black trim of the navy jacket (though if you think a navy bow tie would be superior, let me know) in addition to black patent oxfords, and white suspenders (to aboid a cummerbund or vest) if I can find them. I’m 95% sure this checks out in terms of black collar, but tell me if I’m wrong or if this selection is not cohesive.

    Anyway, my struggle still lies within the pants. The jacket’s heavy texture leads me to believe a textured navy pair of pants would be my best option, but is it wise to forego navy pants with a black satin stripe down the side in an attempt to match the jacket’s texture?

    Please let me know your thoughts on my selection of shirt/tie/suspenders/etc. and what I should do about pants to match the jacket to keep the outfit cohesive. Thank you!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      That’s quite a predicament, Blake. Actually, it’s more of a series of issues to deal with so let’s tackle them one at a time.

      1. The missing pants. If the jacket were a lighter blue or another shade, the solution would be simple: wear a pair of black tuxedo pants and you’d end up with a non-matching dinner jacket & pants combo. The problem is the jacket you’re describing is so dark you would lose the sharp contrast between jacket and pants and end up with a mushy combination of black and navy. So we recommend that you DO NOT buy a navy blue dinner jacket without the matching pants. If you’re going to wear a navy tux it should be a full tux. Otherwise, go with black or some higher contrast jacket and pants combo.
      2. A black tie dress code means you should be wearing a black tie. Resist the urge to “get creative” with the bow tie of a tuxedo. The tuxedo comes from the black tie dress code. Another color tie, like white, is appropriate for a different kind of event, like the Nobel Prize ceremony. Stick with a black bow tie and, our company’s namesake, a black lapel.
      3. We love the idea of wearing white suspenders with your tux. However, suspenders are not a replacement for a cummerbund or a waistcoat (vest). Tuxedos are not to be worn with belts so suspenders do the job of holding your pants in place. A cummerbund or waistcoat (formal vest) doesn’t have anything to do with holding up your pants. They are worn with a tuxedo because the jacket only has one button and opens up below that button. The cummerbund or waistcoat cover your waist area so you don’t have a big white triangle of shirt fabric peeking out above your pants waist. There’s a rumor going around that this is an old-fashioned or outdated idea. Nonsense. Some misguided people started that rumor because they don’t understand the function of the covering the waist in a tux, but now you know better.

      Armed with your newfound knowledge of black tie, you’re all set to put together a killer tuxedo look for your prom. Enjoy!

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