Monday, July 18, 2011

The Anatomy of a Tuxedo…

Ok we’ve all seen tuxedos before and know what they are, but do we all know what they consist of? Here is a list we compiled of the basics and their definitions. You will also find a few variations on them as well. This should help you in the search for that perfect tuxedo for the groom and groomsmen.

This term is often used when referring to a tuxedo jacket, it is a formal jacket that can have either a notched, peak or shawl collar. Most people think of a white jacket when the term “Dinner Jacket” is used, however, that is not the case. A dinner jacket is simply a jacket that falls at the hips and can be 1-3 buttons (occasionally more).

This type of tuxedo is generally worn for full dress or white tie, this very formal jacket is cut just below the waist and the front hem dips into points and has "tails" at the back that come to about the knee. The jacket has non-functional buttons on either side and never closes. Usually worn with all white accessories but not required.

A tuxedo jacket also known as a “Spencer Jacket” the hem is just below the waist, rather than below the hip like traditional jackets. At the front opening, the front hem dips into points, so that it resembles a tailcoat with no the tails.


This suit is worn by the groom and not generally worn past noon time as it is a daytime suit. It resembles the tail coat in that it is long in the back; however it doesn’t have the front notches in the front and cuts away in a slope towards the back, thus the name “Cutaway”. This suit is generally worn with a winged-collar shirt, striped ascot, grey vest, and grey/black striped pants.

The morning suit is generally what the groomsmen, fathers and ring bearers wear. It is a normal length coat with a single-button closure. This suit is generally worn with a lay down-collar shirt, striped tie, grey vest, and grey/black striped pants.

A traditional tuxedo shirt that features a stand-up collar with ends folded over to create what looks like "wings," it is usually accessorized with a bow-tie, sometimes with an ascot.

A formal shirt with a collar like a business shirt, can be worn with a bow-tie or a 4 in hand tie.

A style of formal shirt featuring a short banded collar about one inch high, designed to be worn without a tie. The shirt's top button can be decorated with a button cover (definition below). Tieless formalwear ensembles could be worn to informal or formal weddings.

This is a buckled sash that fastens at the waist (always with the pleats facing up) to cover the waistband of the pants and worn with a bowtie. Today cummerbunds are not worn as much as they used to be and are to be worn instead of a vest.


A vest is an accessory that can be worn with almost any tuxedo ensemble. Some rental vests have an open back (a band goes around the neck and another is hooked across the back); most these days are full-backed. The vest usually matches the bow-tie/4 in hand tie; all of these accessories are available in a wide range of colors and patterns these days, from stripes to florals.

Similar to a business/suit tie, but made to match the vests. Occasionally they are worn by themselves with no vest making the tuxedo a little more relaxed and less formal without being casual.

The most familiar piece in a formal outfit, the bow-tie is generally pre-tied with a matching strap that wraps around the neck. They are also available in “self-tie” meaning you would have to tie it yourself, some bow-ties come with instructions on how to tie them but these are not rentals and you would have to purchase one. The bow-tie should match the vest and/cummerbund.

A decorative, circular accessory, resembling a cufflink or a large stud, worn over the top button of a mandarin-collar or stand-up-collar shirt, with no tie.

A double-knot tie with wide ends that folds over the chest and fastened with a stick pin. When renting these they come pre-tied as the bowties do. This is usually worn with a winged-collar shirt to accessorize a cutaway tuxedo.Orange-Ranunculus-Boutonniere-249x374

A small floral arrangement, that usually consists of just one or two flower blossoms and a few sprigs of greenery then it is pinned to the left lapel right at the buttonhole. If the button hole is sewn shut don’t worry about it, its basically there for just a spot marker.


A pair of ornamental buttons or button like pieces used to fasten a shirt cuff to give it a more formal look.

These look like tiny cufflinks and replace buttons on a formal tuxedo shirt, usually you only get 4 to a set and they generally match the cuff links.

Just give our sister store Soiree Prom and Tux a call at 603-427-6888 and see what else they can help you with!

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