When shopping for a formal look you'll be faced with a variety of different styles and designs and if you're left puzzled at identifying the differences between a tuxedo and a suit, you're in the right place. So, tuxedo vs suit; which do you go for? When making that choice, the occasion will be the deciding factor.
WHAT MAKES IT A TUXEDO?
FEATURES OF A TUXEDO
One of the defining features of a tuxedo are the satin touches. You'll find these on the tuxedos jacket lapels, buttons, pocket trims and sometimes as a strip down the sides of the trousers. Satin is viewed as a luxurious fabric portraying elegance and class, giving a tuxedo its identity as an evening option.
Another thing to note is the colour with tuxedos generally being black. You'll also notice the fewer buttons it has, the smarter it is, which is why you'll only find tuxedos with a one button fastening. Below we delve a little deeper into all of the defining features...
TUXEDO JACKET VS. SUIT JACKET
The standout difference between a tuxedo jacket and a suit jacket is down to one fabric, and that is satin. On a tuxedo you'll find satin/imitation silk on the lapels which will add opulence and accentuate the streamlined shape of the lapels themselves. You may also find a satin trim to the pockets.
In comparison, a suit jacket will have a notch or peak lapel and the whole jacket will be made from one fabric. You may find some pocket trims, elbow patches and collar trims in fabrics such as suede but it will never or very rarely be satin, a fabric reserved for opulent evening wear.
Another feature which adds opulence to a tuxedo jacket is the buttons. These will often be satin finish too to coordinate with the lapels. You'll also usually only find one button on a tuxedo jacket.
The buttons on a suit jacket will not be covered in satin and instead be the usual suit button finish, commonly made from plastic. It can have up to three buttons on a single-breasted design or up to six on double-breasted.
In terms of overall fabric, a tuxedo and a suit tend to be fairly similar. Polyester, viscose and wool feature heavily on both styles. The main difference is the satin style fabric mentioned above which will only appear on tuxedos.
Black is the most popular choice for a tuxedo as it represents elegance however contemporary tuxedos can come in other dark and tasteful colours such as burgundy wine and midnight blue. Suits are not restricted to any colours.
TUXEDO TROUSERS VS. SUIT TROUSERS
Most differences between a suit and a tuxedo are found in the jacket, outlined above, however the trousers will play a part too. For a highly formal tuxedo look there will be a satin strip running down the outside leg of the trousers. Note, this is not always the case and often a pair of plain black trousers will suffice. Suit trousers will be down a notch on the formal front without the need for a satin strip.
HOW TO ACCESSORISE A TUXEDO
A tuxedo is arguably one of the easiest outfits to accessorise. This is because the guidelines are set out for you so all you need to do is follow them. Starting with the shirt, this should be a solid white button up with either a wing or semi-spread collar (find out more below!). For your neckwear it has to be the classic bow tie. This doesn't necessarily need to be black, to add a touch of personality opt for a solid burgundy wine or a bold pattern. When it comes to the pocket square, a white square fold will really look the part. Finally your shoes should be black and polished to perfection with maximum shine.
TUXEDO SHIRTS VS. SUIT SHIRTS
When wearing a tuxedo, your shirt should always be white as it will help create a perfectly contrasted statement look. With a suit you're not as restricted and can wear just about any colour shirt from dark navy to pale pink yet white seems to be the most popular.
There are a couple of suitable collar styles to pair with a tuxedo - a formal semi spread collar acts as a humble option or a wing collar can be worn for ultimate sophistication and to really show off your bow tie. Suits can be worn with an array of collars from penny collars to grandad collars, just reserve the wing collars for the tuxedo!
To keep things elegant, a tuxedo often calls for french cuffs. French cuffs are generally longer and fold back on themselves, secured by cufflinks. They are distinctively opulent and specifically designed for black tie looks. Suit shirts usually have button cuffs but you can also wear a french cuffs with a suit for more formal events.
One feature which you will find on some tuxedo shirts is pleats. This traditional style has narrow pleats running vertically on either side of the button line. It is not completely necessary but will most certainly add extra elegance and sophistication.
WHEN TO WEAR A TUXEDO VS. SUIT
If the event is after 5pm and the dress code on your invite says Black Tie then a tuxedo suit should certainly be considered. It is without a doubt an evening wear option, whether it be a dinner party, ceremony or a wedding reception. In comparison, a suit can be worn anytime of the day but are most popular for daytime wear. If you're still unsure on when to wear a tuxedo or a suit, here's a general rule which we like to stick to:
Formal Event: Tuxedo or Dark Suit
Black Tie Event: Tuxedo
Prom: Tuxedo or Suit
SHOULD YOU WEAR A TUXEDO OR A SUIT FOR A WEDDING
A Daytime Wedding
Nine times out of ten, a daytime wedding will call for a suit. It's important to consider the setting, for example, a tuxedo will look a little out of place at a country themed wedding. Daytime weddings also tend to feature coloured suits whereas a tuxedo is traditionally black.
An Evening Wedding
You're more than likely going to be asked to fashion a tuxedo for an evening wedding. It's the preferred choice for after-dark hours and adds that edge. A tuxedo would be well suited to a glam / Hollywood red carpet theme wedding. If the dress code is a little more open to interpretation, you also have the option of wearing just a dark coloured suit which will be a tad less showy.
A Beach Wedding
When picturing a beach, many immediately think of light pastel colours which acts as a clue towards what you should be wearing. A tuxedo will look out of place in this setting, so a lightweight suit in a light colour will be ideal. Think pale blues, tans, olives and creams in breathable fabrics. A beach is a casual destination, so things will be less formal.
Black Tie Required / Black Tie Optional
If the dress code states Black Tie required, a tuxedo is a safe bet and you'd be wise to go with one. On the other hand, if it states Black Tie optional then you have a way out of the overly formal tuxedo which you may find a little ostentatious. Instead you could opt for a dark colour suit and even introduce some colour such as navy or burgundy.