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Looking The Part: When’s The Best Time To Wear A Tuxedo?

Posted on: 8th Sep, 2017

Formal etiquette can sometimes be a minefield, especially when it comes to tuxedos. If an event’s invitation is vaguely worded, it can be a particular challenge to work out when to wear it. Should you go in a normal formal suit (otherwise known as lounge wear) or a full tuxedo (also known as a dinner jacket)? Well, if the invitation specifically says it’s a ‘black tie event’, that means that a tuxedo is on the cards. This week on the blog, we’ll delve into the social etiquette behind formal events.

What’s The Difference Between A Tuxedo And A Suit?

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That is indeed the question. It’s quite a long answer, truth be told – there are a lot of intricate stylistic differences, but blog isn’t about the technical details. Instead, this week we’re mainly concerned with the etiquette behind it all. On that note, the main difference is that a tuxedo (otherwise known as a dinner jacket here in the UK) is more or less as formal as you can get. A run-of-the-mill suit (also known as a lounge suit), on the other hand, is one step beneath it on the formality scale, which is why they’re vastly more common in our day-to-day lives.

The key thing to remember when it comes to tuxedos is this: it’s not always suitable for just any old occasion, and that means that it’s generally bad form to wear it unless specified. This is obvious, when you think about it; while we’re never ones to discourage a confident personal style, it’s a delicate balance between simply expressing yourself and actually upstaging your hosts and other guests. Dressing too formally can sometimes be just as bad as not dressing formally enough!

What we’re getting at is that a tuxedo is far more than simply clothing. It’s a visible statement by you, recognising the formality of the occasion with an outfit that would make you look out of place anywhere else. Essentially, you can sort of think of it as a mark of respect, and misusing it undermines the message that it’s supposed to send. It’s just one more reason to check the wording of the invitation carefully!

So When Should You Wear A Tux?

the style of the oscars how to look your best in a tuxedo

This is a simpler answer; tuxedos should specifically only be worn at “black tie” events – this wording is explicitly shorthand for ‘men should wear tuxedos at this event’. Black tie events are traditionally only after six o’clock in the evening, hence the tuxedo’s alternative moniker of ‘dinner jacket’. If it’s a daytime event, the practice instead is to wear ‘morning dress’, which is something different entirely.

It’s seriously important not to underestimate the formality of the occasion. Many black tie events are extremely strict about their dress code. It’s all about cultivating a certain air of elegance around the event, so if you’re not dressed appropriately, you almost certainly won’t be allowed in. (Don’t get it wrong! Don’t forget, there’s no rule that says you can’t contact the hosts for clarification on the dress code well before the event.)

A Few Quick Examples Of Black Tie Events

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We’ll get right into them:

The Opera

Traditionally seen as one of the quintessentially black tie events, modern opera houses actually don’t specify black tie dress anymore. Neither the Royal Opera House or Sydney Opera House require it, although if you’re invited to a night at the opera it’s still almost certainly going to be a classy affair, so definitely don’t assume the dress code is informal.

Dinner Parties

Many corporate events and large clubs hold their socials in full evening wear, as a mark of respect for the occasion and/or the history of the institution. It’s true that bigger, older companies are more likely to do this than newer ones, but don’t forget; if in doubt, always ask.

Awards Evenings

These are almost universally likely to be black tie events, paying respect to the recipients and nominees of the awards. The Oscars is a particularly notable example of such an event.

When Shouldn’t You Wear A Tux?

It’s the same answer in reverse; whenever you’re not specifically asked to! Weddings, for example, aren’t automatically black tie events. (It would be awful to turn up to a wedding dressed more formally than the groom.) For weddings, morning dress or lounge suits are generally favoured instead. This blog is extensive enough as it is, so we’ll talk about those more in later entries.

Here at Acorn, we have many fabrics amongst our stock that are suitable for formal wear – including dress shirts. These include (but are not limited to):

You can find even more smart formal fabrics on our website under our formal collection. Just call us on 01282 698 662, or email us at sales@acornfabrics.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help any way we can.

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