What Is a Tuxedo? Get the Facts

Tuxedos are synonymous with men’s formalwear. From weddings and graduations to business meetings and interviews, they are worn for countless formal events. But what exactly is a tuxedo? Many men assume that tuxedos are the same as two- or three-piece suits. The truth, however, is that tuxedos are distinguished from standard suits in several ways.

The Basics of Tuxedos

A tuxedo is a type of formal or semi-formal outfit that consists of a suit jacket, suit trousers, a waistcoat and a tie. With that said, tuxedos are characterized by the use of satin for the lapels as well as other areas. If you look at a typical suit jacket, you’ll see the lapels on the front and right sides. Normally, suit jackets have lapels made of the same material as the jacket itself. Tuxedo jackets, however, have satin facing on the lapels.

In addition to the lapels, tuxedos have satin facing on other areas. The buttons of tuxedo jackets, for example, are often covered with satin. When speaking about tuxedo trousers, you’ll often discover sating facing inside the pockets as well as a long vertical stripe running down each pant leg. Regardless, sating facing such as this is only present in tuxedos. Standard two- and three-piece suits do not have satin facing in either the jacket or the trousers.

Why Tuxedos Feature Satin

You might be wondering why tuxedos even feature satin. After all, other suits don’t have satin, so what makes tuxedos any different? To better understand why tuxedos feature satin, you must first look at the fabric itself.

Satin is a super-soft fabric that’s glossy on one side and dull on the other. Some people assume that satin is a unique material like cotton or wool, but this isn’t necessarily true. Satin is actually a type of fabric that’s made using a specific weaving pattern. Once finished, the unique weaving pattern creates a glossy surface on one side — and this side is typically exposed on tuxedos. With a glossy surface, the satin enhances the tuxedo’s appearance while adding a unique flair to it in the process.

Black, Blue or White

While tuxedos are distinguished from standard two- and three-piece suits by the presence of satin, it’s worth mentioning that most tuxedos are either black, blue or white. For many decades, these three colors have been the preferred choices for tuxedos.

If you’re shopping for a tuxedo, you really can’t go wrong with either black, blue or white. Black is arguably the most formal color in which tuxedos are made and sold. A black tuxedo offers a timeless and classic appearance that’s ideal for all formal occasions. Alternatively, blue and white are great colors for a tuxedo as well. Blue and white aren’t as formal as black, but they are universal colors that are easy to integrate into your outfits.

Of course, you aren’t restricted to wearing a tuxedo in either black, blue or white. It’s perfect to fine to experiment with other colors. Just remember to choose a color that matches the shoes, as well as other accessories, with which you intend to wear it. If your tuxedo doesn’t match your shoes, it won’t look right when worn. For an attractive outfit that complements your appearance, your tuxedo and shoes must match.

Bow Tie

Tuxedoes are typically accessorized with a bow tie rather than a necktie. Unlike neckties, bow ties don’t extend vertically don’t the front of your dress shirt. Rather, they feature a smaller and more compact design. They are called “bow ties” because they are tied into the shape of a bow. You wrap the bow tie around the collar of your dress shirt, at which point you can tie the front into the shape of a bow.

Of course, you’ll want to choose the right type of bow tie for your tuxedo. A good rule of thumb when choosing a tie, including a bow tie, is stick with the same color as the tuxedo with which you intend to wear it. If you’re wearing a black tuxedo, for instance, choose a black bow tie. If you’re wearing a white tuxedo, choose a white bow tie.

Pocket Square

Along with a bow tie, tuxedos are also accessorized with a pocket square. Pocket squares consist of a piece of colored fabric that’s placed inside the front breast pocket of your tuxedo jacket. They are worn to inject color and aesthetic value into a suit outfit.

Like with the bow tie, you must choose the right type of pocket square for your tuxedo. The pocket square shouldn’t feature the same color as your tuxedo jacket. Instead, it should feature a contrasting color. If your pocket square features the same color as your tuxedo jacket, the two items will blend together to create a bland appearance. So, be sure to choose a pocket square in a different color than your tuxedo jacket. Check out our previous blog post for more information on how to choose a pocket square.

Tuxedo Materials

Tuxedos are made using many of the same materials as two- and three-piece suits. Wool tuxedos are a popular choice during the fall and winter months. They feature a thick woolen construction that offers an exceptional level of protection against the cold weather. Linen tuxedos, on the other hand, are a popular choice during the spring and summer months. They are thinner and lighter than tuxedos made of other materials, so you can rest assured knowing that they will keep you cool and comfortable.

Keep in mind that regardless of material or materials a tuxedo is made of, it should feature satin facing. If you inspect the lapels on the jacket, as well as the stripes and buttons on the trousers, you should see satin facing. Tuxedos are distinguished from standard suits by the presence of this satin facing. However, tuxedos are also commonly found in black, blue and white, and they are also accessorized with a bow tie and pocket square.