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How Men Can Tell the Difference Between a Tuxedo and a Suit: A Guide to Formal Wear

Tuxedos and suits are two formal outfits commonly worn to events like weddings, charity balls and red carpet events.

Typically, it’s easy to differentiate tuxedos and suits by the material they’re composed of; typically tuxedos feature satin lapels and buttons while suits use regular button finishes.


For something that’s formal but not quite a suit, a jacket might be the right solution. This garment typically extends down from your waist or hips for extra coverage and usually features light fabric that won’t weigh you down too much.

A jacket can be worn solo, as part of a three-piece suit or without pants altogether – depending on the occasion it can even be paired with various types of trousers!

Tuxedo and suit jackets are constructed of finer fabrics than most men’s clothing, and feature more intricate stitching. In addition, many come equipped with satin elements such as lapels or buttons.

Suit jackets tend to be single-breasted, although double-breasting may also be possible. Furthermore, suit jackets tend to feature more buttons than their counterparts from tuxedo jackets.

Contrary to their counterpart, suit jackets tend not to feature shawl collars or peaked lapels and lack pockets with flaps; instead they often include satin trim along the front edge for seamlessness with other clothing pieces in an outfit.

Tuxedo and suit buttons come in all sorts of styles, from traditional bone or plastic buttons to fabric matching the rest of the jacket, including single or double button options that feature either traditional bone or plastic or fabric material. Etiquette dictates that only single button jackets should have both buttons always buttoned when standing; two or three button jackets must always have at least one unbuttoned.

A tuxedo is more formal than its suit counterpart and is the go-to attire for black tie dinners and other formal events. A suit offers more versatility, allowing it to be combined with different accessories to create different looks; thus making it suitable for smart casual and business casual events as well as other more informal functions that don’t necessitate formality.


Although many men wear suits on an everyday basis, there may be certain occasions where it would be more suitable to don a tuxedo instead. From attending weddings and funerals to formal events or simply dressing appropriately at formal functions – it is important to understand the difference between these pieces of clothing in order to look and feel your best at each.

A key distinction between tuxedos and suits lies in their different materials; typically satin fabric gives a tuxedo an air of sophistication on its lapels, buttons and pocket trim.

Contrast that with a suit jacket made of wool or polyester fabric. While both can be nice fabrics, neither one offers quite the luxurious or dressy vibe that satin offers. In fact, black satin tends to dominate in tuxedo jackets more so than its more common white or gray variants found on suit jackets.

One key distinction between tuxedo jackets and suit jackets lies in their buttons; while a tuxedo will feature black satin finished buttons, suit jackets tend to have plastic or material-covered ones instead.

Final considerations. Tuxedos typically feature either peaked or shawl lapels, while suits feature notched lapels. Lapel materials range from satin-like finishes to rougher weaves of grosgrain silk; both offer different forms of support.

Tuxedos and suits should both feature trousers that match their jacket’s lapels, and may feature braiding at the side. Turned-up trousers may also be permissible; just ensure that fabric finishes flat instead of being pleated when turning up the hems.


Tuxedos and suits may look alike from the outside, but each has distinct physical differences that distinguish them. One key distinction between the two garments is that tuxedos feature satin lapels, buttons and pockets; suit jackets typically have plastic or metal buttoning systems.

Fabric choice is also important when selecting a shirt. Wool works well for tuxedos and suits due to its ability to insulate while remaining breathable; cotton makes for great dress shirts as it adds crisp texture variety to your sartorial ensemble.

Keep in mind the type of shoe you wear with each piece; while tuxedos typically go well with black patent leather shoes, suits can also feature loafers or slip-ons to dress them up further.

Consideration should also be given to the style of collar you choose for your shirt, such as wing- or turndown-collared options that lend themselves more formal occasions while point collars make an ideal everyday option.

Even though tuxedos are typically worn to formal events such as weddings and formal dinner parties, suits can also be worn casually to any event requiring formal attire – including weddings.

There are various other ways you can wear a shirt for a smart-casual look, too. Dark-colored polo shirts with structured collars make an excellent option because they provide comfort without appearing too casual.

Add some flair to your formal wardrobe by pairing a suit with a printed shirt for an interesting twist while still remaining professional and clean-cut.

Make sure that the event requires formal attire. If you’re wearing a tuxedo, chances are it will be black tie attire; therefore, formal accessories and bow ties may be appropriate.


A tuxedo is typically worn to black tie events, while suits can be worn for both formal and semi-formal events. The main distinction between them lies in that tuxedos typically feature satin lapels, buttons, and trousers with stripes down each leg compared to suits which typically don’t.

Tuxedo jackets typically feature double-breasted design while suit jackets tend to have single-breasted styles, both pieces can be accessorized with cummerbunds and bow ties for additional flair.

Suits often feature a vest that adds to their formality. You can choose to wear your suit either with or without a tie depending on your event and personal style preferences.

Bow ties are one of the most frequently worn neckties, featuring various materials and patterns that can be self-tied or pre-tied for your convenience. Black satin makes an excellent match with jacket lapels.

The four-in-hand knot is another widely used knot style that works well with various neckties and collar types. This symmetrical design makes tightening this knot less cumbersome than with its Windsor counterpart.

There are various variations of this knot, but most involve crossing one wide end over the other narrow end from left to right, flipping the fabric so that its seam no longer appears visible. It is less bulky than its Windsor counterpart and makes for an excellent option for more casual events.

Before World War II, ties were shorter than they are today; this trend can be partially attributed to waistcoats’ popularity. After the war however, ties became more colorful and flamboyant; this became known as the “Bold Look.” Widths typically began at 5 inches (13 cm), and designs ranged from Art Deco patterns to hunting scenes and tropical themes.

Pocket Square

Are You Attending a Formal Event or Simply Want to Look Your Best? A pocket square can make all the difference when it comes to dressing for formal events – often overlooked, this piece of your wardrobe has the power to transform any tuxedo into a stunning ensemble!

First step to selecting a fabric suitable to your taste and lifestyle is selecting an appropriate material, such as silk or cotton. There are other choices available as well; generally though synthetic fabrics should be avoided as they don’t breathe as well and can be more difficult to maintain cleanly.

Make sure that the fabric you choose isn’t too stiff or rigid as this could make creating the proper fold difficult. Linen is an excellent choice as its soft feel enables more complex folds than cotton can accommodate.

Wool and silk blend fabrics offer another option, offering softness without losing shape, but still holding its shape without having the sheen of pure silk squares.

Not only can you choose your material and design of pocket square, but you also have complete freedom in terms of its style and pattern. Solid colors may be suitable for formal attire; for something bolder, consider adding bold patterns like tartans.

Fold your pocket square with care; for formal events opt for either a straight or crown fold; for casual affairs opt for either a simple puff or shell fold.

Handkerchiefs are smaller versions of pocket squares and should be used more for practical than aesthetic purposes. There are various styles and sizes to suit different lifestyles, while cotton, silk and linen tend to be popular materials used.

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