If you’ve been invited to your first black tie event, you might be planning on wearing a tuxedo for the first time. There are lots of rules and etiquette surrounding the black tie dress code, so it’s essential you do your research to avoid looking out of place. 

We’ve put together this guide to help you look your absolute best at your black tie event. Our master tailors will tell you everything you need to know about what tuxedos are and how to wear them.


What is a tuxedo?

First things first, although you’ve probably heard of a tuxedo you might not be clear on what one actually is. It’s sometimes referred to as a dinner jacket in the UK, while in the US the term tuxedo is much more common. The name supposedly originates from the Tuxedo Club in New York where it was first seen in 1886. 

When should you wear a tuxedo?

Tuxedos are considered to be formal attire, so they’re usually worn to formal events or those with a black tie dress code, including formal weddings, dinners, parties and balls. Importantly, dinner jackets are reserved for evening events that occur after 5pm. In this case of weddings, this includes weddings that will end in the evening, even if they start earlier in the day.

What makes a tuxedo different from a suit?

The main difference between tuxedo and suit jackets is the unique satin detailing found on tuxedo lapels, pockets and buttons. Often tuxedo trousers have matching satin detailing as well. This satin is usually black, even when the jacket is a different colour. Typically the main jacket also has a slight sheen which is not usually seen on ordinary suits. 

Another thing that sets dinner jackets apart from suits is the presence of shawl lapels. Although both garments can have notch or peak lapels, shawl lapels are unique to tuxedos. A shawl lapel consists of a continuous piece of fabric around the collar of the jacket. 


How to wear a tuxedo

If you’ve been invited to a formal evening event that states black tie is required you’ll need to wear a dinner jacket. Our master tailors have put together the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about proper formal wear etiquette.


What shirt should you wear with a dinner jacket?

You should pair your dinner jacket with a white dress shirt. It should have a wing collar to accommodate your bow tie, a bib and French cuffs. Your shirt should be worn with cufflinks. 


What trousers should you wear with a dinner jacket?

Tuxedo trousers should be worn to ensure a cohesive look. These trousers should be made from the same material as your jacket. The trousers’ seams should be concealed by a strip of satin ribbon, called a braid. 


Should you wear a bowtie with a tuxedo?

Traditionally you should always wear a black bow tie with a dinner jacket (hence the name black tie). Your bow tie should be hand-tied to complete your refined black tie attire. 


What shoes to wear with a tuxedo?

Oxford shoes in patent leather should be your preferred choice of shoe style with a dinner jacket. However, you can also opt for thoroughly polished calfskin leather oxford shoes. Venetian loafers, ideally in patent leather, are another option. 


Do you wear a belt with a tuxedo?

When it comes to dinner jackets, you should never wear a belt. In fact, most tuxedo trousers don’t have belt loops. Ideally, your trousers should fit securely, but a dinner jacket can also be worn with suspenders if required.


Do you wear a cummerbund with a tuxedo?

Wearing a cummerbund is usually not necessary. The only exception is if you’re wearing a single-breasted tuxedo jacket. If you do wear a cummerbund, ensure that the pleats are facing up.


Bespoke tuxedos by Philip Alexander 

At Phillip Alexander, we’re experts at dressing gentlemen for black tie events – we’ve been doing it for over a century. Our world-class tailors can ensure you’re dressed your very best!

We offer a range of tailoring services at our locations in Cheshire and Savile Row in London, including bespoke suits, made-to-measure suits, and tailored suit hire. Whatever service you choose, our team will be on hand to offer styling advice and guidance on black tie etiquette to ensure you look the part. 


Bespoke tuxedos and suits 

If you’re looking for the very best of British tailoring, our bespoke service is for you. A bespoke suit or tuxedo is a unique garment, handcrafted by our master tailors, that’s guaranteed to fit you perfectly. You can choose from thousands of fabric samples and endless style options to ensure that the final garment is completely tailored to your personal style!


Made-to-measure tuxedos and suits 

If you’ve been invited to a black tie event and need a beautiful tuxedo quickly, we also offer a made-to-measure service. We use a mixture of machine work and handcraft to produce a stunning, well-fitting tailored suit that’s ready in less than two months. 


Luxury tailored tuxedo and suit hire

If you don’t attend black tie events very often or don’t have the budget to invest in a tailored suit of your own, our luxury tailored suit hire service is the solution. We have a range of tailored suits and tuxedos available to hire for black-tie weddings, balls and dinners. All our hire suits include several fitting sessions and alterations, to ensure the best possible fit at your black tie event!

Book an in-person or telephone consultation to speak to one of our tailors about a tailored dinner jacket.