What Is the Proper Way to Wear a Tuxedo?

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Even if you only attend black-tie events once or twice a year, having a tuxedo in your closet means you're always ready to look polished and sophisticated when the occasion calls for it. But if you're not accustomed to wearing a tux regularly, figuring out the proper way to successfully master black-tie dressing can be a challenge. Focusing on the right fit and style is the best place to start.

Choose a Classic Style

Tuxedos come in a variety of styles, however, you should opt for a classic, timeless style that won’t look dated when fads change. Whether you’re buying or renting, choose a tuxedo with a classic peak- or notch-lapel jacket, with one to two buttons. Make sure your tuxedo isn’t too fitted or flared. Pants should not have a pleat front or cuffs, and the silk or satin band on the outer seam of the legs should match the facing on the lapels.

Have It Tailored

Even with a classic tuxedo style, you won’t look, or feel, dashing without a proper fit. In particular, avoid a tux that is too large, as you will end up looking sloppy at your event. To ensure a correct fit, the shoulders of your tuxedo jacket should hang at your natural shoulders, not loosely from them. Make sure the sleeves are short enough so that a ¼- to ½-inch of your dress shirt cuffs is visible beneath them. Your tuxedo’s pant leg should have a slim fit that is not too full, or too skinny, and end with a modest break so they don’t puddle on your shoes.

Get the Tie Right

With a tuxedo, the right tie is essential. In some cases, you may be tempted to wear a long black silk tie or go the easy route, and wear a clip-on bow tie. For a classic look, always pair your tux with a self-tied bow tie. The tie should be made of the same fabric as the tuxedo’s lapels and the stripe on the pants.

Select the Right Accessories

If you want to look stylish in your tuxedo, the right accessories are a must. You should never wear a belt with a tuxedo – in fact, tuxedo pants should not have any belt loops. If you need help securing your pants, suspenders are the way to go. When you’re wearing a single-breasted tuxedo jacket, you should pair it with a vest or waistcoat to hide some of your shirt between the jacket button and the pant waistband. A pocket square can add some flair to your tuxedo. A white cotton or linen style is traditional, but you can experiment with other shades for added color. When it comes to shoes, calf lace-ups are an ideal modern option, though you may prefer a traditional opera style pump, or Prince Albert slipper, for highly-formal occasions.