Style Guide : The Tuxedo

Style Guide : The Tuxedo

Countless articles, books and video on the 'rules & regulations' on what a tuxedo look is can be easily found online and from gentlemen guidebooks. We ourselves have written several blogs on this subject matter over the last 10 years. Yet we would still like to revisit on what essentially a tuxedo outfit is about as many of you gentlemen hasn't put on a tuxedo for the last two years due to the pandemic. As we are moving to a new normal of living with covid, there will be more business and ceremonial events opening up in 2022, so let us revisit the key points in a classic tuxedo. Just in case a black tie invitation comes up!

In this article, we will dive more in detail on the fabrics, the colours, the MUST-HAVE details in a complete tuxedo outfit.

1. Tuxedo Fabrics

Pure Wool is the most popular material when it comes to tuxedos because of its natural elegant drape compared to a stiffer look from polyester blend fabrics which can makes a tuxedo looks cheap. There are also different textures when it comes to choosing of wool materials too, whether you want a matt texture that contrast sharply with the satin lapels or a natural sheen texture that makes for a polished look. 

VBC Tuxedo's Fabric Range 

Another choice other than wool is velvet, usually made from 100% cotton. Velvet tuxedo are sometimes referred to lounge suit too and are usually more popular for wearers in seasonal countries, as it may look too "warm" in a warmer ambience. With this said, do not hesitate to order a velvet tuxedo which is perfect for a special event, such as awards show or the red carpet or even your weddings as it gives a very glamorous look!

Dennis Zhou Chongqing Star AwardsDennis Zhou in a Q MENSWEAR Velvet Tuxedo with Shawl Lapel

Apart from these two fabrics, there are more options for those who dare to be more adventurous with your personal style. We have special printed fabrics and richly embellished wool that Elton John would approve of.

Embellished and Embroidered Tuxedo Fabrics by Carnet

2. Tuxedo Colours

The common misconception about tuxedo is that they are only made in black or white. But the truth is there are more colour you can choose for your tuxedo. The other basic colour for a black substitute is the Midnight Blueit is a smooth, rich blend of blue and black, reminiscent of the depths of the night sky.

Comparison of Midnight Blue (top) and Black (bottom) from REDA

And with fun and crazy events such as the MET GALA Ball, we are able to choose a more adventurous colour for our tuxedo. One of the most popular shade is the Deep Burgundy. You can wear it as a set with a matching burgundy pants or create some contrast with a black pants. Dark Forest Green shade is also a good alternative for a tuxedo. With this said there are more colours out there that you can choose from depending on the formality of the event, don't let these rules stop you from being yourself!

3. Key Details of a Tuxedo Jacket

Asia got talent
Hosts of Asia Got Talent in Q MENSWEAR Peak Lapel Tuxedo

When customising your tuxedo jacket, the details are the most crucial part. First rule; it must be a single-button opening for single breasted tuxedo, to create a plunging v-neck to show off your tuxedo shirts front bib detailing.

Satin Buttons are a must on tuxedo jackets to elevate the elegance of the tuxedo. For quirkier choices, you can be more adventurous by switching the satin button with metallic button but normal horn buttons are a no-no.

Satin lapels are the main difference between a normal jacket and a tuxedo. It is considered a lazy or disrespectful to simply put on a black suit with bow tie to pull off a black tie dress code. Hence we always recommend every gentlemen to have tuxedo ready in his wardrobe when the occasion arise to attend a black tie event which signifies the importance of your attendence.

Peak or Shawl Lapels? What style of lapels should I choose for my tuxedo? Well the top two options for a good tuxedo are the Shawl Lapel and the Peak Lapel. Shawl lapels are known for it rounded shape and regal feel. A shawl lapel is usually more formal than a peak lapel.

Peak lapels are wider in nature as they have a "peak" on the end of the bottom part that shaped upward the face. A peak lapel is another classic lapel in the tuxedo history and has the effect to make the wearer looks more alpha with a v-shape torso illusion.

Modern Twist with This Silver Tuxedo and Satin Trimming on the Lapel 

4. Tuxedo Shirt

A Tux shirt is not like a normal white shirt and there's four key components to take note of when you're customising your bespoke tux shirt. Firstly, the collar has to be the Wing-Tip Collar. They got their name because of the folded tips on the edge of the collar that made it look like a wing. A wing tip collar must be paired with a self-tied bowtie (a true gentleman must always know how to tie a bowtie).

tuxedo shirt wing tip

Second key component is the shirt's bib on the front of your shirt. There are only two choices; the pleated front bib or the Marcella bib also known as the Pique bib. Pleated bib is having rows of white fabric permanently pressed into fine pleats to add fullness to a man's chest. Marcella or Pique bib derives its name from the type of fabric weave used, Marcella is a type of honeycomb like texture fabric and pique is a finer textured weave with similarity to oxford.

Will It Be Pleated or Pique Bib For You?

The four stud buttons on your shirt front placket. The right tuxedo shirt should have its first four bodice buttonholed on the top and bottom placket with will allow the individual tuxedo studs to fasten the shirt front opening. Tuxedo stud buttons usually comes in a set or four, sometimes five and black onyx is the most common choice of materials. Other materials are natural pearl, or precious gemstones for a discreet display of wealth. 

tuxedo studs

French Cuffs for the sleeves. Button barrel cuffs are deemed too casual by sartorialists for a tuxedo outfit and the cufflinks used are a personality statement of the wearer too, peeking out in a subtle manner from the jacket sleeves when one raises his arms.

Barrel Cuff (top) and French Cuff (bottom)

5. Tuxedo Pants

A tuxedo pants is not any other black pants. As you may know by now, in tuxedos, satin plays a big pat in the details, so it does for your tuxedo pants. It differentiate a tuxedo pants to a suit pants, with the satin line on both side of the pants and (optional) satin waist.

Why is it optional? You may ask, because some people would prefer to wear cummerbund with the tuxedo pants. It does look unappealing to the younger audiences because of it's "old-fashioned" look. The cummerbund as invented to keep the awkward shirt bunching on your waist unseen which may be useful for some wearer.

Andrew Scott Wearing a Velvet Tux with Cummerbund, source : Dailymail

Last note on tuxedo pants; there is no need for belt loops on your tuxedo pants. If you wish to keep your pants upright while you're wearing it, do opt for a traditional braces to go with it. You CANNOT wear a belt in a tuxedo!

6. Patent Shoes

An important part of completing a tuxedo look is pairing it with a pair of shiny patent leather shoes. A black patent should go well with majority of tuxedo colours. Try pairing it with a normal pair of black leather shoes and it will destroy the entire look completely, so do not scrimp on this at all. A pair of decent patent leather shoes doesn't have to be expensive as patent leather generally are made from'defective' leather repurposed by applying patent chemical on them.

whole cut patent shoes
A pair of whole cut patent leather shoes from Diamond Walker
patent leather shoes
A pair of toe cap patent leather shoes from Diamond Walker.


7. The Bow-Tie

Crowning off the tuxedo look is of course, the Bow-Tie. Generally a black bow-tie in black grosgrain silk is sufficient for a black tie dress code but some textural and colour plays are welcomed. A true gentlemen will wear the self tie bow-tie with a slightly imperfectly knotted bow that shows off his gentlemanly creed.

how to tie a bow tieGif image from


Borrowing from the tagline of Swiss watch brand Audemars Piguet, 'To break the rules, you must first master them'. These rules of a traditional tuxedo can be broken if you have the confidence to do so tastefully, otherwise speak to us at Q MENSWEAR on how to create your very own bespoke tuxedo that can make you step into any black tie event confidently! 

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