Tuxedo vs Suit – Guide 2019

Differences, What to wear, When to wear & How to wear.

[A complete guide on Tuxedo vs Suit. This guide covers their history, the differences, when to wear and how to wear them, and finally our Favorite picks for both, tuxedo and suit.]

Tuxedo vs Suit:

Formal events aren’t an everyday occurrence in every man’s calendars, but when they do come around, it is expected that your outfits match up to the grandeur of the occasion.

Your formal wear outfit will depend on the time and type of occasion that you will attend, but chances are, they will fall under two categories: suits and tuxedos. However, it is a long-running misconception that these two are the exact same; the latter just being a jazzier alternative to the classic array of suits, and the former only being a bland business attire.

There are many distinctive differences to tuxedos and suits, not only in their physical appearance but as well as their purpose and history. In this intensive, yet simple guide to these two apparels, we’ll find out which is the right medium for you.

Introduction of Tuxedos and Suits:

The Tuxedo:

The tuxedo, also known as the black tie, is comprised of two to three pieces and is essentially a dinner jacket with matching trousers, worn solely during the evening. It is considered as a semi-formal attire, originating from British and American parties in the 19th century. It was developed after the smoking jacket, outerwear worn by men when they consumed cigarettes or smoked tobacco, flourished during this time. The smoking jacket was designed without a tailcoat as opposed to the white tie for a more comfortable smoking experience. This jacket was first seen worn by Edward VII of the United Kingdom—a tailless, midnight blue jacket in silk with matching trousers. He had ordered this from designer Henry Poole at his Savile Row House.

This attire was named a tuxedo to pay homage to Tuxedo Park in New York, where it was first worn, when it was introduced in 1886 to America from the Europeans.

These ensembles are originally a more comfortable alternative to the much more traditional, white tie, which is comprised of a black tailcoat, white dress shirt, waistcoat, and bowtie. It also displays more variety compared to the former, as the white tie is heavily regulated with its presentation.

The color of tuxedos only rotates between black, midnight blue, or white. The reason why it solely focuses on these three colors is that bold, dark colors embody wealth and class. Having a solid and vibrant color is an easy indication of one’s status and purpose, such being of high class and importance when wearing a tuxedo.

Its definitive difference from the suit is the presence of satin: this material is used for details such as the tuxedo’s jacket lapels, buttons, pocket trims, and several stripes down the pant legs of the trousers. Its lapels can be styled in three different ways, being: notched, shawl, and peak. The notched and shawl lapels have V indentations, whilst the peak does not. A tuxedo jacket also traditionally has a singular satin covered button, but modern adaptations and designs of it have two to three buttons.

It is worn with a white dress shirt, a black bowtie, and black patent shoes. Modern designers have minimized the usage of satin, only utilizing the material for a singular stripe on the outseam of the trousers. However, there are still many designer brands that stay true to the traditional detailing of the original tuxedo.

The black tie is worn for occasions such as dinner parties, balls, and, weddings, though many etiquette experts discourage wearing this attire for marital ceremonies.

The Suit:

The suit, on the other hand, is it’s own another spectrum. It is a set of men’s wear consisting of a lounge jacket and trousers made from the same material. The pants will have belt loops in the chances of the wearer opting to use a thin belt. They also have self faced lapels, which are collars made from the material of the suit.

Men’s suits have been around since the 17th Century with royals wearing them when the French Revolution was taking place. The person to be credited for this dress code was King Louis XIV that declared for the Courtmen to wear a long coat, a waistcoat or petticoat, a cravat, a wig, and knee breeches (currently known as trousers). Beau Brummell, however, rejected the popularity of powdered wigs and frock coats.

It then flourished in the late 19th Century when they were worn as casual and country wear, typically to sports events. The 1920’s introduced heavier embellished suits that represent wealth and class. Accessories such as tie pins, tie bars, and colorful shirts and ties were all the rage in a constant attempt to one-up everyone else. In the early 20th Century, which was the beginning of the Edwardian Era, wearing a morning coat as opposed to a frock coat arose, hence, the business suit was popularized and worn in more professional settings. And now, in the current age, suits have risen to popularity again, now with much more attention to detail and style than ever.

There are many variations to suits—from the differentiation in their designs, textiles, number of pieces, and accessories. The traditional two-piece suit can be coupled with a waistcoat, topped off with hats such as a fedora when used for the outdoors, and accessorized with handkerchiefs, belts, watches, or whatever else will help accentuate the fit. The dress shirt worn with the suit can also differ—one can wear a variety of solid colored or wildly patterned tops.

The suit can be worn at any time of the day, as opposed to the tuxedo which can only be worn during the evening. Depending on the occasion or event you are to attend to, the formality of your suit will vary directly to it.

Tuxedo vs. Suit Price Comparison

Tuxedo price: 

Tuxedo prices vary vastly depending on rental fees, origin, and brand. The average Tuxedo cost ranges from $200 to $499, while high-end brands mark their signature tuxedos from $800 to $1500 or even more.

Suit price: 

Similarly suits price vary too, depending on the brand, the fabric, the construction etc. An average suit would cost $200-$800. The price can go even up for more premium brands and designer suits. 

Note:

There is no fixed price for a suit or a tuxedo, they both vary from brand to brand and suit to suit. Generally it’s noted that Tuxedos are more expensive compared to suits.

How To Wear Tuxedo And Suit:

Now let’s talk about how to wear a tuxedo and a suit. This would give you a better idea of their differences, and how you can style your suit or tuxedo.

HOW TO WEAR A TUXEDO:

Let’s start with tuxedo.

1. Select the right jacket and pants.

Find the pair that best matches the atmosphere of the event you’ll be attending to, as well as the one that best compliments your figure, complexion, and personal tastes. Selecting one that makes you feel good, will never fail to make you look good. A rule of thumb is for your jacket to be sharp; tight, yet not restrictive to your movement. Your tuxedo’s shoulder pads should only end on your shoulders, and it should not look stiff on your body.

2. Select the right shirt.

Tuxedo dress shirts have different types of collars: point collars, wing collars, turn-down collars, and many more.  Wing collars have short tips that stick out under your chin. Turn down collars are classic collars that you may find on other normal dress shirts. Though wing collars are the traditional choice when sporting a tuxedo, taller collars are more often used for they help accentuate your look.

Cuffs are also an important detail to pay attention to when wearing a tuxedo. You can choose from a shirt that has French cuffs, or barrel cuffs. It is standard for French cuffs, also known as double cuffs, are paired with turndown collars, whilst single cuffs are paired with wing collars.

Always remember to have a crisp, stain-free, and vibrant white dress shirt.

3.  Select the right tie.

Bow ties come in a variety of styles such as butterfly bowties, straightedges, and pointed bow ties. Choose one that will best compliment your suit. You may also choose a classic tie if a bowtie is unavailable or ill-fitting with your tuxedo.

4. Cover up your waist.

A key part to the tuxedo is the cummerbund or waistcoat. They are essentially sashes made of silk found from the tuxedo’s detailing and are wrapped around the waist to conceal your waistband. A general rule is for your cummerbund to match the color of your bowtie to compliment your attire, as opposed to having clashing and flashy colors.

5. Select the right accessories and shoes.

Accessories such as kerchiefs, pocket watches, and even hats are the cherries of top to perfect your outfit. It is to note that one shouldn’t go overboard with large, dainty pendants or wristwatches. Keep it simple to emphasize the true statement which is your tuxedo.

A pair of classic, black patent leather shoes are the way to go to finish off your look. Colored shoes and tattered footwear is a sin, so always make sure that they are as dark as the night and topped off with a perfect and blinding shine.

Lastly a nice cologne, that goes with your overall outfit of the day.

HOW TO WEAR A SUIT:

As there are many types and variations to suits, there are also just as many ways to style it. However, there are several general rules of thumb to abide by when creating outfits to make it work:

The steps to wearing a suit are more or less the same when wearing a tuxedo, as we have shown above.

1. Choose your jacket and trousers.

Avoid wearing solid black suits unless it’s at exceptionally professional settings. Many would suggest and opt for a navy blue or charcoal gray suit that would work well regardless of what season, weather, or time of day you are in. These neutral colors are most favorable by people because of their versatility, and depending on which brand you purchase or choose from, its longevity.

2. Choose your top. 

It is approved by many for one to go classic of their tops. Though many pair their suits with much more casual shirts or tees, it’s best to go mellow whichever choice you are to choose. Colors such as blues, whites, and grays are classics that will be a perfect fit for your suit, no matter the style.

3. Choose your shoes and accessories.

A common accessory of choice will be the presence of your tie. The standard is for the width of your tie to match the width of your lapels. It should also partially cover your belt buckle. Shoes that will match any suit you are wearing are quality ones in dark brown or tans depending on the lightness or darkness of your outfit. Loafers and Oxfords are the most common kind, but many wear more casual footwear such as sneakers in the day time with brighter suits.

Every suit is made and designed differently, hence it is difficult to create an exact step-by-step process as to how one should wear it, as opposed to the tuxedo which has a number of set components. There are, however, several rules of thumb that are to be followed when it comes to utilizing them. Which we’ll cover shortly.

Rules To Follow When Wearing A Tuxedo vs. A suit:

Rules To Follow When Wearing A Tuxedo:

There are also a number of unspoken rules when it comes to sporting a tuxedo that makes sure that you aren’t strutting around as a walking faux pas during your event.

  • When wearing a multiple buttoned tuxedo, always leave the bottom-most button open.
  • When wearing a wing-collared shirt with your bowtie, it must always fall behind the tips of such collar.
  • It is best to wear a pocket square. Wearing a pocket square is a symbol of utmost formality at especially important and special events. If you are wearing a traditional tuxedo, wear a white satin pocket square to blend in well with the entire ensemble.
  • Make sure your cummerbunds have its pleats facing up.
  • Your socks must be ankle length black socks. Wearing flashy colored and heavily printed socks won’t do your tuxedo any good regardless of its color.
  • Avoid fake and clip-on bow ties. Learning how to put on your own bow tie may seem like an overly tedious task, but there is no doubt that whatever outcome you will have when sporting one, it will look better compared to a pinned, stiff, and plastic bow tie. If you choose to wear a tuxedo, go all out with every aspect of it—you’ve come this far.
  • Make sure your pants do not have cuffs. The traditional tuxedo must only feature a straight leg hem that ends on the top of your shoe. Cuffs are best left for dress shirts and not of the bottom of your trousers.

Rules To Follow When Wearing A Suit:

  • The width of your tie should match the with of your lapel. Doing so will create a sense of balance in your appearance.
  • Always check the fits of your jacket and trousers. Its sleeves should fall at the top of your wrists with the cuff of your dress shirt still showing, while your pants should fall on top of your shoes with no folds or creases that show its overlap on them.
  • Know your knots. Don’t opt for an overly difficult to do knot for your suit’s tie when it doesn’t accentuate any part of your outfit. It is best to stick to the basics and fully understand how it will make you look good and feel good.
  • When wearing a belt, choose a thin one. Most belt loops for suits only fit thin and minimal belts, so it is best to keep with its design rather than wearing an overly heavy and large belt that will impact the balance of your attire.
  • But it is never a cardinal sin to mix things up, whether or not you’re paying homage to modernity through subtlety, or going full out and making a statement or two. Mixing up differently colored trousers to heavily textured blazers may seem like a major faux pas, but when you find the right combination of styles, you’ll never fail to turn heads and put on a kingly aura.

Our Favorite Suits And Tuxedos:

Favorite Tuxedos: 

LanvinA man wearing a black Lanvin tuxedo

This tuxedo is placed at the high-end range of the spectrum. It is a luxurious single-breasted jacket made from wool, with satin lapels and detailing. Crafted in Italy. It takes the traditional elements of the black tie and turns it into Lanvin’s signature contemporary and chic style.

Hackett

A man wearing a black Hackett tuxedo

This tuxedo from the brand Hackett is made from a combination of wool and mohair. It is priced at $821 and is designed for a slim fit with padded shoulders and satin trims—all aimed for the maximization of comfort, yet a sleek and refined flair.

Hugo Boss: The ‘Helward’ Jacket

A man wearing a white Hugo Boss Tuxedo

The final favorite is a vibrant white tuxedo from Hugo Boss, named the ‘Helward’ jacket and marketed at $569. It is made from a white cotton-velvet and trimmed with silk-satin lapels, also found on its pockets and buttons. This classic white suit is the perfect head turned for day time events.

Our Favorite Suits:

J.Crew

Man wearing blue J Crew Suit

This matching pair of a blazer and trousers are designed with COOLMAX technology that helps minimize discomfort brought about by sweat and tightness. It is made with a combination of cotton, polyester, and elastane, in a dusty blue hue—perfect for a stroll during the day up until the dim of the night. Marketed at $490, this suit will surely make you look slim, sleek and smart.

Suitsupply

Napoli light grey suit with trousers

This navy wool suit is the perfect fit for every professional setting and dinner party you can think of. Its Napoli Gray color will compliment each and every wearer, and its fabric is fit for both the cold and chilly air to the biting heat and uncomfortable humidity. Priced at $399, wearing this will make you feel invincible.

Club Monaco

Man wearing a black Club Monaco Suit

Our last pick is a midweight wool blended suit—a classic navy ensemble fit for every professional setting. This is the textbook suit you would think of: a modern design with traditional details of two buttons, front flap pockets, and a notch lapel. For both the jacket and trousers, it amounts to $625 and it is well worth its price.

Different Ways To Get A Suit Or A Tuxedo:

There is still a constant debacle regarding buying or renting your chosen tuxedos and/or suits.

Both tuxedos and suits are sold in various ways:

Bespoke: 

A custom-made suit entirely based on the client’s measurements and choice/s of fabric and style. A designer and tailor would work for hand in hand with the client to create their dream suit.

Made to Measure: 

A pre-made design is altered to best fit the client. Measurements, fabrics, and accessories can be changed in regards to the client’s desires. One will have to be in contact with a tailor to accomplish these alterations.

Ready to Wear: 

A complete suit that was put on display is taken straight to the counter by the client.

Of course, it is best to contact a designer or tailor to make you a suit or alter it to fit your body shape best as opposed to only renting one for a few hours. Purchasing a tuxedo or suit is a very good investment, for formal occasions, are again, not everyday happenings. Knowing this, you can wear the same tuxedo to every dinner party or the same suit to every business meeting without looking worn out or crusty because this guide will have helped you style them right. But, it is never a sin to rent one of a rack if you are in a tight pinch. So long as all options give you a perfect fit and measure that doesn’t break any of these rules, you’re good to go.

Final words:

Regardless if you plan to rent a tuxedo or suit, get a tailor to upgrade one that you own, or quickly grab a simple design off of a sale rack, it is most important to remember:

The tuxedo is a type of suit, but any other forms of suits are NOT synonymous to a tuxedo.

As with every other form of clothing, the tuxedo and suit are mere mediums to express yourself through the art of fashion. Their traditional rules are not set in stone, but many of them have important reasons as to why they were passed around for generations until today. Whether it be maximizing simplicity through a traditional black and white ensemble, or finding patterns and palettes to match your mood through your suit jacket or trousers, both serve one purpose: to make you look good, and feel good while doing so.

 

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