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Aug, 2 2023

Complete Style Guide for Tuxedo Types, Colors & Lapels in 2024

Man wearing a midnight blue peak lapel tuxedo

Stepping into the world of tuxedo types may feel like taking a history lesson in men's fashion. Tuxedos, the paragon of black tie attire, have evolved over centuries and carried the legacy of refinement and style into the present day. And yet, despite their time-honored presence in the male wardrobe, there is still a wealth of misunderstood or overlooked details.

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This comprehensive guide is designed to equip you with all the nuanced knowledge of tuxedos you'll ever need. We'll delve into the origin of this sophisticated attire, discuss the types of tuxedos, and help you differentiate between a shawl and a notch lapel. But it's not just about knowing; it's about making informed choices. We'll provide you with tips to select the perfect tuxedo based on the occasion, your body type, and personal style, and even guide you towards distinguished brands that should be on your radar.

Introduction to Tuxedo Types

A group of men in black tuxedos

As mentioned, tuxedos are a staple of black tie attire. Since this is one of the more formal dress codes, it’s actually surprisingly easy to get right – all you need to do is understand the rules and follow them as closely as possible.

However, that doesn’t mean there’s no variety of tuxedos. Let’s look at how one tux can differ from another in more detail.

The most notable differences between tuxedo types are color, but that’s not the only element that can vary. Tuxedos also come with different lapels, which determine the entire look of your attire. Also, the exact tuxedo style you choose will depend on your body type, the occasion itself, and, of course, your personal style.

Traditional Black Tuxedo

Man in black peak lapel tuxedo

When you imagine a tuxedo, chances are you’re picturing it in black. This is the most iconic color choice that has also been around the longest, and for good reason. The traditional black tux set the standard for black tie and men’s fashion worldwide. This sentiment is mirrored by style experts and aficionados alike, including George Zimmer who aptly captured the essence of this enduring staple of men's formal attire,

Nothing commands respect like a man in a well-tailored black tuxedo. It's a time-honored tradition that combines elegance with simplicity - a testament to the adage that less truly is more.

Indeed, the enduring appeal of the black tuxedo lies in its inherent simplicity and its testament to timeless sophistication.

White Tuxedo

A man in white shawl tuxedo

The white tuxedo represents an intriguing choice since it usually comes in its white dinner jacket form. The main difference here is that white dinner jackets don’t feature a satin lapel, making this variant a unique type of tux in more than color. Of course, there are also white tuxes with lapels, which are usually black. The white tux became trendy in recent decades, so you can often see it on red-carpet events.

In the realm of tuxedos, stepping away from the traditional black requires confidence, flair, and a sense of occasion. A white tuxedo is a bold statement, a symbol of daring sophistication, embodying the spirit of celebration and an eagerness to stand out. - George Zimmer

Colored Tuxedos

Man in midnight blue peak lapel tuxedo

Aside from black and white, tuxedos are made in a range of colors. In fact, colored tuxedos aren’t a novelty – they’ve been around for almost a century, becoming more prominent by the decade. Today, tuxedos come in milder colors as well as bold, lively variants. Checkered tuxedos may also count in this category.

Colored tuxedos are about expressing one's individuality. It's for the man who doesn't just want to blend in with the crowd but wants to make his mark. The key is to balance the boldness of the color with the elegance inherent in the tuxedo. It's not just about making a statement, it's about making the right statement.

Novelty Tuxedos

If you’re looking for novelty tuxedo options, textured and printed will be among the standout variants. Textured tuxes add an edge to the classic look due to their threads and uncommon finish. On the other hand, printed tuxedos represent one of the most daring options.

Novelty tuxedos are for the man who isn't afraid to challenge the norms. The unusual textures and daring prints aren't just about breaking away from the traditional, they're about embracing fashion as a form of personal expression. When you wear a novelty tuxedo, you're not just wearing a piece of clothing - you're making a statement about who you are and what you stand for.

Single vs. Double Breasted Tuxedos

Tom Ford in a double breasted tux

Single-breasted tuxedos are typically the go-to choice for most men due to their versatile nature and modern appeal. In contrast, double-breasted tuxedos exude a sense of formality and sophistication, making them perfect for very formal occasions.

There's a fine line between classic and outdated. Single-breasted tuxedos walk this line perfectly, while double-breasted ones hark back to an era of absolute elegance and formality," says renowned fashion expert Jason Jackson.

Tuxedos vs. Dinner Jackets

Man in white tuxedo

While they're often used interchangeably, tuxedos and dinner jackets do differ slightly. A dinner jacket offers a more relaxed and less formal look and can be paired with different types of trousers.

The beauty of a dinner jacket lies in its versatility. It allows the wearer to play around with contrasting trousers, adding a touch of personality to the look," notes Jason.

Vest vs. Cummerbund

Man in black tuxedo with hands in his pockets

The choice between a vest and a cummerbund can dramatically alter the overall look of a tuxedo. Some prefer the traditional elegance of a cummerbund, while others lean towards the versatility of a vest.

Material

Three navy color swatches

Tuxedos can be made from various materials, including wool, velvet, silk, or even a mixture of these. The choice of material can significantly impact the overall feel and look of the outfit.

Fit

Man wearing black tuxedo and white boutonniere

The fit of a tuxedo can be categorized into different types: slim fit, regular fit, and loose fit. Each of these fits complements different body types and personal styles.

Choosing the Right Tuxedo Style

A man and women looking at suits on Generation Tux's website

Finding your perfect tuxedo will depend on how it fits your body type, where you’re wearing it, and which combinations you prefer. Let’s break down these concepts further.

Body Type Considerations

Whether the tux fits your body type will be the first consideration. If you find the right fit, you’ll look better and feel more comfortable, ultimately allowing you to leave the best possible impression.

The tux should sit on your shoulders so the top seam hangs just over your shoulder bone. This will ensure the tuxedo is neither too big nor too tight. Next, the armholes should be the size that allows you to move while avoiding the entire tux following your movements. Overly small armholes will also cause wrinkles.

Chest size will be the next measurement. For the best results, make sure to measure the widest point of your chest. Once all these dimensions fit, you should focus on length, and there’s a simple, golden rule here: The tux should always cover your behind. You might see modern, shorter variants, but pulling off the look with those might be a challenge.

Occasion-Specific Styles

Your tuxedo style will often depend on the event you’re attending. When you receive a black tie invitation, a black, white, or colored tux will be appropriate. Of course, if you’re going for a colored option, you should make sure it will fit the overall theme. Generally speaking, blue and red tuxes will represent the safest choices.

On the other hand, a more relaxed setting could be a great opportunity to show off bolder tux variants. If the occasion allows for it, you can rock a novelty tuxedo which could otherwise be inappropriate.

Personal Style Preferences

Finally, there’s the question of personal style. If the classical black tux makes you uncomfortable (however unlikely that may be), exploring alternatives would be better than forcing yourself into that fashion choice. With all the tuxedo variants available today, you can find just what you need to express your style.

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Celebrity Tuxedo Style Inspiration

Brad Pitt in black tuxedo

There’s no shortage of tuxedo style inspiration in the world of celebrities. From the tuxes worn in the classic Hollywood era to modern-day stars, you’ll undoubtedly find an example you like.

Classic Hollywood Stars

Seeing an old-Hollywood celebrity in a tuxedo was by no means an uncommon sight. Stars like Cary Grant and Clark Gable are the first to come to mind here, with the former often wearing the classic black and the latter sometimes opting for a smooth grey variant.

Sean Connery pulled off the ideal look in a white tux, setting an example for later James Bond actors. Perhaps the most impactful was the tux that Marlene Dietrich wore to great success, with a top hat.

Modern Celebrity Tuxedo Styles

The tux is no less popular with modern celebrities, including George Clooney and Robert Pattinson. For more unusual variants, you can refer to the tux that The Rock wore at the 2017 Academy Awards. Ladies are wearing tuxes more often today, with Rihanna, Tilda Swinton, and Jennifer Anniston being only some of the notable examples.

Lapel Styles

Man buttoning his black tuxedo and leaning against a white wall

The shape of the lapel impacts your entire style, so it’s important to know what you’re going for when choosing your tux. Here, we’ll provide an overview of three essential lapel styles that will make your outfit stand out on any occasion.

Shawl Lapel

Sleek and rounded, the shawl lapel is among the most prominent styles. This lapel style is considered one of the most exciting choices and can flatter your figure. Shawl lapels are often considered the go-to variant for black tie events, although some think they are less formal.

Notch Lapel

The notch lapel is a standard, not only as a tuxedo lapel but as a collar type for various attires, including suits and sports coats. This widespread use also makes the notch lapel appear more casual, so it might not be the best fit for a black tie dress code.

Framed Lapel

When you want to add some edge to your tux, the framed lapel is the way to go. In this version, most of the lapel isn’t covered with satin—instead, only a narrow trim around the edges “frames” the lapel.

Recommended Brands and Retailers

A storefront of tuxedos

If you’re shopping for a tux, you have a vast selection of brands at your disposal. Some are high-end established fashion leaders, others offer quality tuxedos at affordable prices, while some are carving their way into the market with modern, more environmentally-conscious manufacturing processes.

High-End Brands

For many customers, going with a high-end brand is a safe bet. Established names in the fashion industry are trusted worldwide and offer reliable design choices that will make you shine in your tux.

  • Ralph Lauren: Classic, slim-fit tuxedos are a strong point of this respectable retailer. Their tuxes are made of the best materials and represent some of the finest in the market.
  • M. J. Bale: This Australian manufacturer produces stylish tuxedos from merino wool. The tuxedos come in three lines or Labels: White, Blue, and MTM, leaving you plenty of choices.
  • Charles Tyrwhitt: Focused on a timeless appeal, Charles Tyrwhitt has a limited selection of tuxes, with each style representing a finely detailed gem. These tuxedos come in black, teal, and midnight blue.
  • Bonobos: Bonobos excels at designing tuxedos that fit perfectly. The manufacturer has a line of classic variants, as well as unique designs made to accommodate specific individual styles.
  • Todd Snyder: As a veteran of the fashion industry, Todd Snyder creates perfectly tailored yet somewhat relaxed tuxedos. The tuxedos come in linen and wool variants with a wide selection of colors.
  • Brooks Brothers: If tradition matters to you, Brooks Brothers will be among your top choices. Dating back over two centuries, this manufacturer knows what it's doing and precisely how to do it. Unsurprisingly, their tuxedos are as close to perfect as possible.
  • Hugo Boss: Devoted to luxury fashion, Hugo Boss creates exquisite tuxedos in a classic style. In line with this traditional outlook, their tuxes come in black and midnight blue for a universal appeal.

Affordable Brands

High-end tuxedos can sometimes cost thousands of dollars, which might be a bit too much for people on a budget. Luckily, some brands deliver tuxedos of respectable quality at a lower price:

  • Express: Express shows that you don’t have to pay too much for a comfortable, good-looking item with their Cotton Sateen Tuxedo selling for just under $250.
  • Caliberte: A tuxedo that goes for under $300 and looks fantastic is a great deal. Plus, the tux is made of fine wool, which will certainly feel comfortable.
  • H&M: With a wool tux that costs only $200, H&M has one of the most budget-friendly options on the market. The design is much more presentable than one might expect for the price.
  • Asos: Devoted to making fashion affordable, Asos designs tuxedos starting at a surprising price of under $140.

Emerging and Ethical/Sustainable Brands

As the fashion landscape keeps evolving, many new brands are adopting more ethical manufacturing practices. Some notable names in this expanding branch of fashion include Stella McCartney, Brave Gentleman, and Tailor Store.

Buying vs. Renting Your Tuxedo

Shipping box with black tuxedo set inside

Deciding whether to buy or rent a tux will depend on many factors. Of course, your budget will play a significant role here, as renting may be easier on the wallet. On the other hand, if you opt for an affordable tux brand, you won’t need to make a considerable investment but will be able to keep this crucial attire piece.

However, renting a tux may afford you a piece that would otherwise be well outside your budget. If you want to look your best without breaking the bank, the right choice will be to rent. To that end, check out our tuxedo rental service – your ideal tuxedo is likely already waiting.

Find the Ideal Tux for the Occasion

Choosing a tuxedo isn’t the most complex task in the world, but neither is it the easiest. With the advice from this guide, you should have a clear idea of what to look for and which options are available in the market. Choose wisely and ensure your style is impeccable for that special event.

FAQs: Tuxedo Types

Q: What are the popular tuxedo jacket styles for 2023?

A: The popular tuxedo jacket styles for 2023 include the classic tuxedo jacket with a peak lapel, the modern tuxedo jacket with notch lapel, and the stylish tuxedo jacket with a shawl lapel. These styles provide a perfect blend of traditional and modern looks and come in different colors, including the classic black or white and the trendy burgundy and midnight blue.

Q: What is the difference between a tuxedo jacket with a peak lapel and one with a notch lapel?

A: The difference lies in the shape. A peak lapel is one that points upwards towards the shoulder, whereas a notch lapel has a noticeable indentation where the collar meets the lapel. Peak lapels are often found on formal event tuxedos and are deemed more traditional, while notch lapels are more versatile, seen in modern tuxedo styles.

Q: How to accessorize a tuxedo for a formal event?

A: When dressing for a formal event, a tuxedo should be accompanied by a bow tie, a vest or cummerbund, and a pocket square. Tuxedo studs, cufflinks, and a dress shirt also complement the tuxedo look. A stylish tuxedo is completed with an elegant pair of shoes and socks.

Q: What are the important considerations when selecting a tuxedo jacket?

A: Selecting a tuxedo jacket involves considering factors such as the type of lapel, the jacket styles, the venue, and the time of the event. For a formal event, a peak lapel tuxedo jacket is typically the best choice. Jacket styles also matter, as a modern tuxedo jacket might be more suitable for a slightly relaxed setting versus a classic tuxedo jacket for a very formal setting.

Q: What to wear with a tuxedo for a stylish look?

A: To achieve a stylish tuxedo look, wear a crisp white tuxedo shirt, a black bow tie, well-fitted tuxedo pants, and a pocket square. Accessories, including studs, cufflinks, and a watch, should also be carefully matched. Shoes should preferably be black patent leather. The look should be finished off with a matching vest or cummerbund.

Q: How does a modern tuxedo differ from traditional tuxedos?

A: The modern tuxedo typically has a slimmer fit than traditional tuxedos. The jackets often feature narrower lapel facings and a lightly constructed shoulder. Modern tuxedos also come in more styles and colors than traditional black or white tuxedos.

Q: Can a vest be worn with all tuxedo styles?

A: Yes, a vest can be worn with all tuxedo styles. However, the choice to wear a vest or a cummerbund depends on personal style preference and the formality of the event. A vest is generally more formal than a cummerbund, but both can create a polished look. Remember to match your vest color with your tuxedo for a cohesive look.

Q: What are the types of trousers suitable for tuxedos?

A: The best trousers to pair with a tuxedo should ideally be made from the same fabric as the jacket to ensure color consistency. They should have a single pleat or be flat-front for an overall sleek silhouette, and should also have a side stripe matching the jacket's lapel fabric. Whether choosing tuxedo pants or formal trousers, ensure they are well tailored for optimum fit.

Q: How can one wear the tuxedo jacket for more casual settings?

A: For a more casual setting, a tuxedo jacket can be paired with dark denim and a crisp dress shirt. Aim for a jacket with a notch lapel for a less formal appearance, and consider darker colors like midnight blue or black for versatility. A burgundy tuxedo jacket can be a bold choice for a standout but relaxed look.

Q: What is the proper dress shirt to wear with a tuxedo?

A: The classic choice for a tuxedo shirt is white with a pleated front and a wing collar to pair well with a bow tie. However, contemporary styles may feature plain fronts, laydown collars and even various colors. Choosing the best tuxedo shirt should complement your overall look so pay attention to how it pairs with your bow tie, lapel, and vest or cummerbund.

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