The Difference between a Suit and a Tuxedo

Home by The Suit Concierge The Difference between a Suit and a Tuxedo

The dress code “Black Tie” simply means a tuxedo. There will always be those who will wrongly interpret Black Tie to mean “formal” and arrive at whatever they feel appropriately dressy or simply a black suit. If you’re unsure of the difference between a tuxedo and a suit, read on and by the end of this post, you should have the answers.

A Page from History

The Tuxedo first made a grand entrance into the fashion consciousness in 1887 in England when the dinner jacket was called a Tuxedo. As the dinner jacket was paired with unique trousers and accessories, the entire outfit got to be known as the Tuxedo. A Tuxedo typically requires a bow-tie and cummerbund or a low stance waistcoat. Did you know the cummerbund was a part of the British military uniform? It was preferred over a waistcoat as it had a cooling effect. The cummerbund was worn mainly to hide any unsightly bunching up of the shirt.

The Suit had its origins in the 17th-century courts. Then the industrial revolution brought about a change, where suits became royal court attire. The matching trousers and coat, with a shirt, belt and a tie to match, came together to make up a suit. The suit was initially an informal garment worn only during sporting events or in the countryside. It’s fascinating how the tables have turned and wearing a suit at church or these events is considered formal now.

To Call a Tuxedo a Tuxedo

Traditional tuxedos have satin facing lapels, buttons, pocket trims and a side stripe on the trousers. While the satin predominance is the main differentiator between a suit and a tuxedo, there are exceptions to this rule. Modern-day tuxedos, however, do not necessarily have a stain lapel and stripe on the side of the pants. The rule of thumb when wearing a tuxedo is to ensure that you get the accessories right. The cummerbund is one accessory that seems to have fallen by the sidelines. While bow ties still rule the fashion roost, many of the traditional rules regarding a tuxedo and suit are changing.

A Suit Life

The suit doesn’t come with the glam and pizzazz of that of a tuxedo. A tux is used on special occasions such as weddings, charity balls, and red carpet events. Suits are more commonplace wardrobe staples for business executives and financiers. You can throw one on to meet your girlfriend’s parents or to a pitch meeting in the city.

Play by the Rules or Swim Against the Current?

So how do you choose between a tuxedo and a suit? The answer is quite simple, the occasion! A special occasion that means a lot to you needs a tuxedo. A suit will be worn by most of the others in attendance. If you want to stand out from the crowd and commemorate that special occasion in your life, go for a tuxedo. That said, if your wedding is in a barn or in a more casual venue, a suit might be more appropriate.

Traditional tuxedos are mostly black, but you can break that tradition by opting for other dark shades such as navy or maroon or some pattern – jacquard fabrics are used a lot these days for something for fun and fashionable. If you are planning your wedding or prom, a tuxedo would be your best bet. Just remember there are plenty of exceptions to the rules of a tuxedo so don’t hesitate to change things up.

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