You open the mail one morning to find an invitation requesting your presence at a prestigious dinner party, wedding or formal event designated ‘black tie only’.

Yes, the dreaded day has finally arrived – it’s time for you to find your first tuxedo. But don’t despair; it needn’t be the hellish folly you might imagine. Stick to these simple tuxedo rules/credos and you can’t go too far wrong:

1. Wear a tuxedo/dinner jacket like a regular suit. It may seem like an obvious statement, but you should dress with the same rules in mind. Make sure it fits well, hangs correctly on your frame and gives you the dapper appearance of James Bond himself!

2. Double or single breasted? See point one. If you can pull off a double-breasted look then feel free; however, single breasted varieties have a more ‘timeless’ quality, not to mention overall versatility.

3. White Shirt Only. Don’t be tempted to play with crazy alternatives. A good quality white shirt, French cuffs and attractive cufflinks are what you’re after. Avoid anything with ruffles, unless you’re willing to look like the ‘dandy highwayman’ all night.

4. Do I need a cummerbund? Hmm… it depends; if you’re wearing a double-breasted tux then the answer is a resounding no. Traditionally tailored single-breasted versions almost certainly require them, but it’s increasingly common to dispense with such formality with modern incarnations. If in doubt, ask the store assistant what the prevailing trend is in your area.

5. Do I need velvet shoes or pumps? Nowadays you can normally get away with a good pair of oxford lace-ups instead; thankfully, they’re a far more comfortable alternative for the modern age.

6. What kind of tie should I wear? Bowties still rank as the number one choice and they aren’t terribly difficult to tie; however, neckties are generally considered acceptable as a substitute if you feel terribly self-conscious in anything else. Regardless of your choice, please remember, absolutely no ‘clip-ons’.

Mistakes you should aim to avoid

  • Colored or Retro tuxedos – Remember the old saying “Keep it simple”? Protocol dictates you wear black (or midnight blue), so avoid those wacky gem greens, velvet reds and antique browns.
  • Oversized or Undersized clothing – I’ll repeat a second (or is it third?) time for those who weren’t listening before, your tuxedo should fit just like a good suit. Don’t try wearing anything too big or small for your frame.
  • No top hats, tails or white gloves – Unless you’ve been designated the official magician for this event, you should ditch all the hats, gloves and coat tails. The only adornments up for consideration are a neatly folded handkerchief in the breast pocket or an appropriate flower (and both are entirely optional).
  • No tuxedos before the evening – the exact hour varies depending on who you ask, but generally speaking, tuxedos before late afternoon/ early evening aren’t appropriate. Try a morning suit for events that take place earlier in the day.
  • Always follow the wishes of the celebrants you may disregard everything you’ve just read in favor of what the hosts’ desires may be. If they insist that they’d, “rather everyone wears a tuxedo rather than a morning suit”, then duly oblige. If in doubt, always ask?

About The Author

Johnathan Bell is the founder, owner and main author of Guy Style Guide, a website dedicated to everyday male fashion, style and grooming. The primary mission? To guide clueless men through the tricky mindfield that is the growing world of male couture. Find him on , Twitter and Tumblr.

3 Responses