Tuxedo vs Suit: What’s the Difference?

tuxedo vs suit

So, you have a formal event coming up and you have to wear a tuxedo, or was it a suit? Is there even a difference?

Actually, there is, and the differences between a tuxedo vs suit, while seemingly subtle, do matter. Don’t sweat it, we got you covered with all your tuxedo and suit questions so you can just focus on looking great at that formal event!

Physical Differences of a Tuxedo vs Suit

There are physical differences between a tuxedo and a suit that once pointed out will seem obvious. You’ll never look at a tuxedo or suit the same way again!

Not Today, Satin

The biggest difference between and tuxedo and a suit is the presence of satin. Tuxedos have satin details such as satin faced lapels, satin buttons and a satin side-stripe down on the pant leg.

Suits typically do not have any of these features. It is common for modern tuxedos to limit the use of satin to a thin trim on the lapels or maybe a skinny stripe down the pant leg, but this still makes it a tuxedo.

On a suit, the jacket, lapel, and pants are all made out of the same material. Suits don’t have satin buttons, and will usually have bone, plastic or fabric covered buttons that are the same fabric as the coat (aka self-buttons).

It’s All About the Accessories

Accessories are everything when it comes to the physical differences between a suit and a tuxedo. These appropriate accessories might only come into play when discussing a traditional black tie dress code.

For modern tuxedo events like proms and wedding, the lines between what is and isn’t appropriate, like that Robin Thicke song, can be blurred.

It’s common, but recently increasingly less common, to wear long ties and high stance vests with tuxedoes. But this is a traditionally a look that is only appropriate with suits.

Traditionally, tuxedoes are only to be worn with bow ties, cummerbunds or waistcoats (low stance vests). But today, most men tend to go for less formal accessories, it really depends on your personal style and how formal you want to look.

If the dress code to your event allows flexibility, keep in mind that suits tend to be more versatile than tuxes and can be dressed up or down depending on the accessories and also can be worn with or without a vest. You also can wear a suit with either a bow tie or long tie.

Another difference between a tuxedo and a suit is that tuxedos tend to be worn with white shirts that either have a wing or turndown collar. Suits, on the other hand, can be worn with a variety of dress shirts in either solid colors or patterns.

The shoes that are worn with each piece also can be an indicator if someone is wearing a suit or tuxedo. Black patent leather shoes are traditionally worn with tuxedos, whereas loafers, oxfords or slip-on shoes are acceptable to wear with suits. In some cases, people might even wear a sneaker with a suit for a fun flair.

What’s the Occasion?

The occasion or event that you’re getting dressed up for can also dictate if a suit or a tuxedo is more appropriate. Tuxedos tend to be reserved for evenings and more formal events like black-tie weddings, charity galas, and even nights at the opera.

Suits, on the other hand, can be appropriate for any time of time. You can also wear a suit to less casual events like business meetings and dates. Some jobs might require you to wear a suit every day to work, but are less likely to make you wear a tuxedo to work.

Exceptions to the Rules

Be aware that there a few formal options, both traditional and modern, where there is no satin on the tuxedo. This can be known as “Tropical Black Tie” or better known as a white dinner jacket.

A white dinner jacket is traditionally worn with a white turn-down collar shirt, black accessories, and black pants. This jacket will have a 1 button front, self-flap pockets, and self-shawl lapel. It is still considered a tuxedo but does not incorporate any satin.

There are also more satin-less tuxedos in a few styles that tend to be made for the growing demand of the wedding market. There are tuxedo lines like Allure Men Tuxedo by Jean Yves that make almost identical tuxedos but in different colors. While this line’s black, steel grey and heather grey tuxedos do incorporate satin, their tan and slate blue tuxedos do not.

Since they are part of a larger line of identical tuxedos they are still considered to be tuxedos and are popular options for both proms and daytime weddings.

Other Differences

It’s also important to note that more than just the obvious physical differences between a tuxedo and a suit, a tuxedo sends a different message than a suit. A lot of people wear suits every day, but regardless of what your job is, this isn’t a societal norm.

If you wear a suit to your wedding, there’s a good chance others will be wearing suits. But it isn’t their wedding day, so by default, you’ll look more casual or might even blend in with your dates.

When you wear a tuxedo, you’re not just dressing up and looking nice, you’re also commemorating a special occasion by wearing something that you wouldn’t wear anywhere else. You tuxedo says “this is a special moment to me. I will look out of place anywhere but here.”

In other words, a tuxedo can appear more special and ceremonial than a suit.

Find Your Perfect Suit or Tuxedo

Know that you know the differences between a tuxedo vs suit, it’s time to find the piece that’s right for you. The differences aren’t just in appearance, it’s also based on what you’re wearing your suit or tuxedo for.

Consider what you’re dressing up for, what message you want to give off and what you’ll be the most comfortable in. For more information and rates on custom men’s clothing and tailored suits, contact us today.


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