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Black Tie 101: How to Look Great in a Tuxedo

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black tie 101

You’ve mastered the suit. You’ve got an impeccable collection of ties. Your pocket square game? On point. Your dress shirt choices? Resplendent (yeah, that’s right, we said “resplendent”). Your wardrobe is pretty much ready for anything…until you get that little envelope in the mail. You’ve been invited to a black tie event, which happens a lot as the the end of the year approaches. How do you look your best in a formal getup when you don’t wear one that often? Read on to learn how to wear a tuxedo.

Black tie should be easy, right? It’s basically a uniform. You throw on a tux, give your shoes a quick shine and you’re off. So how do so many guys still don’t know how to wear a tux? There’s an art to looking good in formal wear. Here’s how:

Step 1: Make sure your tux fits.

This sounds so basic but just as with suits, getting the fit right is 90% of the game. And we’re not just talking getting the right measurements. Pick the right style too. If you’re trim and athletic don’t go for a swim in a big boxy tuxedo, instead opt for a slimmer fit (not a “skinny” fit, mind you, it’s a gala not the bicycle race). Even if you’re a little bigger than your ideal size, don’t try to hide it with a jacket that’s got enough fabric for you and your date to wear to your event. Just give yourself some room in a couple of key areas like the stomach and hips.

Step 2: Keep it simple.

If you’re a complete novice when it comes to black tie, keep things simple. As you’ll see in our breakdown below, when done well, the traditional look holds up quite well. In the future, we’ll cover how to dress for black tie-optional events and other less traditional black tie events where you can, and should, branch out.

Step 3: Dig in to the details.

Even if you’re not usually a stickler for details, become one for one night. The key to shining in your black tie ensemble is nailing the little things. We’ll explain in more detail below when we break down the essential parts of a black tie look.

The Dinner Jacket

So what makes a tuxedo jacket a tuxedo jacket? Start with a one button tuxedo with satin or grosgrain shawl or peak lapels. Give your one button tux some piped pockets, keep it vent-less, and you’ll be ready to go. Double vents are also more acceptable now, as opposed to the much too sporty-looking center vent, and most pocket flaps can be turned inside to achieve the same look as a piped pocket. In a pinch, you can even have vents sewn shut by your tailor. Stay away from notch lapels and two or more buttons. Bonus points if the left lapel has a working buttonhole (one caveat: we don’t recommend a working buttonhole for shawl lapels). Look for the loop on the underside, just below the hole, to securely stow a boutonniere stem.

What to get: Black Custom Tuxedo with Peak Lapel or Black Custom Tuxedo with Shawl Lapel both available from Black Lapel.

The Trousers

Trousers are pretty straightforward. The main thing to consider is how you’re going to hold them up. A belt? No, sir. Not with black tie. Belt loops are a no-no when you’re going for a formal look. Instead use braces (suspenders) and/or side tabs. Tuxedo suspenders are typically black or white with matching corded ends, rather than leather. As with any other suit, pleated or plain front is strictly up to you. Plain front appears more minimalist, and emphasizes a slender/athletic body type; pleats help trousers drape nicely, creating more of a vertical line on the front of the leg. Whether you choose plain front or pleated, avoid cuffs which will look too casual.

What to get: Black Custom Tuxedo with Peak Lapel or Black Custom Tuxedo with Shawl Lapel both available from Black Lapel.

The Tuxedo Shirt

Shirts should have a semi-spread or spread collar to frame the bow tie and come equipped with French cuffs; wing collars are an option for the old school gent, but turn down collars work just as well and you may get more wear out of the shirt outside of formal events. A straightforward solid white shirt will work as your best tux shirt, though one with ribs is a sharp choice. It goes without saying that the shirt should be white, and avoid anything with ruffles, unless you pair it with an eye patch and hook.

What to get: White Wing Collar Broadcloth Custom Tuxedo Shirt or White Pleated Front Broadcloth Custom Tuxedo Shirt both available from Black Lapel.

The Black Tie Accessories

The best tux tie is a black bow tie should– hence black tie– and tied by you. While it takes some practice, the imperfections from tying your own bow can add character to a refined look. Don’t cop out and wear a regular necktie. We’ve broken this rule ourselves on occasion, but for a strictly black tie event it can downgrade even the most dapper dinner suit. Understated cufflinks and studs work well when it comes to your jewelry. Silver with onyx inlay is always a safe choice. If you want to step it up a notch, gold and mother of pearl will do the trick. Thinking about a pocket square? The best pocket square for a tuxedo is a puffed or folded white pocket square.

What to get: Black Bow Tie available from Black Lapel. Black Moiré Braces available from Albert Thurston. Monroe Mother of Pearl Cufflinks available from Ledbury. White Formal Studs available from Cuff Daddy.

The Cummerbund and Waistcoat

Going cover-less is pulled off most successfully when the jacket closure is around the same area as the trouser waistband – see both Sean Connery and Daniel Craig as James Bond. If you wear low rise trousers though, cover it. By bridging that gap with a swank cummerbund or waistcoat, you present a continuous look from the waist down, which makes you look taller and slimmer. In both waist coverings, the silk should be of the same type as your bow tie and lapels.

What to get: Waistcoat on all Black Lapel tuxedos. Cummerbund available from J.Crew.

The Tux Shoes

When it comes to the best tuxedo shoes, a plain toe show is your best bet; think smooth lines. Black patent leather tuxedo shoes are the standard, though in many cases, you can get away with a very well polished black calf skin leather shoe. Formal pumps may sound like women’s shoes, but they’re actually a great- and masculine- tux shoe option (think very dressy loafers) and a bit more traditional than a lace up. Black tie socks are generally silk, but thin cotton or wool work as well.

What to get:  Versace Collection Perforated Cap Toe Oxford shoes available from Zappos. Silk Formal Hose available from Brooks Brothers.

Now that you’re armed with the basics of how to wear a tuxedo you’re ready to hit the scene. Got a formal holiday party to attend? A swanky gala for your favorite charity? Follow these guidelines and you’re guaranteed to look better than the waitstaff (and 90% of the other guests) at your next event.

Have you already killed it in a tux? What was your secret to looking fly in black tie? Let us know in the comments below.

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82 thoughts on “Black Tie 101: How to Look Great in a Tuxedo”

  1. Can I wear two different styles antique dress shirt studs ?

    1. Of course you could, but we wouldn’t recommend wearing mismatched studs. That’s basically begging people to look at your chest. Your clothes should enhance your look and that starts with framing your face in the best possible way. So, no, wouldn’t wear different styles of shirt studs.

  2. I notice no-one talks about Marcella black bows ties now. I have several in both black and white and the black are worn with a Marcella shirt. None of the websites mention this apart from the odd thing relevant to white tie. Is there a reason for this or is it something from the obscure past?

    1. Marcella bow ties aren’t seen too often these days and have a strong association with the more formal white tie, so they don’t get much attention. With the shift toward more casual looks across the board and the loosening of traditional black tie rules, interest in things like marcella bow ties is waning.

      Of course, that hasn’t stopped us from offering a formal shirt with a pique bib. The look is elegant and refined and there’s nothing wrong with that.

  3. I will be going to jail soon and want to wear a black tux going into the pen. The fellas will think I look dapper and I am a Don. Also, I can wink to the right fellas discretely knowing that I may have to do what I have to do to survive. Eit her way,I want to make a big statement cause I am a short guy but very bulky.
    Is this the best way to show the fellas whose boss in the big house?

    1. Everybody’s rocking the same basic jumpsuit on the way in, Rob. It’s on the way OUT that you want to make a show of it. Many guys doing long sentences go in with trendy clothes and then walk out like Fly Guy in I’m Gonna Git You Sucka. Luckily, no matter how long your bid is you’ll be coming out in timeless style if you follow the rules above and stick with a classic black tie getup.

  4. simon harrison says:

    Hi, I have a black tie event at Christmas in London and was interested to K of firstly if the waist coat lapel had to mirror the tuxedo lapel or if no lapel was better on the waist coat? Secondly as its winter would a silk scarf be better than a woolen one with the overcoat… is there an etiquette to the accessory?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      As to the first question, a formal waistcoat lapel should match the facing on the dinner jacket lapel. So the waistcoat lapel ought to be either satin or grosgrain, whichever your dinner jacket’s lapel is. You can go with a waistcoat that doesn’t have a lapel but this is a less formal look that would be considered bending the black tie rules.

      As for the scarf, silk would still be appropriate, for the same reasons. The colder it is the more tightly you may wnat to wrap it around your neck. If it’s a chilly night, you can let it hang nonchalantly from your neck and keeping your overcoat open. If it’s downright frigid, consider crossing it over your chest and under your buttoned up coat to better seal against the cold.

  5. What colour pocket square should I wear with a black bow tie and midnight blue tuxedo. I know you shouldnt match your pocket square and tie but would a black silk pocket square be okay. I’m not really the flamboyant sort.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      A simple, white silk pocket square is the way to go here, Viktor. It’s the standard for a tuxedo. Black would be going against tradition and not smart for someone who isn’t the flamboyant type. Plus, it’ll get lost in a midnight blue tuxedo making you look like you have no pocket square in (a big no-no when you’ve got a tux on).

  6. I am getting married in July. It is not a super formal event (guests will likely wear a casual suit or sport coat and slacks with tie). However, I really liked the look of a particular midnight blue tuxedo jacket with midnight blue lapels. I am the groom, so I feel like looking extra spiffy. In this case, is it appropriate to wear a midnight/dark blue bow tie since the event is not black tie and the bow tie should match the lapels? Additionally, i prefer the dark blue pant look to black pant look. Since the pants i’m likely going to wear will have belt loops, do you recommend I wear a cummerbund with braces? If so, what color cummerbund makes sense?

    Appreciate the help!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      It sounds like you’re on the fence about whether you want to wear a tuxedo at all, Kurt. We’re all for bending the black tie rules a bit but what you’re describing sounds more like a suit. A tuxedo would have black satin lapels and a pair of pants without belt loops that feature a black strip of satin down the outseam. So a midnight blue tuxedo should look like this. Things like belt loops are big no-nos when you’re wearing a tuxedo so we would recommend you reconsider this outfit.

      So what options would we recommend? There are several:

      1. If you want to wear a tuxedo, don’t take a half step. Go all the way and wear an actual midnight blue tuxedo, or
      2. If you want to put a different spin on the tux, go with a Royal Blue Dinner Jacket with Black Tuxedo Pants, or a Midnight Brown Dinner Jacket with Black Tuxedo Pants or
      3. If all this formality is too much for you, go with a midnight blue suit customized with peak lapels and accessorize it with a dark tie neck tie, white shirt, white pocket square and black shoes for a classy, dressy look.

      We hope one of these alternatives will work for you. If you’re still interested in the blue tux idea, check out our story on how Blue is the New Black Tie.

  7. I got my tux from black lapel a year ago for my brothers wedding. I’m getting married next month and glad the tux still fits. In terms of cleaning the peak tuxedo and shirt, what would you recommend? I read that dry cleaning may not be the best way. Also when should I clean it? Two weeks before the wedding?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      It’s true, as you may have read on The Compass in our story on Proper Suit Care, dry cleaning regularly can be hard on the wool, shortening the life of your suit or tuxedo. However, when we say regularly, we mean like once every couple of weeks. Dry cleaning it ocassionally is fine. Since you don’t wear a tux that often, once a year is probably just the right frequency. As for the shirt, have your dry cleaner launder it every time you wear it. All of this is assuming you have a reputable dry cleaner that you can trust with a quality product like a Black Lapel tuxedo.

      With both items, since they aren’t part of your regular rotation, store them in a breathable bag like this canvas one will keep dust from settling on your formalwear. A wooden hanger will them keep their shape between wearings.

      Now go out there and knock ’em dead at your wedding, Kevin!

  8. I am going to a blacktie event and didn’t know if I need to wear a vest, suspenders, or cummerbunn. What do you recommend? Thanks!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      The choice here is between a vest and a cummerbund. Remember, a cummerbund is not a belt. It doesn’t serve the function of holding your pants in place, but it’s a way to cover your waist. A formal vest is there to cover your waist also (hence the name waistcoat). Suspenders, on the other hand, have a function–holding your pants in place. So, we suggest suspenders under either a vest or cummerbund.

      As for which one, vest or cummerbund, that’s a matter of preference. Some say that a cummerbund is better looking under a shawl lapel jacket and a vest is better looking under a peak lapel jacket. We’re not sticklers about that one, though. We don’t have a favorite here at Black Lapel, we each cover our waists differently when we turn it up to 11 and go black tie. That said, the slimmer you are the better a vest will look on you. On the flip side the cummerbund, when worn correctly, can help downplay a larger belly. So go with what best fits your body and, most importantly, what looks best to you.

  9. Can you wear a traditional tuxedo shirt with pleats and the smaller collar fold down with a tie and vest. Or stick with the bow tie and vest?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      A pleated tuxedo shirt should always be worn with a bow tie. The pleats and the neck tie would look strange together, so stick with the bow tie, BeeJay.

  10. Hi,
    My tux is dark gray with a black satin shawl lapel. I was thinking about getting a wool black bow tie and was wondering if that material would work, as I really like the look, or if I should stick with a satin or velvet bow tie

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Nice, Brian. Sounds like you’re ready to take Black Tie to the next level with that gray tux. In that case, we recommend checking out our Beyond Black Tie article where we suggested changing things up with a silk knit bow tie. A black wool bow tie is another way to mix things up a bit.

      One thing, though, Brian. Wool ties are seasonal. If you’re planning to wear this tuxedo in warmer weather, stick with a silk bow tie. Is a wool bow tie significantly warmer than a silk one? Probably not, but the look is touch too wintry for, say, a black tie summer wedding.

  11. My son is escorting girl friend to prom. He has his own formal wear – modern fit peak collar jacket, cummerbund and flat front pants. Girl insists he wear a black formal shirt with tie that apparently she is having made (black and gold) to match her dress. Do I assume correctly he wears black braces because of the shirt issue? His studs are mother of pearl – okay with shirt thing?

    Finally he wants to wear his opera pumps.

    Any thoughts?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Aaaah prom. So many ill-conceived outfits. It sounds like your boy’s getting good advice at home but, of course, girls trump Mom and Dad.

      We’re with you on the black braces. Mother of pearl studs, if they’re white, will contrast strongly with the black shirt and likely overpower the outfit since the shirt and jacket will both be black. We’re recommend black studs, for the same reason we agreed with you on the black braces, to keep the attention on his face, not on the sharp contrasts on his shirt.

      Keep the young gentleman looking sharp!

  12. Muhammed Aslam says:

    I am a groom to be.. Iam planing to wear white tux and white shirt with black buttons and black toursurs.
    But iam little confused about, belt or cummerbund.!! I have a brown belt and a black cummerbund with me.
    Which will be more matching to the mentiond tux.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We say go with the black cummerbund and forego the belt altogether. Any black tie look—full tuxedo or dinner jacket and pants—shouldn’t be worn with a belt. In fact, true tuxedo pants shouldn’t even have belt loops. Congrats and good luck suiting up for your wedding!

  13. The button on the front of my husband’s tux jacket fell off and was lost. The sleeve cuff buttons are fabric covered, does the front button also have to be covered? I have to buy a replacement button and we don’t remember what was there to start with. Thanks for your advice.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Yes, the front button should also be fabric covered and likely was to start. You can reference any of our tuxedos to see what a fabric covered front button looks like on a tuxedo!

  14. Fashion mom says:

    My son’s prom is coming up and he has pretty much everything ready except he is debating about the bow tie. Blue velvet dinner jacket(black lapels), black tuxedo pants, black shoes, white French cuff shirt, cuff links (obviously)…
    bow tie black or Blue jackard. I know that black is much classier and elegant, but because it’s high school and he’s still so young, couldn’t he get away with jazzing it up a bit with the blue bow tie?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      First off, kudos to you for taking an interest in your son’s style!

      To answer the question about the bow tie, we generally think some of the rules of black tie can be bent. In fact, we wrote a whole article about it. But one rule we adhere to is that black tie requires a tie that is black. Why? Partially because it just sounds silly to wear a non-black tie to a black tie event. But the main reason we follow this rule is that the color of the tie has meaning. White tie, black tie’s more formal brother, is for different types of events.

      All these social codes and rules can make you feel a little like you’re living at Downton Abbey and we realize that prom is a celebration, not an opportunity for climbing the social ladder of early 20th century British aristocracy, but still, we recommend sticking with the classics and keeping the tie black.

  15. I have a midnight blue velvet tux and wondering what kind of bowtie would go with it? I am definitely going to do a black one but should it be velvet or silk? And what colour pocket square would you suggest? I am wearing it for my wedding reception.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We recommend the classic black silk bow tie. You don’t want to go overboard on the velvet, but props on the tux—you’re going to look badass at your wedding reception.

  16. Would I be able to wear a tuxedo with a matching african print bow tie and pocket square, with black suspenders to a wedding where no dress code was specified?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      This sounds like one kick-ass outfit. Its definitely wedding appropriate, but we’re worried that no dress code was specified. If the wedding was black tie than that would’ve definitely been specified. Since the dress code wasn’t specific, we’re thinking it could be a more casual affair and your outfit is very formal. If possible, it couldn’t hurt to reach out to the bride/groom to clarify and if they get back to you with a “semi-formal” or “cocktail attire” answer, then check out this story on decoding the wedding dress code.

  17. Can I wear a peak lapel jacket open with a vest?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Of course you can! This is a very dapper combination so don’t be afraid to take the risk.

  18. Can I wear a paisley bow tie with a tux at a wedding/not black tie situation. And would the cummerbund then have to match the bow tie?

    1. You can, but you will probably look over-dressed if the wedding attire has not been deemed “black tie”. You could also end up looking like or competing with the groom’s appearance (a big no-no). In any case, your cummerbund shouldn’t match your bow tie if said bow tie is paisley. This rule should only be applied to traditional black tie, mainly solid colors. If you need some ideas on what to wear to a wedding with a certain dress code, read this.

  19. Hello, I am a bride-to-be.
    I asked my fiancé to get a tuxedo for our wedding, and he did.
    He wants to use a coral color bow tie with a pocket piece of same colour.
    What do you think about him using a belt, instead of a cummerbund?
    Please, I would like to help me convince him with your express reply.
    Thanks so much

    1. Hello there, Ms. Bride-to-Be. Congrats on your upcoming wedding! Your fiancé can swap out the cummerbund for a belt no problem. It will give a less prom-y look than a coral colored cummerbund would. If you were thinking about getting a cummerbund the color of his tux (we’re guessing it’s black or blue), this would definitely be a more formal option. A belt, as long as it’s nice, will still make him look very put-together on your big day. We say you should approach this situation depending on the formality of your wedding. Hope this helps & good luck!

  20. I had a tuxedo tailored for me recently along with a shirt, which was wing collared. Though I like them both, I am starting to feel that the turn-down collar would give a more appealing look. Should I get a new one with tune-down?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We recommend turn-down collars these days. They are more modern and let the bow tie take back a little bit of the limelight. You should let your personal style — are your more modern or more old school? — influence your decision, but it definitely doesn’t hurt to have both in your wardrobe :)

  21. Hi blacklapel going for the same black bow and tux. But what is I am concerned is the colour of the shoes. Wanted to look little different and I thought having a dark brownish leather shoes? Is it good or I am heading towards some sort of embarrassment? The function is sort of farewell.

    1. Hey there, Aman. Unfortunately, we’re always going to recommend black shoes with a black tuxedo. That being said, we still believe in personal style and admire your desire to stand out from a sea of black tuxedos paired with black shoes. You aren’t heading towards embarrassment by wearing dark brown leather shoes, your look may just be heading towards a more casual appearance overall. This could be OK for a farewell function. Our final thought? If you want to stand out by not wearing black shoes, you may want to go with an even lighter/brighter pair of brown leather shoes.

  22. I typically see the white pique tuxedo vest worn with tuxedo coats with tails. I’ve purchased a black single-button peak lapel tuxedo (no tail), and would like to wear a white vest with white bow tie. Can the white pique vest be worn with the peak lapel coat? If not, what are some good options?

    1. The white bow tie changes everything. Black tie is one level of formality lower than white tie. For most people black tie is the highest level of formality they’re going to dress for. White tie is for really BIG events like the Nobel Prize ceremony or a coronation. If you’re not getting honored for your groundbreaking work in Chemistry or about to be crowned the king of your own country, white tie can be a bit much. The same is true for a morning coat (one with tails).

      Similarly a white pique waistcoat is a little over the top. A black waistcoat, either single- or double-breasted with lapels that match the jacket is the way to go if you’re going to wear a waistcoat with a peak lapel tux. The other option, a black cummerbund, is a stylish move and it’s much easier to get one to fit you flawlessly.

  23. I am attending a “Black Tie Optional” event, so I am planning on flirting a few rules. One is that I want to leave off the waistcoat/cummerbund. So, obviously I now have a gap in my studs. What are my options? Would it be acceptable to leave off the studs and just have buttons? I would rather not keep my jacket on all night.

    1. If you’re eschewing the cummerbund and waistcoat, then your best bet is to avoid studs and use a hidden placket in your shirt so that you have a smooth front like this.

      For more on bending the black tie rules, check out our story on going Beyond Black Tie.

  24. Hi guys,
    Can i wear normal colored tie instead of a bow with tuxedo having satin shawl type lapel ?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Hi Ammar, I’m not totally sure what you mean by “normal colored tie.” But if you’re rocking a black tuxedo with a satin shawl lapel, you best be wearing a black tie or bow tie to keep your look classically formal!

  25. Hello, I’m attending a black tie wedding next month and would like to know if a dark grey (almost black) tux would be appropriate? The tux follows most of your recommendations. The reason for considering the dark grey over traditional black is the fit. All the black jackets I tried on just didn’t fit right. Instead of going beyond my budget for a better tux, I’m considering the dark grey tux. Its not a flashy tux but I am worried about being the only guy with a non black tux. And eventually standing out like a sore thumb. Would appreciate any help, thanks.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      A black tuxedo is traditional, but for a festive affair like a wedding other colors are definitely acceptable (within reason, of course). But before we address color, we should address the real problem here: fit. If fit is your problem, you came to the right place to solve it. Black Lapel offers a made-to-measure tuxedos that can be completely customized to your liking at reasonable prices. Want a tuxedo that fits you flawlessly? Here you go.

      And, when you do the math, you might find that owning a quality tuxedo is less expensive than renting. For more individual advice on how to get a great fitting tuxedo, email us at concierge@blacklapel.com.

  26. I have a wedding coming up and the groom is a stylist. Needless to say it will be a very fashion-forward crowd. I am in love with Christian Louboutin’s Dandelion Tassel Flat in black patent leather. My tuxedo is black, single button, peak lapel, and slim fit. I also have gotten it tailored to fit me perfectly. The shoe is a loafer and that is what I am wary about. I know there is a trend now where the stars are doing a loafer with a tuxedo but I don’t want to look like a clown who doesn’t know how to dress in black tie. I also am wondering: is it okay to not wear socks with them (which also seems to be on trend)? Help. lol

    1. Black Lapel says:

      If you’re worried these shoes aren’t formal enough, fear not. Formal opera pumps, as we noted above, are a classic old-school black tie shoe. According to strict black tie rules, lace-ups are actually the less formal of the two.

      As for wearing them sockless, that is definitely out of bounds by the traditional rules of black tie. But rules are for beginners. The truly stylish man understands them well enough to know how to bend and break them when he deems it sartorially necessary. Here’s the thing about going sockless in a tuxedo: you’ve got to make sure your ankles are well-kept. Nothing breaks up the continuity of a perfectly creased pair of wool formal pants and a pair of patent leather formal pumps more than a gnarly, hairy, pale, ankle and foot. If your ankles would look better with socks, then don’t eschew the socks just to be trendy. In other words, tread carefully.

  27. What about a pocket square- any specific tips (other than it being white?). Also, how good are typical alterations on rentals?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      If you’re wondering about how to fold the pocket square, we like the puff fold for a black tie look, but a square fold is always acceptable.

      Not sure what your question is about rental tuxedos. Actually, it doesn’t matter, our answer will be the same: we don’t recommend renting a tuxedo. Aside from the horrible fits, they’re not always the deal you might be thinking they are. Even if you don’t buy a tuxedo from us, we’d still recommend you buy a tuxedo instead of renting.

  28. Seams like fashion is trending toward tuxedo with bowtie not black tie. Tuxedo and bowtie can one wear suspenders, or suspenders are of the game?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Suspenders, or braces as the brits like to say, are a classic part of a black tie outfit (by the way, “black tie” refers to a tuxedo with a bow tie). Belts are not a part of the black tie outfit, so suspenders are the way to hold up your pants. Take off the cummerbund or waistcoat on our black tie outfits and you’re likely to find a pair of suspenders.

  29. Can I wear a black vest with thin white pin stripes with my tuxedo?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Pinstripes are usually saved for business suits, Bryan. If you’re looking to add an odd waistcoat to a tux, try a solid gray, like we did here for a little contrast.

  30. I was wondering, would a black bowtie with black cufflinks and studs work with a navy or midnight blue tuxedo? The lapels of the tuxedo are also navy albeit a different shade, and so I was wondering if it is a must that the bowtie matches the lapels, as I’ve often seen navy tuxedos with black lapel and a black bowtie, but not with a different shade of navy lapels. I could attach a picture of the tuxedo but I’m not sure how (the picture was taken by my Camera, not from Google).

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Traditionally a dinner jacket has a satin or grosgrain lapel that is black regardless of the fabric color. That’s what you’d get if you got a tuxedo from Black Lapel. We can’t speak for other brands, but we stick with black for our tuxedo lapels.

      Regardless, mixing blue and black is proper when it comes to formal wear, so your black bow tie and accessories sound just right. After all, they call it “black tie” for a reason.

      If you have other questions about your black tie outfit, feel free to send your pictures and questions along to concierge@blacklapel.com for more one-on-one style advice.

  31. So, If I am wearing formal braces, do I also need a cumberbund?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      It’s a common misconception that a cummerbund is just a big belt, so we can see how you would ask if you could do away with it if you’re wearing braces. But a cummerbund is not meant to hold up your pants, but to cover your midsection. The two items (braces and cummerbunds) happen to be in the same area of your body but they’re not mutually exclusive.

      A lot of guys are anti-cummerbund but many of us are sticking with them. (We are even divided within the Black Lapel team.) But if you’re looking to play it by the book, either a cummerbund or a waistcoat is required for black tie events, but braces are optional.

  32. Steve Sandlin says:

    Is a one button or a two button tux jacket a better choice for a more portly father of the bride?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      A one button tuxedo jacket is always the move, Steve, regardless of size. Wearing a two-button tuxedo is punching your ticket on the express to Scrubville. If you’re concerned about the fit, the key is not to try to hide under a jacket that’s got enough fabric for two, just give yourself some room in a couple of key areas like the stomach and hips.

      If you really want to nail the fit (not to toot our own horn but “toot toot”) you should order one to your exact measurements from us.

      1. Hi,

        I am somewhat confused. I am looking at a tuxedo to purchase and it has belt loops on the pants and two buttons on the jacket, yet it is contrary to Black Lapel to wear. Also is it appropriate to wear a colored handkerchief or is white the standard?

        1. Black Lapel says:

          Contrary to Black Lapel, this tuxedo is not as stylish or classic as one of our tuxedos :) You may want to consider a custom tux so you can select all the proper details. The color of your accessories should depend on the color of your tux. If it’s a black tux, stick to a white handkerchief, but if it’s a shade of blue, you can definitely mix in a colored handkerchief.

  33. Dave Regala says:

    During prom last year I took the advice of this article (with a bit of inspiration from Casino Royale and Skyfall) and shed my neon green vest and pre-tied bow tie for something reminiscent to that worn by 007. For the evening I donned a beautiful slim fit tuxedo shirt with an actual bow tie (it was worth the extra 10 minutes to learn how to tie) complete with black onyx studs and cuff links. My trousers, which sat on the waist, just below the navel, were held up with white braces ,not clip ons, another influence from Casino Royale. Finally the jacket itself which I had “brought in” at my local tailor, who did a flawless job, fit perfectly, showing a bit of cuff which of course brought the onyx cuff links into focus. It’s silk peaked lapels glowed with a radiance with which I could hardly describe. Looking in the mirror I found myself astounded, for the first time in the history of prom I didn’t feel like a poorly dressed, stereotype of my generation, I felt like a man. The only thing that matched my date, who was lost for words throughout most of the night, was the small white rose and green ribbon boutonnière which sat firmly on my lapel, a small compliment to my dates beautiful dress. Throughout the night both students and teachers raved over my attire, many saying that the only other things needed were a Walther and a Vodka Martini, oh and an Aston Martin in place of my Monte Carlo sitting in the parking lot. Nearly every other guy I talked to that evening told me that they would follow my example for next year by keeping it simple, keeping it classic, and not following any trends, and I’m damn proud of it. Regards, Dave.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      This is a fantastic story, Dave. Our goal is that more young men follow in your footsteps and start dressing better, living better and becoming better. You’ve set a great example. Here’s to you.

  34. Can I wear black dress pants with a tuxedo jacket?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      In a pinch, yes, Monty, you can do this, but expect discerning eyes to notice. We recommend getting a pair of proper formal pants like these, ASAP.

  35. Hey I didn’t hear you mention anything about wearing a vest with the tux. What do you think about that? Is it too much or good?

    1. We love a vest with a tux, Edward. The “waistcoat” we referred to above is actually a vest. We not only like them, we offer them with all of our tuxedos and recommend them if you want to put a modern take on the stylish rogue look of yesteryear.

  36. I got my Black Lapel tuxedo (one button, peak lapel, with a waistcoat) a month ago. Wearing proper black tie in a perfectly fitting suit is probably as close to godlike as gets to feel. I’m hosting my second black tie party this weekend and have worn it to the opera three times. On opening night and when I’m hosting events I wear it with a white linen pocket square, a pique wing collar dress shirt and a white waistcoat for the most formal look possible. On other nights at the opera I wear it with the black waistcoat, a pleated turn-down collar and a maroon pocket square for a (relatively) more relaxed look. I wear patent leather oxfords with silk shoe laces for a great finishing touch

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Definitely sounds like you’re knocking ’em dead, Seth!

      Got some pics to send along?

  37. What about us in the military? Is military dress formal appropriate for black tie events?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Military dress formal is acceptable at black tie events but really works better for military events. Consider the mood of the event. If you’re going to a joyous occasion like a civilian friend’s black tie wedding, rolling up in military regalia may make you look seriously out of place.

  38. Where is the waist covering? It isn’t proper unless your trousers are made with a wide waistband, usually in satin to match the braiding on the leg hem. This is also only really an option for men who are in excellent shape as it will look sloppy on anyone else. A cummerbund for a shawl lapel or waist coat (a low, 3 button backless or full-backed model and definitely not the rental variety that is 6 button or more) for peak lapel is a necessity. Men who choose not to wear one often think they will look more modern, but mostly it just looks sloppy especially since your studs only go down so far on your tuxedo shirt, creating an unsightly gap. Said gap was designed to be covered.

    Anyhow, need a waistcoat or cummerbund, everything else looks great.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You make a good point, Josh. Though a waist covering is considered optional, we are pro-cummerbund/waistcoat. While we do like to assume that our readers are in excellent shape, ;-), a waist covering is always a good look. We’ve added in a section on the options.

      Sounds like you’ve been to a few black tie events. Care to tell us how you what was your secret to looking fly in black tie?

    2. Josh, if you must go without a waist covering, trousers with a higher rise than the current fashion standard help. It also helps if your evening shirt has buttons in place of the studs or a covered “fly” front. That way there isn’t a button all by its lonesome while the studs have a party up top.

  39. I had myselft tailored a tux just 4 weeks ago and I really love it! It fits perfectly and I had to be careful to not look better than the bridegroom for who’s wedding I got it for! But: though I didn’t use them, the trousers do have belt loops. Should I bring them back to have them removed?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Good eye for detail, Jack. If you’re a strictly by-the-book guy, then removing the belt loops is the way to go. That said, if you plan to wear a cummerbund, the waist will not be seen and the belt loops will be our little secret ;-).

      If you plan to wear a waistcoat you still don’t run the risk of many people seeing it.

      If you plan to go with the waist uncovered, though, and want to present a sleek look, remove the belt loops. Since you won’t be able to wear a belt to hold your pants up, you should consider getting suspender buttons sewn into the pants and getting some braces like the ones referenced above.

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