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The Complete Tuxedo guide: Differences between Suit & Tuxedo

16/04/2020
The Complete Tuxedo guide: Differences between Suit & Tuxedo

In the western civilization, the formal dress code for men has been mainly suits, tuxedos or smoking and dinner jackets. These different types of formal menswear share common traits and a number of differences. Another variable in this context is the definition many brands and retailers give to these traits. And while tuxedos are getting more popular lately, it is wise to define what divides these two categories of formal attire.

Our brief analysis will discuss the differences between a man’s tuxedo and a man’s suit, but also the use depending on occasion and finally the list of accessories that match a tux.  

Difference Between Suit & Tux

First things first, before we examine differences between a suit and a tuxedo, let’s mention that a tuxedo is also a variable of a men's suit. This means that a man’a tux consists of a jacket and trousers of the same fabric and colour. On the contrary, examining differences requires an acknowledgement that there are custom elements of suits and tuxedos that don’t necessarily meet the traditional standards. As a conclusion we decide to review our vision of the two.

Men's tuxedo vs suit guide a black suit with black bowtieMen's navy blue suit and tie

Tuxedo

  • Colour only black or midnight blue
  • Evening wear only/every formal occasion (wedding) 
  • Bow tie only
  • Shawl collar
  • Satin covered  lapels/collar, buttons and pockets
  • White shirt with double cuffs 
  • Single button and vent
  • Flat front trousers
  • Plain bottom trousers

Suit

  • Many choices of colour from classics blue, grey and brown to unique like pink and green
  • Many choices of patterns : plain, striped, checked
  • Great choice for everyday or evening wear
  • Notched or peak lapels 
  • Any shirt and tie you want to match
  • Two buttons and double vents
  • Pleated or plain front trousers
  • Plain or cuffed bottoms

Fabrics

When addressing tailored suits and tuxedos, there is a direct link with the best natural fabrics. These include mainly superfine wools of italian or english mills in plain dark colours such as black and blue navy and depending on the season with the addition of prestigious yarns such as cashmere and mohair. 

Tuxedos are different to suits regarding fabric by using a mix of fabrics always including silk satin or silk grosgrain for its lapels, buttons and trousers’ waistband as well as all piping of pockets. Suits are made at all their parts from a single fabric. This aspect is the major aesthetic difference between the two.

Colours and patterns

As aforementioned above, tuxedos are usually black and blue in solid colours. Most men will be happy to add a black or a midnight blue tuxedo to their wardrobe. Considering that tuxedos feature silk details in black, this preference is more than right.

Men's tuxedo total blackmen's tuxedo black with waistcoat

On the other hand, suits are now available at an infinite colour shades ranging from classic dark to other more originals such as green, pink and dark red. Suits are also available in hundreds of patterns such as pinstripes and plaids as well as structures ( bird’s eye, pied poule, etc.). These are classic men’s suit versions.

men's black tuxedomen's navy blue tuxedo with waistcoatmen's light colored tuxedo

Lapels

We discussed the fabric used for lapels as a major difference between men’s suits and tuxedos. However, tuxedo lapels feature style variations.

The common lapels of a suit are notch and peak lapels. Tuxedos share both of them - although the peak lapel version is much more popular- but for tuxedos a shawl lapel version is used too. The shawl lapels tuxedo is the Tailor Italian Wear idea of tuxedo. Shawl lapels, similar to notch and peak lapels come in various widths. Thinner shawl lapels are now considered more fashionable.

There is a rare chance you find notch lapels on a tuxedo jacket; notch lapels are a more business style of lapel and can be rather indifferent to formal suits.

The buttons and vents

Regarding buttons, we mentioned that tuxedos have satin silk covered buttons. Moreover, contrary to two or three button suits, a tuxedo jacket comes in a single button closure. 

A single button tux jacket forms a deeper front opening and longer unbroken lines that make up for an elegant sleek appearance. Single button closure is paired to a single central positioned vent that matches with the aesthetics of a tuxedo. Nowadays, regular suits feature double vents at their majority.

tuxedo vs suit details black blazertuxedo vs suit guide blue costume details

Pockets

The tuxedo pockets are strictly jetted featuring a satin piping. This is in line with the overall aesthetics of the garment adding clear cut style and clean lines. Suits can have all kinds of pockets and that includes patch, flap and jetted pockets.

The trousers

Suit trousers have a waistcoat with belt loops. Wearing a belt is almost essential for most suits, being the easiest way to ensure your trousers stay fit. As previously mentioned, tuxedo trousers are usually made with a satin waistband lacking belt loops and featuring a hook front closure instead of a button front closure. This makes the waist fitting so important to tuxedo trousers as they should fit perfectly around your natural waist. Wearing suspenders with a tuxedo is a good choice not only functionally, but stylistically too, so make sure you learn how to properly wear suspenders.

Tuxedos: Complete the look-Shirt-Accessories-Shoes 

The shirt

Regardless of variation in design features, tuxedos should always be worn with plain white or plain dark men's shirts sur ton.

The collar of a traditional tuxedo shirt is called a wing tip, a design meant to be worn with a bow tie. Nowadays, classic italian collars have substituted this at a large part. At the Tailor Italian Wear collection, there is also the guru type of collar suitable for a style without necktie and bow tie.

men's classic white shirtmen's modern shirt white

Shirts for this type of attire should have double or French cuffs to add cufflinks. Cufflinks  match well to tuxedos.  

Bow-Ties/Ties

In a choice between bow ties and ties, bow ties are certainly more proper when a tuxedo attire is concerned. Tradition and good taste suggests that midnight blue and black bow-ties are appropriate. Whether ready to wear or unknotted bow ties come in a variety of shapes and sizes. A good way to choose them is to compare them and match them with the width of tuxedo lapels. 

men's black bowtiemen's purple bowtie

Ties are less often used, most of them seem somehow odd with a tuxedo.

Pocket Squares

A white pocket square is an absolute essential for your tuxedo. We don’t really recommend any other color for formalwear occasions. 

Cufflinks

If you opted for a French-cuffed dress shirt (you should),you’ll need cufflinks to keep the cuffs cinched. There are options-a-plenty for cufflinks, from classic to novelty styles.

cufflinks for shirts

The shoes

Tuxedo shoes certainly need to be black. Black is formal and black is elegant. Moreover, they have to be clean and free of evident stitching and details such as brogues or rubber soles. Our idea of tuxedo shoes regards that can either be black derbies or oxfords - better if wholecut. Leathers should be manually shined or patent leather. Note that slippers are also a great option and you can find them either in velvet or leather.

men's leather black shoes

 

Can you wear a suit instead of a tuxedo for a wedding or prom?

Well, that is certainly a good question. Answers should consider your role at the event as well as the suit type in alternative to tuxedo. A plain three piece suit can be nearly as formal as a tuxedo, whilst suits with evident patterns do not make typical formal attires. Suits in fact are also a formal way to dress but rather more appropriate for any time of day and at a range of events or instances from work to weddings or meetings.

On the other hand, tuxedos are pure formal garments so they are suitable only for evening events and celebratory weddings, charity galas, nights at the opera and other elite events such as red carpets. Tuxedos should not be worn by any means at work or funerals.

What should you choose: suit or a tuxedo?

Each option has its own charm and much depends on how each one looks on you. Tradition indicates that there are some moments in life that are celebrated wearing a special attire. This means that a man should wear a tuxedo at some moment in his life. 

Men tuxedo vs suit guide complete look

Make sure the fit is perfect and quality is impeccable: This means to trust your senses and avoid being influenced by brand or price tags.

Purchasing a Tailor Italian Wear tuxedo means to enjoy top quality and impeccable fit without spending a fortune for its purchase.