Guide – The Tuxedo

Dinner jacket, black tie or even smoking jacket – the classic tuxedo has many names and there are many things to consider when picking out a tuxedo. Single or double breasted tuxedo? Wool or velvet tuxedo jacket? And what about the lapels – should you go for a shawl collar tuxedo jacket or a classic peak lapel? In this article we’ll help you sort the fundamentals of picking out a well-fitting tuxedo that will serve you for years to come.

The tuxedo or 'dinner jacket' - guide

Dinner jacket, black tie or even smoking jacket – the classic tuxedo has many names and there are many things to consider when picking out a tuxedo. Single or double breasted tuxedo? Wool or velvet tuxedo jacket? And what about the lapels – should you go for a shawl collar tuxedo jacket or a classic peak lapel? In this article we’ll help you sort the fundamentals of picking out a well-fitting tuxedo that will serve you for years to come.

History of the tuxedo

It is said that one of the first tuxedo jackets made was ordered in 1865 by Edward VII, King of Great Britain and Emperor of India. The purpose? A jacket to relax in before dinner and after their royal duties, of course. The garment is then said to have traveled through one of the king’s good friends, James Brown Potter on to the USA and New York, where it also gave rise to the club with the same name.

Through the decadent ‘The New York Tuxedo Club’ and the tobacco heir Grisworld Lorrilard with friends, in the latter part of the 19th century the jacket developed into the formal tuxedo we see today.

Tuxedo vs suit

First of all, let’s clarify the obvious differences of the tuxedo vs the suit. A Tuxedo is to be considered a strict formal attire, meaning it is used for formal occasions such as weddings, ceremonies, and special anniversaries such as New Years eve. The suit however, being much more versatile in its use is perfect for celebrations, but also for everyday situations and more casual events. The suit also comes in many more shapes and versions while the tuxedo is truly a classic garments, subjected to formal rules or perhaps guidelines. Though it may sound boring, the beauty and allure about the tuxedo lies in withholding those ‘rules or standards’ that have been carefully constructed over the years of use.

Measurements – Why you should consider a made to measure tuxedo

Why are tuxedo measurements important? First, measurements are important for all clothing we wear in order to create not only a perfect fit and look, but also a truly comfortable and confident feeling for the wearer. There is also a sustainability aspect as we only produce what the customer wants, meaning no over production. This is why at Blugiallo, we only make custom made clothing to fit every customers unique fit and preferences. There are lots of other benefits of wearing custom made clothing but some of the highlights from a customer point of view are:

  • Perfect fit creates an overall better look
  • Better comfortability – increased confidence
  • Greater longevity and less tare of garments

 

These aspects are especially important when facing a garment that will be with you for a very long time, such as a custom made tuxedo. There are a few measurements that are especially important to think about when creating your made to measure tuxedo.

  • Widths of tuxedo trouser and jacket
  • Length of tuxedo jacket and trouser
  • Trouser rise (waistline)
  • Button height (closure)
  • Overall shape of the tuxedo

 

Apart from nailing all the essential measurements of the garment, such as shoulder, neckline, waist and arm length, the widths of the trouser and the jacket of your tuxedo is very important. You want to create an elegant, timeless look with a modern, well-tailored shape. This means not too tight, and no excess fabric.

You also want to consider the length in the same way as you do with widths. A tuxedo should be a wardrobe staple, and a timeless piece which requires a clean drape or ‘fall’ of the trouser as well as a clean break at the hem. The trouser rise should, if possible, be slightly higher, in order to meet the shape of the jacket and waist in a good way. This also has to do with the closure on the jacket and the button height, which should a slitghly lower for a tuxedo jacket compared to a regular suit jacket. These things in combination with proper, high quality fabrics and construction will create a truly unique piece to cherish for years to come. You can find all of our tuxedos here.

Made to measure tuxedo in black Barathea wool

Fabric and materials suitable for a tuxedo

When choosing the fabric and material of your tuxedo, there are a couple of questions to ask yourself prior.

  • For what occasion am I wearing the tuxedo?
  • Under which conditions (primarily weather) am I wearing it?
  • Are there any other ‘rules or dresscodes’ to consider?

If asked about the look of a classic tuxedo, most people would probably describe a black tuxedo with peak lapels. However, there are in fact lots of options to consider and depending on the occasion, dress code and conditions as described above – an ivory shawl collar tuxedo, a velvet tuxedo or even a linen tuxedo could be the best option for you. Some of our most popular wedding tuxedos includes the above. Listed are some of the fabrics and materials used in classic tuxedo outfits.

  • The barathea wool all black tuxedo
  • Midnight blue velvet tuxedo
  • Ivory tuxedo

Starting off with the most classic one, the black wool tuxedo. A classic tuxedo usually comes with a structured surface along with a beautiful and luxurious lustre. The best way to achieve this is using a very special wool fabric called ‘Barathea wool’. This wool is only produced by the best mills in the world, often found in Italy and Great Britain. Although usually black, the Barathea wool can also be found in midnight blue, as the midnight blue tuxedo is also an accepted choice to wear to a ‘black tie’ occasions, perhaps considered slightly more modern, however.

Midnight blue is also a common color used for a velvet tuxedo jacket or dinner jacket. A well-crafted velvet tuxedo jacket is typically crafted from cotton and silk in order to create a quite heavy and warm, yet super soft and smooth fabric. The velvet tuxedo is also characterized by its eye catching luxurious lustre, which is also why it works best with darker colors, as it would otherwise become almost “too eye catching”.

The base of the velvet tuxedo however, should be a black wool dress trouser (the same used for a classic black tuxedo). From that base you can in fact have several different tuxedo jacket options depending on the occasion, formality and conditions of the event you are attending. For example, an of white dinner jacket in linen will work just as well with your black barathea wool trouser as a velvet dinner jacket will.

The ivory tuxedo or cream colored tuxedo jacket is probably most commonly used for formal occasions in exceptionally sunny weather. In fact the rule according to the old British empire (which you can respect, although somewhat outdated) states that the off white dinner jacket should only be carried when attending events ‘south of the equator’. We say a summer wedding on the Italian countryside or the French riviera works just as well.

Gross grain lapel cloth with bow tie

Color choices

The tuxedo is obviously a very classic garment and one that is sometimes regulated by a certain dress code. For that matter, the color of the tuxedo is usually restricted to darker tones such as black and midnight blue which will never go wrong or out of style. However, there’s definitely room for other colors as well, especially if you want a more modern approach. A classic wool tuxedo tends to look best in black or midnight blue, but the matte texture of linen and elegant lustre of velvet makes these tuxedo fabrics work well in other color as well. A dark green velvet tuxedo can be very elegant, yet luxurious and contemporary at the same time. A cream colored or ivory tuxedo in linen is similarly a truly majestic piece to wear for your summer wedding for example.

How to create the perfect tuxedo look

Now that we’ve gone through the important parts of the tuxedo, we also want to highlight what to wear it with, as you don’t want to fall short on the details of your tuxedo outfit. Here’s our top things to think about, besides the tuxedo itself, in order to create a perfect tuxedo look.

  • Choosing the perfect tuxedo shirt
  • The bow tie
  • Accessories (cufflinks and socks)
  • Shoes with tuxedo

Tuxedo shirt

The tuxedo shirt, although very similar to a classic white shirt, it holds a few things for you to consider in terms of design and fabric. First, a tuxedo shirt is always crisp white. This will highlight the rest of your tuxedo in a proper way. We recommend a slightly thinner, dress shirt fabric such as poplin or a thin cotton twill. These fabrics, if like our, sourced and produced in the right way will have an absolute beautiful lustre and soft touch to it that works perfect with your tuxedo fabric. If you’re wearing a linen tuxedo, you could also add a crisp white linen fabric to your consideration of shirt material. Other things to consider with the tuxedo shirt are

  • The shirt collar should be ‘kent’ or ‘semi cutaway’ for a modern look
  • You can choose to have a plain front placket or one with shirt studs (preferably in black or mother of pearl
  • A ‘double round’ cuff is the best option for sleeve end
  • The monogram is traditionally placed on the left side of the shirt front, just above the waistline making it visible only when your jacket is removed. Opt for a monogram inside the collar for a even more discrete option.

Lastly, and most important, make sure your shirt is also made to measure and chosen in order to fit not only your body, but the tuxedo you mean to carry it with.

Tuxedo shirt and bow tie with black tuxedo wool trouser

The bow tie

The bow tie may seem like a small matter or accessory when it comes to a full tuxedo outfit, but there are in fact a few things to consider. And nailing the small details is important. When choosing your bow tie, you should consider these things below.

  • NEVER wear a ready tied bow tie, this will make the entire outfit look cheap
  • If possible, match your bow tie material (satin or gross grain) with the lapel of your tuxedo jacket
  • Keep the color of your bow tie to black or midnight blue depending on the color of your tuxedo. If you’ve chosen another color for your tuxedo jacket – go with black for your bow tie. Never, ever, go bright colors. You are not the entertainment.

Accessories

The obvious choice of socks when wearing a tuxedo is black silk. Silk socks gives you a very comfortable and super soft touch. It is therefore the most elegant and luxurious choice to wear with a tuxedo.

When it comes to other accessories, the general rule is that ‘less is more’. Although not considered a rule perhaps, wearing a watch is usually not necessary, but if you wish to carry a watch with your tuxedo, we suggest a small, elegant one. Cufflinks are obviously a must have, and this accessory also allows you to be more creative as it is a very discrete one.

Shoes with tuxedo

For the shoes, the same rule goes as for all accessories and shirt. Choose a pair that complements your tuxedo in the best way. This means choosing a quality, model and color that works best with the tuxedo. Examples of shows to wear with your tuxedo include:

  • Velvet slippers (pair with a velvet tuxedo)
  • Opera pumps (a classic choice to pair with a classic tuxedo)
  • Belgian loafers (contemporary and slightly more casual)

The black patent oxford is also considered a classic show to wear with your tuxedo, however we find the models listed above as more contemporary and luxurious.